return of a Boutique Legend
Gear Reviews
Return of
a Boutique
The Budda Twinmaster
n the early days of boutiqueamp building, there were but a few
contenders on the scene. One of the
strongest amplifiers in those days was
made by Budda. First released in 1995,
the company’s Twinmaster presented
18 watts of raw tone that made it a
no-brainer buy for many, and it soon
found its way into clubs, arenas, and
recording studios.
In the years to follow, the market was
flooded with boutique combos, still,
early Buddas retain a cache. After leaving the market for awhile, it recently
returned. Yet, as with all reissues, the
budda twinmaster
Price: $1,999.
Vintage Guitar
primary question is, “How does it stack
up to the original?”
The Twinmaster is refreshingly simple and easy to use. It has twin inputs,
one for normal gain, and a second with
an extra gain stage. Handily, the amp is
wired so that the user can use an A/B
switch to switch between the two sides,
creating a pseudo channel-switching
setup. Topside, there are controls for
volume, treble, and bass, along with
on/off and standby switches. On its
underside are jacks for a passive effects
loop, speaker output, slave output, and
an impedance selector switch for 8- or
4-ohms. The slave out is identical to the
speaker out, except it’s
padded and
EQ’d to be line-level friendly. This feature is good for recording direct with an
amped tone or plugging into effects and
a stereo power amp for a wet/dry/wet
rig. Also underside are the tube complement – two 12AX7s in the preamp, two
EL-84s, and a 5U4 rectifier. The speaker
is a Budda Phat 12, while the blackvinyl-covered cab is made from pine.
The Twinmaster is also a gig-friendly 42
pounds, thanks to an aluminum chassis that, we
should add,
is handwired
in the U.S.A.
Visually, the
is also a finelooking amp,
w it h clea n,
controls, and
only a tasteful
“Budda” logo
on the front
of the speaker
For our
tests we used a
Gibson ’59 Les
Paul Historic
reissue, and a
Plugging the
Strat into the
Tw inmaster’s
nor m a l- g a i n
input, we dialed
in a robust clean
tone. The amp’s
midrange push
gave our Strat a
certain weightiness that gave its
normally weak bridge
pickup some added heft. To boot, even
single notes from the Strat seemed to
carry more authority. Turning the
tone controls provided interesting
tonal development, but always with
its midrange thrust – a Twinmaster
Turning up the Volume knob makes
the amp louder without adding much
hair until it passes the halfway point.
For more oomph, shifting to the highgain input makes single-coils bark with
the Volume control barely turned up.
With its added gain stage, this input is
a high-gain beast, even with the mild
6k-output pickups in our test Strat.
A Les Paul into the high-gain input
takes you straight to Rock City, creating creamy, robust distorted tones that
clean up nicely for chunky rhythm riffs
(by dialing it down to about 7 on the
guitar’s Volume knob). Switching back
to the low-gain input cleans things up,
but the Twinmaster could never be
considered a clean machine when using
a humbucker-equipped guitar like the
’59. The amp is very pedal-friendly, as
well. While some amps’ input stages
will cringe at boosts, and various gain
pedals, the Budda’s handled them all.
How does the new Twinmaster
compare to the original Budda? Quite
well, actually. Kudos to the company
for not reinventing the wheel and
staying close to the original amp
produced 16 years ago. Furthermore,
it doesn’t try to sound like a Vox or
a blackface Fender; it sounds like a
Budda, and that’s a significant victory right there. The Twinmaster
has always had its own sound, due
to its fatness and pleasant midrange
emphasis, and this speaks to both
the circuit design and a well-chosen
speaker. It’s a very solid amp, both in
construction and tone, and excels as
a grab-and-go amp for club gigs or
rehearsals. If you’re in the market for a
new combo with a tone that is “phat”
and soulful, the Budda Twinmaster
fits the bill. – Zac Childs
No v em b er 2011
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