How to amplify blues harmonica | Easyharp Tips

blues harmonica lessons

Dear blues harmonica friends, today I try to give you some basic tips about amplifying our nice instrument. If you are a beginner I hope you can find useful informations here :)

When you want to amplify your blues harmonica sound, basically you have two possibilities.

1. Getting a clear sound through the P.A. system.

If you’d like to amplify the natural sound of your harmonica, you can go straight into the p.a. (I mean a standard mixer connected with power speakers), you just need a low impedance microphone, the same used by singers (a standard shure sm58 can make the job), an xlr cable (cannon plug) and eventually a microphone stand, so to have your hands free and you can use them to apply special effects to your harmonica sound, like hand vibrato, wah-wah, etc. etc.

Getting into the p.a., you can use mixer equalization pots; starting from flat position (twelve hour), normally I suggest to lower a bit the high frequencies (eleven hour) and to add some bass frequecies (two hour). In this way your sound will result warmer and more natural to audience ears.

You could also add some ambience effects, like a reverb. The reverb amount depends on the room space you are playing, but be careful: don’t exaggerate, you should add a natural reverb to your sound, not too much.

2. Getting a crunchy driven sound through an amplifier.

If you are looking for the Chicago Blues sound coming out your harmonica, you’ll probably use an high impedance bullet mic (like astatic or shure green bullet for example) and a tube amplifier; in this way you’ll obtain a new amplified sound used by all harmonica players since Little Walter started recording in that way. If you are lucky with the choice of your mic and amp you’ll be very happy, but a wrong choice can make you frustrated trying to kill the big enemy of harmonica amplification, i.e. feedback! On my experience, I can suggest you some basic tips that I hope can help you avoiding this problem and creating a good amplified sound.

A – Mic and amp need to get in a good relationship. The same good mic can work well on an amplifier but can work badly on another amp, so you have to try…

B – Use a tube amplifier, the sound will be richer and warmer.

C – Vintage bullet microphones are very nice but don’t get frustrated about elements serial numbers: two apparently identical elements can sound in a very different way…just try them.

D – A good amplified tone mostly comes from your good acoustic tone: if you have a weak acoustic tone you’ll get a weak amplified sound. When you find a good combination of amp and mic but you are not satisfied yet, try to improve your acoustic sound playing blues harmonica, focus on breathing and airflow control.

E – Try to imagine the sound you’d like to produce playing your amplified blues harmonica, this will influence you a lot choosing your amp and mic combination: small amps probably will produce a more raspy sound, a bigger amp will probably have more fat bottom.

F – When you play with a band you need volume too, not only a good sound. If you can’t get enough volume through your amp, don’t get mad: just put a microphone in front of your amp and get into the p.a.! use your amp as your own stage monitor and give you audience a full amplified sound through the club p.a. system.

G – Cupping your harp and mic in a good way is another trick for your nice compressed amplified blues harmonica sound. Imagine that your body, your mouth, your harmonica and your hands are all one thing: a good cupping will add more power to your amplified sound.

 

These are just basics tips, there are also other possibilities to amplify your blues harmonica sound, but when you start doing it sometimes you can lost in so many possibilities that nowadays you can find, so I suggested the most used ways.

There is not a single best choice, you have to find your own best choice, depending on music you want to play and on your way to play blues harmonica. But first of all, your blues harmonica sound should be good and full before getting any kind of microphone in your hands! I’ll try to give you some other good tips about this topic in another article; in the meantime you can click on this link BLUES HARMONICA VIDEO LESSONS to explore my website tutorial section where you can find some good instructions to build and improve your blues harmonica technique and knowledge.

And remember that playing is fun :) so have a nice time playing your blues harmonica!

P.D.

 

 

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