Which Amp?

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

Which Amp?

Postby Mister_K19 » Sat Jul 01, 2006 4:45 am

So far, I have just been playing traditional acoustic harmonica. But I've been considering on playing with a mic and amp. I know what mic I'm going to get but I'm not sure about the amp. I have no knowledge of amplifers. But I'm looking for something around $100 or less. I'm just looking for something decent, nothing professional since I'm still a bit of a beginner. Anyone got any suggestions? Also, a friend of mine plays with the Pignose portable amp. Is that any good?
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Postby thebluesbox » Sat Jul 01, 2006 5:24 am

pignose has a good rep, I never played on one but heard good things about them, they are made for just like what your discribing something to kick around on for under a 100.00 ..... if you wanna go a little bigger with tubes for that crunchy dirty sound look on ebay for a kalamazoo, harmony, silvertone, gibson, supro, valco, etc. something with an 8 - 10 inch speaker makes a great sounding amp and can always be mic-ed if you ever play out. You can look to pay anywhere from 80.00 - 200.00 for a good old vintage amp some go even higher in cost, but I bought a harmony H400A for 80.00 that sounded awesome! But I sold it because it had a 2 prong cord and I didnt wanna go through trying to get it safe to play.

Now I have played a few solid state amps nonvintage that sounded really good as well, and they are less expensive I paid 100.00 for a kustom amp had a 12' speaker in it I think and it sounded pretty good, a danelectro nifty fifty sounded really great, also peavey rage 108. These are all solid state amps I have played they do lack warm mellow tone that the tube amps have and they are a little on the harsh side for harp playing but they do work and serve the purpose. You just have to crank them way up there to get them to break and start getting dirty and by that time the sound is kinda chalky and hard.

So what ever needs your lookin to fill all these options are availible. these smaller amps sound the best with harp!
Good luck.

btw I saw a kalamazoo on ebay dont remember the details but it was a low start price and it looked good.
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Postby t bone bruce » Sat Jul 01, 2006 9:08 am

Amp choice depends on what you plan to do with it.
Personally I'd save for a small tube amp. Either an old one from the list of names Bluesbox mentioned, which will look beaten up and have a real vintage "mojo" but will probably need to be checked for electrical safety, or spring for an Epiphone Valve Junior- they list new for $120, and with a single tube swap will work nicely for harp. For the sake of an extra $30 ($10 for a new tube -a 12AY7) you will get a much more usable and toneful amp. You could always mic it up later if you start playing with a band.
Don't forget to take your mic along when you go shopping for it. Some mic's suit some amps better. You don't say what mic you're getting. There are some good harp mics on e-bay, though you start paying silly money for some of them. Most of us start out with the usual choices- Shure 520DX "Green Bullet" or Hohner's Blues Blaster.
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Postby thebluesbox » Sat Jul 01, 2006 1:16 pm

hey your right tbruce I forgot about them epiphone jrs, they have them at the US music123.com for 99.00 free shipping.

If I could do it all over again, which Im glad I waisted a lotta money and experimented on all the amps that I did in the past it gave me reference to what does what and whats good and what aint, but giving the chance to do it over I would save on the 2 or 3 amps I did buy on a miss and get the one I and my amp tech is workin on now the fender 5F1 champ or simular.
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Postby ricochet » Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:22 pm

Any of you harpers with a Valve Junior, I'd be curious to hear what you think about it with one of these in it:
http://www.triodeelectronics.com/12dw77247ecc832jj.html
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Postby t bone bruce » Sat Jul 01, 2006 6:38 pm

For anyone who's missed it in the equipment forum, I've been using a 12DW7 in my princeton clone. The great thing is all the gain occurs right before the volume control, giving you a gritty sound, but without the feedback issues a 12AX7 gives. At around $10/£10 one won't break the bank, but it will give you a real nice dirty tone....
I reckon it should sound sweet in the valve junior. I was sorely tempted into getting a valve junior myself, but went down the home build route.
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Postby jeffl » Sat Jul 01, 2006 7:39 pm

If you run across any old tube amp cheap,with an output of 5 to 25 watts,it should work good for harp,whether or not it's got a solid state rectifier. I'd just try 'em out if you run across one. If the first pre-amp tube is a 12AX7,you can de-horn it to a 12AT7 or less,and drive it harder to get a browner tone.
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Postby Mister_K19 » Sun Jul 02, 2006 3:07 am

Thanks for all the advice. They've been real helpful. But I've been looking around for different amps and I've narrowed it down to a few. I found a Marshall MG10CD Combo Amp and the Marshall MG15CD 15Watt Combo Amp. Are those any good? Of course there's the Epiphone Valve Junior Tube Amp tbone said. And a Silvertone BLUESBOX mentioned, the Silvertone SM3? How's that one? Of course I'll go and bring a Green Bullet and try them out first. But what do you all recommend for me from these few that have that crunchy, dirty bluesy tone, or any others that are also good?
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Postby thebluesbox » Sun Jul 02, 2006 3:33 am

the silvertones I was refering to was vintage also the kalamazoo is great for harp I found one for right at a hundred http://cgi.ebay.com/Kalamazoo-Gibson-6B ... dZViewItem

Not sure about the marshals for harp not many people I know play harp through a marshall, well I dont know any really. I see your looking at new smaller amps, this kalamazoo I posted the link on is vintage and will sound the best with blues harp ou t of all that you listed with out modding it right off the bat untouched im sure of. If you dont want the old ratty vintage look and your dead set on getting something new your best bet is the epi valve jr. Or a pignose amp for the price range you said you want to spend.
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Postby t bone bruce » Sun Jul 02, 2006 8:43 am

I'd avoid the Marshall's. They're OK for guitar,- I know a guitarist who gigs with 2x 15w MG series heads and gets fanastic tone. But they tend to be a bit nasal for harp. I have played through the marshall mini amp, and a 65 watt marshall bass amp, but wasn't impressed with either.
I wouldn't go for the Silvertone either. It looks like a generic solid state practice amp. You might like it at first, but you'll end up wishing you'd saved your money for a "proper" amp.
If you get a vintage amp like the Kalamazoo you will instantly have an added cool factor. However you may end up having to replace capacitors or getting it grounded properly, which unless you can do it yourself will add to the cost. Sometimes the cabinet isn't in terribly good condition either. I wish we had some of those old amps here in the UK- I'd have a few in various stages of repair/renovation! The valve junior shouldn't have any of those worries. The circuit is similar to the kalamazoo any way. If you check out the reviews on Harmony-Central you'll see the hum problems have been fixed in the new ones. I tried one out in the music shop many months ago, and I would have bought one, but didn't have the money. I ended up building my own (OK, so I spent more that I would buying the valve junior, but I was able to make my own mods on the way and spread the cost over 3 months!) If you can find a music store with one in stock, take your bullet along and have a blow....see what you think.
Alternately look around for a used Fender Pro Junior or Blues Junior.
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Postby Ozark Bluesman » Sun Jul 02, 2006 4:15 pm

On the current market, it's gonna be damn hard to beat that Epiphone Valve Jr. deal at Musician's Friend. I'm just about ready to buy one, but can't decide if I should get the combo or just the head and use another cab with it.
Yeah Sure...if you can find a Kalamazoo Model 1 or a Silvertone 1481, or something like that...they're the cat's ass for harp. BUT...make sure the electric stuff inside is in good condition. It's easy to get the snot shocked outa ya with old amps.
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Postby thebluesbox » Sun Jul 02, 2006 5:26 pm

tbonebruce:
I ended up building my own (OK, so I spent more that I would buying the valve junior, but I was able to make my own mods on the way and spread the cost over 3 months!)


Bruce I got the same testimony as you LOL ... I was looking at the epi valve head and I actually paid for it from musiciansfriend, turned out it was backordered and they kept moving the darn date everyday, so finally I got fed up and canceled my order and started my search for the 5F1 fender circuit amp Im putting together, I bought the cabinet, speaker, amp, handle, grill cloth all seperate, assembled and finished the cab myself and Im going to end up with one cool ride when Im done. Tickfawriver has the amp chassis now doing some mods to it like moving pwr tubes in the chassis, adding caps, monitor jack and a transformer swap.

I did spend a lot more then I first started out to spend but like you said it was kinda spread out and I was able to assemble it and work on getting it together myself which was way cool. And in the end this will be one awesome sounding little rig!
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Postby Ozark Bluesman » Sun Jul 02, 2006 5:36 pm

I'm thinkin that Epi Valve Jr. head with a 4x8 cab would be killer...
Almost a Sonny Jr. type rig. 8)
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Postby 1armbandit » Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:22 am

Image

This is the speaker cabinet that I put together for my Valve Jr. The two 6x9's are in tandem and the other speakers are seperate, although they can all be chained together if need be. I need to pull the baffle board back off and tighten my upholstery work but I think it looks good with the Epi.

Each has it's own sound but the 6x9's are best. They are just sweet.
I took it to my local jam last night and it's still not loud enough. Although it is more than loud enough for a small club in my opinion. I carry earplugs for this bunch. They all like to hear me play and they all say it's too loud but no one will turn down.

As for the Jr. The cabinet is very well built, everything works great for me right out of the box.

I picked up a Digitech RP-80 because I have to have a volume pedal and I wanted to have some delay and reverb. Got this one off Ebay for $30.

I have the pedal set up as a volume pedal, spring reverb, and a little delay. Also I've set the equalizer to lows high, mids mid and highs low.
I love the tone. I guess I'll play it here for the family and keep looking for a blues group to jam with.

I haven't made any tube substtutions yet but the one that Rico and T-bone are talking about sounds cool.
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Postby bosco » Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:21 pm

Mister K-19-

The suggestions for "A harp amp" always fly but you must first determine what you will be doing with it!

Sure Epi Valve Juniors, Kalamazoos and Champs sound good for harp...in your bedroom or for small controlled practices.

If you are going to play out, 5 watts isn't going to cut it as Bandit found out with his new rig. I've been in live bands for years and you are going to need 15 tube watts or more to get up at the jam and be heard with a couple guitars, bass and drums. Miking your amp is a pain in the ass, the guy running the jam will resist it, and you then begin to lose control over your sound. You want a rig you can just carry in and play. Period.

Bandit- Great to pics of your project! Thanks. Gotta love the tone of those 6X9s. I posted a review of the Epiphone Valve series (for harp) when they were introduced and mentioned then that they really dropped the ball by not coming out with a 15 watt version and trying to capture the old Fender Princeton market.

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