I was recently very surprised when presented with a Green Bullet, by a couple of very well-meaning friends, on my birthday. It came with a nice compliment on my playing -- "You´re so good that you need quality gear!" (none of them play harmonica so they had worked this out by themselves) -- and I was slightly embarrassed, as one is when given fine gifts. These friends are not particularly close, but they frequent gigs where I perform.
I could not muster the prescence to say that actually I already owned a Green Bullet, have had it more than 30 years, and I don´t like it one bit. Instead I performed an improvised song and dance, saying that my GB was old and deficient -- and wow, this new one had an volume pot, which is a considerable advancement in the product development department! "You are really very kind, guys and I´m touched!" It was not possible to exchange it, Thomann Inc said when I called them up and asked if I could make a discreet upgrade to a Harp Blaster -- but no, I need the receipt. Of course. And there I feel like I´m in a corner and can´t ask for that. So I´ll be keeping it, or selling it and forking up the money för a HB. (The well-meaning friends won´t note the difference!)
But before I do that (and I have no possibility of testing it out more thoroughly since I live in an apartment) I wonder:
* Has something interesting happened on the GB front since I bought mine, 1990 or so? (Apart from the volume pot.)
* Is there still a steady demand for GB´s among harp players, in view of the enormous amount of specialized harp mics that are out on the market these days?
I can note that the new one is a bit smaller, which is fine by me; but the cable appears to be attached the same way as before, which will cause problems rather soon.
~ GB mics are still commonly used. “In demand” probably varies by where you live, what’s available, and price. But they’re solid.
~ Don’t like your old GB? Sell it! It can be the treasure of the new owner and not a blight on your shelf gathering dust. Cha-Ching!$!$
~ The cord could (or may never) be a problem. Deal with that at the time (save $$) or in advance if you prefer.
~ I had a GB made in Mexico (DX520??). Good price, sounded aw’ight but I didn’t like the feel of the shell in my hand (for my hand size I now use an Astatic 200). I resolved any sound issues by changing out the element. That’s really the key on ANY bullet mic - GB, Turner, Astatic, or other bullet shell. Change out the element to a particular crystal, CR, or CM element you like and you completely change how the “mic” responds. I ultimately sold that mic for a price that covered costs of the original mic costs of upgrading connector and element, plus profit.
Maybe if you could contact one of these harp customizers/repairers they can do what you need or point you to someone they know who customized mics, whether you want an Amphenol 5/8” connector or a vintage element. ~ Joakim Barchéus (Sweden - used to have a harmonica repair / customization website - I can’t find it now). OR ~ Alex Russo (Netherlands) https://www.alexandrerossi.com/
So I think the GB may be a good mic (free shell with v/c); get the right sound for you if that’s an issue (and if you buy a different element for it, you can sell the one currently in the GB to help cover costs). I’m not that impressed with the HB but I guess that’s subjective. Newer, not necessarily better.
---------- BnT www.BluesWithAFeelin.com
Last Edited by BnT on May 03, 2022 9:08 PM
I am no fan of the GB, especially the DX and whatever it’s immediate predecessor was designated. I’ve met people who use them.
I don’t think anything good has happened to the model in the last 20 years, except they are cheaper than they used to be. Actually, I just checked the local price. The online price is cheaper than that quote I got 15 years ago, but not by as much as I thought. In fact they are portraying the official RRP as $320 AUD, with ‘discounts’ between $90-50 depending where you look.
Sought after? I don’t know. When I was starting out I almost bought one because I didn’t know much. The storekeeper proffered one and told me it was the harmonica mic. Then he told me the price ($320 AUD) and that was enough for me to baulk. I started searching for a secondhand one and discovered the world of vintage mics. I have always thought of that as a lucky escape. I got a much better mic for much less money.
These days, I guess I’d use a 520DX if I had to, but it’s not a mic I ever covet. Hard to say how others view them.
Yep the old this mike will make me sound good/better syndrome. Few hundred dollars later at your local jam and then you get blown of the stage by some guy just using the(cheap)vocal mike. Guilty as charged ^).
Thank you very much for considered input here. After some deliberations with myself and test driving the new GB, I´ve decided to sell the old one and keep the new. After all, it might be sensible to have one hi-z mic -- and maybe it will work well with some pedals, it remains to be seen; also, it could serve as my "blues mic".
And @indigo: if I visit the local jam (not that frequently these days, I admit), I´m nothing but happy if there´s a new guy who "blows me of the stage" using whatever mic. It´s about time. I´m an old geezer by now and not particularily worried about these things.
Martin - See if you can find a vintage element (Shure CR black label? Crystal? CM?). If you can try out a few you my end up with a great deal (and sell the stock element). Your sound is what’s inside you, but the element, not the shell is what will improve it. ---------- BnT www.BluesWithAFeelin.com
Agreeing with BnT. Probably simplest is to contact Greg Heumann, send him the mike to put in a better element. I have dealt with Greg -- he's great. Many people really like his "Heumann Element." I asssume/hope he is still in business. Edit: Website says Heumann element has been replaced with another that sounds very very similar.
Last Edited by TetonJohn on May 23, 2022 7:20 AM
I really like the sound of a vintage Hi-Z Shure 520 (Not 520D or 520DX) element through a compatible tube amp or compatible solid state amp (for me an EHX 44 Magnum through select speakers). My 520DX served my purposes for a while, but I found sounds I liked more. I now use a 520 Mexican element in a brown biscuit shell when I want that sound. My 520D element was a feedback monster.
There are times I like a 585SAV or even an SM57 or 58. I use my Ultimate 58 to the PA a lot. My mic choice depends on the music I am making, the band , which amp or PA I choose, and the sound I want at that time.
I liked the sound of the Heumann element in a Bulletini to a tube amp I played through.
At one time I used a 520DX straight to the PA with an acoustic trio, and it worked OK for that purpose. I didn't like it that much with my amp. This recording is straight to the board through a matching transformer and compressor at a local radio station.
In choosing a mic each player should make decisions about what sound they want at that time and not blindly accept mic advice, even very good advice about elements and mics.
I tend to agree with the above replacement element recommendations, but you have to listen to what sound YOU can get and decide if you like it or not for your purposes.
EDIT: When I had my 520DX with the attached cord I had to repair the solder connection due to stress from twisting the wire and stepping on the cord.
On Harp_L I read about a solution to this problem. The cheap and easy solution was NOT installing a screw-on connector in the mic shell, which can be difficult or costly.
The simple fix I found on Harp_L was to cut the attached mic cable leaving a 2 or 3 foot pigtail to the mic and installing an inline 1/4" female connector jack on the end. Then you can use a regular 1/4" guitar cable plugged into the pigtail. You also can put a 1/4" male plug on your remaining piece of GB cable you cut off and then plug it into the mic pigtail to use with the mic.
With this fix you won't wind up a long cable attached to the mic, straining the connection. If you step on the cable with this setup, it will unplug from the pigtail and not strain the mic connection. This worked for me, and I never had to repair the wired connection to the mic again.
I no longer have the 520DX as I traded it for work on a tube amp. DS ----------
Last Edited by dougharps on May 25, 2022 10:02 AM