mic and amp

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

mic and amp

Postby flatpaul » Sat Dec 09, 2006 8:37 pm

Hi guys,

I'm a beginner and can play second and first position ok with some decent bends. I'm basically self taught and have never really played with anybody else but I want to now. I really wanna get the whole 'chicago' sound though and get mic'd up first so that I can practice at home. I've never used an amp and mic and I don't know what to get. I don't really have a lot of cash so if I'm gonna pay out I want to get something that I won't need to replace. But do I have to buy expensive equipment or not?

I'm not sure whether to get something cheap or not? I saw a cheap battery powered amp and a mic that was made from a spice pot online. They look like good value. Do you think they will do for now?

Paul
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Postby jeffl » Sat Dec 09, 2006 9:01 pm

For a mic,most people use one of two alternatives: a classic bullet styled mic,of which the Shure 520DX "Green Bullet" and the Hohner Blues Blaster (an Astatic JT-30 copycat) are the most popular choices for a new purchase; OR a regular vocal mic that can be cupped easily, such as the Shure SM-57. When it comes to amps, for the Chicago sound, it is most common to find a tube amplifier, although a growing minority of harpers are playing through pre-amp or effects boxes directly into the PA. Most harpers on this forum will tell you to get a relatively small tube driven guitar amp. If you are jus' gonna play at home, or in small jam settings, 6-12 watts of Class A power will be all you will need, and you can place a mic in front of the amp and send it to a PA if you need to get more volume pushed out front. If you are gonna gig with it, you may want more than 6-10 watts of power, in order to be loud enough to serve as a decent stage monitor and hear yourself in the mix on stage. Even if you play small gigs, you should not need more than 10-20 watts of Class A tube power. The mics can be found new for around $100.00 (U.S.), but the amp search is a little more difficult. Stay away from gimick amps and stick with small tube amps made for guitar. The vintage harp amps (such as Fender Champs,Princetons,etc., will cost $300.00 and up,but you can find new small tube amps in the $120 to $250 range. Fender Pro Jr.,Blues Jr., and the small Epiphones,Rolands,Pignoses,Peavey 20s, etc. will more than do the job, for new amps. Some harpers here also add a delay or slap-echo effect box between the mic and the amp, and you'll find that the Danelectro BLT slap -echo will work fine for that, and it's only about $40 (I think). Check out http://www.angelfire.com/music/harmonica/ click on the picture of the amp that sez "amplified harmonica".
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Postby brianp » Sat Dec 09, 2006 9:22 pm

I have a Crate V58 I would be willing to sell relatively cheap. You can find info on that amp setup at http://www.hunterharp.com/ampset1.html The one I have is completely retubed for harp with JJs and still new w/ hang tags. I took it on a trade. If you are interested get a hold of me at brian@harpgear.com

Thanks,

BrianP
http://www.harpgear.com
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Postby jeffl » Sat Dec 09, 2006 11:45 pm

Brian: I've seen that article before (on the harp rig), but it was a beautiful response to this post. I hope you're doin' very well, and I would encourage our new friend,flatpaul, to contact you and see what you have goin' on in your skunkworks. Flatpaul: you've stumbled onto a great site here which can direct you to any level of knowledge you may be ready for. We have a few harpers who build amps,and we have a fair supply of harpers who have played tons of gigs and rubbed shoulders with summa the best harpers in the cosmos, and we have some good techs as well. I would encourage you to check out whatever you can find in the harp archives (we've had a coupla blowouts & crashes that our host, Pappy, has delivered us from...Moses should be his blues name,too.) Welcome to the Big Road, flatpaul.
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Postby t bone bruce » Sun Dec 10, 2006 1:30 pm

Hi Flatpaul,
First off, welcome from a fellow Essex harp player. I'm just up the road in Chelmsford.
Second, what Jeffl has written is excellent advice. I know what it's like not having a great deal of money to lay down on equipment. However it's worth saving and getting hold of some decent equipment as it will last you. Otherwise, you end up getting something that you rapidly outgrow and isn't easy to resell. I've made some mistakes like that already, and I'd guess most of us have at some point or another. The other problem is gear is less available and more expensive than in the US.
I'd suggest getting a mic first. Unfortunately harp mic's like the Hohner Blues Blaster or Shure 520DX are quite expensive here in the UK, about £100 (nearly $200, for you guys Stateside!). You could look at e-bay and see if you can find one used, but they still attract a good price. Alternatives are the Shaker mics, which are smaller and more easily cupped, and work quite well just straight into a PA, Most UK harp players use one of these three or a vintage mic they've got over from the States. If you get your mic first then you can take it with you while trying out amps.
You could then just get a cheap £20 practice amp for home use, it'll sound pretty bad, but lets you work on microphone technique. A reasonable amp would be an Epiphone Valve Junior (£120) or a Fender Pro Junior (£200 is the cheapest I've seen one new).
If you want to discuss any of this further, send me a PM.
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The never-ending amplified Chicago search

Postby bluesfyre » Sun Dec 10, 2006 4:44 pm

:-)

All preceding advise is excellent. I would suggest finding the mic you like, and then bringing it, and a harp with you when you go amp shopping. Most store owners have no problem allowing you try the amps out. You can spend alot of money needlessly, wandering in and just spending. I find in many cases, I end up in a small jam with other shoppers/shop owners while testing out the gear :-) Kind of kills two birds with one stone. Have fun with it, and enjoy our instrument of choice.

Blues On!
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Postby angerboy » Sun Dec 10, 2006 5:50 pm

Stick w/ a classic Fender tube amp to preserve your investment. A decent Fender amp, like those referenced above will always be worth more than the current market value. I remember a day not so long ago when one could buy very nice blackface Champs for $75 and blackface Super Reverbs for $400. Tweed amps were considered the junk that no one wanted. The funny thing is that time wasn't very long ago. Gibsons are good, too.

If you must buy something more recent, a Pro Junior will be good, but it will really be too loud to use around the house. The Valve Junior looks like a nice little practice amp and they are pretty darn cheap.
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Postby ricochet » Sun Dec 10, 2006 6:54 pm

The VJ is pretty loud around the house, too, if you want to turn it up till it starts overdriving! I usually play mine at low volume, where it's rather clean. Still sounds great!
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Postby flatpaul » Mon Dec 18, 2006 3:10 pm

Thanks for the excellent advice guys - It's really thorough I've written loads of notes - it beats working anyways... It didn't realise but it's actually loads cheaper for to order a mic from the States as it's not very heavy.

Nice to meet you Bruce. I'd come up to Chelmsford and see you play but I'm heading out to Australia soon... Shame, I'd like to see more players. Maybe I will on my travels (hopefully)

Paul
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Postby jellyroll baker » Tue Dec 19, 2006 5:04 am

flatpaul wrote:Nice to meet you Bruce. I'd come up to Chelmsford and see you play but I'm heading out to Australia soon... Shame, I'd like to see more players. Maybe I will on my travels (hopefully)


Where abouts in Australia are you headed? There are plenty of us Down Under BRBers scattered across the country just itchin' for a jam.
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