What are your opinions? Marshall DSL20H & Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 40

Following from my previous post I’ve been doing some research.
I’ve looked into the Katana that many suggested but for the life of me, I think I’ll be spending all the time in front of the computer changing settings rather than playing!

I have however been impressed by some other amps.

Marshall DSL20H
I like that, seems like it’s good for a range of sounds from clean to heavy metal. Goes down to 10W if needed and has all the inputs and outputs you’d need.
The 2 channels share the same EQ though.

Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 40
3 channels, 2 EQs which I really like.
Has more power suck options (20, 5, 1 and 0 I think) but it doesn’t have aux in or output for headphones.

I’m really between those two mostly.
The Boss Nextone Special and the Laney Ironheart 30 I’m also considering. The Laney sounds a bit too dry to my ears (over the Internet obviously) and the Nextone Special seems enormous both in size and in wattage (although you could change that through the power control down to 0.5W).

So, I’m utterly confused again.
I like metal mostly (from Black Sabbath to Death), AC/DC, Dio… I think you get the gist.
But I also like the blues and I aspire to be able to improvise…

So the question is, are any of the above amplifiers a good option for the kind of music I (want to) play?
What’s your opinion about those amps in general?
Is there some other amp that your think I should look into?

Thanks for your help and input!

I think you would regret not having auxiliary in or headphones out. Limits you to loud and you need a separate source for any backing tracks etc. you may need or want and it needs to be loud enough to be heard with your loud amp.

If you like heavy metal and distortion, but can’t play an amp super loud you also may be disappointed.

My 2 cents

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Both the amps you listed (the Marshall DSL and the Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister) would be fine for the styles you listed.

With that said, have you played any of these amps? Your top two are both valve amps, and they will be very loud. If you’re able to practice and play at high volumes, that’s great. But if you’re in a typical “bedroom” situation you might find them to be more amp than you need or want, such that you can’t often play them in their “sweet spot.”

You mention headphone outputs. I’m not a good resource on that, because I dislike playing with headphones (I like to “feel” the amp and I find I don’t get that with headphones). However, I’ll note that if headphone play is something you desire, you’re probably better off with some sort of digital amp. Some valve amps have headphone output, but in that case you’re bypassing the actual sound of the amp and getting some form of digital modelling (speaker/cab modelling, at the very least). Same goes for a line out from a valve amp. I’m not saying that necessarily bad, but if a primary use of the amp is going to be headphone or line out you can save some money by looking at a modelling amp to begin with.

I think you need to go plug into some of these amps. Don’t just listen to youtube videos. You need to get a feel for just how loud valve amps are and if that is going to fit your use case. If so, that’s fantastic and you’re lucky. Playing a valve amp in its sweet spot is a joy.

Also keep in mind that you can’t directly compare the wattage of a valve amp vs. a digital or solid state amp. For a given wattage, the valve amp is going to be much louder.

For the record, I have four amps that see use. A Marshall DSL40C (40W valve), a Fender Blues Jr. (15W valve), a Marshall SL5 (5W valve), and a Boss Katana 100/212 (100W digital). For the valve amps, the only one I can play at home in its sweet spot is the Marshall SL5. And it’s loud for home use. At home I only crank up the DSL40 and the Blues Jr. on weekends, and even then I’m not pushing them super hard (especially the DSL40). At home I mostly practice using the Katana and the SL5. For what its worth, out of all the digital/modelling amps I’ve tried the Katana is the easiest to use. I pretty much never have it hooked up to a computer. I just twiddle the knobs like any other amp. Also worth noting: some time back I got a Torpedo CaptorX reactive load box/attenuator. With that I can play the valve amps (especially the DSL40) at home easier, but then you’re looking at the expense of the valve amp and the expense of the CaptorX.

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For the katana, there is an android app if you use android. “Katana Librarian”. It is easier than tone studio.

I agree with JWC…what I like about the Katana is that you DONT have to use the software to get the tone you want. The only time I have used the software is to allocate some different FX to the FX knobs on the amp itself (reverb, modulation and delay)

That would be ideal. Around where I live though the tubemeister is out of stock everywhere and the dsl might be in stock in one store. If I wanted to try other amps I would probably have to visit a few different stores depending on what is in stock where.

But I see what you mean about the valves being loud. It occurred to me at some point but I was probably in denial.
I’m realising and slowly accepting that I need to understand amps further before I spend any money.

Sometimes I use headphones. Not all the time. I’ve found that, at least those I have, are not the best choice for guitar. For one, say I have the eq where I want it and sounds nice though the amp, through the headphones it’s totally different sound. And after a while I get a headache! Lol :joy:
So I use them rarely but I do use them.

Just googled that, looks like an expensive toy to add on an already expensive valve amp. Does only affect the volume or the tones you get with and without it too?

@Rossco01, @Jamolay I’ll entertain the idea of the Katana. How does it compare to the Nextone Special?

The only thing I can really say (having never heard or seen the Nextone) is that they are completely different beasts with one circa £250 and the other £800 in the UK. On top of that the Katana is still a modelling amp at heart (although you can ignore that if you want) with plenty of effects on tap if you want them. The Nextone - as far as I can see - is a high quality amp that supposedly goes toe to toe with tube type amps.

I’m sure the Nextone will sound good but to be honest I’d only spend that money once I’d been playing for quite a while. To be honest I can’t see me investing in another amp other than my Katana at the moment. From your profile you say you’re still aspiring to learn so I would say you want something good but not too over the top (would be my opinion)…but hey it’s your money.

The key thing is to try these out OR get them from someone where you can return it easily. A good “tone” will be a combination of your ability to play, the guitar and the amp.

With Tube amps anything over around 5W used to sound as it should (cranked) will blow your windows out! Be extremely careful with what you want from a tube amp! I’ve used them for years but can honestly say that my favourite was a 5W Fender Champ - I could actually use it!
If it were me I would be buying a simple no nonsense SS amp (like an Orange Crush 35RT) and a decent but not too expensive multi FX (like a Hotone Ampero), there’s not much that you couldn’t do with that setup.

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Exactly. Valve amps are great; I love them and prefer them. But to play them at home in the sweet spot means you either need a very low wattage valve amp or you need some sort of attenuator. And if you need an attenuator it’s an added expense.

The tone is affected, but not as much as it would be if you didn’t have the attenuator and you just turned down the master volume on the amp.

That’s very true. I don’t want to spend a fortune but I want something to inspire me to play as well. I’d like to go and try some amps but the problem is that most of them aren’t in stock in most music shops in London.

The reasonable me, tells me to keep learning with what I have and if I get better, I can buy something new. And I think that’s what I’ll do after all.

That’s part of the problem. I don’t know much to figure that out and that sense, everyone’s help here has been instrumental.

Whereabouts in London are you? Could you possibly get to Andertons?
They’re very good for people in your situation, they’re usually very helpful.

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I’m in Wimbledon so getting to Andertons is quite easy. I’ve checked their website though and it seems they don’t have much in stock at the moment.

So you recommend Andertons in general?
I bought my guitar from PMT in London but I don’t really have a preferred store.

Andertons have a very good reputation, I am pretty sure that PMT do also, so either would be good. First you need to decide the priorities for what you want out of what you’re going to buy, guidance will be easier then.

Apologies in advance, as I haven’t read the whole thread and don’t know much about amps (or guitars for that matter), but I think I read in a different thread that you were living in an apartment and space was an issue.
Have you thought about one of these? (I know we always recommend what we have ourselves, but I’m a very happy bunny with the sound and features) :smiley:

Very true. I mean, I wouldn’t mind another amp but my wife wouldn’t agree. Perhaps rightly so :joy:
I’ve seen the yamaha amps. In fact I’ve heard it also at a friend’s house. It was quite good a small amp but it sounded a bit thin at the same time.

What I was intrigued by is the Katana air I think is called. It was recommended here so I checked it out (albeit online) and sounded good.

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A Yamaha THR-II is in my future, to replace my basic $99 Vox Pathfinder…now that playing the guitar has completely sucked me in. :smiley:

I never owned a H&K so I can’t comment on that but I do have a Marshall DSL1H with a matching 1x12 cabinet (I think it’s mx112)

I’m really into AC/DC and working on cover of back in black album. DSL does deliver that sweet Marshall sound and it is inspiring.

I just want to warn you that even 1 watt is very very loud. One of the cool tricks I discovered is to put my Boss GE7 pedal in the effects loop to lower the volume level after the preamp which brings this amp alive at lower volumes.

Let me know if there’s anything else you want to know about DSL or gear in general.


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With my amps, the best AC/DC tones I’ve dialed in at home is with my Marshall SL5 (which has a switch that lets you choose 1W or 5W). I crank it all the way up on the clean channel and get beautiful power amp distortion with just the right amount of break up for AC/DC.

Yeah, that’s a nifty little trick. For those wondering exactly how to do that, check out this video from Phillip McKnight:

Hi @cd! Yeah, I went to a music store and tried it. It is loud indeed. I also tried the Dsl20 and the blackstar ht5 mkii.

It goes without saying the dsl20 is an amazing beast. I felt that the dsl1 was lacking. Especially if you compared it with the (admittedly 5W) blackstar.

Is that preferable to having an attenuator or is it about the same but more economic?

Haha thanks! I’ll take you up on that!

I think the Dsl5 would be a happy medium between the 20 and the 1. It’s really a shame that Marshall only does a combo though!