Review: Henriksen The Bud

When engineer Bud Henriksen retired and decided to focus on playing jazz guitar, he spent years searching for the right amp, but he couldn’t settle on one he liked.
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When engineer Bud Henriksen retired and decided to focus on playing jazz guitar, he spent years searching for the right amp, but he couldn’t settle on one he liked. So, in 2005, he began to design and manufacture his own amp, the aptly named JazzAmp. Apparently, other players shared and appreciated Bud’s tonal desires, and Henriksen amps earned a following and a reputation for remarkable sound. Sadly, in 2009, Bud passed away at just 64 from cancer. But the Henriksen story didn’t end—or stagnate—with its founder’s death. After Peter Henriksen was going through some of his dad’s things, he found an old 6” speaker, which triggered the development of a new, super-portable amplifier and a vision that extended beyond jazz players.

Named after his father, the Bud packs 120 watts into a nine-inch cube that weighs just 17 pounds. It’s also so versatile that you’ll want to invite the amp to every party. This powerful mini amp is great for solo-acoustic players, singer/songwriters, clean-toned retro rockers, blue-grassers, electric violinists, and, yes, jazz guitarists. The Bud arrived for testing in an optional, well-padded bag with a comfortable strap ($109 direct) that I’d recommended highly.

The Bud comes with two identical preamps, each with a combination XLR/1/4" input, Input Gain, Volume, EQ, and Reverb. This is great news for any performer who yearns for a lightweight amp/P.A./monitor solution. You can also run an auxiliary input through Channel 1 and EQ it to your preference, which is convenient for playing along with backing tracks at home or onstage.

While the Bud make friends with both solidbody and hollowbody electrics, it also gets along fabulously with acoustic steel- and nylon-string guitars. The 5-band EQ section is both musical and useful, with Low (80Hz), Low-Mid (420Hz), Hi-Mid (1.6kHz), High (3.5kHz), and Presence (7.2kHz) controls. Inside the amp is a 6.5" Eminence Beta speaker with a neodymium tweeter that can be turned on or off. An optional cabinet is available with the same speaker ($499 direct) if you want to spread out the sound spectrum. The reverb on each channel is superb—it sounds simultaneously natural and warm. The Bud’s balanced, low-impedance output is post-EQ and post-reverb, and lets you send your customized sound to the front-of-house mixer. For such a tiny amp, the Bud pumps out plenty of volume.

The Bud can coax a lovely richness out of your guitar’s clean tone that is also very articulate and dimensional. If you need a bit more sparkle, the Bright switch will amend the amp’s naturally darker tone to give your playing more clarity. The Bud works well with different stomp-boxes, as it cleanly and clearly documents your pedal settings and tone. And if you want a little more or less of something and you can’t dial it in with the 5-band EQ, then maybe the sound you want should be reconsidered or avoided outright.

The Bud is such a good hang that you’ll want to stay up late into the night, and you won’t even have to disturb the neighbors because the amp comes with a headphone jack. Built to sound transparent and be portable and reliable, the Bud could turn out to be your new best friend.



PRICE $1,099 street

CONTROLS Input Gain, Volume, 5-band EQ, Reverb
POWER 120 watts
EXTRAS Phantom power, two dual XLR/¼” inputs, Bright switch, Tweeter defeat, ¼" and XLR speaker outputs, 1/8" Aux Input, two TRS send/return loops, headphone jack.
SPEAKER One 6.5" Eminence Beta with fluid-cooled, high-yield neodymium tweeter
WEIGHT 17 lbs
KUDOS Portable and versatile. Great build qualityy. Warm and dynamic tone.