Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Harp Break into PA ...
Harp Break into PA ...
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1558 posts
Apr 04, 2019
9:18 AM
There are people out there willingly demonstrating the various LW pedals, that I know, but there are not many -- quite possibly none at all -- who demonstrate the clean, that is, un-amped, sound of the pedals.

Every once in a while I contemplate buying a Harp Break, but I´m immediately checked buy it´s price. (It´s a bit more expensive outside the US, as I understand it.) To me, a poor SOB, a really considerable investment.
My interest, as with the Harp Attack pedal that I owned but sold, is hearing it straihgt into a PA, with the settings accounted for. Perhaps even with a "neutral" sounding mic! No added vintage gear and so on -- I want to hear it as nude as it gets.

Is this asking for too much? I suppose so, but if any of you with the equipment at hand is willing to take up the glove I´d be much obliged.

Cheers /Martin

PS Yes, I´ve seen Ian Collards comparison between the HB and a so called boutique amp, but 1) it´s rather poorly recorded and 2) it´s played through a rack.
4114 posts
Apr 04, 2019
9:48 PM
Here Ian Collard is using a bullet mic into a Harp Break then direct into the PA. It's about as clean as things get with that pedal and a bullet mic.

FWIW my guess is that if the Harp Attack didn't suit you, then the Harp Break most likely won't either. You might be better off using a Boss GE7 direct into the PA and shaping the sound that way. You can use it's gain to boost function to create a little drive if/when you need it.

1559 posts
Apr 05, 2019
6:38 AM
Many thanks, Kingley, I had missed that one.
My problem w/ the HA was that it didn´t deliver enough in the volume/dirt department before it fed back. (We have traded views on this befor, IIRC.)

I hear the HB as having a rather harsh type of distortion, but apparently he can go full steam ahead w/ a five man band and that´s something to be considered. In one of my current band situations I´m badly in need of both loudness and dirt.

Maybe you´re right about the EQ, but the experiments I´ve done with my Boss parametric (a model now discontinued -- can´t tell if it´s comparable with the GE) wasn´t terribly encouraging. When you pushed the "level" function, it got very hard. But of course, I´m an impatient klutz when it comes to adjusting pedals and I quickly get a headache.

Last Edited by Martin on Apr 05, 2019 6:39 AM
2598 posts
Apr 05, 2019
7:14 AM
Martin, the Harp Break adds break up but otherwise doesn't colour the sound, it's very straightforward I think by design. So whatever mic you use it's going to sound much the same but with some grit. IMO the harsh-edge distortion is what is wanted rather than the softer edged effect typical of a guitar pedal. It's very much the same as from a little tube amp, from experiments.

A vintage mic has a bumpy frequency response which makes it an interesting timbre. That's why I'd have thought an EQ would be good, particularly a parametric EQ which can add a nice tuneable bump. But you say it's doesn't work well?

Do you remember that 'Blue Dadi' software that was on here a while ago? Not really practical for stage work, but it had parametric EQ filters that could turn a neutral signal into a very vintage, nasal, mouthy timbre.

I don't think the HB is a magic solution to feedback and loudness, other than by going through the PA you can be distant from the output. I don't think there are any magic solutions, however expensive.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Apr 05, 2019 7:18 AM
1671 posts
Apr 05, 2019
7:55 AM
LW has a great return policy so that might help the quest. I use a HB on my board but I don't add much effect at all. These days, post years of old school blues through tube amps, I play 90% through the PA and I'm looking for lush sound. I'm using a couple of delays and an Xotic EP. Harps in perfect tune with lots of clear single notes and big long octaves. I'm seriously digging the results. I've gotten really tired of harp playing that is just raspy noise (to me). I'll do it once or twice a night but just it's crowd happy kazoo time to me.
I did some studio work recently and was amazed at how good my bullet with one of Greg's elements sounded. It had everything I wanted and I could see using it all the time, no board, provided the PA was very good. We use a Yamaha board and RCF speakers. Not cheap. But since I wrote all this I'd vote for the mic option. Not cheap either but in the end a really efficient choice.
832 posts
Apr 05, 2019
7:59 AM
pity you didnt spend more time with the harp attack. a boogie man from LW is good to go direct into the PA.
Pedals take time and patience grasshopper to dial in
1560 posts
Apr 05, 2019
8:42 AM
MindTheGap: Good info. Maybe, just maybe, that EQ pedal contains more than I´ve managed to get out of it, but as I said, I´m impatient when it comes to electronics that aren´t user friendly, and I even dare to hold the notion that it somehow falls on the producer´s responsibility to make them such.
Blue Dadi was such an instance -- downloaded it to my HD (and, like Poe´s raven, it still is sitting, still is sitting) but couldn´t work my way around it. Gave up. Maybe I can get a friend to help me.
The EQ pedal is, no doubt, an easier target, and I´ll give it another shot.

No, there are no magic bullets (or Bulletinis) I´m way to familiar with that. Still, there´s a really strong appeal in coming to a (blues) gig with just two pedals, mic and harps ...

Littoral: When you´re talking about harmonica sound in general, I´m entirely there with you on the lush side. My Beyer ribbon mic (now deceased) plus a good PA was all I ever needed in that department. But Elmore/Muddy material do need something more aggressive, that´s my conviction.
I played a small venue last week (65 people in a café), to a very entusiastic crowd, but as the evening went on I got more and more comments that I wasn´t heard. Amp cranked all the way. (One guitar guy complained all the time on how un-funny it was to play on such low volume.)
And the only way to get guitarists and drummers to lower their volume is to knock them out, that I´v learned through the years.

6SN7: No doubt you´re right. I tried the HA with a GB, an SM57, an old Beyer dynamic, and another nameless Japanese cheapo thing (which breaks up like madly!), a really good PA, a small tube amp -- but oculdn´t get it to work. So after a year or so I sold it.
4115 posts
Apr 06, 2019
2:46 AM
Having tried both the Harp Attack and the Harp Break I chose to keep the Harp Attack. To me it sounds more natural than the Harp Break, which to my ear had a harsher, more synthetic sounding distortion. It didn't seem to offer any more dirt/volume than the Harp Attack did, I'm not convinced that either would be of much use to you Martin. It might help if you could give examples of the type of sound you're trying to achieve. Which might in turn help people suggest alternatives. FWIW I've never struggled with achieving enough volume/dirt, nor indeed in hearing myself when using either pedal direct in the PA. I usually use my Harp Attack with a Shure 545 into the PA and no other effects inline. My experience is that using a delay pedal with either pedal seemed to have an effect on the overall volume achievable. So I therefore stopped using one and simply use a touch of reverb at the board if needed. Hopefully some of this information may be of some help to you in your quest.
2599 posts
Apr 06, 2019
4:29 AM
I agree that the Harp Break has a harsh distortion, I found it to be very similar the sound of my little 5W amp so I thought that was good, if you like that kind of thing.

I looked through my recordings and found this, OK it's not the PA but an otherwise clean guitar amp. I think the mic was probably a DM13 (which has a bit of tone colour) but not certain.

Hopefully you can play this file. The first phrase is the little tube amp, the second through the HB + Fender Champion 100W with no effects or models on. Obviously much much louder, so normalised for volume.


Last Edited by MindTheGap on Apr 06, 2019 4:36 AM
1561 posts
Apr 06, 2019
5:42 AM
Thank you Kingley and MindTheGap, you are both very helpful and I appreciate it.
Many of my queries here comes from the annoying fact that I´ve never put up good money for a vintage amplifier or something of that kind. That´s bad of me, but it has its reasons. The one time I´ve played out and been completely satisfied with my sound was when I sounded like in the clip below. It was a borrowed amp (a Marshall top) and a bass speaker and an EQ. I immediately tried to purchase this amp, but no -- it was not for sale. Not a chance. Have since forgotten the specifics but thought, rather naively, that I surely could find another. Now, we all tend som romanticize our pasts and, alas, this was some 25 years ago, but I can still recall the feeling of, "This is it!". (I was even a bit loud, I remember.)

I´m rather sweet on delay, and would reluctantly forfeit that effect (correctly adjusted it fattens up the sound quite a bit), but I´ll follow your advice, Kingley, and try to cut that effect out in my experimenting.

I could live with that distortion, MindTheGap (and thanks for the clip!), even if it´s a tad harsh. Problem is if it could match a heavy hitting drummer and two guitarists w/ Fender monsters that they like to drive kinda hard. (Yes, I should quit that band, but every now and then I get good $ from their gigs.)
Do you recollect ever having used the pedal in such an instance?
I´m really tired of getting comments on the line, "You´re playing great but it´s awfully hard to hear you". A set-up as in the clip below sufficed (Super Reverb, I´ve been told and a 545) for the Trobadour Club in Los Angeles, and that, I think was a reasonably large venue:

Last Edited by Martin on Apr 06, 2019 5:46 AM
2600 posts
Apr 06, 2019
6:08 AM
Martin - in answer to your question, I never play with people that loud as I don't like it and want to preserve my hearing. I'm swimming against the tide as lots of people seem to think loud is normal. So the short answer is no. But in my milder volume settings, I found that that kind of harsh breakup did help with being heard.

For instance that 100W amp in the clip gave enough volume to be heard properly with guitarists with e.g. 40 or 60W amps.

With the PA you can have all the volume you need, subject to feedback of course.

Don't you think that Butterfield sound has a harsh edge to it? I always thought so.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Apr 06, 2019 6:11 AM
The Iceman
3812 posts
Apr 07, 2019
5:41 AM
Good for you, MindTheGap.

I find it amusing that the "sound" people lust after was the "sound" of cheap equipment distorting in a band that played at a low volume. Loved those original Chicago blues bands playing on small equipment, as is shown in old movie/video clips, and they all sound great.
The Iceman
1672 posts
Apr 07, 2019
9:06 AM
Following up on my suggestion about the Bulletini element. Rob goes straight into a blues junior which is a pretty clean amp. I'm going to do a demo myself of the mic into a powered speaker but I thought you'd appreciate this.
4116 posts
Apr 07, 2019
9:40 AM
A harp into an amp or pedal is never going to match the onstage volume of two guitars going full pelt, a loud bass and loud drums. Doesn't matter what rig you use. Even a HarpKing would struggle to be heard over all that. Unless you can convince the other players to play more sympathetically then you're never going to achieve a happy onstage sound most of the time. Sadly that's just the nature of the beast.
When you hear clips like the Butterfield one above, you have to realise that had someone who knew what they were really doing controlling the front of house sound. Most sound guys these days favour bass and drums over everything else. So unless it's your band and you're the headline act, you'll always fight an uphill battle and be near the bottom of the pecking order where most sound guys are concerned.
433 posts
Apr 09, 2019
6:01 PM
When playing thru the pa with a sound guy or gal-
Be sure to tell them the dirt and distortion is from yr pedal and that u want that
Believe it or not, there are a lot of mixers that don't know what "Chicago sound" is.

They hear distortion and think its "digital distortion" from their amp and they keep u way down.

ask them if yr input is in the red or too hot--thats different from a medium volume signal coming in distorted---if u r too hot as well-- then turn down "the pedal" before going to pa----maybe yr mic a little its afine line

if yr mic is to low feeding yr pedal---- then 2 things
1] its not driving the pedal hard enough for break up--[just like an amp]
2] u have to turn pedal up to compensate again "balance"
The main amp in the "mixer" should always be higher than the pre-amp volumes- master higher than ind channels

so if yr pedal is at say 1 oclock
the mixers pre amp [first slider] is at say at
11 oclock

and his main slider is at say 1 or 2 oclock-- thats good

1] pedal-- 30-40% variable
2]on pa yr channel about 35-65% again it varies
3] on pa master volume at about 45-85%

If the singers--guitars mic'd etc can be heard with master at 75% -85% and yr harp comes thru-yr golden

mIxer has to play with yr channel volume and yr signal coming in "Not the master" which is now perfect for the singers etc

so if he has to turn yr channel volume way up to
85 % --same as master then u need to turn the signal up going into Pa from yr last pedal-- until u can be heard at say 11 oclock through PA

In other words yr channel in
PA should have room to wiggle up or down---just like the singers or mic'd guitars etc

so the interplay and communication must be how does yr channel fader look-not whether its distorted---if u can be heard with similar settings as singer n micd guitar etc

I tell the mixer its gonna sound muddy when Im not play ing leads---I want it to--I want it in the background
When its my lead I step on "BBE Sonic maximizer"--which brings out the highs and helps cut through the mix
I want to be "in the mix" when playing rhythm almost unnoticeable
I want to stand out on Leads

Our band has only 1 guitar no keys no other rhythm guitar-- so when guitar player drops out to play lead I do octave splits and chords at low STEADy volume to give him more to play over---Like hitting a synth key on the root note

side note Ian Collrds Playing and tone was really good through PA


Last Edited by snowman on Apr 09, 2019 6:06 PM
1562 posts
Apr 13, 2019
8:38 AM
@MindTheGap: Yes, you´re right, Butterfield has some harshness that´s really close to the edge (this got worse later on in his career) but I think there´s enough bottom to it to be good.

@Littoral: Can´t afford a Bulletini as it is, but yes, it´s been on my mind.

@Kingley: Yes, I´m with you, and as I say elsewhere, I do not have a lot of hope for those guitar guys and the hard hitting drummer. Also, I´m a bit of a Masoschist, plus there´s always the money aspect. Then this debate: "Guys, you turn down or I quit!" is hard to give a really pleasant framing, which is a pain since they are nice people. But the bass-player has now sort of converted and begun to worry, partly about the band´s sound and partly about his hearing. (It´s about time!) So maybe ...

@Snowman: Thank you for detailed instructions! I save them.

In general: sound is ridiculously important. Sometimes I even think it´s even more important than good playing, and if I now meet younger guys starting out I always tell them to invest wisely and not, as I did, say, "Ah, it´s gonna work out fine, I´ll find something. Meanwhile I work on my chops."
Get good equipment! That can cover up quite a lot. Not bad timing, sadly, but the tired old adage (often religiously repeated by gear freaks), "A good player sounds good on anything" etc is just not true.
As for me, if it comes to playing through a crappy, cold sounding PA, I´d rather not play at all. (There are recorded instances, as well as live concerts that I´ve visited, of veteran players like James Cotton and Charlie Musselwhite where I think they should have opted for my strategy.)
Harmo Dan Cabana
1 post
Apr 16, 2019
11:28 AM
I met one guy in a gig where I was invited. I was playing through a 58 and got a glimpse of his pedal board full of Lone Wolfe pedals. When the show ended, he told me that if he had to keep only one, it would be the Harp Attack. He played his pedal board directly into the PA system. The sound just beated anything I heard before live. He played through different mics, an Ultimate 545, an Ultimate 58 and a Bulettini. I could not hear any difference. It was like the pedal board did the job about the sound.

Last Edited by Harmo Dan Cabana on Apr 16, 2019 11:29 AM
The Iceman
3823 posts
Apr 16, 2019
12:12 PM
Martin sez ""A good player sounds good on anything" etc is just not true.
As for me, if it comes to playing through a crappy, cold sounding PA, I´d rather not play at all."

I disagree. A good player can sound good on anything. (Jazz players used to marvel at how Bill Evans could, at those private parties, make a small spinet piano sound like a grand piano).

In regards to a crappy, cold sounding PA, I had no problem playing directly into the vocal mic of a PA on that clip recorded at Todd Parrott's '19 NC Harp Fest (another thread here) - no Lone Wolf, no reverb/delay, and it came out sounding pretty good. It's all about the player, not the gear, IMO.
The Iceman

Last Edited by The Iceman on Apr 16, 2019 12:14 PM
2604 posts
Apr 17, 2019
3:51 AM
To be fair, Martin is asking about being heard over a loud band. I bet even Bill Evans would have struggled with one of those guitarists at those parties.
63 posts
Apr 18, 2019
8:02 AM
“It's all about the player, not the gear, IMO.”

Me thinks is mostly about the player, but the gear does play a role. Specially if you are looking for a particular sound.
The Iceman
3828 posts
Apr 18, 2019
9:10 AM
I feel the best players are those that will sound good when thrown into just about any situation.....they have the ability to adapt on the fly and let their talent shine....no amp? have to play through the vocal mic? No problem....only a solid state amp on stage for the jam? No problem...No effects available tonight? No problem...

That's MY kind of artistry!
The Iceman
4117 posts
Apr 18, 2019
9:24 AM
Of course gear plays a role. To suggest otherwise would be folly. However the inescapable fact is that a good player will sound pretty good through anything and will sound even better through good gear. Whilst a mediocre player will sound mediocre no matter what the quality of the gear. Having the acoustic chops and skill set to adapt to less than satisfactory gear and make it work in you favour is what we should all aim for. Simply because you never know what situation you will find yourself in at a gig. It isn't always possible to use your own favourite amp/mic/effects, so I'm of the opinion that being adaptable to unknown situations and gear is an important skill set to have.
These days I mostly play through a vocal mic direct into the PA with no effects, because it means I can go to any gig and just play without worrying too much about getting 'my sound'.

Last Edited by Kingley on Apr 18, 2019 9:25 AM
54 posts
Apr 18, 2019
9:40 AM
It would be nice if Lone wolf would do some professional level demos of the pedals- like most pedal companies do... both plugged into an amp as well as plugged straight into a board.
1674 posts
Apr 18, 2019
4:43 PM
20REEEDS, I agree. Professional videos. I would expect it to be a very profitable bit of PR too. I absolutely know what I get through a powered speaker (PA) and an LW pedal or 2 is pretty much anything anyone could ask for out of gear.

Last Edited by Littoral on Apr 18, 2019 4:44 PM
3352 posts
Apr 18, 2019
5:10 PM
played into bulet mic last night......sure do prefer PA......but that's just me.....

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