That "Bluzrawk" Tone

My take on this is that you are really talking about at least two different
"effects", distortion and compression. First off, harp always sounds bad
through a distortion pedal, so stop doing that. Better to get a cheap analog
delay pedal, or, better, a real tube reverb unit and screw around with it to
get some depth to your tone.

When I started out, I played almost exclusively "acoustic" - meaning playing
uncupped into a vocal mike (EV ND-457 - beautiful vocal mic) running into
the PA. I started experimenting with cupping in this situation, which worked
ok if I only cupped the harp and didn't include the mike. Otherwise feedback
would intrude. I then went to a GB running into the PA, which worked good
for cupping, as long as there wasn't much of it in the monitors, and I
didn't get too close to the house speakers. I then bought an amp, but it was
a step backward, because it was less loud, and feedback got worse. Part of
the problem was that I had to change my cupping technique (I didn't know
about making the cup airtight), but I also had to be careful not to point
the mic directly at the amp, and had to mess around with the volume
settings. I finally learned that, to get the compressed, bluesy sound I was
after, I had to make a tight seal between the harp and mic with my hands.
This increases volume and compression while not making the feedback monster
too mad (usually). I have pretty big hands, so it isn't too hard for me to
get an airtight cup around my modded GB and SP20, but if you don't have bear
paws like I do, an SM-58 (or SM-57(?), the small head model, I used an AKG
ripoff) works pretty darn good. (I imagine the Turbolid does the same thing
for those with  dantier hands). The object is to "couple" the mic diaphragm
to your resonant system (hands, harp, mouth, throat, lungs, diaphragm), so
that harmonic vibrations are transmitted solidly through a pressurized
column of air, rather than acoustically through free air. You'll know it
when you achieve it, because the harp will sound less like you are running
through a cheesy distortion pedal, and more like SBWII. All things being
equal, it will be louder, but a lot less prone to feed back.  Subtle
difference in technique, HUGE difference in sound.

My $.02, YMMV, Caveat Emptor, yada, yada, yada....

Vini Alesi
> Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 15:56:57 +0000
> From: "M. N." <mnessmith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> Subject: Re:  Free Me from Feedback
> Mike Due wrote:
> "I got to play out with a full band this past weekend, after two years of
> woodshedding on other instruments. <snip> I was playing through a Sure
> cuz that's the mic I had bought years ago as a vocal mic. I'm also playing
> through an effects pedal to add some overdrive to get a good rock tone.
> When I first started playing in front of people at jams and such, I had
> same problem. First, I think that SM-58 is perfectly fine for blowing harp
> into a PA. That's a good, solid mic and it's not the problem. I had fewer
> problems with a 58 feeding back in that setting than most any other mic. I
> would definitely suggest trying it without the pedal. When I first started
> playing out, I borrowed a guitarist's DOD overdrive pedal reckoning I'd
> in and get instant overdrive and, as you said, a good rock tone. Wrong.
> I got was more feedback and it sounded like crap. The best way to get fat
> tone is by playing from the gut with resonance, and by cupping the mic
> properly. The best way to get distortion when playing through a PA is to
> rely on your technique - what's going on from the reeds back. Tongue
> blocking, octaves and chords can help you acheive this. James Cotton
> breathes fire through a vocal mic plugged straight into a PA, no effects;
> do a lot of the greats. There are no easy answers - the good news is that
> you don't have to buy another mic.
> MN

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