Does anybody have any experience with the 40W Coolmusic Amps? They seem to have a lot of extras. Are they good with Harps?
I’ve no direct experience with Coolmusic gear, but I’ve got a few amps, access to my kids’ guitar and bass amps and have been shopping for a new amp for me recently (now ordered and on its way - yay!).
I’m assuming you mean the Coolmusic BP-40, which is battery powered and has an 8" speaker. As with all amp purchases, its usefulness will depend on what you want to do with it. As a solid state or ‘digital’ (i.e. not tube) amp, and with only an 8" speaker, I suspect you will not get the volume out of it that would compare with something like a Harpgear HG35 (35W, 2 x 10" speakers, all tube, made for harmonica) - even though the HG35 has (notionally) 5W less output.
Feedback is a likely problem when you turn it up, particularly if you use a high impedance harmonica mic (with a much hotter signal than a guitar pickup or a Lo Z vocal mic).
So if you’re looking at small venues or busking, it should be OK - provided you don’t turn the volume up too far. They don’t have prices on their website, but there are quite a few similar amps on the market to compare value-for-money.
Bottom line - guitar amps always have issues when used for amplified harmonica. It depends on your planned usage, and whether the ‘constraints’ still enable the amp to do the job you need.
Hope that helps
Great. Thanks for your help Maka. Let me ask the question slightly differently as you seem to have some great experience. For just home and light venue playing is there a reasonably priced tube amp you would recommend? Thanks, you have been a great help already.
I wish there was an easy answer, but there is a lot of ‘manoeuvre space’ in acquiring an amp. So here’s a few points to consider:
• Figuring out what you want to use the amp for (e.g. home practice and room-size venues) – and your budget – helps narrow the options, but your needs (desires?) evolve and there is always a ‘better’ amp available to meet your new needs! This is the world of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome)
• Guitar amps, regardless of which amplification technology is used, are likely to have issues when used for harp – but they are significantly less expensive than custom harmonica amps
• All guitar amps can be ‘tamed’ to work better with harmonica mics, be they low impedance (Lo Z) vocal mics or high impedance (Hi Z) harmonica mics
• Tube amps provide a ‘bluesier’ sound when the tubes are driven hard – so finding ways to do that across a range of ‘appropriate’ volumes (low for home practice and loud for venues) is a challenge. Tube amps are often modified by replacing one or more pre-amp tubes (typically 12AX7 or similar) with tubes of lower gain to increase the available power amp (volume) settings before the feedback monster arrives
• Solid state amps may offer digital effects (e.g. reverb) and modelling (using software to change the output to emulate specific (often analogue) amp, speaker and even mic combinations). Some offer none! Most ‘busking’ (i.e. battery powered) amps are solid state
• For both tube and solid state guitar amps, pedals can help the ‘taming’ process. There are a number of specialists that make pedals specifically to ‘tame’ guitar amps (tube or solid state) for harmonica use. ‘Lone Wolf’ is probably the best known (and they make quite a variety of harp pedals), but there are others. But specialist pedals can cost more than an amp!
If I had to pick a tube amp (are you sure you want a tube amp? Solid state is a lot cheaper!) for your needs, I’d go for an Epiphone Valve Jr combo (i.e. one box with the amp and an 8” speaker). There are variations on this amp and a wide range of mod kits available too. And its available as a head with a speaker box.
But if you’re starting out, a solid state amp of a few watts output (5 or so) would be a cheaper alternative. I have an Orange Micro Crush which is 3W of solid state fun that I use around the house (ignore the guitar tuner and the overdrive). And a Daphon amp of a similar size that I paid $20 for. Both make a lot more noise than a harp on its own and can be useful for learning mic technique – even with a $20 mic (but you’ll need one with a ¼” jack).
I hope that helps!
A lot to think about but it really helps me. Yes, I am in that position of being a relative beginner with no mic experience. Will definitely take your point of starting small and seeing where I go from there.
I have been gigging and playing through a Kalamazoo amp for many years. It has 1 ten inch speaker and has the classic Chicago sound.
I got one off eBay for $250 and had my amp tech update it and change the 2 prong plug to a grounded 3 prong. I had a line out added so I can connect it to a PA for large gigs.
I use a Bulletini microphone, which makes any small tube amp sound their best.
I have many amps, but this combination sounds the best.
Hey Steve - thanks for sharing all this. Bulletini mic looks AWESOME! I’m thinking I wanna try one. And I say a couple Kalamzoo amps on Ebay in that price range. Thanks bro!