52 Amplifier Heads, week 37—Mack Heatseeker HS-18

Australian’s have some weird sayings and/or phrases. I know, I’m one of them and I use them often. Dead set. I mention this because when researching this week’s dream amplifier head I was pleasantly surprised to see a testimonial on the Mack Heatseeker HS-18 website that started with “Crikey! …”

I knew exactly what was being said and I knew I would love this amplifier. The more I looked into it the more I realised that this amplifier head would surely go off like a fish in the sun! That’s also a good thing if you’re unsure.

So the Heatseeker HS-18 is an all-tube 18 watt head that looks classy and modern (which isn’t an easy thing to do I believe). I love that the colour and material looks like many amplifiers you’d be used to seeing, but the openness of the design is an interesting twist (giving the amplifier head that modern look I was referring to). Looks aside, this head features four tubes that allow this head to really rock. More on that in a moment. First, it’s list time. Features!

  • 18 watts
  • 2 x EL84 power tubes
  • 2 x 12AX7 preamp tubes
  • Volume and tone controls
  • 3 position character switch (Hot, Burn and Melt)
  • 8 ohm speaker outlet

As you can see, the amplifier is a basic head. What it lacks in features it seems to make up for in tonal quality. What I really like about this amplifier head is that it dedicates itself to replicating that overdriven tone that has made bands like AC/DC, Cream and the Rolling Stones so popular. Classic British overdrive. Of course you can get some pretty decent clean tones out of the amplifier as well.

To get some idea of the tones available through this amp, you can check out one of the many little videos Mack Amplifiers produced many years ago. For example, you have the Stratocaster (clean) video, the Stratocaster (distortion) video, the Stratocaster (overdrive) video and the SG (distortion) video. There’s also a video by Robert Renman that showcases the three different position switch settings available in this amplifier head.

All-in-all I think this is a pretty damn decent option for a smaller wattage amplifier head. If I had this I sure wouldn’t complain. I’d be a drongo if I did.

Disclaimer: I’ve not played through this head. I have not experienced the sound or tone of this head other than through video. That doesn’t matter. It looks awesome, it’s obviously played by winners and I want one.

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