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looking to Amplify - advice required

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Christopher G
Aug 26, 2009 12:47 PM GMT

Having been playing bluesy stuff on Diatonic and Chromatic harps for past 9 months I now feel the need to amplify. I have a couple of mics already such as Shure 545SD and a Slim X777, now need a small amp. Any recommendations for annot too expensivestarter amp, new or used?

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Aug 26, 2009 11:40 PM GMT
Christopher G Replied:

Thanks for the info. Will look into it.

Aug 27, 2009 12:20 AM GMT
blogward Replied:

A lot depends on whether you will be playing with a drummer or not. If you are, there seems to be a threshold of 50 watts (RMS?) that gives you reasonable howlround-free volume headroom with a stage band - and the higher end Vox digital/tubes have a variable power o/p which is extremely useful for harp players who don't need to burn it up all the time. (Personally I also find the mic volume control indispensable). Anything under that basic 50W power threshold is fine for practise, but you will have to crank it up full when playing with an amplified backline. Some modern all-tube 5W amps are very LOUD, but only in one narrow direction.

In fact, it's the same playing acoustically: what seems to be heavy playing in your own den comes out very low-key in even a small public space. Bottom line, IMHO I recommend the Vox variable power series - these are now becoming affordable s/h. If you can get a Bassman, do, though!

Howlround is the old term for feedback BTW.

Aug 27, 2009 4:18 AM GMT
walterharp Replied:

I would think about a small vintage tube amp. Kalamazoo or something like it. If you get it from a reliable source, it will work well and sound great and be good to get used to playing through an amp. You can hold onto it and use it for quiter situations. If you get into a gig situation before you have a bigger amp it can be mic'd. If you just go for the cheap solid state, and keep going, you will get rid of it and get something with tubes. If you keep going, and get a nice little amp, you will have that as part of your arsenal for a a long time. If you get into gear swapping, you will be able to sell the tube amp to another for roughly what you got it for, give the other person a good amp, and go on to try a million other amps searching for the sound.

Aug 27, 2009 5:52 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

epiphone valve jr is not a bad choice. the head and a 2x10 or maybe 4x8 cabinet in a good combo depending on mic. if you're running a low-z mic you have options in the solid state amp arean, with high-z you may want to look at primarily tube amps.

what is inexpensive? look on ebay at harp amps. expect to speand $300-600 minimum for a real deal cut through the mic amp. i spent double that and currently have a nearly new '59 bassman replica built to harp specs by steve clark at sligo amps. it cost a bit but i've never had a big amp that i liked more. i also have a silvertone 1482 which i got cheap a few yerars ago. it's decent for small rooms and for duo stuff but drums and multi guitars bury it in a hurry.

there is the option of micing a small amp but this is not always a good answer. sometimes on stage you can't hear yourself if you're sporting too small an amp. and if it won't give you stage volume you can use, why have it!

i'd rather have a big tone monster, 45 watts and as many pounds weight, and not need all that juice, than stand on stage and know i am not being heard.

Aug 27, 2009 9:38 PM GMT
Joe L Replied:

Where are you planning on using it?

If it's around the house and you want a small one, there are lots to choose from. I would suggest a Harpgear Rock Bottom. If you decide to play out, you could use the line out into a PA.

Aug 28, 2009 1:05 AM GMT
Joe Replied:

Kalamazoo Model 2 is my choice for playing at home.

Aug 29, 2009 4:47 AM GMT
HARPMAN Replied:

I play harp with FENDER CHAMPION 600 at small bar and pub.

Sep 01, 2009 9:12 PM GMT
Christopher G Replied:

Thanks guys - lots to chew over.

Sep 04, 2009 9:17 PM GMT
Maciek D Replied:

I've got an Epiphone Valve Junior #3 and I think it's a great choice for a first amp. It's a tue amp giving a really nice tone, which can easily be improved by e.g. tube swapping. But it doesn't give enough volume while playing with a loud band. I had a gig with a hard rock band and I was completely buried (I didn't get a microphone to amplify the sound on P.A). But when you're able to mic it up, you can even gig with it (one of my earlier gigs).

Sep 07, 2009 8:03 PM GMT
eric b Replied:

Fender Pro long as you don't get a lemon.Class "A" 15 watts with a 10" speaker (only bummer is that it has el84's,and a solid state rectifier).They aren't bad (with a tube replacement) for general stuff.Theyare powerfull enough forsmall room gigs,maybe too loud for an apartment practice amp.Not the best amp in the world,but usable...and ahot little amp for guitar.Dont buy one new though($400)...You can sometimes find them on ebay for fairley cheap($200).All in all,a much better investment than alot of the low watt class"A" budget flooding the market right now.

Jan 14, 2010 6:19 PM GMT
skullShaker Replied:

I have the HooDoo AMP and like the sounds I'm getting and it plugs into the PA too works for me, you need to know what you pland to do later on with your playing.

Jan 15, 2010 4:04 PM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

A relatively low watt old tube amp of any kind would probably do the trick. A lot of players use old Fender and Vox amps. Sure "Green Bullet" mics are sort of the industry standard but they're high impedance and therefore pretty "dirty" sounding (although that sounds like your preference). There are also a handful of companies specializing in harp amps such as Harpgear and Fat Dog. Shop around, man! Good luck :)

Jan 20, 2010 8:14 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

To be honest, the choice of first amp, mic, harp etc is random process. You will exactly know what you like only after 5-10 years of playing. It's possible that you start using bunch of pedals to bass amp and you tone will be closer to analog synth (way cool!), or you'll understand that you love playing acoustically to PA more than all that amps (cool too!).

So I think it's better to start with small tube amp, not to expensive like Fender Champ or Fender Pro Jr.

Jan 20, 2010 8:18 AM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

Yes indeed. Finding "your sound" is a function of trial and error. A harp instructor explainded that on an online lesson once and I didn't want to believe it but in reality, you have to spend, and lug, and tweak, and dial, and sell and repeat til you've got something that works for you. I am still in the middle of my journey; probably wont have a sound dialed in for years haha

Jan 20, 2010 8:58 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:


The one thing I recommend to avoid you - don't buy guitar solid state amp. It can be cool with some other gear but not good alone.


My first amp was Vox AD15VT (the same series). I've produce cool sounds with it, but it was hardly heard over the mix and I sold it and buy Yerasov GTA15r for the same price (russian clone of fender pro juniour) and I still use and like it. No FX, but all tube.

Jan 20, 2010 9:08 AM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

Solid state is most certainly not where it's at when it comes to harmonica amplification. Some sort of tube rig is ideal. However, i saw where AG plays one old Champ (i think) slaved to a solid state "Mouse" amp that's shaped like a monitor. One tube, one solid state. Pretty interesting...

Jan 20, 2010 11:28 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

I like solid state things sometimes. Tubes usually sounds fat, but sometimes tubes sounds muddy. Solid state rare sounds muddy. It can sound too bright. I love to split my signal to two amps (one tube and one solid state) or to tube amp and PA.

Anyway one tube amp is cool. One solid state amp - sucks. Tube Amp Solid State Amp - can be very good. Listen to Adam Gussow.

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