Q: What mics are suited for harp playing?

A: From “Re: Mics” 8 Mar 93 JE:

SHAKER: I have a friend who has a shaker and he likes it. I think the size
and light weight have a lot going for it. I gave it a try using a
chromatic and was able to get a clean sound, with little or no distortion –
to me a sign of a good mic is how clean you can get it – even if you don’t
intend to use it that way.

ASTATIC JT30 vs. HOHNER BLUES BLASTER: – Both are made by Astatic. I like
the volume control idea on the BB but think it is also available on the
Astatic. – I got an old Astatic JT30 off a guy about a year ago. It was
mounted on a desk stand and had a talk/listen switch on it, from a Ham
radio set up. The cable connector was weird. My son rewired it, minus the
stand, put a .25″ RCA plug on it and now I have a nice vintage JT30 – this
thing must be out of the 50’s at least. Anyway – Hint – Look around ham /
electronic swap meets for a deal an old JT30 mic. It was a standard for
hams for a long time.

SHURE GREEN BULLET: Never tried one but just wanted to throw in that it is
being manufactured again, thanks to the resurgence in the popularity of the
harmonica. Think I saw it in J & R Music World cat. and also in Music
Emporium Cat.

STRNAD: I tried the chromatic model (same mic just longer). I liked the
sound and even with a 16 hole chromatic it was easy to hold. I thought it
made my tone sound better. I didn’t buy one though, it was not possible to
quickly switch harmonicas because of the way it mounts and it covers the
whole harp so hand effects (vibrato) are limited. I don’t know if that’s
really a drawback or not. It could be used as an auxiliary mic, set up for
special effects – say some chuggin’ on a low F harp.

I’m no mic expert – these are just my thoughts,

[snipped some book info also found below]

P. S. If anyone hears of SHURE ribbon mics for sale let me know. I would
be interested in Models 315 and 330 — “Re: Mics” 8 Mar 93 JE

Shure Green Bullet or model 520D (magnetic element, originally a dispatcher
or ham radio mike). thicker, bassier, less treble vs. crystal mikes. Can
feedback with loud amps. Additional EQ can help — HA

Astatic/CTI — JT-30 (OEM to Hohner for Blues Blaster, and to other customizers).
High trebly tone, some are modified with high Z pots (5 M ohm) and caps
(150 pf) to get a fuller mid-range.

Hohner Blues Blaster (JT-30 design, blue paint) — HA

Crystal Ball Mike from Kevin’s Harps (modified JT-30)
Rod Piazza Hot Rod Mike (modified JT-30)

Shure SM 57 vocal mike (some have said that if you don’t need it as a mike,
you can also use it to pound nails… fifty years from now — it’ll still
be around 😉 — HA

Shure SM 58 vocal mike

Shaker G.C, XLR or Dyno Mic (the GC is another crystal element microphone
with small size and specifically designed for the harmonica sound). Old-timers
who are used to the Bullets or JT-30s complain that it’s weird to hold;
others especially like the smaller size, sound and lack of feedback. Everybody
loves Smokey Joe Arless, the designer/seller. Some negative chatter about
the lack of shielding of the plastic case picking up RF interference. Fingers
uses the dyno — HA.

Strnad Harmonica Pick-up (clean sound for ~no hands~ rack harmonica)


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The JT30 Page Popular links

I began collecting data about the microphones used by blue harp players before there was an internet. I began organizing it into JT30.com in the late 1990s. I accumulated more stuff than I remember. This is some of it.

Street Theory

A Harp Player’s Guide to Music Theory

Learning Harp

Picking Up Blues Harp

A guide to learning to play Blues Harp

Microphone Information

Usenet Articles

Harp Amps

I've been collecting Harp Amps for a while. This is the old Harpamps.com website. There is lots of information here. Here a coupld of links.

Harp Tab

A collection of songs and riffs that I’ve worked out over the years, plus some libraries of stuff I’ve converted to tablature. I’ve included most of the notes and instructions that helped me when I was learning to play blues harmonica.

Basic Riffs Simple harp tabs for songs Blues riffs and phrases.

Harp-L Archives 1992 to 2002


Harp Frequently Asked Questions