Is the Bulletini Really the Best Harmonica Mic?

Is the Bulletini Really the Best Harmonica Mic?

Mic shoot-out

The mic Bulletini has more glowing reviews than I have patience to read…

….and it’s only $200.

Oh, and teachers like Ronnie Shellist and Adam Gussow , and touring players like Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson) and Charlie Musselwhite seem to be big fans too.

So is it really the best? I just had to try it for myself. You can hear it for yourself up against my vintage Astatic J-30 ($300+) and my Hohner Blues Blaster ($179) mics in this short video.

The company that manufactures the Bulletini is Blows Me Away Productions, the one-man operation of Greg Heumann. Based out of California, Greg himself is a harmonica player, and my experience with his service has been first class. His mics have been endorsed by the likes of Toots Thielemans , Rod Piazza, Kim Wilson, Mark Hummel, John Nemeth, and Sting ’s harmonica player Shane Sager , to name a few (in addition to the names I already mentioned above :point_up: )

And the element inside of the Bulletini, aka its guts - which give it its tone - is the same “Heumann Element” inside the mics played by many of these pros (read: the blues guys :sunglasses:). But it’s housed in the smallest casing that Greg could fit it in; it’s roughly the size of a grade AA chicken egg.

When choosing a harmonica mic, the same considerations apply as when choosing a brand of harmonica, an educational resource, or any other harmonica-related purchase:

:arrow_right: Is it fun?

:arrow_right: Does it inspire me?

:arrow_right: Does it help me to sound better ?

:arrow_right: Can I afford it?

:arrow_right: Is it sexy? :wink:

All of these considerations are subjective. Bear that in mind when you read reviews such as the one you’re reading right now.

Whenever you’re hearing a shootout between anything , take careful note if the levels are matched. The human ear will virtually always like the thing that is louder . In order to evaluate accurately, you need to hear the examples at the same volume level.

In my shootout video, I had to adjust the amp volume to accommodate for the different output levels of each mic.

The thing that stuck out right away is that the Bulletini has a dark, fat tone. No doubt it has more bass response than either of the other two mics. The Bulletini did indeed make me feel happy. (How’s that for subjective?) Here are the things I love about it:

:+1: Small Housing makes it easy to hold, and even to play with one hand . Ideal for people with small hands or who only have one functional hand. And for those who want a hands-free bluesy tone, you can look at the Rackit!2.0 (It’s got a Bulletini inside, and I’ll review that gizmo in a future newsletter.) Bottom line: Lightweight = Comfortable .

:+1: Volume knob is so handy. Blend into the background when the singer is singing, then TURN UP when it’s time to SOLO! Also, you can immediately address unwanted feedback by turning it down . Note the Hohner also has a volume knob, but most expensive vintage mics don’t.

:+1: I LOVE the BIG BOTTOM! And this girl’s got it. Ever heard a harmonica player say, “I wish I could get more highs in my sound?” NOPE! We harmonica players are always searching for a tone that’s FATTER , and that’s what the Bulletini has. You can always turn up the treble (and you probably will with this mic) but turning up the bass with a thin-sounding mic can’t give you what the Bulletini delivers in the low end .

Hear it for yourself in this short video.

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I’ve heard Peter “Madcat” Ruth do a demo of a Bulletini used with a RackIt! from the same company. It has a nice, warm tone when it isn’t distorted. I really don’t like distortion when it comes to my playing style. I mean I’ll do it for certain songs, but it makes my harp lines sound terrible. I just don’t want heavy distortion covering up my natural tone.
I think what’s the best harmonica mic really depends on the person. I personally use a Shure SM57 Instrument mic for practice. I’ve had it ever since I graduated high school and it’s really good, but it’s kinda hard to hold it with the harp in my hands. When preforming, I use the mic and PA that the venue has. I want to get a Shure SM58 or a mic with a full, rounded grill so I can warble with my hands easier.

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The best harp mic is the one that inspires you to play (and practice) more!

I like a volume control (VC) – it provides more dynamics options.

I have an original Shure 420 Commando (I’ve even got the chain that goes around your neck – but never used it), which is small and has a great tone – but no VC. With a fragile Bakelite shell, it rarely (never?) gets out of the house.
My CAD HM50 VC (licence built JT-30) is pretty, (matt black and gold), has a VC and a pretty good tone. My Shure 520DX gets used mainly into my Digitech RP350 pedal board (with Richard Hunter harmonica-specific patches), as the board likes a cleaner mic input and the 520DX is pretty bland.

My ‘go to’ mic is the Bulletini. It’s small, so it requires a slightly different technique. I get my best cup with the VC between my pinkie and ring finger of my left hand. Great VC and loads of bottom end. I use it at jams straight into the PA (a little bit of delay assists) or into my HarpGear HG35 amp, and it works great in both configurations. Great bottom end – much fuller than the CAD.
It’s all a matter of ‘what floats your boat’!
Cheers
Maka

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Hello @KeroroRinChou und @Maka,
I also use a Shure. It’s the Shure SH55 II and I’m very happy with it. Together with a small preamplifier, where I can adjust the volume individually, it’s a fine thing. I’ve always liked the look of it. Since I can’t really pick up a microphone due to my disability, it fulfills all my wishes.

Before that I had tested other simple microphones directly via USB. But the results were not good.

On that note, keep having fun!

Best regards from Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:

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The Bulletini puts all of these great vintage Mics to shame with its fat warm sound.
Check out the difference between the HB52 played 1st and the bulletini played 2nd.
I am playing diatonic and then switching to chromatic

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@Maka no doubt the Bulletini is a great mic. I’ve only used it on one gig and I found the volume knob a bit awkward for some reason. I know Greg Heumann also designs mics where you twist the bottom instead of the back, and I’m wondering if I’d like that better? One day I’ll get him to make me a custom mic! #DREAMS.

@stevenlois1 I agree that the Bulletini has a big bottom. I was surprised when I did a shootout with the HB52 the difference wasn’t as big as I thought’d be

I’ve got a gig on Nov 4th and I just re-installed my Bulletini into my Rackit! 2.0, so I’m gonna try the HB-52 on that gig (haven’t tried it out of the house yet.)

Will keep you posted…

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