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JGT First Look: The Henriksen Forte

Bob Bakert, Editor

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First, a disclaimer: I own and play a Henriksen Bud and regularly use a JazzAmp 310 that lives at a local venue here in the Atlanta area.  I’m a fan of the Henriksen sound. 

My personal style runs between pristine cleans to large amounts of gain.  Typically, I take the Bud to my “jazz” and acoustic gigs and take a boutique tube amp to the “overdrive” gigs. I sometimes want a little more from my Bud because there are those crossover gigs and also some gigs I take three guitars and to get the tone I desire from each out of one amp is a challenge al be it compromise.  

I was really happy when Pete Henriksen said they were developing a “hybrid” amp.  One with enough headroom to play clean with an organ trio and yet could dial in the tube saturation to get that “Carlton” overdrive pallet.

The amp arrived and I pulled it from the box and was very happy at the size and weight.  It is about like a Deluxe Reverb.

On investigating the tone and putting it through its paces the thing that smacks you is this thing can play loud.  Very loud, think Twin Reverb. 

I love a Deluxe but without miking on some gigs you run out of the ability to hang in the mix.  Not so with this amp.  The other thing is that its tonal pallet is extremely versatile.  So much so that there is a learning curve to dial in your desired tones.  Lots of amps have one sound.  That’s what they are known for and that’s why we buy and love them.  This amp gives you a lot of variety. Clean high headroom to overdriven TS-9 tone without a pedal.  The EQ is a five-band intelligently chosen center frequencies to bring out and remove the critical frequencies for a variety of guitars from archtops to Teles. 

Controls of the Forte

The unique tube circuitry dials in via rotary pot the amount of tube saturation from none, or traditional Henriksen clean jazz amp to very warm all be it “tube” overdrive with a hint of compression and harmonics that we all love tubes for.  I thought that I would always want the tube slightly dialed in but I was surprised that when I have my 17” archtop I like it with no tube saturation, I guess the warmth comes from the guitar.

For more on the Henriksen Forte.

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