[Harp-L] Big time rock band harp-Was Copper

"The only thing I know for sure sucks is a Bullet mic direct through the PA. Yuck"-Richard Hunter
I couldnt agree more. Lately, vocal mics are also giving me a headache. I went to see The Black Crowes on Saturday night in Hollywood, my 3rd time seeing this great band. While I love the Crowes hard-rocking-blues-based-southern-crunch grooves, Whenever Chris (Robinson, thier singer) plays a harp straight into his vocal mic, which I believe is either an SM or Beta 58, the shrillness and volume is enough to send me to straight to the bar.  I know that most if not all big time rock bands use harp as an effect more than anything else (Zeppelin, Stones, Niel Young, Bruce etc...), and most fans don't really know the difference however, it just mystifies me why they dont at least use a different mic through some kind of preamp or processor to warm up the tone. I know Popper of Blues Traveller uses a 58 but his tone is amped through a Mesa-Boogie half stack. By the time his signal reaches the board, processed doesnt begin to describe the tones he achieves. 
I have to assume thier sound staff is charged with moving the slider down on thier vocal channel when they cup thier vocal mic. I have seen Jagger and Plant use thier vocal mics cupped and sounded halfway decent without blowing out the venue. I know when I attempt to do the same through my SM58, if I dont significantly drop my acoustic volume or back way off the mic, the volume alone is so out of contrast with the rest of the band, it elicits nasty looks and even nastier comments. Add to that the "uber-clean" nature of modern PA systems and the tone is to sterile and cuts straight through like so many razor blades.  Very unpleasant to my ears. I think maybe the soundman was not on his game that evening as there were a few other issues with guitar and keyboard leads not being emphasized in the PA as they should have been.
Anyway, I was wondering if any of you pros out there know why, with all the technology available today and a seemingly unlimited budget, the "big boys" would not use a seperate rig for thier harp playing. By contrast, the opening band's singer had a Green Bullett attached to his mic stand below his vocal mic. He also played guitar but whenever he played harp, he would cup the bullet which was amplified through a miced Champ-like amp sitting on his Fender Twin Reverb. He didnt play it much but when he did, it sounded great.
Happy Holidaze! 
Message: 2
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2010 11:15:29 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Hunter <turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] copper
To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
SONNYTONE@xxxxxxx wrote:
<I would never make a statement even after my testing that everyone 
<should use a copper can. 
In the end, it's all about what the stuff sounds like, isn't it? The fact is that there are a lot of ways to sound good now, because there are a lot of different definitions of "good," and there are a lot of technologies available to help the player that didn't exist 50 years ago.
There will be more, too. The Chicago style of amped harp has had a great run, and it's not over. But we're in a different century now. The battle over non-standard tunings for harp is basically over--non-standard tunings are here to stay, and are in fact gaining ground. The battle over non-traditional ways to make the harp sound big, loud, and colorful is still raging. 
The ones who benefit the most are the players. Lots of great choices for gear now, and at historically low prices. If you want to sound good, you can. Of course, you've got to learn to play first...
But like I said at the beginning of this post: in the end it's about what the stuff sounds like. I categorically reject any claim that there is only one technology, or one brand or model of gear, or one component, that can make a harp player sound good. As Steve Baker pointed out to me at SPAH 2010, if a player sounds good without an amp, the odds are that the same player is going to sound good no matter what amp they're playing through. (The only thing I know for sure sucks is a Bullet mic direct through the PA. Yuck.)
Regards, Richard Hunter

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