Hughes and Kettner Statesman EL34 review

  • £949
  • $1329
The Statesman Dual EL34 Head and matching STM412 cab.

MusicRadar Verdict

Modern features, crystal clean to ultra gains - the Statesman Dual EL34 rig is a highly capable all-round rock'n'blues half stack.


  • +

    Retro style; price; range of quality modern rock tones.


  • -

    Huge gain gap between the two channels; reverb not working.

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British tonal heritage is fused deep within this Statesman's circuited soul, courtesy of its EL34 power valves. They are integral to the UK rock sound as we know it, defined most notably by Marshall of course.

In keeping with the rest of the Statesman range, however, H&K eschews classic black and gold livery in favour of a more USA-inspired oxblood Tolex, coupled with biscuit-cream grille cloth and off-white controls and logo.

According to H&K, the overall aim is to achieve a "classic, retro, timeless" feel with the cosmetics. Check.

Yet at the amp's core are modern features including dual-channel EQ settings, 'twang' and 'boost' switching options, a series/ parallel effects loop and easily accessible valves and bias points for minimum-hassle maintenance.

The Dual EL-34's control panel is simple. The clean channel has no separate gain control, just volume, treble, mid and bass. The little twang button on the clean channel changes the EQ curve from a British (presumably Marshall) voicing to a more American (Fender-like) response.

The overdrive channel has a master-volume-type setup with separate gain and master controls, then treble, mid and bass, plus a boost function that is also footswitchable.

This kicks in more lower-mids and gain, the level of which you regulate with a trim-pot on the back panel: twang to bang. Master reverb and presence controls complete the front control panel.

Reverb balance control

Around the back again, a reverb balance control enables you to assign varying amounts of reverb to both clean and drive channels.

This is useful for those of you who like to have lots of reverb on your clean sound, for example, but maybe less on your drive channel. Or vice versa… or set it straight up for equal 'verb to each channel: it's a thoughtful, practical function.

If you have a need for an effects loop, the Statesman solution offers either parallel or serial operation plus a -10dB setting.

Parallel mixes your effects with the dry tone so you can balance the effects level (though you have to do it from the effect as there's no level control on the loop), while serial inserts them between pre and power sections so the whole signal is effected.

H&K, with typical let's-give-this-a-name gusto calls it SmartLoop. Finally, a range of speaker outs offer myriad extension cabinet options.

Sat upon the matching STM412 cab, the combination makes for an individual, attractive package - there's something about this half stack that's just right.