[Harp-L] Best Amp For Chicago Blues, etc. - Willie Smith from Muddy's Band, etc.
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- Subject: [Harp-L] Best Amp For Chicago Blues, etc. - Willie Smith from Muddy's Band, etc.
- From: mjmeadors@xxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 02 Nov 2008 14:13:04 -0500
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I know that whenever anyone uses the word "best" in any reference in this group, s/he will be scolded by others with
differing opinions.? However, for what it's worth, I wanted to share with those of you who care about such things, my
observations as to the best sounding amp I've ever come across for hard core Chicago blues and more.? Some will have
other opinions, I'm sure, and others will say there is no "best", but in this case, I beg to differ.
First, as to my background, I've been a player off and on for approx 30 years or more and have played with many great musicians,
known and unknown.? Like many experienced players, my ear for THAT sound developed and grew such that at this
time in my life, I know I can differentiate and appreciate the real deal from the pretenders.?
For a lot of years I went from amp to amp, mic to mic, looking for the holy grail and THAT sound.? Well, as you may already know,
there is no amp that will guarantee you THAT sound, it has to come from you and?your own tone.? But, if you have good tone and know
how to work with an amp, some amps are simply better than others.
Bottom line is that I've owned and have enjoyed the Sonny 1 and the Sonny 4x10, the Meteor, Bassman RI, etc.??I think
I've owned just about every top boutique amp except the HarpKing amp, but I have played out of Rick Estrin's and others.
Each amp had its own smooth sounds and wonderful tone.? You will sound great out of any of those amps.? However, it was
not until I played a Harpgear 50 that I was able to find, to my ears, the amp with all the best attributes of the Sonny line, Meteor,
Fender, etc. all rolled into one.
As to disclosure, I should say that I live near and know Brian Purdy, the maker of Harpgear?Amps,?personally.? This is not a friend doing a
favor review, however.? I knew Brian for some time and did not buy any of his amps, though I thought the smaller models smoked pretty well.?
They just didn't have the?wattage and bottom end that my?bigger Sonny?4x10 or Meteor or Bassman RI had.? That was until I got ahold of
a Harpgear 50.
In any case, I borrowed a Harpgear 50 from Brian and did an extensive side by side test with the Sonny, Meteor, Bassman RI, and the
smaller, but great 1950 National Valco amp.?It didn't take long before one truth emerged -- that the Harpgear 50 had better, fuller bottom end,
better trajectory, more balls, etc. than the others.? Be advised, too, that I'm not talking about an incredibly wide range of difference in sound.?
But as I noted before, for the discerning player who knows the real deal sound, nuance,?and how to get it via an amp, this amp is the best all around
amp I've ever played.?
My conclusion was further reinforced when I took the amp out to the usual places and the comments flowed as to the great quality of
the sound.? I often play with Tony O, formerly?of the Legendary Blues Band, who has played with all of Muddy's players and many other
great players, harmonica and otherwise.? Tony stopped me after the first set when I brought the Harpgear 50 in to play to tell me how
great the sound was.? Other band members felt the same way.? This meant a lot to me since the sidemen for Tony have a historical
background in blues that is extensive.? They've all heard me play many times through the Sonny 4x10 and the Meteor, but when
I blew through the Harpgear 50, it was obviously noticeable to the trained ear.? This is important because sometimes amps may sound
great in an empty room, but not have the throw and cut that is needed to rise above the musical fray and be heard clearly.? However,
the Harpgear had no such troubles.? I also was fortunate to hear Jason Ricci play through his Harpgear 50 and compared to his
previous Bassman (which of course kicked ass), there was an undefinable quality that came through that made the sound more
exciting and fuller.? I'm not technical at all, but I know what I know and what I hear.
In any case, I've attached a pic of Willie "Big Eyes" Smith playing through the Harpgear 50 during a series of gigs I did with him and Tony O
a few months back.? Willie, as most of you know, was Muddy's drummer for many years and is widely considered a blues icon in the world
of blues drumming.? Willie also plays harp and often goes on the road just playing harp these days.? Willie really dug the sound as did
Little Mike, from Little Mike and the Tornadoes, who stopped by to sit in.? Both sounded great through the amp and it was good to hear
someone (like Little Mike esp.) who knew how to work an amp to get the holy tone.??
In any case, for what it's worth, if any of you are seriously considering purchasing a top end harp amp, and want some feedback re:
which amp is "best" -- for whatever that means to you -- let me enthusiastically endorse the Harpgear 50.? It really DOES sound
better side by side to the other big name amps.?
Finally, let me say that Gary from Sonny's amps, and Scooter from Meteor, are like Brian Purdy -- they are wonderful sources of info
on harp amps and do their best to provide the best product to their customers.? All are great guys.? We're lucky that in this community
we have such quality businessmen.? You won't go wrong with any of the top amps.? But if you are looking for the THE amp to
make your sound the best it can be, I certainly recommend the Harpgear 50.
Contact me if you have any questions or want any other info.? I have no business dealings with Brian Purdy or in any way would endorse
the product unless I believed in the amp 100%.? But I think that this info might be valuable for those of you who, like me, have always
been searching for a better tone.? This one is IT.
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