the rock harmonica masterpiece
One thing that my work on the Fender Mustang patchset reinforced in me is that the microphone that’s used with an amp has a very big effect on the overall sound. So if you want a sound that’s in the ballpark of “authentic” for a particular genre, you need a mic that’s all about the sound of that genre.
My next record, “Blue Future”, to be recorded in April with the same crew of Philly killers as “The Lucky One,” is a lot more about blues than my first. So I want a sound that’s blue. At the moment, I’m getting that sound with a Shure SM58 mic. I plan to leave my Audix Fireball V in the case and play the harmonica parts with that SM58. Mostly. If I decide to put some of the more dense and complex sounds into the songs, I’ll need a mic that doesn’t grunge them up. I may also take the opportunity to get a Bulletini; my Bottle o’ Blues broke, and I don’t have another loud bullet-y mic ready to go. (Or I might have Greg Heumann turn one of my Shures into an Ultimate 545 or 58, or try Randy Landry’s new mic; and I just pulled my Astatic JT30 from the closet…) None of the other mics in the picture below are really distinctive enough compared to the SM58 to make it worth taking them. (On the other hand, some of those cheap tape recorder mics I have in the closet…)
Mics and harps. Shure SM58 next to harmonica case.
I plan also to bring my Zoom G3, my Digitch RP500, and my Fender Mustang III. I’ll do most of the work in the studio with that amp, which has a lot of great sounds for amped blues. (Not surprising, since that was the design spec for this set of sounds.) I’ve also put Fender’s “diatonic pitch shifter” (i.e. a key-and-mode specific harmonizer) to use, and I’m amazed at how much I like it. The effect is present on the Digitechs too, but I never got around to setting one up. I got an intensely blue sound by playing a G dorian harp (G dorian minor in 2nd position) over a pitch shifter with the interval set to a 6th down, and a G mixolydian scale. When the two scales collide, it’s startling, amazingly dense and blue.
It’s not easy to haul so much stuff to a session, but it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have. Stay tuned for more news about and from the sessions.