Kicking off in the late 1960s, under the guidance of Dave Reeves, Hiwatt gave Marshall a run for their money, contributing hugely to the sonic landscape that became known as The British Sound.

With artists such as The Who and Pink Floyd, the brand was at the forefront of guitar amplification for the remainder of the 1960s and much of the 1970s. Reeves’ untimely passing and licensing problems threw the trademark into a grey area for the next two decades.

In 2016 the trademark passed to the present owner, who strengthened the Hiwatt brand. A further generation of artists – U2, Nirvana, Oasis, Coldplay, The Killers, The Black Keys, Foals and Japandroids – have all embraced the unmistakable Hiwatt sound.

Today, a team of highly-skilled engineers continue to custom-build Hiwatt amplifiers to original specifications, providing the power and reliability guitar and bass players have come to expect:
* Transformers wound to the original Partridge design specification
* The highest quality valves
* Point-to-point wiring painstakingly finished to Harry Joyce’s exacting military standards
* Cabinet construction with 18mm marine-quality birch plywood
* Each amplifier and speaker cabinet carefully assembled and soak-tested in our own factory in England.

The result is that unique Hiwatt sound, rich in third and fifth harmonics, as effective in the studio as it is on stage.
These amps sound like no other.
The sound of a Custom 100 stack at full tilt is truly awesome.
The sheer power and responsiveness is guaranteed to blow you away.

Hiwatt is rooted in the British Sound that emerged in the mid 1960s.

It was The Who’s John Entwistle who first traded in his Marshall stacks in favour of Sound City at the beginning of 1967. Sound City, the precursor to Hiwatt, produced customized L100 amplifiers later that year for Pete Townshend.
At this time, Dave Reeves was providing Sound City with OEM amplifiers. The design layout and controls on the customized L100s were identical to the Hiwatt CP103 that was to come. These customized L100s were the first in a lineage of amplifiers that would quickly evolve into Hiwatt.

Around this time, Jimi Hendrix and his manager Chas Chandler approached Townshend, asking for his opinion on amplification. Townshend told them that he had stopped using Marshall, as he thought Sound City were better. The Jimi Hendrix Experience subsequently started using Sound City L100s, but set them up together with their Marshall stacks instead of replacing them.

In late 1968, The Who approached Dallas Arbiter, the makers of Sound City, asking if their equipment could be modified slightly.

This request was denied, but independent amp designer and manufacturer Dave Reeves agreed, and created customised L100 amplifiers under the name Hylight Electronics.

Hiwatt was born.

This model was named the Hiwatt DR103, which would be modified in 1970 into the CP103 ‘Super Who 100’ model, which Townshend used almost exclusively for over a decade. In 1973, the updated DR103W model was created. It has been the central piece of equipment around which Townshend’s various rigs were built for the next thirty years. The DR103-Hiwatt Custom 100 Head is still our flagship amplifier to this day.

Now, years later, Hiwatt is the only British amplifier line still completely hand-built, hand-wired and assembled in England.

This is not just “boutique” – this is HIWATT!

Hiwatt Timeline


In England, Hiwatt founder Dave Reeves works building amplifiers at Sound City, Hiwatt's precursor.


Dave Reeves starts building Hiwatt amplifiers Notable early users: Glenn Cornick, bassist of Jethro Tull. It was at his urging that the first 200-watt (and later 400-watt) amps were produced.


The Who's John Entwistle trades his amps in exclusively for Sound City, Hiwatt’s precursor, Pete Townshend follows. Jimi Hendrix follows suit, stacking Sound City amps next to his Marshalls


Dave Reeves agrees to customize The Who's equipment. The DR103 is born.


Manufacturing of Hiwatt amplifiers by parent company Hylight Electronics begins and continues until 1981. Dave Reeves goes solo, tweaks amps for The Who's Peter Townshend, Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmore


Pete Townshend of the The Who uses Hiwatt amplifiers and kicks off a new The British Sound, along with Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, The Faces The Moody Blues. The CP103 "Super Who 100" is used almost exclusively by The Who's Peter Townshend.


Dave reeves meets Harry Joyce and Hiwatt amps become wired to military specifications – neat and clean, where every component is labelled and all wires are bent at right angles and tied off.


The DR103W gets an update and becomes the centerpiece around which The Who's Peter Townshend's rigs are built.


HIWATT puts audio engineer, David Strelz's amplifier design - the "BULLDOG" line of Combo Amplifiers, inspired by the Mesa-Boogie Combo - into production. The SA112/30 qualifies as a HIWATT RARITY - only 26 of these units were manufactured.


Tragically Dave Reeves passes away and the Hylight company is dissolved. Hiwatt ends up in the hands of a majority of the employees and is manufactured as Hiwatt by the Biacrown Company. The amps continue to be built using the same materials and methods.


The trademarks are sold to Richard Harrison who controls, expands and builds under the name until 2016


New CEO Mark Lodge expands product line to include the affordable entry-line of Hiwatt products, including the Hi-Gain, Tube, Solid State G Series for guitar and the Solid State B Series for bass. Next Generation of artists: U2, Nirvana and Coldplay - among many others - uses Hiwatt amplification.


Richard Harrison sells the trademarks to a Canadian interest and a new era begins. Hiwatt under new ownership begins to make all efforts to bring Hiwatt to a second Golden Era.


The DR103 amplifier design celebrates its 50th anniversary of Dave Reeves’ idea and Hiwatt’s unique tone. New artists Glam Skanks and Japandroids join the ranks of Hiwatt.

April 2017

Frankfurt Musikmesse – Hiwatt releases first new Custom Shop product The Little D Rig Mk II