Re: mic&amp

> I think I was the "purist" the recommended against the windscreen.
> I have experienced that to get good harp tone, the most important
> thing a new player can do is stop looking fo the box that his tone
> is in.  Good tone comes from learning how to play the instrument
> correctly. 

This is absolutely true.  If your acoustic tone stinks, you can't improve 
it by buying all the boxes and amps in the world.  If your tone is 
excellent, you'll sound great through anything - even playing with no 
hands in a bare rack.

The harmonica itself is only PART of the instrument.  Sitting in its box, 
it does nothing.  When you put air into it, it makes sound - but still 
doesn't make MUSIC.  When you put it in your mouth, your respiratory 
system becomes part of the instrument.  If you just blow air into it (or 
draw out of it), you'll never get a good tone.  You have to OPEN the 
inside of your  mouth - make it RESONATE with the reed you're playing.

The only way I know to perfect this technique is to develop a good 
"throat" vibrato or diaphragm vibrato.  Learn to make vibrato on your low 
notes by varying the air pressure, but with your throat or stomach area.  
It will be hard at first, but just keep it up.  Once you have a good 
throat or diaphragm vibrato (preferably both), you'll have that "killer 
tone" that everyone thinks is manufactured by DOD and Fender :-)

> On the subject of gain before feedback, I will flatly say 
> that I have never played with a band that played over a '59 
> Bassman.  The only amp that I have heard louder is the little
> Mesa Boogie with the single 12" speaker (might be a JBL, it had a
> chrome dome on it).  If your sound is getting lost over the band, you 
> might have the wrong rig.  Not every amp sounds good for harp.  I
> bought a beautiful '64 Deluxe that I thought sounded killer in the store
> that didn't cut it at all on stage.  That's life.  Go get another amp.
> I generally use a Princeton on stage these days.  Single 10" speaker,
> not a lot of watts.  I got it on a stand, so it's less than six feet from me
> most of the time.  It sounds great and I use a SM57 to run it direct through
> the PA to compete with the Super Reverb that the guitar player is using.
> My advice is to get a sound that you like through the amp first.  

If you try to overdrive TOO much at higher volumes, you'll get feedback.  
A JT-30, when tightly hand cupped, has a "natural" tone that has 
distortion qualities.  Therefore, you don't have to "hit" the amp as hard 
for that "crunched" sound.  This minimizes the potential for feedback.  
Also, the JT-30 is less pronounced at "feedback" frequencies, and this 
helps even more.

Feel free to substitute "Blues Blaster" for JT-30 if you like.  They're 
pretty similar.

If you like a distorted sound, you're going to be disappointed if you try 
it on a solid state amp - ANY solid state amp.  Some are better than 
others, but _no_ solid state amp can touch even the worst tube amp for 
warmth of distortion.  Fender Champs are cheap enough (my silver face was 
$110 after I haggled a little with the store owner), and even though they 
don't have reverb, etc., they have a killer tone.  You can mic it into 
the PA so the hairy orangutan with the Marshall stack doesn't completely 
obliterate you.  But I prefer a direct box off the speaker.  Less tone, 
but also less feedback.

> I have
> two Green bullets and two JT-30s.  I use one of the JT-30s primarily, but 
> I like the sound of all of my mics except the "new" green bullet (re-issued
> Shure 520-D - "D" means dual impedance.  I don't recommend them
> unless you can't find anything else.  Follow instructions inside and wire
> it for high impedance.  You will get more signal from the mic in this
> configuration.)  

I like the sound of my 520D - but this is neither right or wrong - simply 
personal preference.  I have a stock" 520D, and use a cartridge from one 
(R47) in my rack pickup (I play guitar and bass pedals at the same 
time.)  I've made it as air tight as possible, and it gets as fat a tone 
as a handheld bullet.

I also have the "Crystal Balls" JT-30, which I also like a lot.  I doubt 
it sounds significantly different from a stock JT-30, though, although 
I've not tried an A-B comparison.

> There is something different between a purist and 
> someone who plays acoustic harmonica with clean tone.  I am a
> blues player exclusively and I'll say I am trying to get the fantastic
> tone that Big Walter had.  Incidentally, when I was having the problem
> early on that you are, I caught Jerry Portnoy at a little club in Utica, NY.
> I asked for sone advice and his was the JT-30 and 4x10" Bassman 
> reccomendation.  It seems that no matter what I do, I keep coming back
> to his advice.  Also, the pros put the tone wherever it sounds best!  On
> different amps, that's different, but generally as the previous poster 
> indicates, emphasizes the bass, but the only amp that I run with no 
> treble is my Champ.

While not by any means a "strictly blues" player, I do appreciate Little
Walters incredible sound.  But there's a lot more to his sound than
equipment.  Listen to some of his acoustic stuff.  He still had a killer
sound and excellent technique. 

I've also found the same thing you have - professionals set tone controls
by the room.  I usually run the treble on the Champ pretty low, too, but I
vary it (and the bass) according to the room.  I don't use an EQ - I 
already haul around far too much garbage.

> Bernie Clarke
> "Don't start me to talkin', I'll tell everything I know" - SBWII

hey - you're stealing my line ;-)

-- mike curtis

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