Harp mic feedback

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Harp mic feedback

Postby JakeyVimto » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:55 pm

Hi,

I've been gigging around for a year with the new band, playing harp in public for the first time. I have a couple of mics, but i swear everywhere I play, mostly in Glasgow/Central Scotland, I cant get them up to volume without them feeding back horribly. I've tried running through an eq pedal (the mic is usually running through the PA) but just no joy.

Do i need to get up to the soundmen and start telling them how to sort this out?

Any help would be beautiful guys,

Cheers,

j
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby jeffl » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:04 pm

Jakey, what are you using for a mic and amp, and do you have any effects boxes in the loop? Does your amp have a gain button that you are using? Are you running your harp into the monitors and mains? Are you eq'ing the bass up and the mids & highs zeroed out?
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby JakeyVimto » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:39 pm

Hey bubba,

I am using either my green bullet or the modified mic i got from Kenny from the Blue Devils on this forum (I know that isnt much help). Usually I have been DI'ing the mic straight into the pa, or using my little Epi jr knockoff with an eq pedal in to take off the treble. The amp literally has an on/off switch and a volume control. But most of the time It was straight into the pa, into the monitors and mains.
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby jeffl » Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:32 pm

One thing you could do is try mic'ing the amp and sending that into the mains to see if it kills the problem. My guess is that one of your pieces of gear in the chain doesn't like one of the other pieces. It could be the mic and the DI box. It also depends on where the board has the gain set on your channel; in general, feedback goes up with gain. Ain't feedback a lovely problem though....? :?
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby gheumann » Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:16 am

There are many, many variables here. I recently published a document that I think you'll find very helpful - it is mostly about mics but also talks at great length about feedback and both the mic AND the amp's role in it, (as well as the sound system if you're mic'ing the amp.) You can download it here: All About Harmonica Microphones and Then Some

It isn't about one piece of gear not liking another. When you play a bullet through the PA it doesn't sound very good to begin with, but the feedback is likely coming from the interaction between the monitors and your mic. Have him take the treble way down in the monitor mix, and reduce the monitor level until it is barely sufficient for you to hear yourself. If that isn't enough you need to get yourself out of the monitors entirely. Now you won't be able to hear yourself. Unless you have a lot of control over the band's volume you won't be able to hear your little 8" speaker 5W amp on stage either - but adding it to the monitors is a recipe for feedback. The best you can do is to get the amp up high, at your ear level, and as close to you as possible, so YOU can hear it. Then have the sound guy mic it and start with NOTHING in the monitors. If others in the band need to hear you and there are multiple monitor channels, add it to the monitors that are the furthest from your microphone.


/Greg
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby JakeyVimto » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:25 am

Thank you both guys, I believe that continuing to use the amp with the eq pedal, micing up the amp but keeping it out of the monitor sounds like a sensible idea to try out first.

I'll be downloading that document too Greg, thanks for that.

Got a couple of gigs coming up, so I will try this out and see if the results are better. But the interesting thing I take here is that you both seem to be well opposed to DI'ing the mic. I will definately give that a miss from hereon.

Cheers,

j
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby gheumann » Sat Jul 03, 2010 4:47 am

Well, I didn't say "don't DI the mic" exactly, but let me clarify - if you want a clean sound, there's nothing wrong with going straight through the PA. If you want chicago sound aka warm tube distortion - you just can't get it that way. "That" sound comes from the amp/mic combo, mostly the amp. I suspect that's what you want.
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby jbone1 » Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:19 pm

i haven't seen much mentioned lately about the Holmes Harp Commander lately. this is an electronic box made for modeling harp. it runs between mic and amp, mic and p.a., whatever, and a wide range of sounds can be dialed in through it. i've never used one but maybe this is worth looking into. one setup is to run it from mic to amp and mic to p.a. at the same time.
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby JakeyVimto » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:06 am

Greg, mainly i play a little cleaner than most, but I'd like a bit more flexibility, but volume is the main thing. I do tend to sing through my harp mic at various points too, so i try not to get too much distortion.

I've heard of the harp commander jbone, but Im determined that I shouldnt need one just to get my volume right on stage.

I figure that I've just not thought about monitor volume before. Playing through an amp and positioning the amp so I can hear it, and taking the harp out of the monitor is a good step, I will definatley try that.
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby jbone1 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:08 am

sort of a case in point about the fun times of amps and p.a.'s:
last weekend the guitar player i was with on stage was running a repro gibson flying vee through a new peavey classic 30. he could not get near the vocal mic because his amp was set so hot, or he had a grounding issue in the guitar, at any rate feedback was absolutely king on his side of the stage that night. i blame the amp, it's a hybrid ss/tube amp. and he overdrove it to hell and back. at one point the lead singe grabbed the guitarists' mic and sang through it, no problems at all. but if the guitarist tried, it would either cut the monitor out here and there or make it totally scream on stage. nobody else had any problems with vocal mics and that particular mic worked great- away from the guitar and amp. the owner of the club has had literally hundreds of bands in his place and never seen the weirdness we had that night.

when i'm playing with the "big boys and girls", i take the bassman out. i have had NO issues being heard without feedback issues in at least 8 months since i've been doing this, and that's with the 2 channels bridged to overdrive my sound, using either a crystal or cm powered mic. master on 9 to 11 some nights.

small gigs i use a 25 watt silvertone, but that's in the duo and wife has the same amp, no drums or thrashing guitars. we're pretty tame in our way but we definitely get the sound out and the job done. i used to have no choice but to mic the silvertone in a bigger band, and cut the monitors off in that channel, and it worked pretty well. but to me the creeping volume disease always or almost always wins out if you go in under-powered.

one other alternative a lot of players don't care for, but that can work very well, is to leave the amp and mics home and set a p.a. channel for harp only- plug in a sm57 or 58 or a low z bullet like the bushman/nady torpedo, drop the gain and treb, up the mids and bass, add a bit of effect to wet the sound up, and rely on your own acoustic chops and cupping technique for your tone. it's a lot less hassle than lugging amps and all but you do have to rely on getting a p.a. channel set right for it to work well.
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby jeffl » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:44 pm

All I can say about that deal with the Peavey 30 is that I play through one for louder volume setups, and I hope that he didn't have the gain/fx channel button pushed, 'cuz you can't use that channel with a bullet mic, imo. At least, when I've fooled around with that button, I get feedback almost every time I push the button, so I never use it for harp. The Peavey 30 is best used for clean amped harp, imo, unless you are playing loud enough to push it to its breaking point... and that thing is very loud then. That is one of the loudest 30-watt amps I have ever heard. I love the amp for "cut" and headroom, but a knife as sharp as that has to be handled very carefully. :D
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby jbone1 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 10:55 am

i don't know if he was using gain/fx, but the point is, between his guitar and amp, the p.a. mic was freaking out. for some reason it was causing the monitors on stage left- in front of him- and even stage center- in front of the lead singer- to cut in and out. i was set up stage left and had no issues at all throughout this ordeal.

we still managed to put on a good show.
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby bottleneck » Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:23 pm

IF YOU CAN KEEP THE REST OF THE BAND DOWN,and therefore be able to play less loud,FEEDBACK IS LESS LIKELY.in other words,when the harp mic feeds back it is usually the drummers fault,haha

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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby jbone1 » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:05 am

i agree bottleneck. BUT in this case it was nothing to do with my setup. it was all guitar/amp/p.a. channel interaction. for a change. my rig is nothing special, it's just dialed in a certain way. i use the volume pot on the mic a lot also.
this guitarist is a vet of many years and his primary career is musician. he's been on a lot of stages and not experienced this much feedback ever, he told me later. on the other hand the club owner has had that club for over 30 years and also claimed that he'd never seen/heard that kind of feedback issue in his place.

my feedback issues have always stemmed from trying for more volume because the band made that necessary. back in the day i couldn't afford an amp with any headroom. it was balls to the wall and hope for the best. since i got the bassman- built by steve clark of sligo amps dot com, and i learned how to run the thing to its best advantage, feedback has been a thing of the past.

i run a 99b86 bullet, a modded e-v m43u, or a custom crystal mic through it most of the time. the impedances obviously match very well.

rules of thumb for any harp amp: low gain and treble. bass set higher. mids in the middle or less. presence down fairly low. reverb maybe just cracked open at 1. use either the clean channel or try bridging the clean and Hot" channel if your amp has this capability. mine does. use a mic that you know is a match impedance wise. i like to set up on one side, opposite the guitar is usually good. i don't like small stages where i have to put the amp away from the wall or in front of the drum kit.

that's my recipe.
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Re: Harp mic feedback

Postby gheumann » Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:16 pm

Gain is the root of all feedback evil. First, gain and volume are not the same. Volume is like how much horsepower your car has. Gain is how far the gas pedal moves to control it. If 0 to full throttle happens in 1/4" you'll have a very hard time driving smoothly. That's like a system with too much gain. When you run through an amp, there is gain. When that signal is picked up and run through yet another amp (the PA) there is even more gain. If both the PA and the guitar amp are fairly gainy, the transition from no feedback to feedback can be very sharp, forcing you to stay WAY below the feedback threshold. When you reduce the system gain, it's like having nice long pedal travel in your car - you can easily modulate the volume and stay out of the feedback zone.

Re-tube the preamp section, get as far out of the monitors as possible, and all will be well.
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