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Favorite amp

Back to the Gear Room

Jan 25, 2009 6:00 AM GMT
We have other favorite topics, it seemed like we needed this one, too. I have not tried any of the custom harp amps. My amps are shared between harp and guitar. My favorite for harp is my 1961 Fender Champ. In addition to being a classic harp amp, it has great warmth, and it is easy to add in some overdrive with volume or low settings on and overdrive pedal.

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Comments (48)

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Jan 25, 2009 6:07 AM GMT
Civet Cat Replied:

HG 50 is nifty

Jan 25, 2009 7:51 AM GMT
Kingley Replied:

HarpGear Double Trouble!
In fact any HarpGear amp!

Jan 25, 2009 9:57 AM GMT
Brutus Maximus Replied:

Gibson GA-18 Explorer
Gibson GA-5 Skylark

Jan 25, 2009 12:32 PM GMT
Fugazzi Replied:

My favorite of all time is my blackface Vibro Champ. I had a HG Double Trouble and loved it. However, I needed something larger and not 2x8...I picked up an Allen Old Flame weeks before the HG50 and his new 2x10 came out. :(

My Old Flame is pretty much a 2x10 Super Reverb modded for harp.

Jan 25, 2009 2:28 PM GMT
HARPMAN Replied:


Jan 25, 2009 4:37 PM GMT
arnenym Replied:

My Elektrofon PA head and my own build amps.

Jan 25, 2009 6:05 PM GMT
Deacon Blues Replied:

Sonny Jr. Cruncher equipped with line out feature rocks the house. It has 2 X 8's and 1 X 12" Weber Classic Alinco's. One of the 8's in smooth cone and the other is textured. Currently I'm running 5AR4 Rectifier with 2 6L6GE Power Tubes, Inverter 12AU7. Preamp, 12AU7, Preamp 5751. The 5751 in first preamp gives more gain than 12AT7.

Jan 25, 2009 6:09 PM GMT
Kingley Replied:

Nice amp Deacon!

Jan 25, 2009 6:12 PM GMT
Deacon Blues Replied:

Thanks Kingley. I'm really pleased with it.

Jan 25, 2009 6:32 PM GMT
Oisin Replied:

My Little Hacker valve extension amp from the 60s which was originally intended as an extension speaker for a valve record player. Needs to be mic'ed up but it has beautiful tone.

I also have a Fender Champ 600 and a Vox ADVT50 212, plus a few other old 60's and 70s' valve amps but that little Hacker amp is sweet.


Jan 25, 2009 7:14 PM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

At a Gindick camp I got to play through Ray Beltran's 65 Super Reverb

WOW! I was almost working out how close to the border I could get it
before Ray figured out it was gone. :)


Jan 25, 2009 7:32 PM GMT
Kingley Replied:

Ray always plays great amps, and boy can he play!
He's a really nice guy too.

Jan 25, 2009 8:31 PM GMT
jawbone s Replied:

I have a '67 Vibrochamp. It sounds OK - It was sounding real sweet one night, which kind of surprised me. I mentioned to a buddy that had come down to see us play. He chuckled and said "Somethings probably ready to blow" I laughed but next rehearsal - Nuthin', sure enough - in for repairs - hasn't sounded the same since.

Jan 27, 2009 12:24 AM GMT

Little Meteor

Jan 27, 2009 11:48 PM GMT
Train t Replied:

Ga-77 from Gibson. Reverb tank is surf cool.

Jan 28, 2009 10:53 AM GMT
Tim Birdman Replied:

I use a roland micro cube, and a bottle of blues mic, sounds, ok

Jan 28, 2009 3:38 PM GMT
Ray B Replied:

Kalamazoo Model 1 with CM Green Bullet. But I have a Masco MA-808 amp in a vintage B&H cab. with a Jensen 8" Ceramic speaker that I use with a Shure 533SA stick mic for a totally different sound from the K-zoo. It's a toss up for me between these two.

Jan 28, 2009 11:13 PM GMT
Oldwailer Replied:

OMG Jason--that rig of yours is SO cool!

I'm just a little home hobbyist who sometimes gets out onto the streets--not a pro like you guys. I have a Hog 30 that I plug into a little Behringer 8 channel mixer--then I pump harp, guitar, and two vocal mics through it. It sounds OK for busking--but I could use at least one more amp. My harp mike is a green bullet that I added a volume switch to. It works for a home hobby level of playing.

If I had a tone like yours, Jason, people would probably be accusing me of taking too much Viagra all the time!

Feb 10, 2009 1:12 AM GMT
Madcat Replied:

I use a Peavey Transformer amp. I like it so much I bought two of them. Good thing too because they don't make them anymore. It's a modeling amp with great effects built in. Wildly versitile. You can get so many sounds out of it from ultra clean to very gutsy/bluesy to over-the-top cosmic sounds...

Feb 10, 2009 9:17 PM GMT
Brad F Replied:

My first amp was a solid state Fender (just another way to spell CRAP!) My next amp was a nice Kallie model 1 that is loud and toneful but noisy and I don't know any amp techs I finally bought one of Brian's HG2's with a custom tolex job and in the basement it sounds great....I get to take it to its first gig this Thursday and see what it sounds like in a smokey drunken environment. :)

Feb 14, 2009 6:14 PM GMT
John P Replied:

I've got a Fender Princeton Reverb (one 10) and a Fender Super Reverb (four 10s), which I like. I prefer 10" speakers for harp. I like an amp that will respond to what i do instead of one that completely defines my tone. I'm not into "crunch" and if i want distortion, i'll get it with breath and mic handling techniques.

These days, my favorite amp for performing is my SWR Baby Baby Blue bass amp. Solid state with a tube pre amp, and incredibly flexible semi parametric equalization which provides almost total control over tone shaping. One 10'"speaker (and a tweeter, but I turn off the tweeter). Nice deep, dark, thick tone. Basically clean, but very responsive to breath and mic handling/grip techniques. 120 watts with more than enough volume for just about any situation and a selectable (pre or post EQ) line out and a direct out, none of which i've never had to use. This amp WILL NOT FEED BACK no matter what the volume or where i stand. Took me quite a while to learn what all the controls actually do in order to get it dialed in, but i love it and all the musicians i play with like the sound. Very compact and easy to haul around. No reverb, but i put a delay unit in the effects loop and set it for slapback to provide a little dimension and ambiance. Gives me very close to the sound i hear in my head, which is more interesting to me than trying to imitate sounds I hear on recordings.

i use a Shure 545 Ultimate into the Fender amps. I use an EV re 15 into the SWR. I carry an Audix Fireball to use in situations where the music requires a less "electric" sound. In my experience, different mics interact differently (sometimes dramatically so) with different amps, so a big part of getting the sound the you are after is to match the right mic with the particular amp you are using. Personally, i don't use bullet mics, because i cannot get as wide a variety of tonal presentations and effects as I can using a quality dynamic mic with a wide frequency response.

Feb 14, 2009 11:23 PM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

John --
Is the amp free of feedback because of the equalization?

Feb 15, 2009 3:38 PM GMT
John P Replied:


Good question. No. The EQ controls don't have much to do with it. This amp is not inclined to feedback under any EQ settings. (But I'm not using a bullet mic, either.) If i turn the gain control on the tube pre-amp way up past 3 o'clock, I may get some ambient feedback, but turning it up that far doesn't sound very good anyway, so that's not an issue. It's really astounding that an amp with this much power is feedback free. And it sounds fine at low volume, too. Unlike some tube amps, it does NOT need to be pushed to produce optimum tone.

The amp has a "aural enhancer" that's designed for bass frequencies. It's not a particularly useful control for harmonica. I like it at about 9 o'clock and I just leave it there. The effects loop has a "blend" control which is nice.

This particular model (SWR Baby Baby Blue) is no longer made. I got mine last year just after they were discontinued. The current model is called the SWR Spellbinder Blue. Same basic design and features, but it has different style inputs, an on board compressor, and some other "improvements." I assume the electronics are the same, but I've never played through one, so I'm not sure.

The sound of the SWR would be light years different from what you get out of your Champ. They are very different animals. SWR could be used for keyboards, too. It's a bass guitar and acoustic bass amp, so i don't know what it would sound like for guitar. Sounds GREAT for harmonica, though.


Feb 15, 2009 7:11 PM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

John --

That is so cool. It is amazing that it doesn't feedback. I wonder if it would if you turned the tweeter on. What a great find.

Feb 15, 2009 8:05 PM GMT
John P Replied:


It's a piezo tweeter. For the first few weeks I had the amp, I left the tweeter on. No feed back. I just like the sound better with the tweeter off.

There's a story behind how i discovered this amp. I sit in with a jazz band from time to time and play through the PA. I'm not really a jazz player, but the leader is a long time friend who would carefully select material that does not modulate and has changes I can handle on a diatonic. So, one night he has a different bass player I'd never met before. Really nice guy, excellent musician and liked my playing. So, the bass player invites me to sit in with a different jazz band he was playing with at the same club that weekend.

So, I show up on Saturday and there's no PA (!). Not necessarily unusual for a jazz gig, but I'd played at this club many times before and there was always a small house PA. So I was caught off guard. I hadn't brought an amp. What to do? The guitar player only had one input on his amp. The bass player has 2 on his. No other choice, so I plug in to the #2 input on the bass player's amp. Two 8s and a 5. I think it probably isn't going to sound very good. But, SURPRISE! it sounds GREAT. Very dark and thick but clean with real depth of tone and good response. So, I just start playing through the bass player's SWR every time I sit in with either band. Turns out it's a discontinued SWR Baby Blue II acoustic bass amp that has a tube preamp in it.

I start to look forward to using the bass player's amp so much that I decide to buy one of my own The current model was called the Baby Baby Blue which had the same electronics but with a 10" speaker, which was fine with me since I like 10s. It had just been discontinued, but I was able to find one at Sam Ash (last one they had). So I bought it, and lived happily ever after.

I was not sure whether the new replacement model, the Spellbinder Blue, had exactly the same electronics or not, so i was thrilled to find a Baby Baby Blue which I was certain had the same electronics as the bass player's Baby Blue II that I had been playing through. I'm not wild about the piezo tweeter, but the 10" speaker sounds fine with the tweeter off. I love the sound, and this amp WILL NOT FEED BACK even with the tweeter on. Go figure....

Feb 15, 2009 8:20 PM GMT
John P Replied:

Btw, on the subject of using the same amp for guitar and harp, I used to sit in with a blues band from time to time where the guitar player used a pre-CBS Fender Super Reverb. He sounded great playing his Strat through the reverb channel. He plugged me into the "Normal" channel which gave the harp a very Butterfieldish sound, which sort of surprised me. I had always used just the reverb channel on my own Super, but the dry channel has distinctive tone of its own. Sounds pretty good, and was not washed out by the guitar. FWIW.

Feb 17, 2009 11:02 PM GMT
Maciek D Replied:

Nothing special - Epiphone Valve Junior 3#. Cheap, but I love it :). Paired with my ceramic Astatic 10C it gives a really nice tone, fat and nicely overdriven. I was really shocked when I've heard how did it sound. I also use an Danelectro Honey Tone for more quiet practice. It provides a reallu lovely tone for a harp, even if it's just a 1 watt solid state.

Feb 18, 2009 1:14 AM GMT
Will Vogtman Replied:

I cut a deal with the devil to get my HarpKing 4x10.

I told my wife we could have another kid if I could get that amp. We affectionately call them brothers.

No, I'm not making it up.

Yes I love my son a little more on most days.

(Well, a lot more.)

Feb 18, 2009 6:15 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Will --

Fast forward a few years, your son is playing harp at gigs with a "vintage" HarpKing. No one quite knows why he calls it Brother ...

Feb 18, 2009 6:19 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

John --

I have a Silverface Twin (with a single vintage JBL 15 installed long ago). I also like both the normal and reverb channel for harp. I had been thinking of this one as a pure guitar amp, but I was very wrong. It certainly has a cleaner tone than the Champ, but it is much warmer than I expected. Someone told me that some of the warmth may come from the JBL speaker.

Oh, I love to play jazz with diatonics. I wish there was a jazz jam around here.

Feb 18, 2009 9:09 AM GMT
Branislav B Replied:

I wish I could try a few harp amps but harp amps are very rare birds in my country. I built a few tube amps for my need so these are my favorites.

There are pics of 3 in my Profile with basic info about them.

Will -

I'm father of my daughters and mother of my amps.

Feb 18, 2009 2:17 PM GMT
dennis m Replied:

AMagnatone 415 Clio Bass-Amp (1962) is my workhouse gig amp that quakes. Here's a youtube video of it's review by Mark G. (who I purchased it from here in NYC) on the Harpsucker series ( I also have some smokin little amps. e.g. A (1955 I believe) Magnatone Varsity with an 8'' Oxford speaker that really chimes, A Premier 50 with an 8'', and a unique Premier twin eight chasis with an original 12 inch speaker in the Premier cabinet, i.e., they kept the twin eightchassisand put it into a larger cabinet with a Premier installed 12'' (I played a medium club with this one miked last night). I also have a classic Kalamazoo but I'm selling that to thin out the collection and buy the twins some diapers. My best. d

Feb 19, 2009 12:07 AM GMT
Will Vogtman Replied:

Drew R--


Jan 27, 2010 12:51 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

It's too hard to try much amps, especially if you live in Russia in city with slightly above 1 mln peoples. So I haven't tried Harpgear, Marble and other custom harmonica amp (I hope, I'll try them someday). My Yerasov GTA15r (Russian copy of Fender Pro Junior) works for me, I've tried bunch of Fenders, Peaveys, Vox etc. Some were a bit better than mine, but not as better as priceyand I still don't hear amp which could be better than my current. I think it'll be harpgear someday. I don't try champs yet, unfortunately.

Samples of me playing blues through my amp. Maybe not perfect but fat and good.

Jan 27, 2010 6:32 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

I dream of pissibility to compare big amps like Harpking, Harpgear HG50, Megatone Wezo and Fender Bassman along with the same speaker and with their own speakers. Then the same with small amps like Harprear HG2, Marble max, Fender champ etc. So it's easy to try almost all harmonica models or even stompboxes, but it's very hard to compare amps, as they are too expensive to buy all...

Jan 27, 2010 9:46 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:


Yes, this is me. I love to play blues much more than listen to blues. So I greatly insist that any harmonica player must have an ability to play traditional blues and irish stuff. This is my attempt to play blues.

Jan 28, 2010 4:55 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:


However for myself I prefer more modern and experimental music with extensive effect using like that one:

Vinnebago - Firebird

BTW, this track is played with the same copy of ProJr too.

I also like playing some jazz stuff, you can hear all that at my profile.

Jan 28, 2010 4:25 PM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

My best amp for gigging in the most situations? Sonny Jr Super Sonny

But best pure old school tone is the Kalamazoo. Sounds so cool but isn't loud enough for jams...

Best compromise between the two? Sonny Jr Cruncher

Better than that:

Kalamazoo line-out'd into either

For max volume:

Cruncher line-out'd into Super Sonny.

BlowsMeAway Productions

Bluestate on CDBaby
Bluestate on iTunes

Jan 28, 2010 7:11 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:


Great you like my playing and tone!

What the hell! I really need some ability to listen to all these sweet amps. Most amps I heard here are too bright (Marshalls) or too dull and lifeless (Peavey classic, Fender blues deville... It so pitty that my reelatively cheap amp still sounds best for me. I know amp can be much better than mine.

BTW after I bought Lonewolf Harp Attack I start enjoing big solid state guitar amplifiers. It makes tham sound really sweet and full. I even start thinking about one 2x10 solid state guitar or bass amp to use it with harp attack.

Jan 29, 2010 5:03 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:


It's studio recording anyway, I've made some tricks while recording and mixing. I split signal after SM57 and recorded the second channel through overdriven tube pre. I add it a little to more harshness, amp is less bright. I also boost imput of my amp be Boss LS-2 line selector and make almost it all way loud (in other room than I was). This setup is hardly working on stage, as it'll be too much uncontrollable feedback.

Jan 29, 2010 7:00 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Boris --

The experimental music is very interesting, and well done, but it was fantastic to hear you play the blues! Next thing you know, you'll want to pop over and play through my very old beat-up vintage mics and my beat-up DM-2 delays that don't have true bypass.

As they say, "if you don't catch the blues, the blues catches you ..."

Jan 29, 2010 9:47 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

I'm not sure of bullet mics, I play green bullet for 2 years, I've tried blues blaster, custom Astatic JT-30. Non of them fit my style less highs and a bit muddy for fast playing. Anyway I think I'll like Boss DM-2!

Feb 01, 2010 9:23 PM GMT
skullShaker Replied:

I just got into playing on a AMP never played on a Mic. so last Dec. I hit the jam night it was a eye opener big sound and not to bad( no one paid to hear me). so I called a GOOD friend who hooked me up with a HOODOO Hohner AMP. $100 shipping and all and got some jam tracks CD's it is a very good sounding AMP dirty, Bright, Spoon tones. Gain, Rev. DXL hook up 8in Speker I know there are lots of good AMPs out there I hope to use some older AMP someday

Feb 02, 2010 6:06 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Boris --

I think you'll like the DM-2 also! It is very warm.

Dan --

I hope that you get to try an old tube amp at some point. I swear that some old amps, guitar and mics already have songs in them!

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