Amplified or Acoustic?

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Amplified or Acoustic?

Postby jeffl » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:33 pm

For you guys that have done both, whadda you like better... playin' amplified harp, or that nice cozy acoustic duo or trio stuff...? Personally, the acoustic stuff takes me closer to my roots, and requires a little more focus in order to stay creative and appealing, while the amplified band backing gives me a bigger rush.
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Postby 1armbandit » Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:01 pm

Acoustic.
Maybe not being able to get the best cup on the mic clouds my judgment but I'm really drawn toward the cleaner acoustic sound.

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Postby jeffl » Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:13 pm

I'm prob'ly prejudiced a little from my beginnings. I really didn't get into amplified band harp until the last 6-7 years. The first blues experiences I had involved a guitar/harp duo, played "acoustically" through a Shure 58, uncupped. I had a great friendship with the guitarist, and we basically learned blues at the same time, playin' old traditional stuff outa songbooks; stuff by Leadbelly, Rev. Gary Davis Jr.-- even Woody Guthrie, Dylan, etc. Then, we added another guitarist and a keyboard, but we still went without a bassist and drummer, and I played uncupped through the 58 still, and picked up on guys like Mayall. I still do alotta acoustic stuff with just the same guitar player ( after 40 years! ), and my jam group plays acoustically, with a small trap set and often brushes, and a modified tub bass ( a tub fiddle, no kiddin' ). The acoustic stuff is the rootsier stuff, and when I sit in with bands, it's always amplified blues dance bands with the Chicago sound...not even alotta jump blues or swing stuff. I guess I like it both ways.
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Postby bosco » Sun Dec 09, 2007 1:32 pm

I love it all ways and dread the thought of having to make a choice.

Like Bubba, I've played acoustic for over 35 years...that's the way I learned the instrument. I've only been into bullet mics and tube amps for the last eight years. The timeline would look like this-

acoustic harp..... 1969-
acoustic racked harp with acoustic guitar..... 1973-
harp through vocal PA sitting in with bands.....1985-
harp thru mic and tube amp......2000-

I played in an acoustic quintet (no mics or amps) at an art show this past October. It was a riot and the audience was very responsive. A fresh reminder of the dynamics that are lost when playing with an amplified band.

When playing with my electric band, I love the versatilty of having choices. I use the bullet and amp for down and dirty blues. I play acoustically through the vocal mic for authentic versions of the "Friday Song", "Long Train Runnin' " and a sultry "Stand By Me". Hand effects and articulation are the hallmarks of this style and they lend a folky or country blues flavor vs the brown tones and horn like honk that can be found in an amp, resembling a sax with leanings toward jazz.

Variety is the spice of life...and also of live performance music. Changing playing styles and keys often, comping in the background, even leaving the harp out, all contribute to keeping the music fresh and appealing.

Don't make me choose. :cry:

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Postby watertore » Sun Dec 09, 2007 9:27 pm

I have done both but find the acoustic harp, offers much more expression of sounds and dynamics. The amplified thing, for me, got old pretty early on and I haven't had any desire to get back into it. The bottom line is play what makes you feel good. Walter
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Postby MakaInOz » Mon Dec 10, 2007 12:08 am

I'm a "not in public" harp player, but I like to have the amplified option for jams at home (I've got a resident upright bassist and guitar player) when the boys want to get loud.

Mostly I play just for me so its acoustic, but a lot of the time I practice with a mic not plugged in. It helps maintain the cupping skills with the different mics, so that when the LOUD option is selected, I can jam along.

I wouldn't want to lose the amplified option - choice is good!
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Postby dcblues » Mon Dec 10, 2007 12:21 am

When I play amplified a lot I miss playing acoustic. When I play acoustic a lot I miss playing amplified (but these days it's almost all electric gigs). I honestly couldn't choose one over the other. It can be nice to mix it up sometimes. You can play an electric gig and play some songs through the pa mic and play an acoustic gig and use a small amp on some songs. I've done both, and it really adds a lot of variety.
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Postby JakeyVimto » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:32 am

I've mainly played acoustically, only really played amped at home by myself....until 15 jan next year, at the first practice of the Jakeyvimto blues band!

I honestly cant wait to play through an amp at decent volume for a change.

Doesn't mean I wont play acoustic though. On holiday in Prague last month I met some friends of friends who reminded me about the range of sounds you can get from a harp without any equipment at all.
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