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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Mic lesson
Mic lesson
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382 posts
Jul 17, 2018
6:56 PM
I learned the hard way again. If I’m going to hold a mic, I’ve got to practice holding a mic. Virtually all my playing is acoustic thru a 58 on a stand to the PA. So I’ve put the Bulletini next to the practice harps....
Phil Pennington
2569 posts
Jul 22, 2018
1:25 AM
I agree with you. As well as all the specific mic techniques like cupping and getting various sounds, I find that it affects the basic movement and navigation. If you do warbles by shaking the harp rather than your head, the extra mass has an impact on that too.

That's one of the pluses of the Bulletini IMO, it's light so has less impact on movement vs a heavy bullet mic.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Jul 22, 2018 1:27 AM
5501 posts
Jul 23, 2018
12:50 AM
I was about to say I never made a serious study of mic practice, but I think that’s probably not quite what I mean.
I think you can learn quite a lot about mic handling in a short time, but the practical is a bit difficult to manage unless you make a real point of it.
i do a lot of harp practice as opportunity permits. its one thing to carry a harp around for practice, but carrying a mic takes a bit more creativity.
I occasionally do make a point of it but I often feel I haven’t really put in enough work to claim proficiency, and that consequently I am likely not giving myself the best opportunity to shine.
Alternatively, and more often, I think ‘I’m alright’ and make do as best I know how.

i do get a fair few opportunities to play with a mic though

I agree that playing with a mic does seem to have an impact on the way I throw the harp around, and usually an inhibitory impact. I sometimes think I can play much better without the mic. Recently though I’ve been somewhat less focussed on the ‘fully sealed’ grip and I think I have a couple of observations regarding that.

First, being less concerned about whether my grip is ‘just so’ has freed me up in terms of tension and concentration. I know my basic grip is ok, and I know that I can ‘tighten’ it up if I want to. I also know that the tonal effect from sealing the mic is only partially achieved with the hands around the mic, and that the fit of harp against my face also has a big part in my tone.

Aside: It’s funny how you can sometimes be totally focussed on something and then notice something else with great clarity; on Friday night I was playing ‘Mojo’ in front of an audience and suddenly I noticed I shifted the harp/mic/hand combo when playing the signature turnaround, and the difference this made to the sound. I don’t know when I started doing this. We generally finish our shows with the song but we rarely rehearse it. ‘oh, I’ve developed some mic technique’ I thought

This more relaxed approach I think has been really beneficial with that problem of feeling restricted and tight. I get the momentum and weight thing when it comes to warbles too, and I suppose the only thing for that is actually practice but being relaxed certainly doesn’t hurt.

The other thing about the looser grip is that it gives you somewhere to go. You can tighten up on it and get that bigger sound. Hopefully your basic loose cup sound is pretty nice as it is and then judicious use of the big sound is a bonus

On the topic of the bulletini mic, a friend of mine recently mentioned he’d seen quite a few coming up for sale. I don’t know I’ve seen very many for sale but maybe 2 or 3 in the last 4 or 5 weeks. 1 seller said he liked the output tone but didn’t like the small size, and my friend thought he’d seen similar comments from others. I really don’t know about that either. I only saw the 1 comment.
I have played a bulletini and I can’t say I was especially aware of the size being a big deal. I actually do recall thinking it sounded ok and that I was curious what it would be like to hold and found it was no big deal, neither especially easy nor difficult. I was able to just get on and fail to play anything remotely interesting during the 12 bars of medium tempo shuffle jam track allocated to me. that was assuredly not due to the mic.
383 posts
Jul 23, 2018
5:29 PM
I hadn’t played with a hand held mic in probably ten months. I think I was actually distracted by it...too conscious of holding the mic. Yes, the basics of holding ,cupping, etc, aren’t difficult, but developing a level of comfort is what I need to do. You’re right about being more relaxed with it. The Bulletini is the only ‘bullet’ mic I’ve ever held, so I can’t really comment on how it compares with more conventional/larger bullets. I like the sound of it, those times I use it. But then, I don’t hammer at the big electric sound. Anyway, there it sits with the practice harps. I don’t plug it in always, just hold it for a portion of a practice session. Time on task....
Thanks for the comments.
Phil Pennington
Chris Sachitano
35 posts
Aug 07, 2018
11:31 AM

Has great stuff on gripping stick mic.
334 posts
Aug 07, 2018
5:48 PM
I owned a JT30 which I sold when it became too heavy to hold following hand surgery. I now have a Bulletini and also an Ultimate 545 I’ve used with and without a Bulletizer. I also have an EV RE10. They all sound great using cupping that is useful to the shape of the mic. Ricci’s video on the stick mic is excellent. My favorite at the moment is the RE10, very easy to hold with the little finger under the bulb of the mic head. I too was concerned about how the Bulletin would feel after using th JT30 for so long. It was a quick adjustment. Each mic requires its own cup/hold method for best sound but it’s a lot easier than one might think.
5538 posts
Aug 07, 2018
9:25 PM
Had a comment last night to the effect the harp kept sounding better as the gig went on.
Not made directly to me but reported secondhand.
I’m not quite sure what to make of it.
The facts are that I was playing a gig with band to a receptive audience of 80-100, using a sonny jr 2 (6x8”) amp and a ‘biscuit’ mic with 1950 CR element.
It’s not the heaviest element in terms of sound, so requires a bit of work to get a big sound. I think it’s potentially a rewarding mic because it has a good range of tone and a fairly even response across the frequency range.
I haven’t used the mic much lately so I may have been struggling with handling technique at the beginning.
I also had only plugged the amp in 1 time since the end of March so maybe I took a while to tune in to it.
I also started using my LW Harp Octave pedal for a volume boost later in the gig.
So I’m not sure.
Maybe the person who made the comment became more inebriated and their assessment was totally subjective
Maybe the number of people in the room affected the sound
Maybe I just played better as the night wore on
Maybe it was the pedals
Maybe I started hearing it better
Maybe I took a while to come to terms with handling that mic shell

I had an hour, a half hour break, and a second hour.
A shot of whiskey and a pint of water in the first set. A pint of beer during the second.

I wish I played out more often. It’s a fortnight until the next gig. 2 rehearsals with the band before then.
I’ve been rehearsing with a JT30 and Harp Attack. Maybe I should use the biscuit for a while
2571 posts
Aug 09, 2018
2:32 AM
People say all kinds of things don't they, and it's often hard to work out what it means and whether it's subjective or objective.

Re the sound, there are so many factors including where you are standing in the room. I reckon you should just take the positive that you kept sounding better and better!
5542 posts
Aug 09, 2018
9:12 PM
Well yes I’ve babbled on quite a bit there, as usual, but the reason I posted here was because I think it probably did take a while to come to terms with the different mic.
BnT set me up with this biscuit shell after I’d mentioned the arthritis affecting both my hands. He’d suggested I might find the biscuit easier to hold than the jt30 shells I commonly use.
It may be easier to use but there is an adjustment curve with it.
I thought I had better give it a fair trial by using it on a gig. By the end of the gig I’d stopped noticing it was different.
2572 posts
Aug 10, 2018
4:49 AM
OK, that's good then!

I'd still take the witness statement with a pinch of salt. Could be confirmation bias :)
5544 posts
Aug 10, 2018
9:44 PM
Received email from audience member too. “I meant to say ... how much I enjoyed the band ... just about everyone I spoke with also said how good you guys sounded ( without any prompting from me). If anything it got better as the night went on.
I don't normally email a band after a gig but last night was really good.”

I’m gonna accept it, as part of the body of evidence I saw of people dancing not only on the floor provided for the purpose but also in every other space sans tables and chairs, the applause, and the additional enthusiastic backing vocals provided by a talented voice in the audience.

I’m not attributing this all to mic handling however.

People do definitely have funny ideas about things.
Our bass player states the harp should be the loudest instrument in the band. I don’t quite agree but I do think it needs to be commensurate with the vocals, if it’s role is leading in place of vocals, or providing an answering fill.
If it’s in a rhythm role, then it needs to be lower.
This is one area where mic handling can make a big difference, and I think while volume controls have a role, mic handling and managing the whole embouchure-harp-hand-face-microphone deal can provide a better outcome than just turning volume up or down.
42 posts
Dec 04, 2018
6:31 AM
I have small hands and like stick mics such as the Shure SM57 and the Akai DM13. I own the latter and made a mod a while back that allowed me a better grip by increasing the mic face's diameter and adding a bit of a cup at the same time. I shared this mod idea in an earlier post, search "baster blaster" for more details. The "b.b." is simply a modified rubber turkey baster bulb slid onto the mic and up, creating the cup.

I was still not quite right with the handling of that setup, I needed to add another, more solid piece to more closely match the outer diameter of the mic, a bit down the mic shaft. I used a rubber o-ring, like a mini-dog ring toy. I slid that up onto the mic and snugged it onto the existing rubber from the baster bulb and it stayed just right. When I handle the mic now, I have a MUCH better control over it and still have all the extra cupping I got when adding the baster bulb. The overall weight and balance is fine. One special part that is a result of the marriage of these two additions to the mic shaft is that the two projecting, larger diameters yield a space between the additions which allows for yet another way to grip/handle the mic, a finger can be held in there so as to change the proximity single-handedly. I am much better able to control proximity.

I hope this tidbit may help others in their quest for better playing with a stick mic. This mod would certainly work on many other stick mics. Different-sized o-rings and other experiments may yield even more great discoveries. Whatever the case, give these ideas a shot if you struggle holding a stick mic when playing harp.

Cheers !!!

Last Edited by ROBERT TEMPLE II on Dec 04, 2018 6:46 AM
109 posts
Dec 21, 2018
6:32 AM
This is a useful thread - Thanks!

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