[Harp-L] RE: Amp Recommendations

Hey George,
I gotta  say I still love my Princeton Reverb Recording Amp.  Here's the
review I posted last year after I got it:

I use to have a 1974 Princeton Silver Face that I had since 1978 and I
totally loved it -- until it electrocuted me in 2003.  Since then I have
used & still own a Fender Vibrolux, an Epihpone Valve Jr. & a Fender Blues
Junior with a vintage 10" speaker I put in it.  The new Princeton sounds
like a friend of mine's old Black Face Princeton which is killer for
electric harp but it's that big knob, the power soak,  that makes it perfect
for harp.  Most the time you can't turn an amp on above 4 or it feeds back
with a harp mic.  I run this puppy on 8 & 9 to get that great tube break up
sound I could only dream of before or maybe just barely taste when the moon
was full and the planets were aligned just right. 
I know it's designed for the studio but with the great speaker emulated line
out I can run through the PA or another amp, sound great, and I get all the
stage volume I need.  Really it's surprising loud for 15 watts by itself. 
It's got that great Princeton clean bouncy sound I love for rhythm harp and
country at low main volume settings and a totally killer tube distort for
leads at high settings (with the speaker turned down).  ( & You can get that
same sound at any volume you want!!) 
The spring reverb sounds better on harp (ala Little Walter) than the "tube"
reverb on my Vibrolux and the compression is very useful to tame those
piecing high notes on harp that will spilt your head open on my Vibrolux.
The electronic distortion hums a bit but I rarely use it on harp because of
the feedback that lives on the edge of that effect.
All in all it looks like Fender has inadvertently designed the best
harmonica amp ever!  It does cost a quite a bit for 15 watts but so does a
vintage Fender Princeton and the special features, especially the power
soak, put it league with a custom built harp amp.

Mad Dog

Message: 7
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 20:38:03 +0000
From: "Stachnik, George C (The Podcast guy)" <george.stachnik@xxxxxx>
Subject: [Harp-L] Amp Recommendations
To: "harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx" <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

After a 4-year hiatus, I'm getting back into playing harp at jam sessions
here in the South Bay area around San Jose (JJ's, Woodhams, to name a
couple).  I have a question that I'd like to submit to the list.

First, the amp that I'm playing through currently is a '59 Bassman Reissue,
which was voiced for harp by the late Evan Aurand, (a well-known amp tech in
these parts who passed on some years ago).  The bassman's a great amp, but
it's really much more than I need in the relatively small rooms that host
our local jams.  It's plenty loud enough to be heard over the
guitar/bass/drum cacophony, but in a small venue, I can't turn it up much
above 2 without feedback, so it never really gets to "sing" the way it can
in a larger room, (or better still, outdoors).  Another problem with the
bassman is it's sheer size (and weight!), which my old bones are complaining
about more and more lately.

So I've been looking for a smaller, lighter and less powerful amp.  I have a
Spirit Harp Pro, which sounds great, but at ~7 Class-A watts it's inaudiable
in a jam setting, unlike the bassman.  Of course, it could be mic'ed, but at
a jam you need to get set up quickly and just blow; there's not a lot of
time to fool around with mics nor PA settings, and if there's more than one
vocalist, there may not even be a mic to spare.

I've been eyeing Fender's 15-watt Blues Jr & Pro Jr, both of which have been
mentioned on this list.  Both deliver surprising amounts of volume for their
size and power, which is good.  But on the other hand, there are a lot of
negative comments about the Pro Jr on harmony-central, particularly when
it's used as a harp amp.  (See

So before I open my wallet, I thought I'd poll the list for relatively
inexpensive harp amp recommendations (boutique amps over $1,000 dollars will
not make it past the wife without a struggle that I'd sooner not deal with).

-Little George

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