By Adam Perlmutter
When the late Bud Henriksen, a computer engineer, retired and turned his focus to playing jazz guitar, he scoured the market but couldn’t find an amp he liked. So he made one himself, and then founded an equipment manufacturing company. Introduced in 2006, Henriksen’s JazzAmp was designed to address the shortcomings he found in other amps, by avoiding circuitry that influences a guitar’s tone. The jazz-guitar community quickly embraced this smart new tool.
Henriksen’s son Peter now presides over the company, which recently introduced an acoustic-guitar-friendly amp know as “The Bud.” Unlike its predecessors, this little amp is intended for anything with a pickup or microphone. The company’s website demos the amp with everything from vocals to upright bass to banjo (on the site, AG contributing editor Sean McGowan also gives a full demo with a handful of different guitars). I checked out the Bud using a Martin OM-28E and a Gibson ES-335 and was taken with the tiny amp’s hearty tone and adaptability.
Solidly Built & User-Friendly
The test model shipped with Henriksen’s optional gig bag ($109), which, with its thick padding and comfy shoulder strap, is highly recommended.
The amp is a nine-inch cube and weighs only 17 pounds, making it easy to transport to a gig. That’s especially handy for a musician who travels frequently by subway or air. Its cabinet, made from Baltic birch, feels rugged and durable, as does the amp’s handle.
A top-mounted control panel is easy to navigate. There are two channels, each with a combination quarter-inch/XLR jack, gain, and volume controls, a five-control EQ section, and a reverb control. The channels are fully independent, making the Bud flexible. Here are a couple of the possibilities: Plug an electric-acoustic guitar into one channel and a vocal microphone into the other, or a guitar into one and a backing track on an iPhone into the other.
A Rich Range of Sounds
I plug in the Martin with the Bud’s volume knob just below a quarter of the way up and the EQ knobs set flat and am impressed by the loudness and fullness that emerge from the amp’s 6.5-inch Eminence Beta speaker. The 135-watt amp is powerful enough for many ensemble situations, though its optional extension cabinet ($499) might come in handy for playing with a heavy-handed drummer.
The Bud delivers the Martin’s natural sound without any tubbiness. Its bass response is surprising, considering the amp’s size. And the EQ section, with controls for low (80Hz), low-mid (420Hz), hi-mid (1.6 KHz), high (3.5 KHz), and presence (7.2 KHz), has an unusually wide sweep, making it easy to tailor the sound to the context—the presence control is particularly musical, adding a brilliant shimmer to the highest frequencies.
With the ES-335 set on the neck pickup, its tone knob rolled down, it’s easy to get a warm and woody jazz sound on the Bud, with great clarity on both single-note lines and cluster-voiced chords. Though the Bud is hardly a rock amp, it pairs nicely with an Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal, providing an appealingly gritty sound for blues-rock riffing and soloing.
The amp’s built-in Accutronics reverb is a nice touch. Below its noon setting, it adds lushness and depth to both guitars. But I find myself disinclined to use it, given how rich and detailed and big the Bud—a winner of an amp—sounds without it.
Henriksen the Bud
AMP 135 watt, dual-channel independent EQ and reverb with phantom powered XLR/1/4″combo inputs; Studio-quality line out (post EQ and reverb, both channels); 1/8-inch auxiliary input on channel 1 and bright switch on channel 2; Headphone jack
CABINET OEM 6.5-inch Eminence Beta speaker with special fluid-cooled, high-yield neodymium tweeter
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OTHER ; Optional gig bag and extension cabinet
PRICE $999 direct
Made in the USA