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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > What dedicated harp amp head?
What dedicated harp amp head?
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John M G
371 posts
Sep 27, 2020
8:26 PM
For once in my life I am in a position to buy a decent 100% dedicated harp amplifier.
I was thinking that I'd prefer to go with a head rather than a combo. It splits the load and makes speaker changes a bit easier with separate extension cabinets.
I use mainly bullet style mics with Shure CM or CR cartridges so would prefer something that was better impedance matched to this type of Hi Z mic.
I was thinking along the lines of the Harp Train 40 but it looks like these aren't available any more.
I'm not convinced a 5 watt amp will be enough but happy to be educated.
Any suggestions what to look for?
Cheers John

Last Edited by John M G on Sep 27, 2020 8:27 PM
ZackPomerleau
1439 posts
Sep 28, 2020
1:18 AM
I legitimately can’t even think of one head that’s harmonica based. What is your typical gig like? I would not get a five watt amp. I know lots of people say you can mic or line out but I play 18-20 gigs a month and maybe 10 percent of the time can I actually line out or mic an amp if I wanted to. Even then, no one would want the harp in the pa monitors.

If you don’t want a super heavy amp a Princeton is a nice amp and you can get them used reasonably. But honestly a used Bassman can be found for 750-900. They’re about 47 pounds which isn’t amazing but if you use a cart you have an amp that will work for everything and you can hear it.

I use a Bandmaster (Victoria) and that’s 3x10s. It’s 26 watts and that’s a good option. A little quieter but has a smaller amp sound in a bigger package. That might also work if you can find one.
rogonzab
1130 posts
Sep 28, 2020
3:53 AM
Harp Train 40
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Sorry for any misspell, english is not my first language.
rbeetsme
1721 posts
Sep 28, 2020
4:38 AM
Try to find a Masco MA17 that has been serviced.
jbone
3254 posts
Sep 28, 2020
8:11 AM
My best harp amp hands down was a Bassman. Heavy, yes, and if you aren't making $$ with it it's a bit much to lug around. The tone and volume though were incredible.

I have no experience with separate head/cab combos. But I wonder about a Bassman head with a mod or two?

I had a Peavey Delta Blues 210 for a while that was pretty good and would allow an extension cab to be used as well. About 25-30 pounds. The 2 10's were not enough for a lot of stages though. always depended on what the band was like.
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Tblues1
107 posts
Sep 28, 2020
8:27 AM
Not harp dedicated specifically, but works quite well, compact, light and versatile, Quilter Tone Block 202.
snowman
623 posts
Sep 28, 2020
9:36 AM
I have one----love it-----if u need more volume mic into pa----works well in small medium clubs----I made a 10" box for a weber speaker---love the tone

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS704US704&sxsrf=ALeKk03oekgzBU9czzVb2pnFp4kwR7627g%3A1601310772412&ei=NBByX5HiGIm8sAWtsZTYBA&q=epiphone+valve+junior+head&oq=epiphone+valve+junior+head&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQARgAMgIIADICCAAyAggAMgIIADIGCAAQFhAeMgYIABAWEB4yBggAEBYQHjIGCAAQFhAeMgYIABAWEB4yBggAEBYQHjoECAAQRzoECCMQJzoICAAQFhAKEB46BwgAEBQQhwI6BAgAEApQ9Q9Y7y5g20VoAHACeACAAacBiAHZCpIBBDAuMTCYAQCgAQGqAQdnd3Mtd2l6yAEIwAEB&sclient=psy-ab
ME.HarpDoc
392 posts
Sep 28, 2020
2:54 PM
I loved the tone of my Harp Train 10 with my JT30 with a Sure CM but it wasn't enough for a loud jam. I have a Quilter combo unit with a 10" speaker that's pretty close but the set up I have now really works. It's a VOX MV50 Boutique head into a cab I put together with a 12" Eminence Cannibis Rex plus an 8" Weber Alnico with the H dust cover. The CR presents the bass and the Weber provides early break up when needed. Sounds actually better than my HT 10 (in my opinion)./ The MV 50 has a proprietary tube in the pre amp and only weighs about 1 lb. It's not super expensive and might give you what you're looking for. There are a few models of the MV50 on the VOX site but the sound samples are all for guitar.
TetonJohn
367 posts
Sep 29, 2020
5:38 PM
Yeah, harp-specific head: have Skip Simmons do a harp-specific refurbish of a Masco MA-17. Google him. Talk to him. These sound great; selectable Ohm for experimenting with cabs -- oh, and they look way cool! Circa 1940's. He will put in a line out if you want.
SuperBee
6829 posts
Sep 29, 2020
7:58 PM
Didn't realise the Lone Wolf stuff was unavailable. Maybe a supply line issue? Or maybe reflects a drop off in demand for performance gear.
I'm inclined to agree with the advice to look at a custom build based on a PA head of some type.

Last Edited by SuperBee on Sep 30, 2020 1:22 AM
cliffy
330 posts
Sep 29, 2020
8:26 PM
MegaTone is now making a head version of the "Wezo ME-18" harp amp. I have the combo version nd it sounds incredible. contact me if you'd like to hear some clips.
bluzmn
120 posts
Sep 30, 2020
1:01 AM
+1 for the Harp Train 40. I have one for sale; if you're interested PM me.
John M G
372 posts
Sep 30, 2020
10:53 PM
Thanks for all your replies.
I'm investigating an Australian amp builder who has done a number of Masco style amps for harp players and this is sounding like a good solution from your comments above on the Masco MA 17. I've been told the head only would weigh in around the 9 kg's or 20 lbs which would be perfect. I'm sending you an email Bluzmn
Cheers JG
Prento
70 posts
Oct 01, 2020
4:04 AM
John, some of the old AWA pa amps make great conversions. I recently converted a late 1950s AWA pa 872 to a black face fender style amp for primarily guitar use but with a lone wolf harp tone pedal it sounded great with harp. If you gut it you essentially have 2x6l6 or kt66 (mine came with 6l6 but originally they had kt66) output valves, 2x12ax7 preamp valves, a 5v4 rectifier valve and power supply to give you just over 20 watts. With that as a starting point it is up to you as to how you design or borrow a circuit to meet your needs. I detailed the build on Australian Guitar Gear Heads. If you look in the section called In The Shed and search for AWA PA 872 you will find it
John M G
373 posts
Oct 02, 2020
8:45 PM
Hi bluzmn
There's no PM on this site but I did send you an email.
Cheers JG

Prento, thanks for the information. I'm fine with mechanically putting something together. Electrics on the other hand are not my forte! I'd take on building it and the cab but trimming pots and making other adjustments are another matter

Last Edited by John M G on Oct 02, 2020 9:28 PM
indigo
601 posts
Oct 02, 2020
9:39 PM
Vox MV50 "clean" version.50 watts into 4ohms(2 x10")or
25W into 8ohms.
I won't go into a full description here but if you Google the reviews you'll be amazed at how well it has been received.
What you basically have is an amp that does what it says on the box ie it amplifies the input with no colourisation.
So what you put in comes out.
BUT: It takes pedals like the proverbial duck to water.
I use a Harp break and a Boss Eq pedal and run it into a 12" Cannabis Rex.
The MV50 ,harp break,EQ plus mike and 10 harps all fit into a briefcase.
The speaker weighs more than this setup!
This is a seriously good alternative to lugging around huge and delicate valve amps.
John M G
374 posts
Oct 02, 2020
10:32 PM
I should point out that I do have a Quilter Pro Block 200 with
a Frontline 2 x 8 cab which weighs 29 lbs all up.
It's been my go to amp but the pedal board I use makes loading
and unloading a bit of pain and to be honest, I've never got
a sound I'm 100% that happy with and rarely use half the pedals.
I'm now looking at all the pedals I've bought over the last few
years and if I'd invested wisely in the beginning I'd have saved
myself some money and probably stuck with the 65 Princeton Reverb.
But you don't find out these things until you've tried them.
agarner
85 posts
Oct 03, 2020
12:33 PM
I own a 5 watt Epiphone Valve Junior stock and love it. With a shure sm57, impedance transformer, and volume control I can limit feedback almost completely while still getting loud enough to play with a proper band. People almost always ask what Im playing through.

I also have access to a Fender Super Reverb, its big and loud, but unless i crank the thing to a point that it is ear splitting it is basically as clean as a pa. Great sound but not a lot of breakup.

I think a 5 watt, miced to the mixing board gives you great sound and control at a fine coast savings.
SuperBee
6833 posts
Oct 03, 2020
6:18 PM
I'm always intrigued by discussions involving use of 5w amps in live performance situations with a full band.
I understand that FOH sound is no big deal as long as you have access to a PA, but whenever i've tried to use such an amp onstage, I can never hear it unless the circumstances are "just right". I suppose people must be feeding it back to the stage through the monitors but that has always been a potentially difficult situation in my experience, especially if the stage is loud. I saw Ian Collard using a Valve Jr and it looked like he had it at the front of stage and pointed back towards him. I did notice him leaning down and standing side on to the house, as if he was trying to get his ear down close to a speaker, so i am imagining this is what he was doing.
I've also seen videos of people using those tiny amps Rick davis has been selling; they always seem to have the harp player standing well out in front or to the side of the band with the harp amp sitting in a clear space away from all the other amps and drums. What luxury to have those types of spaces to set up in. I've been on such stages a few times but they are more the exception than the rule.

Personally, if i have to rely on PA monitors to hear myself, I would rather just cut out the amp and reduce a potential feedback complication. After a few frustrating episodes of inaudibility i decided to eliminate that problem by making sure i had an amp i could hear onstage.
Piro39
143 posts
Oct 12, 2020
12:38 PM
@Indigo
Would you care to elaborate why you chose the clean version of the Vox MV50 ? I'm considering the purchase of one because of it's size, I do have some good tube amps for harps and some Lone Wolf pedals and am wondering how this mini-amp compares.
indigo
603 posts
Oct 12, 2020
2:10 PM
@Piro
I choose the clean because the other options have gain and distortion capabilities set up for a guitar(and they sound good)
But using a mike through them makes you liable to get feedback (like any guitar amp really)
With the clean you can dial in Harp friendly grit via a pedal like the harp Break.
I run mine through a 12' speaker(for 25 watts) but ideally i'd like to use two 10" for the full 50W output.
It really is a great little amp.
John M G
376 posts
Oct 13, 2020
12:55 AM
I'm making more progress on the decision making progress.
I'm really tempted to have a go at building one myself from one of the kits that are available from Weber, Mojotone, Triode and any other kit suppliers anyone can suggest.
I've come up with a spec.
15 to 18 amps.
Just bass and treble EQ
I'd really like a line out.
Just a head to split the weight.
Voiced for harp.
I found a new Harp Train 40 but still waiting to hear back on shipping costs.
I also got excited when I saw the Harpgear Amp pages and saw the double trouble. I'm guessing that they aren't selling at the present as I've had no replies from the emails I've sent. Anyone know if they are still in business?
Cheers John
TetonJohn
369 posts
Oct 13, 2020
8:55 AM
J M G:
FWIW, I have found the 15 - 18 watt range to be the sweet spot with the 5-piece band I'm in. The lead guitar (band leader) is typically through a super reverb behind and to my right. My amp is directly in front of me on a tilt back stand, like a monitor -- rhythm guitar is tasteful with amp also positioned like a monitor.

At that size, I find no need for a head to save weight -- e.g., the Double Trouble is a pretty easy carry. My current favorite is my real 1965 Princeton Reverb (with the LW Harp Tone+ pedal it is very well "voiced for harp"). Because the amp is up front, if we are playing at a place that might get rowdy, I do bring the Double Trouble instead (one day I will sell the PR for a lot of money!) I also have an old PA head that I put on top of a single 12 cab -- it was once knocked off by a rowdy dancer (it's actually easier to just grab a combo amp, but sometimes I just want to bring the PA head). I do like the DT's small footprint, especially in my situation with so many "monitors" up front. I once put the DT up for sale here, but it is handy -- it being young, I don't worry so much about its safety in transport and use.
I guess while I'm blabbing on, I'll mention the other amp of this general size that I use sometimes. It's an early 1940's National/Dobro -- also with Harp Tone+ in front. I am more than happy to gig with any one of these.
Edit to add: all are miked to the PA of course.

Last Edited by TetonJohn on Oct 13, 2020 9:05 AM
Tblues1
108 posts
Oct 13, 2020
4:38 PM
If you already have a Frontliner why not try the Quilter Tone Block 202 ?
Has a 3 band EQ and reverb if you want it and it would drop right in.
I do think the 12HD is a little nicer cab, however, as it is lighter and the Frontliner has an annoying trait of the power cord touching the ground at the plug and putting a slight strain on the cord.
202 is a bit better than the original Tone Block, as it did not have the EQ.
Hard to beat the size weight and output of the Quilter.
The 202 is also slightly less feedback prone than the Micropro combo, FYI.
I do have a 50 watt Mission Amps but I don't take it out very often anymore.
I like the convenience of the Quilter.
As always, it is essentially a matter of taste.

Last Edited by Tblues1 on Oct 13, 2020 4:41 PM
J.W.C.
3 posts
Oct 13, 2020
5:14 PM
Huh, I wasn't even aware there were dedicated harp amps (I'm a beginner on harmonica), but I guess that makes sense. Cool to see the info about various options.

I have a modest collection of guitar amps, but I haven't explored using them with harp. I think when I get to experimenting with that I'll give a Fender Blues Junior a try, although I also have a Boss Acoustic Singer Live that might be suited to the job.

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TetonJohn
372 posts
Oct 14, 2020
8:15 AM
Speaking of "harp heads," Ron Holmes (maker of the various Harp Commander pedals/boxes) once made the "Velvet Glow" harp amp. It's based on old school PA heads: 6SL7 pre-amp, cathode bias. Also, separate harmonica and guitar inputs, line out with volume control, effects loop, 2 6V6 or 6L6 or KT66. Pretty cool. This one I would probably sell (though I wasn't planning on that as I typed this post).
John M G
380 posts
Nov 10, 2020
4:35 PM
Just thought I'd let you all know what I ended up doing.
I've ordered a new Fender 65 Princeton Reverb Reissue.
I'm already looking at swapping the stock speaker out.
I'm looking at maybe another Eminence Li'l Buddy, 98.8 db sensitivity or possibly a WGS Retro 10 with it's Sound Pressure Level (spl): 100.62 db
The stock Jensen is only a 93.6 db sensitivity.
Also looking at the Fromel Electronics Supreme kit.
Any other suggestions for harp mods?
I have both a 12AT7 and 12AY7 to try in the first pre amp station.
Thanks for all the feedback
Cheers JG
TetonJohn
375 posts
Nov 10, 2020
8:43 PM
I love the Weber 10A125-O in my not-reisssue 65 Princeton Reverb. Many others here like that speaker in the Princeton Reverb.
TetonJohn
376 posts
Nov 11, 2020
11:30 AM
PS: Per "harp mod," I just put the LW Harp Tone+ pedal in front (of any guitar amp). I find an AX in first preamp of PrincetonR works fine this way -- I have an old Mullard AX in mine.
John M G
381 posts
Nov 11, 2020
5:10 PM
One thing that did come out of doing a search on the Weber speaker was finding the attenuators they do. I see that it also gives you a line out! very interesting, got to send them an email to see if the 50 watt version is appropriate for the 15 watt Princeton and find out if they ship to Australia?
Thanks TetonJohn
SuperBee
6846 posts
Nov 12, 2020
2:30 PM
Hi John, my PR is a 78SF not a 65RI but there are only small differences, in principle.
I have wound up running a fairly different set of preamp tubes than the standard array. Off the top though, i can't remember with certainty what they all are. the principle is just about reducing some gain and getting a little more sweep on the volume. Not a lot, but i can turn it up to 4 or 5 instead of 3 and it does make it a bit easier to find a sweet spot. I can also use the number 1 input now, if i want.
One of the first things i did with this amp was to fit a Weber 12A125-O. i cant say much about it in comparison to any speaker other than the original stock issue, but it was an improvement, and i think its good enough that i didn't bother looking further.
the other thing i would say about my PR experience is that i've owned the amp close on 10 years and if you ever see it for sale you'll know i'm not playing amplified harmonica anymore. I won't say it was an instantly obvious great fit. It took some time to grow into it and i tried a lot of other amps along the way but out of all that over several years the PR has emerged as a clear favourite in applications which suit it, which are quite a few. When the bass turns up enough to drown it out though, then there is no point trying to play.
i tried the harp tone plus, and for me that is an emergency use only zone. i call it the harp tone minus because while it will save the day in some circumstances, i do not like the way it impacts the signal. Audiences do not care.
John M G
382 posts
Nov 13, 2020
3:39 AM
The new Princeton arrived this afternoon while I was out at a jam. I'm so glad I did it.
TentonJohn & SuperBee, thanks for your suggestion on the Weber 10A125-0. I've had a really nice communication from them.
I've just sent an email to see if they will break in the speakers.
John M G
385 posts
Nov 19, 2020
9:38 PM
Hmmm the brand new Princeton is not healthy.
I did a band practice with it yesterday for about 3 hours.
Went to our Friday afternoon jam in the big shed.
It was warm maybe high 20's.
After about an hours playing the Princeton shut down. Nothing! We changed leads and mics, swapped from the low to the high, got a signal for a minute or two, then it shut down again. I'm certain the power light was still on.
Let it sit for 45 minutes and it came good.
Seems like there's some safety heat override protection circuit that's tripped to soon and too low!?
I've had the amp for just 7 days!
Man I'm having a rough trot at the moment.
It's got to go back to Melbourne 779 kilometers away!
John M G
386 posts
Nov 21, 2020
2:27 AM
I can't believe it, the amp is now totally dead!
So it's going to be a phone call to Fender Australia first thing Monday morning.

I am not having a good run at the moment

Last Edited by John M G on Nov 21, 2020 2:53 AM
TetonJohn
377 posts
Nov 28, 2020
10:38 AM
So, any update on what was wrong with the amp?
(No advice from me, just some sympathy.)
John M G
388 posts
Nov 28, 2020
3:34 PM
Not at the moment, it's with the Fender Tech, but when I dropped it off he suspected it was likely a faulty valve. I've asked him to drop in a 12 AT 7 in V1 to drop the gain a tad while it's with him so it would be all above board as far as the warranty goes.
I'll post the results once I get the amp back.
Cheers John
SuperBee
6853 posts
Nov 28, 2020
4:22 PM
Sorry to hear its not trouble-free, John, but i think you are wise to protect that warranty. Although the relative value of the warranty somewhat depends on the competency and integrity of the local contract holder with Fender. It can still be frustrating at time, but at least you are protected against a dead loss. In smaller centres it can be really hard to find skilled people to work on electronics, especially this old tech hollow-state gear. Transport costs for this stuff are high too. Australia used to have a strong industry in manufacture and related services for valve electronics but that's so long ago now, there's virtually nothing. Valve guitar amps might even be on the way out now i fear.
John M G
391 posts
Nov 29, 2020
2:50 AM
Hi Super
I'm sure once it's fixed it will be as reliable as the earlier one I had.
What a mistake it was letting it go.
We all make mistakes, but that was a big one with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.
I was very impressed with George in Wollongong. Hope he's as good as the Fender guys said he is. They gave him a very good rap.
It's just a case of waiting for him to get around to it. He had a lot of gear in the queue!
John M G
392 posts
Nov 30, 2020
3:34 AM
I had a call from George this morning, the Princeton is fixed. It was far from a major problem fortunately.
It was a faulty speaker jack connector!
The Princeton has a jack on the back of the chassis for the internal speaker with a flying lead to the speaker. The spring was loose, all he had to do was adjust the tang that engages the jack plug.

I picked up the Eminence Li'L Buddy from our local music store so I'll be able to make the speaker swap once the Princeton comes home.
John M G
396 posts
Dec 02, 2020
5:15 PM
Very happy chappy now.
I've just swapped out the Jensen C10R for the Eminence Li'l Buddy.
It's all working fine and now just have to let the speaker break in with some extra playing ;-)


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