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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Big harp amps
Big harp amps
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7100 posts
Feb 24, 2024
4:50 AM
A friend is trying to sell a harp amp. A fairly big one with a mix of speaker sizes
Admittedly he’s hoping for top dollar but he’s encountering a noticeable lack of interest and I noticed that I’m not really interested either and the price probably isn’t the main thing for me.
I guess there are still people playing harp in loud situations who want a big amp but maybe most of this folks are already sorted.
Or maybe there are just cheaper and lighter and smaller options these days?

I’m just wondering what people think. Is the big harp specific amp going the way of the dinosaur?

How about big valve amps in general? I guess a big amp is always going to have a smaller potential market but I have a feeling this stuff is gradually slipping away into the past. Or maybe I’m just not seeing it because I’m not looking in the right places?

Last Edited by SuperBee on Feb 24, 2024 1:43 PM
148 posts
Feb 27, 2024
7:30 AM
I'm out of the loop on amp buying but a few things you mentioned defiantly affect demand. I also see the younger demographic choosing much smaller stuff in general. We have a fairly large younger part of of our family & friends and all of them listen to there music with ear buds. I don't think 1 of em has a home stereo. A few musicians in that group (no harp players) use small amps. None of em playing a Marshall stack or a Twin. What that all means I have no idea except I believe your correct the big tube amps are not very desirable any longer for many reasons.
About 8 years ago I went deep into the harp amp market played a lot of small amps & a fair number of mid size amps. Besides tone my requirement was small due to the fact of lugging around a 4-10 60lb amp was out of the question at my age.

Last Edited by Lou on Feb 27, 2024 7:31 AM
490 posts
Feb 29, 2024
7:30 AM
You are probably right Superbee. Except in the few remaining Blues venues here in Kansas City, big valve amps seem to be slipping away into the past. The sad part is there are a lot of harp players now who will not have the sensation of hearing, or playing through an amp with the musicality, tone, pallettes and personality offered in a multiple speaker tube amp. I consider the tube amp, especially a harp specific tube amp, to be an "instrument" in the chain from musician to ear of audience, another simultaneous voice so to speak. Of course they can blast but there are sweet spots at lower volume too! I'm not at all dissing the modeling amps or any of the newer tech methods of sound reinforcement.It's not a question of better/worse but a different method of presenting frequencies and sound waves.I miss playing through the Harp Gear 50 410 and knew that I would when I sold it. I still have my Fender Bassman 50 Head that I play, although it is time to let someone else experience what it has to offer. I kept it because a head is a lot more versatile for me than a combo amp. As technology continues to advance I have no doubt there will be "amps" that sonically surpass anything available today, whether vintage or current tech. I hope this dinosaur is around to sample them!
2356 posts
Mar 04, 2024
6:43 AM
Tangentially I have recently heard a great local blues/rock/jazz guitar player at a couple gigs. In previous years the sound level with big amps was so loud that ear plugs were not enough. Now he has a pedal board setup and plays through the PA. The sound engineer balances the sound throughout the venue. It is loud, but not painful.

In the distant past I enjoyed playing through bigger amps with 2 or 4 speakers making a massive sound, but the local venues are just not big enough for their sound levels.

As I matured (aged!) I came to appreciate smaller lighter amps, and now mainly play through the PA or a smaller single speaker amp. No audience has complained to me about this.

Doug S.
491 posts
Mar 04, 2024
7:24 AM
Doug, your experience over the years along with the changes you have made in your approach to getting your sound in the mix without the "blast factor", makes me wonder if there might be a resurgence of harp in live music. With the changing environment along with the tech of sound reinforcement, the issue of the harp being heard has definitely improved. Since 100+ decibels are no longer a desirable feature in many venues I hope the harp can make a comeback as an often heard instrument. Perhaps we could be on the edge of a new or post Modern Blues engagement with the harp.
7103 posts
Mar 04, 2024
8:42 PM
My stage amp choice has gone from a 60w 410 to a Sonny Jr 2 (2x25w, 6x8”) to a Princeton Reverb (12w, 1x10”) over the last 12 years.
A couple of weeks ago I was carrying the PR up the path to home and making a couple of old person noises as I negotiated the corner and started mounting the stairs, and I remembered suddenly that this was the lightweight choice and I used to be lugging those 25kg cabs up these stairs.
I’ve started taking my 5F1 champ clone to rehearsal and it’s sounding pretty good to me. Not sure I’m ready to try it as the stage amp yet.
813 posts
Mar 05, 2024
6:03 AM
I have several large amps, including one of the last Super Sonny amps, a Reissue Baseman, and a few others. If I go out to play, I normally take one or both of my Kalamazoo model ones, if I take any.

However, these days, I am just as happy playing through a vocal mic through the PA. Tone comes from within. So, do I want to sell my big amps. No!!!!!

208 posts
Mar 09, 2024
9:37 AM
I'll always be a tube amp guy but I've always preferred the small amps for cupped mic playing. For years I used a 5W Supro that was just miked by the soundman. That was Nashville in the 80's and 90's where most venues had a soundman. When I moved away and in most places we were our own sound man, I took to using a 12W '48 Silvertone with a modern (efficient) 10" speaker for small bar gigs. For larger club gigs, I have a '67 Deluxe Reverb (22W) with a 10" instead of the original 12" speaker. Only in larger halls or outdoor gigs do either of those amps need to be miked. For acoustic style playing, I just use my vocal mic for a clean sound through the PA. I wouldn't mind trying a bigger amp in a larger venue (as long as I didn't have to lug it) but from the sound of this thread, those may be the bygone days!
814 posts
Mar 09, 2024
5:37 PM

815 posts
Mar 09, 2024
5:37 PM


Last Edited by HarveyHarp on Mar 09, 2024 5:37 PM
7104 posts
Mar 12, 2024
7:45 PM
Funny I brought this up in a way because I’ve since played a couple of gigs which have led me to reconsider the facts.
I realised that most of the gigs I’ve been doing with the Princeton Reverb have been gigs with minimal PA support, especially in terms of foldback for instruments besides vocals.
On those gigs I don’t usually have much trouble positioning my amp on stage so that I can hear it.
Just recently though I’ve played a couple of stages with a lot of foldback and instrument amps miced up. I don’t have the harp in the foldback because it leads to feedback ime, so my little amp gets swamped on stage.
There shouldn’t really be any need for the stage level to be so loud, but once somebody starts, it escalates.
Anyway, this is when I need a louder amp on stage, or conquer my fear of feedback from foldback.
149 posts
Mar 14, 2024
8:13 AM
Ya, funny is the way to put it and a 15 watt amp isn't going to cut it on a loud stage ! I tried & tried, that's why I went to a custom built small 2-10's 40 watt amp. It's not that much bigger than a Princeton size wise but weighs more due to added speaker & larger cabinet. Interesting though I just saw a YT video where a music shop was hardly selling any big guitar amps. He was saying guitar players are also going small, He can't even sell big amps deeply discounted new or used.
492 posts
Mar 14, 2024
10:04 AM
Superbee, I have had the same problem with foldback using my Bassman 50w head w/2x10 cab for personal monitoring.
I am wondering if an amplified spkr like I've seen at tailgating, picnics, pool parties, etc. would be a better personal monitor. They have a class D amped spkr w/volume control and a plastic enclosure making them much lighter than a traditional spkr cab. and are available in 50+ watts. Could you go into your smaller amp and use ext spkr jack to powered spkr for a more powerful personal monitor? I realize it's another thing to haul and set up, but being able to get out of stage monitors could help foldback and give more control over hearing harp when band volume creeps up.

Last Edited by orphan on Mar 14, 2024 5:22 PM
7106 posts
Mar 17, 2024
10:07 PM
Hi, Orphan,
That might be feasible. My PR just has one mod, which is a bias adjustment. The catch is that it’s installed in the space for ext speaker jack. That’s a blessing for reversing the mod without butchering the chassis but a drag when you want an extension speaker.
I’ve still got my 6x8” SJ2 available of course, and that thing is kinda crazy on the extension speaker front. Parallel 25w OTs with switchable impedance. I’ve only ever tried it with the 6x8” configuration but I reckon an extension cab with a pair of 10”s or even just a 12” would be quite competitive.
431 posts
Mar 25, 2024
2:14 PM
Well, Kim Wilson was rockin' TWO Bassman amps last week -- and both miked.
Sounded great, but crazy loud in a fairly small theater.
I had not seen him before, so it was a treat -- even with my hands over my ears sometimes.

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