Hughes & Kettner Switchblade 100 Combo
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Hughes & Kettner Switchblade 100 Combo

Switchblade 100 Combo, Tube Combo Guitar Amp from Hughes & Kettner in the Switchblade series.

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content in English
racerevlon 22/11/2012

Hughes & Kettner Switchblade 100 Combo : la opinión de racerevlon (content in English)

"Possibly the perfect Grab 'n Go amp!"
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The Hughes & Kettner Switchblade 100C is a 100-watt all tube 2 x 12 combo amp with on-board digital stereo effects. The "all-tube" status of the Switchblade 100C has been hotly debated over the years as some believe there's no way Hughes & Kettner can get that much gain with only two 12AX7 preamp tubes. They can and they have--without getting into deep electronics, a 12AX7 tube is actually a dual triode: two tubes in one. The amp gets its 100 watts of power from four EL34 valves. The speakers are Eminence Rockerdriver 60 speakers and complement the amp extremely well. The amp has four channels: Clean, Crunch, Lead, and Ultra. The gain and channel volume are controllable and MIDI-programmable per patch, and each channel has a uniquely-voiced gain boost accessed by turning the gain knob to the maximum. The "boost" LED will illuminate when the boost is engaged on each channel. The amp can go from sparkling, crystal cleans with lush chorus, delay, and reverb, to straight-ahead 70's rock 'n roll, to 80's hair metal, to full-force punishing levels of gain for the heaviest music. The channels all have specific voices to match classic amps: The clean channel emulates the "California" clean sounds, the "Crunch" channel is classic British, the "Lead" channel is British high-gain, and the "Ultra" channel is American high-gain. I'm sure you can figure out what the intent with each channel is.

The Switchblade 100C is fairly simple in its design. There is an input jack for the guitar on the front with the controls (which we'll cover in a few). The rear panel has the remainder of the connections, including an effects loop send and return that is MIDI-programmable for on/off and series/parallel per patch, taps for loudspeaker outputs (the internal speakers are connected to the 16-ohm jack) and there are two 8-ohm jacks, and one 4-ohm jack, and the MIDI connection for the included controller or any compatible MIDI controller. The effects loop also has a +4/-10 control to accommodate pedals or rack gear, although with the on-board effects I can't see needing much more.

The amp has on-board digital effects that are divided into three sections. There is an independent reverb control, an independent delay control that includes delay time and level, and a modulation section that allows you to select between chorus, flanger, and tremolo. The effects are good and are independently configurable and saveable per patch. The great payoff with the MIDI patch capability is that once a patch is saved, the knob positions can be changed but when the patch is recalled the settings will be recalled exactly as they were when the patch was saved, regardless of the current knob position. You can always find the original knob position--just turn the knob until the "Original" blue light illuminates. This will tell you where the knob was when the patch was saved. Saving a preset is as simple as a two-button press on the face of the amp, or one on the amp and one on the foot controller.

The effects are all good--they're not the best reverb, delay, and modulation you'll ever hear, but they'll get the job done without having to carry a ton of extra gear. Each modulation section goes from subtle to extreme before moving on to the next effects section. The amount of different tones you can get with the on-board effects and four different channels can cover virtually any gig. There's also a good amount of overlap in the channels. The clean channel with the gain boost on can deliver a good amount of bluesy crunch, overlapping with the Crunch channel with the gain set low.

The Switchblade 100C is deceptively loud and can deliver the goods in any venue; on its own in a small-to-medium sized venue, or with an extension cab or cabs for a larger venue. I've played this amp by itself, in combination with an extension 2 x 12, or with the internal speakers disconnected and two extension 4 x 12 cabinets connected.

UTILIZATION

One of the trademarks of Hughes & Kettner amps is that the controls are extremely sensitive and while you can coax pretty much any tone out of this amp you need to take the time and put in the effort dialing in the specific tones desired. The amp is easy to understand and operate so I'm not sure a manual is needed, but it is available, clear, and concise.

If you can't get a good sound out of this amp, I kind of don't know what to tell you. The amount of functionality, flexibility, and control built into this amp affords the player an almost infinite tonal palette with which to create. I previously owned a Switchblade 100 Head and regretted selling it. Getting the Switchblade 100C cured my seller's remorse and provided me an outstanding amp where all I need is a power cable, guitar cable, and the controller and cable, and I can play any gig.

SOUNDS

I can play any guitar through this amp and get good tones. I mainly play Neal Moser guitars with Dimarzio pickups (Super 3 bridge), but also play similarly-equipped Ibanez RG and S series guitars, as well as Les Pauls. I've never plugged any guitar into this amp that didn't sound phenomenal. That said, this amp, and I've found this to be true of most Hughes & Kettner amps seem to respond more prominently to treble frequencies than others. The amp has an extremely "hi-fi" quality to it--great low-end tightness and great string-to-string separation. The amp has a great mid-range grind and top-end that is full but not too bright or "ice-pick" type. Again, the amp has a wonderful amount of control that allows you to get YOUR tone.

OVERALL OPINION

Hughes & Kettner amps have a great reputation for quality of both tone and craftsmanship. I've always had great experiences with my Hughes & Kettner amps and the Switchblade 100C is no exception. As noted in the review title, this very well may be the perfect grab 'n go amp for just about any gig. Obviously, an all-tube 2x12 combo is going to have some heft to it, weighing in at just over 67 pounds, but is still easier than carting around a head, cabinet, and pedal board, along with all of the cables necessary to connect it all. As I noted, I previously had a Switchblade head, regretted selling it, and purchased the Switchblade 100C so now I have the best of both worlds. If anything happened to my Switchblade I would replace it without hesitation. I've tried other combo amps that have on-board effects and none come close to the Switchblade 100C. If it's too heavy and you don't need the stereo capabilities, the 50-watt 1x12 is an excellent alternative. At retail price the amp is still well worth it, but they can also be had on the used market at a steal. Try one and you'll see.