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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > How Much Amp Is Enough
How Much Amp Is Enough
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1 post
Oct 22, 2018
3:42 PM
I am a newbie harp player and though I've been playing both acoustic and electric guitar I am ignorant when it comes to playing Harmonica amplified. ----------
Santa Clara, CA
338 posts
Oct 22, 2018
5:08 PM
There are lots of answers and lots of variables. Look at the tabs on the left of this page, scroll down to Blues Harp Forum. When the tab expands, click on forum search and type in your question and you'll see lots of comments. If you don't see what you want, try searching using a slightly different question such as "best gigging amp", etc.

I kind of remember a good answer or two from BarbecueBob. You'll also discover an ongoing debate about tube vs. solid state amps, guitar vs. dedicated harp amps and lots of other interesting discussions.

Try to avoid posts that get into personal attacks or absolute declarations because there is no one answer. See what responses match your needs.
5621 posts
Oct 23, 2018
2:41 PM
How much is enough totally depends on the situation.
For me, at one time I needed a 410 Fender Deville just to hear myself on stage. But now I manage with smaller amps
With the harp,the style of amp is important. There are guitar amps which will work quite well, but there are also guitar amps which are totally unsuitable. Super high gain amps with multiple preamp stages are generally not likely to make good harp amps.
These days I’m using a Princeton Reverb a lot for band practice but I use something bigger for most gigs. There is one gig though, in a cafe with a lot of natural reverb where I use a 5w combo with 8” speaker, or a 5w head with twin 8” cab. And it’s plenty in that venue.
2580 posts
Oct 24, 2018
1:50 AM
It's a very good question and I wrestled with it. I echo Superbee's point that it depends on the situation: how loud the rest of the band is and the acoustics of the room. But that said, I found in general that the harpist needs a lot more power than, say the guitarist, in order to deal with these situations and sound roughly like you want to.

Because the amped harp is so subject to feedback, it's not only power but other features like gain that are important - and that's before you even look at subjective things like tone. One of the reasons the solid-body electric guitar was developed was to beat feedback so now it's easy as a guitarist to buy a great big master-volume amp, with lot of gain available, and play it at any volume and tone from soft to ear splitting. That's not the case for the harp player.

I think the best answer is SuperBee's one of having a variety of amps and choosing the right one for the occasion - that's where you'll find all the discussions and wrangling about type of amp, watts, speakers etc. I can't afford that and I'm not a serious/good enough player to justify in my own mind - so I cop out and use a harp-specific effects pedal and the PA. It doesn't sound as good, but it definitely works.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Oct 24, 2018 2:02 AM
2 posts
Oct 24, 2018
12:28 PM
I am truly grateful for the information and the help I received from you all. Today due to a case of tendentious in my left elbow has made fretting more and more difficult so my am focusing more on Harmonica. So, with that said I have three guitar amps the choose from and they include:

1. Fender Hot Rod Deluxe (cir.1995)
2. AER Compact 60/3
3. Orange Crush 12

Your thoughts on these?
Santa Clara, CA
5622 posts
Oct 24, 2018
3:59 PM
I know the hot rod deluxe. Don’t know the others.
The deluxe can be made to work ok but I’m hesitant to recommend it.
95 would be American-made (my Deville is ‘97).
They have some potential weak points in design. Not in the sense of electronics but in construction. Not as robust as some amps but not awful. Not as easy to work on as some amps but just require patience and care, not special tools.
For harp the stock form is not the easiest to get on with but they have a lot of potential. I would be happy enough to have one because they are much cheaper than many alternatives of that size. I think a 40w 12” combo is pretty handy for most stage situations where it will be loud. I’m trying to think of another common amp that size which would be better and it’s not coming to me apart from the bassman. The bassman is great but a bit heavier and larger cab
I owned a Hotrod deluxe and seriously considered making it my main amp. Ultimately I didn’t, because it was easier to sell than my 410 Deville and I didn’t need both
If you need a powerful amp like that, you could do worse but the deluxe will present challenges, mainly in dealing with the gain and touchy volume. Experience helps, but there are also some relatively easy things you can do.
A pedal such as the lone wolf mojo pad maybe the most straightforward and cost effective approach.
Avoiding input 1 and avoiding use of the drive channel will give you a chance. The drive and more drive channels are bad news for harp. Input 1 is useable if you’re employing something like the mojo pad or some active preamp which allows you to reduce the signal you’re feeding the amp.
You can also achieve good results with swapping lower gain tubes into preamp slots 1 and 3. Just be careful here; this is one amp where it’s possible to cause problems using tubes like 12AU7 as the stock plate resistors struggle with increased current draw. If you want to use 12 AU7 and or 12AT 7 it’s probably best to upgrade the plate resistors to 1/2 watt minimum
There’s not a lot to be achieved by changing v2 but v3 and v1 to 5751 or v3 to 12AT7 and v1 to 5751or 12AY7 could be enough to get good results.

Bottom line is that it’s not gonna be great as is, but has potential.

I recently put my Deville back to stock spec and tried it with the lone wolf mojo pad. I a:b tested against my Sonny Jr 2 and I can say that after some experimentation with settings I was able to get a quite acceptable sound and volume from the Deville. Mojo pad is about $60 I think.
2581 posts
Oct 25, 2018
1:46 AM
I defer to SuperBee around advice on particular amps. But it if were me trying harp on existing set of guitar amps, I would buy an attenuator as this is relatively cheap and addresses the #1 problem - that the mic signal is a lot higher than a guitar signal.

SB mentions the Lone Wolf Mojo Pad, there is also the Mojo Pad Deluxe which has two attenuation settings.

Sorry about your tendonitis, it's a real frustration I know. I know this is unsolicited advice but have you tried Kinesio Tape (aka K-Tape)? It sounds a bit medieval science, but I can't deny it help me.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Oct 25, 2018 1:50 AM
5624 posts
Oct 25, 2018
2:55 AM
Oh yes the mojo pad deluxe is what I have. The original mojo pad (non-deluxe) is cheaper yet. I think rick Davis markets one as well. He calls it ‘Little fatty’
and no doubt there are others
177 posts
Nov 03, 2018
10:42 AM
If you search the main forum back several months there was a thread about a good amp and mic combo for a beginner, lots of good ideas, but I dont think any two were the same.

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