Bands With Harp & Harp Players: Help Needed To Get More Volume

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by sacakl, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. sacakl

    sacakl Silver Supporting Member

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    For the harp players out there, how do you get more volume without getting the sudden, harsh feedback? Especially in enclosed spaces like a rehearsal room or small stage?

    I play in a 6-piece band, one of which is a harp player. We’ve been having problems getting him over the band to be heard during solos. He’s playing through Green Bullet Mic into an Egnater Rebel 30 1x12 combo that’s on a stand.

    We try to come down in volume as a band during his solos but we sound pretty anemic when we do. His volume seems to be very inconsistent during rehearsals and gigs. Here’s what I’ve tried:

    • Putting the amp on a stand, which has helped a little.

    • Running his amp on the full 30 watt setting to get more volume. He had it on 10-15 watts to get more power tube distortion. The immediate comment from him was that he was too loud when the rest of us didn't think so. The next rehearsal, he made a comment that he wasn't loud enough, yet they were on the same 30 watt setting.

    • Using a line out to a bigger 2x12 cab, which didn’t produce very much results.

    • Swapping pre-amp tubes to lower-gain ones, given the bullet mic has a gain stage in it and was creating howling feedback when turned up. This sacrificed volume however.

    • Micing the amp. This has produced the best results, but again has been maddeningly inconsistent from a volume standpoint even when the channel on the PA and amp are kept on the same settings at each rehearsal.

    All joking aside regarding harp players, has anyone had this problem and found a way to address it? I’ve found plenty on harp players being too loud but not the other way around. I appreciate all and any help. Thanks.
     
  2. Thinline_slim

    Thinline_slim Supporting Member

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    If the volume is pretty inconsistent at the same settings and with the feedback could he have a bad/micro-phonic power tube in the line-up? Maybe in the preamp section even though you did swap some around?
     
  3. dukeh62

    dukeh62 Supporting Member

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    Get the treble and gain down as much as you can without it sounded sterile.

    That amp really might not be the best for him to be blowing through, as it's voiced much more "hi-fi" than your typical harp amp.
     
  4. spamsponge

    spamsponge Member

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    I played with a harp player for years and we had this problem.
    He wanted to play through a little 20 pound amp...
    We solved it by finding him a fender twin reverb.
     
  5. sacakl

    sacakl Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions. We took it to an amp tech and played around with diferent types of NOS tubes so I don't think it's a problem with the tubes, especially since we had the same problem before and after -- the problem is that we didn't try the swaps at gig volumes when we did this.

    We do try to keep the treble down at the minimum but haven't tried to turn the gain down any further. I think we're running the gain at 10:00 and the master at 12:00 -- could bump the master up and lower the gain.

    Seems like guys back in the day played through Bassmans, Twins, Concerts, and Super Reverbs. I'd think a quad with a lot of power behind it would be ideal.
     
  6. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    Doesn't seem like the best choice for amps. For one thing, it's expecting a high impedance guitar signal, not a low impedance mic.
     
  7. spamsponge

    spamsponge Member

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    Aren't the Bullet mics high(er) impendance?
     
  8. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Member

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    I still can't get used to harmonica=harp. When I think of harps being played through amps, I think of Zeena Parkins:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    A graphic equalizer - like the Boss 7-band eq - can be a big help. I'm not familiar witty that amp, but there are several amps that are designed for harp today that are tuned for the job.

    But remember, back in the day, Muddy's bands all played with lo-fi equipment and got great sounds... Also at relatively low volumes. And, technique plays a LARGE role in both volume and tone...

    There are several harp boards that your guy should visit, including World of Harmonica on Facebook. There are a tone of guys ther who are far more qualified than I to give useful info.
     
  10. gmann

    gmann Member

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    A tweed Bassman RI with 12AY7' in V1 & V2. You'll be tellin him to turn down with this rig, but he won't!
     
  11. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    I recently saw a guy playing through a blackface Champ, and he had more than enough volume to hang with the three-piece (guitar, bass, drums) band, and tone coming out the wazoo...

    The more I read the original post, the more convinced i am that technique is the mitigating factor here... That, and band dynamics.

    Of course, I'm not suggesting that the harp player downsize, but connect wi contemporary players like Dennis Gruenling and Mikey Junior, for some real-world advice from folks who really have mastered it.
     
  12. cffluntouch

    cffluntouch Gold Supporting Member

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    Have played with two harp players. I agree with most of the other comments that he needs a cleaner amp with more headroom, most likely of the Fender variety. Definitely need to mic the amp. He could also try going through the Mic straight into the PA and adjusting the tone, but you don't get much grit.
     
  13. sacakl

    sacakl Silver Supporting Member

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    Good advice and worth checking out.

    FWIW -- There are 6 of us and we are a rock and dirty blues band. Not folksy blues or playing small jams or coffeehouses. I think it is technique due to the variation in volume on constant settings on amp and PA from one rehearsal to the next. We try to come down in volume as a band during his solos and it's pretty noticeable in an anemic way. I've even brought a 4-watter to keep it low and our drummer is pretty dynamic -- we're not exactly blowing down doors.
     
  14. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Put a mic on his amp and run it through the PA.

    Steve
     
  15. Poppa Stoppa

    Poppa Stoppa Member

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    I have played with harp players for years and the good ones can blow the doors off with volume.

    Lots of guys use a Fender Bassman RI or similar, set clean, volume at 2-3, treble and presence down to reduce squeal. Not a tone setting you'd use for guitar. An overdriven amp will just lead to uncontrollable feedback. That archetypical harp sound comes almost entirely from the mic. A green bullet can sound very good - better still an Astatic.

    Technique is hugely important. The mic needs to be cupped so that every last drop of sound goes into the mic, nothing wasted. Blast the snot out of the mic element, not the amp. The amp sounds like it's raging, but it's not, it's the mic hanging on for dear life.

    I'd suggest if you can, get the harp player to go and see a couple of players that have got it together, write down their amp settings, get some tips on cupping the mic, get a big old Fender and go away and woodshed for a week or two.
     
  16. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    Yup. Most of the great sounding harp players I've heard that have pretty good stage volume- Hummel, Wilson. Estrin, etc. use higher powered amps with lots of speakers- 4- 10" and 6 - 10" combos. At least a tweed Bassman, but they're not turned up as loud as a guitar player would use.
    Turn the bass up quite a bit and I'd start with treble, presence, and even mids all the way off and bring each up to taste just a tiny bit. Most modern amps- even if they are advertised as having a "vintage" sound, have way too much gain. Trying 12AT7, 12AY7, and 5751s in the first and possibly subsequent stages will help.
    You can use a modern mic like a 57 or 58 too. If you don't use a matching transformer, the impedance mismatch will allow you to open up the volume on the amp a lot more. If the amp has bright caps over the volume, getting that pot in the upper end of rotation will lessen the bright cap's effect.
     
  17. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    Amen!
     
  18. Vibrolux

    Vibrolux Gold Supporting Member

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    I have found that Blues harp players always cut through the mix better when they don't wear their hats....be it a fedora or a beret.
     
  19. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    That's why Kim Wilson doesn't wear a hat anymore! ... or turban....
     
  20. '58Bassman

    '58Bassman Member

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    A mic with 1/4" plug is high impedance, not low. Also, feedback is a matter of signal going from the speaker(s) to the pickup or mic, then being fed back into the amplifier, gain being added, coming out and being picked up again, but only at the susceptible frequencies.

    Blues harp players have used guitar amps for decades because they DO work better than vocal amps. They break up and sound better than going into a PA, which sounds too sterile.
     

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