Who knows harmonicas?

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

Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jamesfarrell » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:56 am

I know, it's a guitar forum, but some guitarists use them. So that's my guitar content. :D

Anyhow, I've been wondering. I've owned many harps here and there and they don't sound like this. That haunting sound.

Is this a special type of harp, or is it in a lower key? Check these two out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzC_rGX-XyM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hSgM-8EZ-M
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jawbone60 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:28 am

i'm a harp guy who visits here often. nice of these folks to set aside a little corner for us humble tin sandwich aficianados!

i admit i don't know who did the harp part on r.l.'s "its bad you know" but i believe that part was tweaked in the studio as part of the whole remix project that song was part of. have not looked at the other clip yet.

i will say this, there are many directions one can go to influence how a harp sounds out front. different amps and mics, delay, octave, and chorus pedals, definitely a lot of digital hoodoo that can be done in the booth to tracks.

i have made one concession to the flood of options available these days and that is a lone wolf harp delay pedal to fatten up the sound through my cm bullet and tube amp.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jawbone60 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:45 am

the harp guy with that nemoff dude, who by the way has got it goin on in a very good way!- that harp guy i think just has a very effective mic/amp setup, what it is i have no idea. he also has some very good chops as well.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmMhnWWShUI[/youtube]

up above there, that's one of my current projects i am working with Jag on. my rig is a electrovoice m43u military mic, modded by Greg Heumann to hi z and with a nice lil volume pot installed, running to a lone wolf harp delay pedal, and from there to a Silvertone 1482 amp with upgraded speaker and a couple of gain cutter tubes. the pedal is very recent. if you check out some of Jag's stuff from earlier this year i was not using the pedal yet and my tone was still pretty fair.

i did not mention, my primary harp these days is a suzuki manji model. hot stuff right out of the box. i have several keys and may get a couple more before i'm done.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jamesfarrell » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:11 am

Thanks guys, it occurred to after my post that perhaps it wasn't the harp itself, but the processing (mic / amp / effects) that make that sound. I've never played a harp through a mic/ amp.

What do you guys suggest for a harp set? Can a decent set be had for under 200 bucks?
Most of my bands stuff is in Open B, Open D, Open G and Open E (1 octave lower)

I use baritone guitars which are tuned very low and regular resonators for Open G and D.
I have have no idea about music theory so I don't know what harp would go with what tuning.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jawbone60 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:53 am

kind of depends on what positions you want to play. E, A, C, F, D, G, I THINK WOULD COVER 1ST, 2ND, AND 3RD FOR THE KEYS YOU MENTION. i don't know if you're aware but with open tuning esp a lot of minor key songs, 3rd position will produce a very deep lonesome sound. i have been using a low F to good purpose in 3rd for a few years now. but you likely will need a p.a. channel or mic and amp to be heard if things get very exciting due to the lower register on a low F.

going the other way the Jimmy Reed style of 1st position playing could be a real killer too. i like to do that style as a rhythm thing on the low and middle, and come up to the top end for solos.

i will be curious to know what you do as far as keys and positions.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jamesfarrell » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:28 pm

I'm sorry man, unless you explain that like your speaking to a 3 year old, I have no idea what you mean. That's why I don't bother with theory, Im dumb.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jeffl » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:40 pm

He's using a simple delay pedal with the delay dialed way up-- and the "beats" dialed down-- and possibly a little reverb too. It's achieved usually by plugging your mic cable into the "line in" on the delay pedal, and running the "line out" on the pedal either to the input jack on an amp, or straight into the PA. It's a simple effect that can be achieved with a $40 Danelectro BLT slap-echo delay, available in the counter displays at most music stores. At worst, if you like good gear, DigiTech sells a "DigitalDelay" that costs 3 times as much as the Dano, and there are custom shop delays that are are available through companies like "Lone Wolf", for even more $$$, but they don't suck as much tone.
The delay pedals are best used with an AC/DC adaptor that costs about half as much as the pedal. Even a little delay effect can give alot of depth to your harp tone.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jamesfarrell » Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:25 pm

Well this is on the low end of the list. Got another National Resonator being built and I still owe them some money on that.

Leme guess. There are modern green bullet mics which probably aren't as good sounding as the vintages, or is that just in peoples heads? For all I know they're probably made in China now right?
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jeffl » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:49 pm

The green bullet's fine for most of us slugs. I've wowed plenty of crowds playin' through one of those (not meant to be a brag-- just that most crowds are not as picky as harp players).
Harp mics are a funny thing. Almost any mic will get you adequate sound, but mics sound much different through different amps, and so you get favorite matchups for different kinds of sounds.
I've played harp through good vocal mics eq'd for voice & run through the mains and nobody cares that I don't have a customized mic with a vintage element run through a couple effects pedals.
You'll see on harp forums that alotta guys just use Shure SM57's and 58's, right into the mains.
My suggestion is that you contact Greg Heumann at http://www.blowsmeaway.com harp mics and tell him what you use a mic for and what you want, and he'll build you either a stick mic or a bullet for a little more than twice the small price of a new green bullet. It's not much more money and he's a great guy with the best credentials in the business.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jeffl » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:04 pm

Incidentally, my favorite current harp mic in my gear bag is my old Shure 515 stick mic (no volume control) that I've had since 1967. I play it into a cheap BLT delay (mentioned in earlier post), and into any one of about 3 amps I use for harp. I prefer it over my green bullet and my Hohner Astatic JT-30 "copy" bluesblaster. If you have a decent stick mic around the house that isn't gettin' used, Greg Heumann can bulletize it,change the element, put a volume control on it, change the connector... whatever you want, and his prices are reasonable. I'd get aholda Greg.

BTW, the reason I prefer my cheap delay is that my digital delay is 4 times the size and weight and the tone is not noticeably different, so in my case, I value light weight more than a barely perceptible diff. in tone quality. If you're not lugging the gear out, then you don't have those parameters.
The one neat advantage of the bigger pedal is the "tap" feature, which allows you to time the delay with the beat of the tune; that's kinda nice.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jawbone60 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:11 pm

bubba hit it pretty right on what a delay does. it is truly not necessary to have gadgets, i have played a lot of different ways from all acoustic street to full out amped and miced to the p.a., and straight through a vocal mic as well. to me it's all part of the experience.

i DO have a couple of vintage elements, one in a motorcycle tail light bezel, built by Ruskin, and one which Greg Heumann modified for me to make it a really strong high impedance element. it's all very subjective when you get down to it. audiences most often don't know or care what you're doing on stage as long as they can hear something besides a big bass drum. wailing guitar, maybe a keyboard part, and oh yeah, that guy on the end with a harp. but for personal gratification a lot of us have embarked on this great trip of finding the "right" harp and the gear to make it sound like Little Walter or whoever.

i was on this trip before i realized what i was getting into. the only way for me was to go forward until i got what i liked. it cost a couple of bucks too. my band mates happen to like the sound i get both right at my harp and then out in front through the gear, so i say why change now? and any time it's necessary or convenient i am definitely ready to step up to a vocal mic and play. only drawback there is, my voice needs the exact opposite of what a harp needs out of a p.a.!!
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby ricbleu » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:11 am

Jawbone will probably chew me to pieces for this, James, but for the work I did in my youth and beyond, the rule was you play the harp key which is the 4th on the guitar scale. So Guitar in G, use C harp. G guitar in A, use D harp. Guitar in E use A harp. Guitar in D use G harp. And those four harp keys, C,D, A & G will get you a long way. In fact Bushman used to sell their Delta Frost harps in a set of those four "most common" keys. I do know what "position" those guitar/harp keys are in but I never cared then and I don't care now. I play by ear. :D Peace
ps listen to Charlie Musselwhite for that tone.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jawbone60 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:28 am

on the contrary Ric, that sounds like simple 2nd or cross harp. that was about all i played for a long time. different positions- of which i play only 3 including cross- give you different options on how to play a given song but you have to know and use a lot more information to be effective. i have tried some 5th position and could possibly pull it off with some more work but other than that i am strictly 1st, 2nd, and 3rd position. no genius here, just stubbornness!

i am also from the era when the guitarist would say "give me a G, and tune to your harp. which was fine unless you had a flat reed and the whole band was trying to tune to you!
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jeffl » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:20 pm

jawbone60 wrote:on the contrary Ric, that sounds like simple 2nd or cross harp. that was about all i played for a long time. different positions- of which i play only 3 including cross- give you different options on how to play a given song but you have to know and use a lot more information to be effective. i have tried some 5th position and could possibly pull it off with some more work but other than that i am strictly 1st, 2nd, and 3rd position. no genius here, just stubbornness!

i am also from the era when the guitarist would say "give me a G, and tune to your harp. which was fine unless you had a flat reed and the whole band was trying to tune to you!

Jawbone: your remark about tuning is where the statement "close enough for blues" came from. :)
Personally, i thank God for digital headstock tuners; even wankers can get their guitars tuned accurately.
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Re: Who knows harmonicas?

Postby jawbone60 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:17 am

too true Jeff. not to mention how much easier it is to spot a flatted reed with an accurately tuned guitar.
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