Hughes and Kettner Edition Blue 30-R by Crofty
A Cool Combo Sans Heat
Hughes and Kettner amps are a beacon of technology and sound, innovation and great tone have made the company the choice of greats like Alex Lifeson of Rush. Their solid state combos have gained a reputation for being affordable tone monsters, the Edition Blue 30-R is just another fine example - sort of.
This is an attractive amp, top mounted controls that have a spiffy blue lighting scheme and a black grille with a hint of silver – none of which influences the tone.
The Edition Blue, pumps out 30 watts through a “specially designed 10” Jensen speaker.” This is your typical two-channel amp featuring clean/overdrive, you can use a footswitch to jump back and forth. The included spring reverb is moderately effective, but becomes very “splashy” when turned beyond 9 o’clock (roughly 2 on the dial).
Through the clean channel, you can get a very nice tone that is smooth and responsive. This channel provides a tone with life and character. For a solid-state amp, it does a respectable job of responding to your pick attack. Dig into the strings, and you’re rewarded with a bit of grit. Play with a light touch, and the amp glistens. I found that rolling back the volume and tone slightly on an Epiphone Les Paul yielded a sweet and warm clean sound through both humbuckers, perfect for a little bluesy riffing. A Strat in the neck position with the tone dialed down to 7 or 8 produces a very “Fender” clean sound, crisp and chimey. Bridge single-coils can be harsh with little help from the amp’s EQ.
The EQ section on this amp consists of Bass, Mid and Treble controls which both channels share. The EQ wasn’t as responsive as I’d hoped, frequently I would turn a dial 2-3 notches without any discernable tone change. The clean channel does a marvelous job of allowing the tone of your guitar to shine through. The overdrive channel is less impressive.
When attempting to dirty things up, you’ll either love this amp’s tone or hate it. The overdrive channel lacks the responsiveness the clean channel excels at. At times it can feel lifeless and flat, despite thorough EQing. The overdrive isn’t unpleasant, it is uninspiring. The breakup is ratty and honestly sounds “dirty”. If you’re a fan of rough and low-gain, this is a great amp. If you’re looking for smooth and warm, look elsewhere. With a humbucker and the right settings, the Edition Blue can do the “dirty Southern Rock” thing acceptably. Dial the gain back to a slight breakup, and you can jam away on some dirty blues. If you’re attempting to cover mid and high-gain sounds, you’re better off with a good pedal through the clean channel (the amp takes pedals very well).
The clean channel on this amp is worth the purchase price alone, a useable overdrive channel is just a plus. However, while this amp can get loud, you’ll definitely need to mic it at a gig with a drummer. For the bedroom player, I highly recommend you pick-up this combo just for its clean channel. This is a classy looking combo that can sound great or just plain dirty, not bad for around $100.
Price Paid: ~$100 USD (Discontinued)
Pros: Fantastic Clean, Dirty Overdrive
Cons: Dirty Overdrive, Splashy Reverb, Ineffective EQ
Guitars Used: Stock Squier Standard Tele, ESP X-Tone PS-2V, Epiphone Les Paul Deluxe and Standard, Custom Stratocaster.