Is the Bulletini Really the Best Harmonica Mic?
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 )
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 ). 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:
Is it fun?
Does it inspire me?
Does it help me to sound better ?
Can I afford it?
Is it sexy?
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:
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 .
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.
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 .