RE: [Harp-L] That great "Bluesy" stage sound

You all are great!... lots of great advise.  Now I know where to begin (without spending a fortune)  Thanks to all.  I also thank any other advise that may come on this post.

Jeff DeGregorio

-----Original Message-----
From: harp-l-bounces@xxxxxxxxxx [mailto:harp-l-bounces@xxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of David Fertig
Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2011 5:40 PM
To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [Harp-L] That great "Bluesy" stage sound

I agree with John, get a small 4 or 5 watt amp, to start, if you really want an amp.  or a modeler, cheap too.   But most important CRITICALLY LISTEN TO YOURSELF PLAY.  Record your playing.  Including playing WITHOUT amps.   It's painful, alas.  Compare your tone to your faves,  adjust your emboucher, learn to play chords and octaves, open your throat, drop your (pharynx? back of your throat), breath easy and smooth, get your air management together so you play what you want not just what's easy, try different harps and learn to adjust 'em to your style.   Shape your tone acoustically.  Some of the rasp you might hear on old recordings may be created without amp distortion.  

I didn't get an amp until decades into playing, so my tone was hard fought and almost (never fully) wrought before I played thru amps to any real extent.   So I feel able to walk into any situation and (aside from monitor issues, ugh) play on whatever the system is.  Of course I prefer it "just right" and love ALL my amps, but any ol' way's alright if the music's lively or tight. 

-Dave Fertig

--- On Thu, 1/27/11, harp-l-request@xxxxxxxxxx <harp-l-request@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

RE: [Harp-L] That great "Bluesy" stage sound
        	Thursday, January 27, 2011 12:00 PM
            "chicago bluesman" <chicagobluesman@xxxxxxxxxxx>
        	p.stris@xxxxxxxxx, harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
 been following this thread and have been reluctant to weigh-in.  In the
 past I've been rather harshly taken to task when I expressed the 
opinion that a small wattage amp like a 'Zoo is a better way to go than 
using digital effects equipment.  But I agree with everything Pete 
wrote--he's written a really thoughtful set of comments and suggestions 
and he's clearly a guy with a lot of playing and listening experience.  I
 strongly agree with the 'Zoo suggestion--especially the line-out option
 and Greg Heumann mod's.  There are other amps to consider such as a 
small HarpGear but we're getting into more serious money there.  
Anything solid state leaves me cold and I have yet to play something 
that samples various amp rigs which sounds organic, natural and 
convincing.  But that could be just me.  I've owned a dozen tube amps 
over the years, both big and small, and the Kalamazoo's and the 
HarpGears stand out for me as the best-sounding of the bunch.  There are
 plenty of amps I haven't played-through which are probably great, but 
I've stopped searching for the perfect amp at this point.  There are 
also other mics to consider--I play mostly modified Astatics with a 
ceramic or magnetic element--but Pete's ideas are good here, too.  I 
like my audix fireball for its feedback resistance and clarity but I 
miss the opportunity to do hand effects and the lack of distortion.  
But...amplifying upon ideas already discussed here (if you'll pardon an 
awful pun), I'd place equipment issues lower on the list of factors 
necessary for a fat, desirable tone than some other considerations.  For
 me, one of the most important things is to really take the time to 
listen to the sound you think you are seeking.  It's like approaches to 
foreign language acquisition which emphasize immersion--you won't sound 
like a native speaker unless you've exposed yourself to the nuances.  
Discover what sound really appeals to you--for me it's guys like Big 
Walter, SBWII, Cotton--and immerse yourself in those sounds.  Drive your
 dog crazy by listening to nothing else.  Play along with the songs ad 
nauseum till you can always anticipate phrasing, even if you can't do it
 yourself spontaneously all of the time.  Gradually, over time, with 
repeated exposure, you'll may find that you shape your embouchure and 
arrive at a fuller, fatter tone through deep listening.  Sure, technique
 is important, too--if a fat Chicago tone is what you seek then the 
tight cup enclosure is a necessary part of the deal and tongue-blocking 
capacity is useful, maybe even required so you can at least hit the 
octave chords.  A tube amp that warmly breaks up just when you want it 
to really helps.  But your most important piece of equipment might be 
your ipod.  Just my humble 2 cents.


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