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Thread: What makes an amp the best Harp Amp?

  1. #36
    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    Single ended 6L6 in Class A pentode? Gotta be around 10-12 watts.
    Probably but, that depends on the actual size of the output tranny, how much current is available through the PT, frequency chosen to measure and whether or not the preamp stage is set up right for class OP with no preamp distortion.
    Regardless, using regular SE OTs, made for guitar amps, I've never been able to get more then 10-12 watts out of a single 6L6s.
    I don't know what OT is the the Fat Dog.

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    I don't play a harp but 2 ppl I know have a old Magnetone amp , maybe 8-10 watts , with that strange tremolo set up( actual pitch changing ) only Valco/ magnetone/ and clones used , they both swore by them, and I see them cheap on Ebay sometimes.

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  3. #38
    Member Hurricane's Avatar
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    Thumbs up 3M Wollensak Reel To Reel Tape Recorders

    So here it is .... The Ugly Duckling ...... Un assuming as could be .....Awkward now to the eye ....



    Retro Thing: 3M Wollensak T-1500 Reel To Reel <===<<<-Clic

    To many this will be over looked and passed on by as nothing of any significance - -

    But - - -

    To a real harp player and or electric guitarist who is experienced it will make them drool with excitement .

    The one above is one of two models I am aware of . This one is the 100 watt issue I believe , there is a 15 watt too and it's just as killer as well .

    I have owned , repaired them and sold them , I have one now in the closet broken down to just the preamp and amp assembly with it's input and speaker outs in a home made set up , it's killer .

    Review ebay now < eBay - 3M WOLLENSAK Reel to Reel Player Recorder TUBE, Similar items search > for a whole bunch to choose from , only check out the URL first on this list prior to thinking on getting one because there are some on that ebay URL that are not what I am posting about .

    Repeat : Check out the First URL prior to thinking on getting one .

    These are tops in many a tube hungry musician list of must haves when one comes around that's working and in great shape .

    There are many still around in great condition . Check " Thrift Stores - United Way - Good Will " these types of stores are where you can consistently find them as well the occasional yard sale .

    Also ----

    It's a " green " thing to recycle these days so get with the program peoples

    I have mine pumping into a Pignose and what a nice set up too for the home and or a private affair with just a few friends or a small night club room .

    The Pignose's amp failed and when I hooked the Wollensak amp ( a 15 watter ) to it ..

    - - WOW --

    It sounds like in my book like a "classic - vintage " and all those other superlatives tube amp .

    This personal judgment comes from a Blues man with 56 years of harp playing . Yep no foolin around at all I am for real .

    Easy Breatheren Of Breath Bombastisism "

    Hurricane Ramon

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  4. #39
    Member Hurricane's Avatar
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    Thumbs up 12" W/ 8" drivers Cabs & My Polutone P . A . / Harp / Guitar Amp

    Excerpt :

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce / Mission Amps View Post
    Well, Rick (Davis) who has been giving me some input too, also wants me to try a 12" and 8" combo in the 5F4 cabinet as soon as I get the chassis up and running.

    ==================================================


    Bruce :

    A single 12" and an 8" are a really wild and great combination . He may want two cabs though ......

    Because when I used my Polytone SS P . A . / harp/guitar amp ( work with me blood ) I just got from a Thrift Store ( I know this will pi$$ off some tube men cause I am also a tube amp person since the 60s) a few weeks ago with a 100 watt output and some really cool circuitry ( ala MusicMan type compression ) with two cabs sporting a 12" and an 8" driver .

    I took this set up to test it out in a real performance type environment at a rehearsal . The band :

    P . A . 500 watts

    Drummer through P . A .

    Keyboard through P . A .

    Bass player through a 400 watt bass amp .

    Head banger metal guitarist with a Marshall single stack 4X12" with celestians and a Marshall 100 watt head with a Strat and a LP.

    The keyboard my man Chan Romero ( Hippy Hippy Shake 1959 ) was saying that I had captured the 50s sound with that amp/speaker set up , he was all smiles as I dug in deep with a Paul Butterfield type harp solo sound of squawking and punching hard and then a guitar solo that Chan said had a B . B . King feel and sound .

    Can't get better comments like that even if I paid for them .

    The head banger guitarist was totally floored with it's tone too . I did not try to play along side his rig without both of my Polytone cabs since I know too well what a single stack 4X12" sounds like already since I have also owned Marshalls too .

    Bass player could not believe the sound of it or the tone too when he realized it was SS and not tube .

    Now at 60 it's easier to tow along those smaller lightweight cabs too !

    And - -

    That Polytone weighs out like a feather , no fooling I can not believe how light it is .

    Anyways man my respect to you , what you do is really amazing stuff that needs to be done . Best wishes and success to you and your workmanship .

    Sincerely :

    Hurricane Ramon

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  5. #40
    Supporting Member Alex R's Avatar
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    I have a small SE combo with one of Weber's 6x9 ellipticals, with his 'harp dust cap'. It sounds lovely. Dark overdrive sound with a bit of twang left in the tops. If you know what I mean. I've often thought of cramming two or three of them into a 30w+ combo. Maybe one ceramic one alnico. Like the old early 60s Brit Bird Golden Eagle guitar amps, three ellipticals in a row, that's got to be the maximum cone area per square foot of baffle. Or maybe this is just some kind of strange macho fantasy.

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  6. #41
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    Yes these are a poor musician's wet dream. I was wondering who else out there had stumbled onto these little gems! I have a few of these that I stripped out much of the unnecessary hardware & soldered the slider switch connections in place & made a little cab to house it. I hate to destroy the cool old tape drive mechanism but some sacrifices are necessary to reduce the weight & bulk. These also have the option of pulling the 1/4 in input plug out just a little resulting in overdrive distortion that will melt glass! Eventually I want to replace the caps & try to clear out some additional extraneous parts to make it easier to service. I have used the T-1500 models with great results, but stay away from the SS models that look identical!
    I think they are about 10 watts using 12ax7, 12at7, & 2 ea 12ab5 power tubes.

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  7. #42
    Member Hurricane's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Ą Right ON !

    except :

    Quote Originally Posted by RybCage View Post
    Yes these are a poor musician's wet dream. I was wondering who else out there had stumbled onto these little gems!

    , but stay away from the SS models that look identical!
    I think they are about 10 watts using 12ax7, 12at7, & 2 ea 12ab5 power tubes.
    ===========================

    Cool RybCage :

    They are a trip huh ! I have mine for use around my music room / studio at home with all the [ guts ] exposed so to speak .

    As a rule I stay away from ss save for a really good P . A . direct with DSP and the like .

    I have a old Polytone Mini Brute that is killer for my harp , you have to know a little about the unit's unique EQ in the final and the EQ for each channel and you have it whipped nicely .

    The Polytone is a triple threat in that it's fortes include :

    #1 : High Hz 100 watt 3 channel P . A .

    #2 : Harp Amp

    #3 : It's sweet as it gets for a nice guitar amp , has that classic 50's spring reverb too with a real Hammond B3 spring reverb OEM .

    George Benson is a Polytone amp user to name just one of the hitters who use these .

    Easy Blood :

    Hurricane Ramon

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  8. #43
    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    Well, I'm about +20 amps into the Chicago 32-20 product and I've just about run out of 1x12 tweed cabinets... so far so good... I'm still a little surprised how long it takes to build one from the ground up... even with all this practice.
    I got a little behind with respect to my larger 6L6 chassis and their bigger cabinets but I still get requests for it, so, my New Years Resolution is to get off my ass, get the new chassis done, get INK on the them and get the amp made up into the 2x10, 3x10 and 1x15 cabinets.
    The 3x10 will probably fit the 12" and 10" combination if there is enough interest in it.

    Mission Harp Amps - Blues Harmonica Amplifiers - Home

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    Bruce

    Mission Amps
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  9. #44
    Member Hurricane's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Went to your site

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce / Mission Amps View Post
    Well, I'm about +20 amps into the Chicago 32-20 product and I've just about run out of 1x12 tweed cabinets... so far so good... I'm still a little surprised how long it takes to build one from the ground up... even with all this practice.
    I got a little behind with respect to my larger 6L6 chassis and their bigger cabinets but I still get requests for it, so, my New Years Resolution is to get off my ass, get the new chassis done, get INK on the them and get the amp made up into the 2x10, 3x10 and 1x15 cabinets.
    The 3x10 will probably fit the 12" and 10" combination if there is enough interest in it.

    Mission Harp Amps - Blues Harmonica Amplifiers - Home
    I really would like to sit in your sound room and play through your different combination's with the different arranged speakers your proposing , what wild and great imagination you have .

    Happy new year man .

    HR

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  10. #45
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    I have all old Fenders that also share with guitar. Several builders make amps specifically for harp. HarpGear, Sonny Jr, and Kinder are three of them.

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    Last edited by tboy; 04-15-2011 at 07:56 PM. Reason: removed off topic spam link

  11. #46
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    Kinder seems not to be building at the moment, there was talk of him firing back up...

    There is also the OP on this thread (Bruce Collins/Mission), DJL/Megatone, Kendrick, Clark, Victoria, Marble, Scooter Berberian/Meteor, Mergilli.

    Some of those mentioned are building Fender designs that work well for harp right off the bat, some are building amps designed from the ground up for harp...or both, or tube PA inspired amps (Skip Simmons does a good trade in refurbed & modded PA amps) or Fender based amps with a couple of harp-centric tweaks. Some of the amps mentioned work great for guitar, either as they come, or with a couple of tube subs.

    Basically, "specifically for harp" covers quite a spectrum & there is no real single or specific way to achieve this...whatever instrument you plug into the amp is kind of moot...the thing still has to function, so whilst you may employ certain techniques, or encourage certain existing characteristics, an amp made "specifically for harp" may still share 90%+ of the circuit/topology with an existing MI/PA amp.

    I do quite a bit of "specifically for harp" work, which has included major mods, subtle mods & on some occassions, blueprinting a stock Fender.

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  12. #47
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    My next door neighbour is a harp player - one of only a handful of decent 'for hire' players in Australia. He Uses a Bassman as his regular gigging amp. He also has a GA30 Invader and a little Supro Champ style. However, I bought a piece of junk a few weeks ago and I grid it and really liked it with my guitar (I really need to learn to Play properly), so I invited the harP player over. He says it's the best sounding amp he's ever played. The line up is EF86, 12ax7, 6v6*2 and iirc 5v4.

    It wasn't even designed as an instrument amp.

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  13. #48
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    "It wasn't even designed as an instrument amp."

    Ha ha...many amps that are well regarded for harp were designed as low cost sound reinforcement/"hi fi", like Masco, Bogen, Geloso etc.

    Always bear in mind, the amp doesn't know or care what the signal source is...it just does what it does, with what it is given.

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  14. #49
    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    Yeah, I think a big factor in all this... is that the blues harmonica (as an instrument) is well centered in our vocal range, so many old school vacuum tube PAs seem to work pretty good right out of the box, especially if the speakers are right.
    Now, I'm not really talking about modern sound reinforcement PAs... those do everything.

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    did you ever build the harp amps? if you did do you want to sell one what tube configuration did you use

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  16. #51
    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RitzRed View Post
    did you ever build the harp amps? if you did do you want to sell one what tube configuration did you use
    Oh yes! I ran the first run of 24, 1x12 Chicago 32-20 harp amps out in a fairly short time.
    I'm very quickly closing in on a total of 100 dedicated harp amps from this original Chicago 32-20 idea.
    And, I am currently up to number 69 on the newest chassis seen on my website:

    Mission Harp Amps - Blues Harmonica Amplifiers - Home

    Although they all sound terrific, the 1x12" is not quite as popular as the 2x10" amps or the 12"+10" amps and 3x10" amps.
    I have done a couple each of the 1x15"s and 12"+8" amps too.
    My next variation is a 55-60 watt version with 4x10"s....have the cabinet but have not had time to put a demo amp up yet.

    The tube configuration I like the best is
    5AR4/GZ34 rectifier, 2x5881s power tubes, preamp tubes are 12AX7 and a 12AY7.

    Here is a clip of the 32-20 3x10 with 17 year old, Nic Clark and my buddy Al Chesis from the Delta Sonics playing with Bad Brad om guitar another youngster here in Denver.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CHsu...feature=relmfu

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    Last edited by Bruce / Mission Amps; 10-25-2012 at 08:35 AM.
    Bruce

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    I am looking for a harp amp with a 8 inch speaker with balls maybe 12AX7 6L6 5UY something that will distort a bit without feeding back but I am not sure on the tubes do you make anything like that maybe 7 Watts or so if you do make it how much do you want for one?

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    I have an old tube amp with the 5Y3,tube it has 1, 12AX7 and 2 6V6 tubes this amp was pulled from a working 1957 Magnivox consol do you think this will make a good harp practice amp? and what kind of speaker would you use? I have different speakers I can use I have 2 vintage Zenith 12 inch full range alnico speakers 8ohm I also have 4 Celestion 7080 12 inch 16 ohm speakers but I want to use what ever speaker will sound the best for harp so if you think a 8 inch speaker would be better I can find one

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    Quote Originally Posted by RitzRed View Post
    I have an old tube amp with the 5Y3,tube it has 1, 12AX7 and 2 6V6 tubes this amp was pulled from a working 1957 Magnivox consol do you think this will make a good harp practice amp? and what kind of speaker would you use? I have different speakers I can use I have 2 vintage Zenith 12 inch full range alnico speakers 8ohm I also have 4 Celestion 7080 12 inch 16 ohm speakers but I want to use what ever speaker will sound the best for harp so if you think a 8 inch speaker would be better I can find one
    You can't tell if it's ā good Harp amp just by looking on the tubetype. This configuration give some hope, but,,, it is a lot of other things in a amp decide how the sound gonna be.

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    what are the tubes with the 6AB4,what is there function and what tubes are they comparible to?

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  21. #56
    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    yes I already went there but it did,nt tell me much and I don,t understand what (function t)means it also does not give many different tubes comparible

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    Quote Originally Posted by RitzRed View Post
    yes I already went there but it did,nt tell me much and I don,t understand what (function t)means it also does not give many different tubes comparible
    It don't give many different comparible tubes, because there ain't many.
    It is a single triode preamp tube with 60% amplification factor...

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  24. #59
    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arnenym View Post
    You can't tell if it's ā good Harp amp just by looking on the tubetype. This configuration give some hope, but,,, it is a lot of other things in a amp decide how the sound gonna be.
    Right... although I've never heard a really great sounding harp amp using one or even two 8" speakers.... at least it sounds like you have some decent transformers to come up with about a +12 to 16 watt harp amp.
    As far as a very loud practice amp... sounds like you have almost everything except a circuit... I suggest you look at a Masco 18 and copy that for a pretty good start.

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    ok thanks can this tube be replaced with a better tube that would make the amp louder without changing allot of other parts on the amp?

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  26. #61
    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    Just use the 6AB4 as your first preamp tube... for a harp amp you DO NOT want a high gain first preamp stage anyhow.... with a gain factor of 60, maybe the 6AB4 is perfect anyway... never used one.
    You could rewire the socket and swap it out with a very hot pentode... like a 6SJ7...?

    Anyhow, I'd try to build this with what you have.
    Your input jack(s) into the 6AB4, output to a 1M audio taper volume pot with a single knob 500K tone pot with a grounded .005uF treble cut cap (like the Masco ME18), output of that right into to either a paraphase driver or a long tail PI driver.
    You could use a cathodyne phase inverter with the first half of the 12AX7 being the driver.
    Regardless use a phase inverter stage with some gain and then right into two cathode biased 6V6s, wired up in push pull.

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    Last edited by Bruce / Mission Amps; 11-02-2012 at 06:11 PM.
    Bruce

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    what does it mean wired in push pull or better yet how is it done?

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  28. #63
    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    I know I'm coming in way late here ...but I would suggest vintage tone and simplicity. All octal tubes for sure.

    I own two Gibson EH-125 dometop/suitcase amps from 1941-42, but they are slightly different schematics.
    One has a six tube complement: 2 X 6SQ7, 6J5 for phase inverter, 2 X 6V6 power tubes, 5Y3 rectifier.
    To make more harp friendly, I sub a 6SR7 for one of the 6SQ7's. Favorite is a GE 6SR7GT. Various metal and GT 6J5's work fine. Use one Ken-Rad 6V6G and pair with a CBS-Hytron JAN 6V6GT/G greyglass, but many others work well: RCA, Sylvania, Raytheon 6V6GTY's; Raytheon, Tung-Sol, National Union 6V6GT/G blackglass, GE and RCA clear 6V6GTA's.
    Best rectifier... Sylvania 5Y3WGTA, but Tung-Sol JAN 5Y3GT/G VT-197A is also quite good.
    Original 12" field coil speaker. One knob: volume for Mic channel. Sounds like a mini Bassman with all the honk and no feedback.
    The second EH-125 is the same layout except for pre-amp stage, where it uses a single 6SJ7 pentode. I have swapped a
    6SK7 for less gain, earlier distortion to voice more harp friendly. Rest of tube layout similar to above.

    Why no harp amp builders haven't gone with these early Gibson models that are relatively simple is curious; since so many of the legends used amps of this style or similar. I know Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells, and Howlin' Wolf used them. Hubie Sumlin was my source, along with Dave Myers.
    Hubie actually discovered the overdriven guitar sound by accident, when he plugged his guitar cable mistakenly into the microphone input instead of one of the instrument jacks one time during a recording session with Wolf. Everyone went WOW ! The amp was a Gibson EH-125, and all the cats wanted one, but Gibson had stopped making them at least a dozen years before ( mainly due to WWII ).

    I do gig with both of these amps, but am real careful because they are museum pieces now. I use a Variac to keep the volts 110-115 to protect components.

    My other main gigging amp is a VHT Special-6, but there are plenty other Class A, SE amps on the market now.

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  30. #65
    Senior Member km6xz's Avatar
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    You know of course that most of this is hogwash. The tubes mentioned are all over 50 years old and not likely to be of the same characteristics as they were when they left the factory so attributing sound qualities to devices that have no inherent sound characteristic is either misplaced cause and effect or pure intentional BS.
    The perfect harp amp is whatever the best more enjoyable-to-listen-to player is plugged into at the time. I favorite and long time friend was Horton Buffalo and he sounded GREAT whether plugged into a Bassman or a Roland JC120 and everything in between. One of his most interesting performances, the small club only had a Polytone and no one could have imagined a better sound. Masters do not stress over gear, unless it goes in their mouths, just as great guitar stylists are much less concerned over amps than amateurs are, the latter seem to think the 100,000 hours of practice can be overcome with buying some gadgets or hardware.

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  31. #66
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    I have not read any of the responses to this thread, I went straight to the bottom here. All I want to add is I have been told by a guy who I know who has played with many of the greats and sounds likes a walking talking 78 blues record... cheap small speakers are were it's at for blues harp. 8" mostly. Mic it and play. That is all.

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    It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

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    Im new to this forum and a novice when it comes to working inside an amp but Ive been playing harp for over 40 yrs.
    By the way. What an awesome forum. There seems to be a lot of chatter goin on here and all really helpful stuff by knowledgeable folks.
    My first amp was a fender super reverb then later a Princeton reverb but I now prefer Gibsons and now even more Valco made amps.
    The best sound Ive ever gotten is from my 53 National tremotone. Im sure you've seen this but if not check this out Blues Harp Amps 11: 1954 Valco National Tremo-tone - YouTube
    I know that clip is a Little Walter style but turn it up and lose the juke thing (no disrespect) and you get a very different sound.
    I have not done anything to this amp yet but it is a love hate thing. I have to get it turned up to get the juice out of it but when I do it sounds like nothing I have ever heard. The downside is that it is not only a crunchy tone generater, it is also a feedback generater. But that is something that Im gonna work on.
    I think ideally a separate head that can be reached on stage so I don't have to put a volume pot on my Black CR mic. The volume pot takes away the gritty edge from my mic. Then a custom made wedge monitor that has a seperate volume control so I can get a nice level to hear myself. And thirdly a separate cab possibly with a closed back that can be positioned somewhere else in the room to get a louder sound to the audience without being picked up again by my mic. I figure even a closed back is an improvement over micing thru the PA because you stay more in control of the sound being heard by the audience. the PA is usually set up by someone else and for someone else. And it is closed back too.
    That's my two cents and maybe that's all its worth but what the heck its free.

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