We get excited by new guitar gear and we make no apology for it – even capos. But for us, one of the most interesting trends in the last couple of years has been the rise of pedalboard amps. These are distinct from multi-effects amp and effects modellers and offer a genuine middle ground for portability and value. Now Hughes & Kettner are embracing the format with its new AmpMan range of pedalboard amplifiers.
Pedal amps have two huge advantages in their favour; they're usually cheaper than an equivalent guitar head and much more portable for the realities of load-ins and rushing to rehearsal rooms after work. And in the case of Victory's V4 The Duchess, they're packing real valves. Hughes & Kettner has their own approach to this and it's really impressed us in the past with the Black Spirit 200.
It's the Spirit Tone Generator; an analogue signal processor used to recreate the behaviour of tube guitar amps.
The AmpMan series is the spiritual successor to H&K's early nineties TubeMan pedal and makes its debut with two models: Classic and Modern. It's not a surprise to learn that Classic covers vintage-esque clean tones and classic rock drive, whereas Modern pitches for sparkly cleans and higher-gain drive tones.
Each pedal ($349 each) features a 50-watt Ultra-Responsive power amp and also includes the latest version of the H&K's's Red Box AE+ ca emulator.
Each AmpMan model has two channels, with independent controls for volume, gain, sag, resonance, tone and presence. There's also as a master volume and level for the solo boost control solo boost level control.
As well as channel selection, this boost can be activated with the AmpMan's footswitches. The solo mode also enables the selection of a secondary master volume.
The AmpMan FX loop works also features a built-in noise gate to make pedalboard integration easier.
More info at Hughes & Kettner.