Re: Greetings from Belgium
> 1) I'm playing with a Bluesblaster (Hohner) connected through
> an equalizer pedal (BOSS) to a Fender Vibroverb 50W (Re-issue)
> On the equalizer I put the low tones a lot higher than
> the high tones to get more "boost". I wander if some of you
> would have some suggestions for improving my sound.
The Bluesblaster is a crystal element and should be run into a very high
impedance input. Astatic recommend 50 megohms on their JT-30, which is
similar to the Bluesblaster.
Your EQ may not be sufficiently high impedance to properly match the
Bluesblaster. Try running it directly into the Vibroverb (I assume yours
is the all tube model?) and see if the sound "fattens up" compared to the
sound running thru the EQ set flat. If it does, you may want to look
into a preamp of some sort with a very high (one megohm minimum) input
impedance. If you're at all handy with a soldering iron, you could build
a 741 op amp "voltage follower" circuit. It uses an 8 pin DIP 741 op
amp, input and output capacitors, and has the output coupled
directly to the inverting input. The mic signal goes to the noninverting
input. Power the whole thing from a pair of cheap 9 volt batteries.
don't bother with alkalines - it'll run years on cheap zinc carbon batteries.
Another option is wireless. All the wireless units I've seen are at
least one meg input impedance. This also minimizes cable capacitance,
which loads the high impedance crystal element.
> Is my amplifier suited for playing blues harp?
Only you can answer that. Each player has his/her own preferences. What
sounds great to me may not to you.
With that out of the way, I've found that small tube amps work best for
me. I use a silver face Champ (6 watts, and a single 6V6), and run it
through the PA for more volume.
> Should I buy some additional equipment to get more distortion
> (or should I take one of the tubes out of the amp., like they
> used to do in the old days)?
You can always preamp the mic to boost the level and get more distortion
that way. But the best way to get a good sound comes from the player.
Do you have a good, strong throat vibrato? This requires you to resonate
your breathing system to the harmonica, and specifically with the pitch
being played. A good throat vibrato will sound "fat" even in a racked
harp! If your throat technique is weak, spend some time and perfect it.
your tone will improve incredibly.
I've tried "fuzz tones", "distortion boxes", "overdrive", etc., and I
don't care much for them. Most are solid state, and have an annoying
tonal quality. This is technically caused by the hard clipping inherent
in solid state devices, as opposed to the soft clipping inherent in tubes.
Solid state sounds more shrill (like nails on the blackboard) when
The following is opinion (i.e. it ain't right or wrong ;-) Pulling one
of the finals in a dualtube final amp isn't quite the same as overdriving
a properly configured amp. Yes, you will get distortion, but it's an
assymmetrical type, and not the hard limiting you get from cranking a
small amp to a volume far beyond what it was intended for.
But does it sound better? Again, this is a subjective call. Maybe you
won't like it. Maybe it'll really make your sox go up and down! It's
easy enough to try :-)
> 2) Can I have some suggestions about learning blues songs
> How do you learn your songs?
I may not be much help here. I have perfect pitch and learn easily,
either by ear or sheet music. I also don't copy, but do my own
arrangement, or at least my own unique harmonica parts.
But I see how other harmonicists do it - I'm frequently asked how I do
certain things, or what key harp I use on a particular tune, etc. Go see
other good harmonicists. Make a list of the things they do that are
genuinely good, and praise them (Flattery will get you EVERYWHERE!) Buy
'em a drink. Once you've set the mood, then ask a few well chosen
questions about tunes they do. But don't overdo it. And also be aware
that many musicians have sensitive egos, so make sure you don't ask
questions that might embarrass them! And always let them know how much
you enjoy their playing.
-- mike curtis
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