[Harp-L] Approaching an unfamiliar PA

I used to do quite a bit of sitting in with different bands, playing through the PA using an XLR mic (usually my own, but sometimes a vocal mic) often with just a hot minute to adjust the board after I plug in.

In my experience, the real action is how you set the mids. I'll typically roll off the treble to 11 o'clock (or maybe 10), leave the bass at 12 o'clock (or maybe 1) and put the mids at 2 o'clock or possibly 3 and add some effects (I don't like playing dry). Then I'll blow a few notes to test tone and tweak from there.

Too much treble is tinny and harsh and may feed back. Too much bass is muddy or can be boomy. Mids fatten and smooth out the timbre of a diatonic harmonica--mids make the tone thicker, which i happen to like.

Now, if you want some dirt (I usually don't) turn up the gain or pad SLIGHTLY and turn the volume down a little to compensate but BE VERY CAREFUL because turning up the gain or pad even a little too much will definitely make you feedback. The trick (if you want dirt) is to nudge the gain or pad up just a little to heat the signal and roll off the volume control to keep level manageable and avoid feedback. I've done this more than a few times over the years and it works well, I but don't usually do it.

If there's a soundman, I'll tell him "Roll off some treble, pump the mids and give me more than a little reverb" which usually does the trick. In my experience, the midrange control is your biggest friend-- don't treat it as an afterthought. Too much bass is not a good thing. And keep in mind that if you turn the treble down too far, you lose cut. Btw, I always play with a cupped mic--never "in air".



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