Hughes & Kettner announces GrandMeister 36 amp head

With its TubeMeister 18 topping the USA amp sales charts, German-based Hughes & Kettner have a tough act to follow. Summoned to H&K's St Wendel HQ we had no idea what we'd see but it clearly wasn't going to be just another amp.

Indeed, the so-called GrandMeister 36 is no normal amplifier. It's based on the TubeMeister 36 head so the back-lit blue light facia and all of that amp's features remain. What the GrandMeister adds, however, are reverb, tap delay, flange, phase, tremolo and chorus and full programmability of the four valve channels, effects and power soak. The amp can be fully controlled by any MIDI controller or H&K's new FSM 432 MKIII floorboard with real time control via an auxiliary expression pedal and footswitch.

The GrandMeister 36 can also be controlled and programmed via an iPad-the necessary free app is already available in the App Store - which also allows you to name the patches. However, even without the MIDI controller, or iPad, the four-channel amp is perfectly useable thanks to clever Smart Rotary Controls which avoid it being overladen with onboard knobs and buttons.

H&K believe it's the first all valve analogue amp that is completely programmable; even the onboard digital effects are placed in the equivalent of a parallel FX loop to preserve the analogue signal. And, of course, if you're MIDI literate you can control all your amp/effects changes via MIDI in the studio or live (especially if you're running a click track).

The GrandMeister is available now and is priced at £1,129; the FSM 432 MKII costs an additional £169.

For more info contact JHS, +44 (0)1132 865381, or visit

Dave Burrluck

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.