Let’s say I inherited a windfall of $1,400, with the stipulation that it must be spent within 2 weeks on a harmonica Amp, or it will be forfeited. I have a big 'ol 1991 Bassman that Gerald Weber modded in the early 1990’s for harp, so I’m looking to round things out with a smaller amp. My choices are limited to the following: Kendrick Vagabond, HarpGear HG2, HarpGear Double Trouble, VHT Special 6 and Quilter Aviator Cub. Cost is NO object here, as long as it is less than $1,400 dollars. I think highly of James Harman, and know he used a Cub near the end, but as a near penniless Bluesman perhaps he didn’t have many options. R.I.P. James. How’s about some opinions?? Thanks, haskoni
If the unit you choose is only ac, I’d consider considering a battery powered inverter. Nice to be truly portable.
I just found a Fender Blues Deluxe 40watts, 12ax7 and two 6L6 tubes, 12" driver. I plan on using. I was using a superchamp fender all tube, 6v6, a little tinny. The blues deluxe is a reissue of the late 1950’s amp/combo and is in tweed. $700, it was a good deal, I saw it for $900 or more. First reissued in 1993 I think.
@Haskoni welcome to the forum my friend. What a cool post!!!
I’m afraid I’ve never played thru or even HEARD of any of those amps, so I’m absolutely of no help to you!
However, I’m heading to the NAMM show on Tuesday and I’m hoping Kendrick, HarpGear, VHT, and/or Quilter will be there so I can check them out for you. I’ll keep you posted.
Do you already have an opinion? (I’m guessing you might…)
I am working on a Roland microcube now, new speaker and the porting is wrong, 6 1/2 inch speaker on a 5 inch hole, 4 watts, but at 4 ohms instead of 8 should be good. Worked great open, but no low end.
I also have a fender super champ, 12ax7 preamp, pair of 6v6 amp, modeling is on this little beast too. It’s okay, but 15 watts is definitely isn’t enough unless hooked to the pa.
Now, just found a Fender Blues Deluxe, tweed reissue. 12 inch, 3- 12ax7’s and 2- 6L6’s, fifty watts. It is sweet, sounds great, however any ideas on a pedal or pre amp modifier for it? I have a sans preamp for my bass guitar, I also have a compressor and a vox modeling pedal with a bunch of bells and whistles, however, given 500 variation at 66 now I’ll be 70 by the time I try it.
You seem to have a lot of experience, what kind of signal do you send your amp. I’m looking for the "When the Levee Breaks, by the Mighty Zep sound or the Midnight Rambler, Stones sound or Run thru the Jungle CCR sound?
I know I already said some of this stuff, but packaged it, the fender blues is 50 watts not 40.
What do you want to do? Play in a band full of loud guitars? Play stadiums - or focus on small, intimate clubs? Practice at home and not wake the babies?
For a jack-of-all-options, you’ll need 35w (or more) of tube power with an attenuator (for the quiet times) and a line out (for the very loud times) - and an amp ‘voiced’ for harmonica (not guitar).
My HarpGear HG35 lacks the attenuator, but other than that it’s perfect - but only for me! Your requirements might lead you in another direction. It’s worth the effort to work on determining your requirements - otherwise it’s hard to meet them!
As and old fart electronic tech who actually worked on ‘valve’ amps before ic’s I find the mystic beliefs of most guitar players … annoying. I love Jim Lill’s myth busting work on guitar, amp, and cabinet tone. What a contribution to the art adding a scientific method to guitar tone. Amp Tone
That was one interesting video.
If I had a big old Bassman (I do and it’s too heavy to tote), your budget, and wanted something smaller I’d call a tube amp guy like Skip Simmons (skipsimmonsamps.com) to see what he had available. A vintage Masco or Stromberg-Carlson p.a. is a known entity but he comes up with things you don’t typically find like a 1940’s-50’s Silvertone, a Sunola (accordion) amp, a Bell Electronics 3715 p.a., an early 50’s 12w Gibson or Guild combo amp. Rebuilt, restored, within your budget, great for harp or guitar, and ready for the next 50-75 years.
I wouldn’t be looking for off the shelf equipment, boutique amps, or going the music store route hoping the holy grail of harmonica amps was going to appear.
How about a cheap amp and a cheap peddle. Here is a guy using a stage right (Harley Benton label) with an American Sound Peddle. See what you think.
For what it’s worth; I’ve been playing through a Stage 5 Ronnie Shellist Edition amp for just over a year. I couldn’t be happier! It’s a 5/1 watt amp modified from a Stage Right – re-wired/speaker’d for harmonica. I’ve played outdoors, small rooms and large rooms and this thing cuts through. I’ve only mic’d or lined-out a couple of gigs, (the line-out works great) mainly 'cause the sound guy wanted the harp through the mains and monitors. I play with different folks but our current band has two electric guitars, a bass, electric violin, drums, and me. I’ve never turned the volume up to more than 1/2 and our front man loves the tone as have several other. guitar players that have asked about the amp. It’s small and at 17 pounds I can carry in down the street easily. Clearly one of the best purchases I have made! Gone is the Blues JR. and soon gone is the old Crate.
Here is another modded Mono price (stage right) amp under the Harley Benton badge.
With these mods:
Arne “Arnenym” Hedberg helped me to implement following modifications for Harley Benton amplifier:
-Speaker changed to Jensen P8R Alnico.
-Power tube changed to 6V6GTY United Electron power tube with brown base.
-12AX7 tube changed to 12AY7 EH tube.
-Bright capacitor C20 removed.
This is a presentation of Harley Benton TUBE5 - 5W valve amplifier, originally equipped with 8" speaker Celestion Super, modded for Ted Weber Signature 15W, 8” ceramic speaker with smooth cone and JJ Electronic 12AY7 preamp tube, set on 5W, played on Hohner Marine Band Deluxe harmonica in key of A and Aiwa DM-14 vintage dynamic microphone, recorded on: Shure SM57 dynamic microphone and Apple, Garage Band software.
I have that Aiwa DM-14 microphone, it’s a typical 50,000 ohm evil-sounding Japanese mike from the early 60’s. I wish the cord screwed off like most of my other Godzilla mikes though.
I just fixed an old Roland micro cube, some guy destroyed (almost) by using a 6 1/2 inch 4 ohm bass speaker to replace a 5 or 5 1/2 inch speaker, 8 ohm. I had to find the right port size and then build up the cube so it would accommodate the speaker. Some guy I bought some bass amps from (2 fender bassman 100’s) threw it in for free. So I didn’t buy or try to find the right speaker. It works pretty well and even full on gain and volume, the electronics seem to not mind.
I’m going to try it out at the next practice on Tuesday to get feedback from the bandmates.
He did in that video what I had thought for a while. The “tone” is in our heads, bias as in picking sides (ford vs. chevy) plays a part, and humans fall for marketing, hype, and tradition. In a blind test, people simply can not tell. As a hobbiest, solid state is all I need.
Well, I’m new to harmonica but I have used an Epiphone Valve jr as my guitar amp for 15 years and apparently it would be a good harp amp (according to the internet) - they’re not made as Epiphone anymore but I think the cheap 5 watt tube amps are all more or less that circuit.
With the budget you’ve got, I’d go for tubes - I don’t know quite how the harp signal interacts with the amp compared to a guitar but I love the way tubes give that touch and expression in response. I usually play at “hard clean” kind of gain, just before the break up but with the tubes working.
and it may be worth moving some of the budget to pedals (get a pre-amp and EQ perhaps a drive pedal)
(Sorry gone a bit guitar player rambling on about tubes there, forgive me)