Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Lone Wolf Harp Break review
Lone Wolf Harp Break review
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jpmcbride
197 posts
Nov 22, 2018
9:39 AM
I know the Harp Break has been reviewed and discussed many times, but I just got one and thought I'd post my initial thoughts in the hope that they might be helpful to someone that's thinking about getting one.

Lets get this out of the way first ... Lone Wolf is a quality outfit. The pedal was shipped on time, packaged well, and the build quality is first rate. No complaints whatsoever.

I tested it with two mics and two amps.

Amps:
(1) Fender Blues Deluxe reissue with tube swaps (my favorite amp)
(2) Fender Pro Jr with tube swaps and simple circuit mods to give it more bass response.

Mics:
(1) Vintage CM element in a JT-30 type shell. Its the low impedance version of the CM, to which I added a matching transformer to make it high impedance. Very hot and bright.
(2) Bottle 'O Blues

Generally I'm not a fan of clipping distortion. Usually its too harsh for harmonica in my opinion. But this pedal does a good job with it. Its definitely has that clipping sound, but its softer and "rounder" than I expected. Overall its a very usable sound. I like the DRIVE set on the lower side for my taste.

The bass boost is a nice feature. It isn't going to turn a weak tone into a booming monster tone. But it will make you sound more substantial. I like it and keep it turned up about 3/4 of the way.

Simplicity is a benefit in my opinion, and this pedal has it. There is nothing worse than a harp or guitar player spending 5 minutes twiddling knobs on stage trying to find "that sound". The three knobs are intuitive and easy to set. I like that a lot. One might have been tempted to put a tone knob on it, but I'm glad they didn't because that would be just ANOTHER tone knob to adjust. I already have tone adjustments on my amp.

My favorite rig is the mic with CM element into the Blues Deluxe amp. It's bright and loud and barks like a dog when you hit a note hard. It sounds good at low volume, and can be cranked up to ridiculously loud. It has natural breakup in that traditional bigger tube amp way. Not overly distorted. I play tongue blocked so that allows me to slap and pull, etc, and use this amp to its full ability. For me, the Harp Break does not improve the sound of this rig. With the Harpbreak the brightness is gone and the natural tube sound is replaced with a less pleasing distortion.

The Fender Pro Jr and mic with CM element is a different story. This rig stays cleaner at lower volumes. Its still sounds good, but doesn't have the bark and bite and breakup that one wants. The Harp Break is a big plus with this rig. It adds the dirt needed to play this amp at low volume and sound great.

The Bottle 'O Blues mic is a a little different story (full disclosure, BoB is my company). The BoB has a bit of built-in distortion and naturally rolls off the highs compared to my CM which is very bright. The Harp Break pairs up well with it and gives you a super full and deep breakup. Its a sound a lot of harp players will like. I get constant emails from newer players looking for that distorted sound. The BoB and Harp Break will give you that sound with pretty much any decent harp amp.

Final thoughts:
I like the Harp Break and will keep it. My primary rig will continue to be the Blues Deluxe amp and mic with CM element without the Harp Break. But I'll use the Harp Break with my Pro Jr. I'll also carry it with me in my gear case so that I have something to make any random amp I end up playing through sound good. This alone makes the Harp Break worth purchasing. I can pretty much walk into any situation and plug in the Harp Break and get a good sound. I recommend it completely.

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Jim McBride
Bottle 'O Blues microphones
www.bottleoblues.com
jpmcbride
199 posts
Jan 06, 2019
9:57 AM
Well, didn't get any response when I first posted this. But I'm following up anyway. Maybe someone out there is considering a Harp Break and this will help them.

I've been using the Harp Break for 5 or 6 weeks now. I'm using it live (blues jams and band practice) where it really counts. I'm not using it at home.

I'm really impressed with this pedal. Its become key to my amplified sound. I'm playing through a Fender Blues Deluxe amp with no mods other than some preamp tube swaps, and I'm using the spring reverb on the amp. I'm using an Astatic 335-H crystal mic.

This amp and mic combination sound great alone. But the Harp Break allows me to get more breakup at lower volume and add a nice crunch to the sound. Nothing harsh or rough about it. Its solid-state clipping distortion, but it manages to sound smooth. The key to this is to keep the input level to the pedal low. In my experimenting, a really hot mic causes it to sound too harsh. Use a lower output mic, turn down the volume a little on your mic, or use a pad to decrease the level. Let the pedal and amp do the work.

The setting I like are specific to my mic and amp, but here they are anyway:
- Drive at 50% or slightly less
- Bass Boost at 50%
- Volume at 75% (my mic has a low output and needs this extra volume to drive my amp properly)

I'm loving this thing and have been getting a lot of complements from non-harp players about the tone. I may have to buy a second one to make sure I'm covered if it ever breaks!



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Jim McBride
Bottle 'O Blues microphones
www.bottleoblues.com
NathanLWBC
133 posts
Jan 08, 2019
6:17 AM
We're glad you like the Harp Break and thanks so much for the kind words!
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--Nathan Heck
General Manager, Lone Wolf Blues Co.
customerservice@lonewolfblues.com
jpmcbride
204 posts
Jan 08, 2019
4:35 PM
@NathanLWBC you're welcome. Its a great product.

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Jim McBride
Bottle 'O Blues microphones
www.bottleoblues.com
Lou
42 posts
Jan 08, 2019
7:26 PM
I bought one awhile ago only use it at practice/gigs and didn't get along with at all & stopped using it. I recently started using it again and now I'm really liking it. My problem was not trying out enough settings and spending time figuring it out. (I'm pretty impatient)I'm playing through a Bulletini into a black face Princeton reverb clone about 18 watts, 12" speaker and using MXR delay.
The Harp break is giving me a nice edge to the sound, if your amp has a lot headroom this is great pedal to add a little dirt without over diving your amp. I'm glad I gave it a second chance.
Lou
indigo
543 posts
Jan 08, 2019
7:50 PM
The harp Break is the one Pedal that i couldn't give up.
It is just so versatile.You can even get a decent tone out of a PA with it if as stated above you don't overdo the drive settings.
It can tame a Hot mike or boost a Weak one.
Set up right it is a feedback killer as well.
SuperBee
5744 posts
Jan 10, 2019
4:24 PM
The harp Break is a quality unit and Lone Wolf is second to none for customer service and after sales backup.
I do not currently own a harp break. I bought one in 2012 and sold it on after a couple months. I was not really a fan of the soft clipping. It’s quite a while ago and its possible if i tried one now I’d form a different opinion, but from what i remember the clip seemed to put a soft leading edge on the note which did not thrill me.
I also recall that it reduced the feedback threshold, meaning i was not able to play as loudly when i had the pedal switched on. At the time i was really requiring maximum volume to hear myself on stage.

I acquired a Harp Attack pedal last year and i am much happier with that. The only drawback is that it requires 18 volt power supply and my board is powered by a 9 and 12 volt PS

I guess this difference in tastes is why lone wolf produce both pedals, as they are really designed to address much the same issue of dirtying up what would otherwise be a too-clean sound

I do have a number of LW products; Attack, Delay, Octave, Reverb, Tone plus, Mojo Pad Deluxe. I also had a Shield at one time but it also had to find a new home. My band was way too loud and chaotic for it to be of any use to me. These days it would probably be worth having for me, so I’m learning about hasty decisions.
Thievin' Heathen
1098 posts
Jan 11, 2019
6:04 AM
SuperBee,
That you can part with a piece of gear after you have tried it is truly remarkable. So, that must be the definition of G.A.S. Light.
SuperBee
5746 posts
Jan 11, 2019
10:26 AM
I don’t know what to believe anymore
Moon Cat
771 posts
Jan 14, 2019
2:11 AM
Great review ! I Love mine!!!!
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www.mooncat.org
Destin
159 posts
Jan 23, 2019
9:26 PM
The harp breaks rocks
AppalachiaBlues
234 posts
Jan 24, 2019
9:29 AM
I'm with SuperBee. I played with both the Harp Break and Harp Attack at my local retailer. I much preferred the sound of the Harp Attack (based on my taste). I bought it, and love it. Using it with a delay pedal and a DI box into a PA.

Last Edited by AppalachiaBlues on Jan 24, 2019 9:29 AM
Kingley
4110 posts
Jan 24, 2019
1:14 PM
Both the pedal mentioned are great bits of kit. My personal preference though is for the Harp Attack.


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