The quality of the recording attached to this post is not very high, but the performance is killer. This is me playing a Special 20 C harp through my Audix…

The quality of the recording attached to this post is not very high, but the performance is killer. This is me playing a Special 20 C harp through my Audix Fireball mic into my Digitech RP355 running a Champ amp model patch, and from there straight to the PA. The harmonica part was improvised, and I had never played the piece in this way, with this sound and laidback feel. In my head I heard really simple lines with lots of emotion (meaning lots of attention to dynamics and vibrato), and I played it pretty much that way. (It’s easy to play what you hear when you slow things down–you can get very intentional when you’re not playing catch-up with a fast stream of ideas.) The sound is pure amped blues, and through the PA it’s big, with plenty of detail in every sound, no matter how intimate or broad. (I played the same song with a rotary speaker patch the very next night, and it didn’t sound anywhere near as emotionally intense.) The piece was recorded at a gig with The Maw Band at the Timberline, Victor, ID, on Nov. 16 2012, and of course the composition is by Brian Maw (and is copyrighted, all rights reserved).

“So Sweet” by Brian Maw LIVE 20121116 160 kbps

I posted this piece, warts and all, to make the point that the RP all by itself produces big, beautiful amped blues sounds. And this is indeed a beautiful sound, good enough for most players to consider using it all night long. (But why do that when you’ve got an RP full of great sounds?) If you want to make these sounds yourself, check out my patch set for Digitech RP.

7 Comments

  1. hi richard,

    the notes you play are fair tasty, and the chicago blues sound out of your rig are tres cool.

    the combination of this song with that sound is kinda like a round of tanqueray martinis with a shot of jack daniels. methinks just a plain clean sounding harp would have been really sweet. but that’s just my taste.

  2. There’s something about an overdriven tube sound that drips emotion. I felt it as soon as I started playing this piece.

    I use a clean harp on some of the repertoire with this band, but this won’t be one of those pieces.

  3. Despite being a serious cocktail enthusiast I´d nevertheless feel I´d have to back down from a Tanqueray/Jack Daniels combo: but here I say that the raspiness of the harp (not the recording) well serves the song; sometimes the Chicago sound works perfectly outside those boundaries, sometimes not.
    More importantly, the playing is very nice here and that ascending figure on the solo w/ the increased clarity of the sound as it moves up in the register is just perfect when you play with distortion.

  4. I really like the laid back composition. The amp model really complements the sound of the singer and the guitars, damping the high squeakiness an acoustic harp can get and changing it into a complementary voice. The Christmas wishlist just got longer… Amp, mic, RP355… Santa get those elves working!

  5. Exactly! i think of the harp as another voice on this piece–the voice that expresses what the words can’t express.

  6. I dunno Boris, I just keep thinking about the “sounds really good” part. Perhaps the dynamic response is not up to a real tube amp’s–so what, at least in this case? It sounds really good…

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