Re: [Harp-L] Effects for Harp

"hazcon" wrote:
<I have just bought a Digitech 200 pedal and after my initial <disappointment
<that it didn't make me sound like.............,I have been having a <ball
<dialing in some weird and wonderful sounds...
<CHORUS! Just a touch seems to add that touch of
<gravy,thickener,call it what you will ,that we all crave in amped blues
<harp.And, just a touch is the key thing.
<Am I the only one who thinks this?I mean a lot of the modern blues(y)
<masters seem to use a million pedals but,as far as I know none use <chorus as effect.

Listen to the samples at this URL:

A chorus is essentially a kind of delay, with the delay time "modulated", i.e. shifted slightly forward and backwards on a timed cycle. (A flanger is also a modulated delay, with a longer cycle than a chorus.) Any delay thickens the tone--try a short "slapback" (50-100 milliseconds) delay, which is a classic blues sound. A chorus is less classic for harp, but the shifting sound is unmistakable in a lot of modern blues and rock guitar (an extreme example being Andy Summers of the Police, who used multiple choruses, flangers, etc. simultaneously to produce a huge, shimmering tone).

In general, guitarists are a lot more comfortable with effects than harp players. There are exceptions. I was recording with flangers in the early 1980s, around the time that Johnny Mars in the UK was experimenting with lots of effects. The harp player for Timbuk 3 recorded a lot of harp with heavy chorusing and flange in the 1990s. Part of John Popper's influence is increased use of effects among younger players, like Craig Struble of Fivewise (who plays through a Leslie speaker) and Roscoe Selley with Maybe August (whose very enjoyable debut album features plenty of great songs with great harp, much of the latter featuring chorus and other effects).

The widespread use of bullet-type mics among harp players has generally inhibited experimentation with effects. The restricted frequency range of a bullet mic makes a lot of modulation effects (like phase shifting, chorus, and flange) sound less interesting. As mics like the Audix Fireball V gain popularity, I think we'll see more harp players exploring effects. (Popper uses a vocal mic, not a bullet.)

FYI, my guess is that your RP200 "perfect trumpet sound" used a pitch shifter effect with the pitch raised an octave to simulate the buzz of a trumpet mouthpiece. Give it a try. If that doesn't work, you might try a light autowah effect. Otherwise, if you find that sound, I'd like to see the setup. I think it's pretty hard to make the harp sound like a trumpet with electronics. (Larry Adler did it with no electronic effects at all in the 1930s, and Dennis Gruenling seems to make it happen with his hands and mouth on a more traditional amped setup).

Regards, Richard Hunter
harmonica blog at
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