JT-30 Side by Side taste test

There has been an old JT-30 mic behind the bar at the Nanuet
Hotel for years. It used to be used to talk to the kitchen and 
place orders, but your many years it is just a toy the bartender
uses to play 'Calling all cars'. My brother and I go there 
for Pizza sometimes on Sunday afternoons and we have been 
bugging the Bartender to sell it to one of us. A week ago 
Sunday my brother traded it for $10 worth of lotto quick picks
He gave it to me and I tried it out. I couldn't get any volume so
I opened it up and it had an old crystal element. It was very
small and held in place by a wad of paper. The mic had been
repaired at one time and the orignal element was gone.

I used a spare element purchased from Kevin's Harps and
replaced it. (Kevin charges $16.00! Does anyone know a cheaper
source for the Astatic elements?). I decided to put a 'Magic' 
.002 mfd cap across the crystal as long as I had it open.

Last Friday I went to our usual garage jam in Nyack and a 
young harper named Jake was there. He's a good blues harmonica
play and he uses a Shure green bullet. I don't play when there
is a good harp player present. (I don't want the band doing side
by side comparisons of me to anyone who actually has talent.)
At the break I offered Jake the chance to compare microphones.

I have three Astatic mics now. 1) the new mic just described with
the magic cap. 2) another JT-30 with no mods. 3) A JT-30 which
has had a pot and a cap added by Rod Piazza. All three have
new elements purchased from Kevin over the last two years.
The elements in JT-30's do crash from time to time.

Jake was playing through my Sano (a 60's tube amp with a nice
clean tone and a 15 inch Jenson). He had his own digital delay
and had it set at a tasty level of reverb without being too obvious.

Without changing his settings he tried the new mic. It seemed
twice as loud as the shure without feed back at the same settings.
Some members of the band thought it was too clean, but I liked
the clear bell like tone.

The Rod Piazza mic sounded exactly the same, except that it had
a volume control. No one in the band could tell the difference as 
Jake switched back and forth.

The JT-30 without the cap was louder still than the modified JT-30's
and started to feed back. After turning down the volume the Mic had
a dirty sound at high settings and it lost that trumpet like tone and
had the dirtier 'fuzz' sound. It could not reach the volume levels of
the other two mics without feed back.

I prefer the Rod Piazza mic because to the volume control and the
clean tone. The band prefered the dirtier sound of the unmodified
mic. Jake is ordering a vanilla JT-30 and I guess he'll decide
if he wants to add the Piazza type pot or just the cap.

This settles some of the debate over mics and mods for me. I don't 
like the Shure because it's too heavy and doesn't have the Chicago
sound. I don't like the fact that the JT-30's are fragile, but it's easy,
if costly, to replace the elements. I prefer the cleaner sound of the
mic with the magic cap to the unmodified JT-30's and I prefer
the convenience of the volume control on the Rod Piazza
mod mics. If I get a crystal ball or another interesting mic I'll do
another taste test.


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