Q: What amplifier should I buy if I want to get that Little Walter Chicago sound ?
A: A small vintage tweed or Blackface Fender (e.g.., Champ, Princeton, Bassman, Bandmaster, Concert, Pro, Super or Deluxe Reverb) or Gibson (e.g.. Gibsonette, any of the Les Paul GA-XX series) amplifiers seem to be the rage among blues harpers since their simple design and low power allow them to be turned up to a level high enough to obtain the ~dirty~ sound associated with ~harmonic(a) distortion~. Many harpers on list are using less expensive low power vintage amps and miking them to the PA and using monitors. Some have fashioned a direct box connection from the speaker or external speaker jacks (resistor network). There is a commercially available ~pickle plug~ that does this also
(FMI: "'Feedback' on Pickle Plug" 27 mar 95 JS) (FMI: "Re: Feedback on Pickle Plug" 29 Mar 95 MC/HA) (FMI: "Re: mic&" 13 Jan 95 MC)
Many amp gurus favor simple designs in lieu of multi-gain stages fearing losses between stages robbing tone. This is an extremely subjective subject and beyond the scope of this FAQ.
(FMI: Tube Amp Mini-FAQ http://rowlf.cc.wwu.edu:8080/~n9343176/docs/tube.amp.mini.faq)
This latter faq mentions several books devoted to the subject of amplifiers from an electric guitarists perspective. Nonetheless, this information can be valuable and it would be wise to consult with such musicians and repair technicians/designers if you are at all interested in this.
(FMI: http://www.hpsource.com/vintageguitar/magazine.html) (FMI: http://www.fender.com/) (FMI: http://www.gibson.com/) (FMI: http://www.emedia.net/sovtek/)
Two other booklets specifically aimed at this subject area, but are not mentioned above:
1. "The Quest for Tone in Amplified Blues Harp" by Pete Sheridan, originally a 3-part series published free in Kevin's Harps catalog, but now in which reprints are available for a nominal charge.
2. "AMPLIFIED HARMONICA PLAYING MADE POSSIBLE" Potential Publications 23 School Street Brunswick, Maine 04011 (207) 725-5839 Kevin D. Hagerty $7.95,
(Original editor of Mississippi Saxophone_, now edited by harp-l's own Tim Moody timm at sp-eug .d.com)
It is available from any catalog house in the US selling harmonica books (see suppliers above)