Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Amplified acoustic playing
Amplified acoustic playing
Login  |  Register
Page: 1

86 posts
Nov 24, 2019
9:05 PM
Hi all,

I play in a duo and just want some help getting my sound right. At the moment I have a Shure Green Bullet mic and also a cheap dynamic vocal style mic. I hate holding the Green Bullet and I also don't want a distorted sound, so I try to play close to the vocal mic while it is in a mic stand (not holding it) because I want just the ACOUSTIC sound, but amplified. The tone is as good as my own tone, which is what I want...but I can't get it loud enough...as we get into louder songs and the bar crowd gets rowdy...I struggle to hear myself so I end up cupping the microphone as I play.

I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to tech...but can someone help me find a good mic for acoustic playing? The vocal mic I am using is a very cheap thing...not even sure the brand...so do I just need a better vocal mic, like an SM58, or is there a harp mic that I can cup while retaining that acoustic sound? Any help/advice is appreciated!

3064 posts
Nov 24, 2019
9:29 PM
The root of the issue is probably volume creep. You start out hearing everything ok and as the night progresses the audience gets looser and louder and maybe your partner turns up to match that. Harmonica frequencies are hard to keep above high volume. The harder you try the less dynamics you have.
Next is the mic issue. Can you put the GB in a stand? This can serve 2 purposes, 1 you find the spot where you avoid feedback, and 2 you can maybe bump volume up a bit and use more hand effects. Depending on what you're plugged into you can get a fairly clean sound with some GB's.
Shure SM57 is a unidirectional mic which can be harp friendly depending on how the p.a. channel is set. Highs and gain rolled off, mids eased off. Then the trick is proximity and not taking off too much.

The duo I'm in, we have matching 12w tube amps. She plays whatever guitar through hers and I have mine set up with either a Shaker Dynamic with IMT or I have also a hotter EV m43u modded to high impedance. I run a Lone Wolf Harp Delay too. 275w Yamaha Stagepass p.a. for vocals. I want to try both guitar and harp through the p.a. along with vocals. We both sing. I have 4 channels to work with, one for instrument and 3 for mics.

We just don't get that loud. If it's too loud we stick to our guns and play anyway. We favor restaurants rather than wild ass party joints. That may change where we are this winter. But we just won't turn up too much. If I can't hear my harp or we can't hear our vocals it's pointless.

We've been at this as a duo for 15 years nearly. All over the US. In that time we've bought and sold several amps and a p.a. or two and tried several mics both for vocals and harp. We use Shure Beta58 mics for vocals. She's tried several guitars. Our gear works for us.

My baddest amp was a custom built '59 Bassman replica. 40 watt, 4x10, but 45 pounds! That was when I was working with loudass bands. It did cut through but I got complaints on the other end- "too loud!" When I went to the duo I sold that amp off.

You don't mention what you plug your mics into. But at the end of the day I think volume creep is what's going on. That's tough to deal with.
Music and travel destroy prejudice.



4149 posts
Nov 25, 2019
12:53 AM
My experience is that a Shure SM58 or SM57 on a stand would be a good choice. As it allows you to play off mic acoustically and also when the volume gets louder lightly cup your hands around it, retaining your acoustic sound whilst allowing you to cut through the mix. Sadly if lightly cupping a vocal mic into the PA still doesn't allow you to be heard by the audience then either, A: You're not setting the mic channel up right in the PA, or B: The other 'musicians' are simply far too loud. As to the problem of hearing yourself. The best solution there is a small active monitor set up next to you. That way you can tweak the volume as necessary to hear yourself. Although if you're playing in a duo setting, you really shouldn't be having any problems at all hearing yourself as the instrumentation is minimal. So I'd refer you back to my A/B answers above.
6321 posts
Nov 25, 2019
4:01 AM
G’day Rusty26,
Probably a 58 would do the job for you. I don’t think a GB is necessarily inherently dirty either, but it’s possibly a question of degree; anyway, you said you don’t like holding it so that’s probably enough reason to look elsewhere.

I’ve used various mics through potluck on stages set for other people. I used a beta 57 which I thought was pretty great, but I also had a skilled and attentive person at the board that time.
Usually it’s a 58. I own a 58 also, they’re a real solid reliable known quantity and they do clean quite easily. Dirt can take a little more effort but it’s available if you want to work out how.
If I was using it in a stand I would probably set the mic quite hot, hot enough that ‘cupping’ it close would set it off...but not so hot that I couldn’t get a loose shield around it. If I wanted to actually hold the mic, obviously I would have it less hot so as to allow me to get my hand around it.
And then it’s just a question of a monitor. You didn’t mention any amp so I assume it’s PA and a wedge. You just have to make sure you’ve got enough volume in the monitor so you can hear. Simple, right?
60 posts
Nov 25, 2019
6:31 AM
The SM 58 would be a good choice, but I'd also recommend a audix fireball,since you could cup it and it has a volume control also.
140 posts
Nov 25, 2019
6:44 AM
I've only just started play out but here are my thoughts FWIW:

I quickly ran into the problems of not being able to hear myself.
The jam supplies harp players with an SM58 with nothing through the monitors (to counter feedback?). I have tried playing with earplugs in. I can now hear myself but I still have no idea what I sound like out front.

Mic: People say that the Audix Fireball has great resistance to proximity effect. So no matter how hard you blow or how tightly you cup it shouldn't distort
514 posts
Nov 25, 2019
8:09 AM
they make 2 things

1] bullet mic holder

2] double mic hplder--u can use 1 for bullet---1 for vocal


if that helps

sm 57 is a directional mic--made more instrument friendly---

sm 58 is uni-directional--made more for vocals-

directional is better for less feedback--check it out on line


obviously paste n copy ur'ls
515 posts
Nov 25, 2019
8:14 AM
also shure website

361 posts
Nov 25, 2019
12:12 PM
For "acoustic" playing, I use an Audix Fireball in a stand with a Heumann volume control to the PA to a monitor and house (got the Fireball before the one with the VC came out). I expect a 57 or 58 would also do the trick -- with VC you can bring your volume up as needed w/o messing with the PA or monitor. I do sometimes ask for more in the monitor. (I usually soundcheck with the VC at about 3/4). I play like that with a 5-piece band so you should have no problem with a duo! Of course, I need to be in a nearby monitor.
PS Yeah, when the band gets loud, I do have to get closer to the mike and sacrifice some hand effect. (I have not experimented to the max on that, i.e., to see just how much I can get in the monitor before squeal -- don't want to piss off the band leader! -- but, as said, that's with a 5-piece.)

Last Edited by TetonJohn on Nov 25, 2019 12:26 PM
87 posts
Nov 27, 2019
2:37 AM
Thanks all,

I'll see how that goes next time I set up (I just play straight through a PA for those who asked). I'm also pretty curious about the Audix Fireball that some have suggested...so may be investing in that.

144 posts
Nov 27, 2019
7:11 AM
Check out Richard Hunter; he uses lots of effects and uses the Fireball to get a really clean signal to which he can apply effects.

Not quite your application but an example of what the mic can do.
Homeless Joe
3 posts
Nov 28, 2019
7:33 AM
I think bringing a longer microphone cable, so you can get off the stage and further away from those speakers and the noise in general might help. I suspect the other musicians are too loud.

Post a Message
Guest Name


(8192 Characters Left)

Please enter the code shown above and click the 'Post Message' button. This additional step is required to help protect against message spam.





blues harmonica riffs - harmonica tabs - learn harmonica - play harmonica

play harmonica easily - harp tabs for beginners - blues harmonica lessons


ADAM GUSSOW is an official endorser for HOHNER HARMONICAS