A frequent question from novice harp players is: what should I buy for my first amped setup? Some of the people reading this are going to buy an amp for themselves or someone else for Christmas, or buy one after Christmas with their Christmas money. So here are a few things to keep in mind when you head to the store. (NOTE: this advice is aimed mainly at harmonica players, but the basic concepts apply to just about anything you play through an amp, e.g. guitars, keyboards, and so on.)
Tag: Digitech RP355
As readers of my blog know, just before the end of 2014, I did a couple of recording sessions for an ESPN documentary called â€œKeepers of the Streak.â€ To my surprise, the show, which I watched last night from start to finish, turned out to be a very cool piece about four very accomplished photographers who’ve collectively photographed every Superbowl from the start. The music included a lot of nice stuff that I didn’t know about when I recorded my own parts, and most of my favorite harmonica cues from the sessions ended up in the final cut, with the harp positioned nicely up front in the mix. I enjoyed every minute of it, which is saying a lot, because I’m not really a bigtime football fan. (Beyonce won the SuperBowl last year, right? I wish I’d seen that…)
I reported on this blog not long ago about a session I did for an ESPN movie called “Keepers of the Streak.” I spent Christmas in Idaho, and not long after I arrived there I got a call for a second session for this movie. The composer, Brian Keane, specifically asked if I could do acoustic tracks, and mentioned that he wanted something along the line of Toots Thielemans, meaning of course some cool-toned chromatic harp.
RP355 or RP360XP?
With the new possibility that Digitech will retire the RP355, it’s important to ask again whether it’s better to get an RP355 or an RP360XP. Here’s my current thinking on the topic.
I noticed something interesting in the last few days. First, the price of new Digitech RP255s has dropped to about $100. That’s a pretty good deal on a pretty capable device. Second, RP355s are listed as discontinued at Sweetwater, Musicians Friend, etc. etc. Put it together, and you’ve got to ask: is Digitech quietly phasing out the RP355?
Here are a couple of new cuts from the same sessions that produced “On the Road Again” and the funky loop jam. “Dawn Like Thunder” is a slow, peaceful piece with some beautiful counterpoint. The patch I use to play it has an LFO modulating pitch–basically, flipping back and forth rapidly between a note and the octave below–with the level of the LFO, i.e. the volume of the effect, under expression pedal control. “Heavy Rock LFO” starts with a very hard-edged line played with the same patch as “Dawn Like Thunder,” and it’s soon joined by even hard-edged stuff.
Dawn Like Thunder composed and performed by Richard Hunter. Copyright 2014 Richard Hunter. all rights reserved
Heavy Rock LFO composed and performed by Richard Hunter. Copyright 2014 Richard Hunter. all rights reserved
The piece attached to this post is a segment from a performance I put together using the Digitech RP355 loaded with my patch set for Digitech RP, plus the RP355’s builtin looper. The sounds include beatboxed percussion (run through a patch with heavy vibrato and delay), a double octave down patch with a wah wah set to low-pass the frequencies, a tenor sax octave-down patch, and a kind of psycho organ patch with heavy vibrato (the same one I beatboxed through, if I recall). All the sounds were created by me, and in most cases are versions of the patches in my patch set for Digitech RP that I customized for a particular song.
I’m in Idaho as I write this, and my rig in Idaho consists of a Digitech RP355, an Audix Fireball, and a Peavey KB2 amp. I was jamming on that rig a day or so ago, and I remembered that the RP355 has a looper. It’s not much of a looper–it only has 20 seconds of loop time, the ergonomics aren’t tops, and it won’t drop the latest layer of the loop in and out on command like the JamMan Stereo–but it does what it does, and I used it to make the piece you hear below.