If you want to sound like Little Walter, Carey Bell, and Big Walter Horton, nobody can blame you because they had some of the best-recorded sounds in history, a tone that both players and fans strive for. Your playing skills are obviously crucial, but these vintage blues musicians were pioneers in the use of amplified blues harmonicas, which greatly contributes to the beauty of the sound. One man, a harmonica, a microphone, an amplifier, and some fundamental harmonica knowledge are all you’re going to need.
Make sure you are primed and prepared with all the tools needed for the task at hand because if you take one of those away, it won’t work.
I’ll focus exclusively on the harmonica microphones in this article. It is a necessary component of the blues harp’s toolkit, and with a little guidance to choose the appropriate one, it will serve you well if you intend to take your performance to the stage at some time in your career. However, some blues harp players have used them previously, while others haven’t.
Let me just say that there aren’t many harmonica microphones out there, so you might guess that I kind of struggled to make a list, but as always I did my homework, and here you have me, with the top 4 microphones for harmonica and all of their specifications and characteristics.
In this article, you won’t find only the best microphones for harmonica, but also some tips on what to consider when choosing a harmonica microphone, and answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions related to harmonica microphones, so as always, I’m offering you the whole package, and all you have to do is enjoy it! Here we go!
The Newest One
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A Cost-Effective Alternative
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|Sennheiser E 835|
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Top 4 Best Microphones for Harmonica
Hohner HB5 – The Newest One
The HB52 Harp Blaster, developed by HOHNER and SE Electronics, is a dynamic high impedance harp microphone that was especially created in collaboration with professional players to replicate the sound of renowned antique microphones.
This harmonica microphone consist of a dynamic high impedance capsule that makes this microphone to sound like storied vintage microphones. Definitely one of the greatest dynamic microphones out there.
- Microphone Type: Dynamic
- Frequency Range: 22Hz-16kHz
- Output Impedance: 45k ohms
- Sensitivity: 17.8 mV/Pa (-35 dBV)
- Color: Green
- Connector: XLR
- Dimensions: 3″ x 1.9″
- Weight: 0.45 lbs
Superlux D112/C – A Cost-Effective Alternative
A special microphone with a dynamic mic element and the appearance of vintage harmonica mics. It delivers the traditional “blues” tone that many harp players are seeking. The microphone includes finger grooves on the top that make it simple to grasp it firmly, and a level control knob is easily situated on the bottom.
The cord’s permanently attached end is a conventional 1/4 “plug. The D112/C microphone has a built-in level control, a cable that is permanently attached, and a 1/4” jack “plug, Harmonica microphone model D112/C is A dynamic microphone especially made for harmonica players is the Superlux D112/C. It is simple to grip while playing the harmonica and fits comfortably in your hand.
Under the microphone, in an ideal location for playing, is a detent volume control. Many harp players are searching for that vintage blues sound, and the customized frequency response is perfect for achieving it. A guitar amplifier or other high impedance input can be connected to the D112/built-in C’s 20-foot cable and high impedance 14″ phone output connection with ease.
What i like about this mic is that it can also be used as a vocal mic. It’s in fact one of my favorite vocal mics out there. Whether you’re buying it for playing harmonica and recording harmonica sound, or buying it as a vocal mic, this mic wont let you down.
- Element Dynamic
- Polar Pattern Omni-directional
- Frequency response 100-6000 Hz
- Sensitivity -48dB/V (4mV/Pa) at 1000 Hz
- Impedance High impedance, unbalanced
- Minimum Load Impedance 1000 ohm
- Cable 20-foot cable, 1/4″ m
- Weight 22.93 oz
- Product Dimensions: 10 x 5 x 3 inches
Sennheiser E 835 – Highly Dynamic
Sennheiser E 835 represents a vocal stage mic made for high-stress situations. When moving on and off axis throughout a performance, a uniform frequency pickup pattern ensures signal quality.
Clarity and projection are guaranteed by a gentle presence boost to an equal tone response. When singing closer to or farther from the capsule, there is minimal proximity effect that constantly produces clear bass and performance. Definitely a great harmonica mic.
Specifications of Sennheiser E 835:
- Microphone: Dynamic
- Pick-up pattern: Cardioid
- Frequency Response: 40 – 16000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 2,7 mV/Pa
- Phantom Power: No
- Connector: XLR-3
- Dimensions: 4.8 x 18 cm
- Switch On/Off: Yes
- Suggested Applications: Vocals, Speech, Home Recording, Studios, Stage Sound, Rehearsal Room, and House of Worship
Shure 520DX – Best Overall
Here is the legendary Shure green bullet 520DX harmonica mic, sometimes known as the “Green Bullet.” The ideal instrument for live performers. It’s simple to modify your levels mid-performance thanks to the convenient volume control knob on the Shure 520 DX “Green Bullet” microphone’s base.
Additionally, the cable that comes with the 520DX harmonica mic has a normal 1/4-inch phone socket so you can connect your harp microphone to any high impedance device you need. Take the stage with the Shure 520DX “Green Bullet” harp microphone, a favorite among harmonica players all around the world.
It was reputed to fit precisely between your hands and your harmonica thanks to its distinctive green and chrome die-cast housing. The 520DX Green Bullet sounds fantastic as well, in keeping with Shure tradition. This will be a great fit for any harmonica player.
- Microphone Type: Dynamic
- Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
- Frequency Response: 100Hz-5kHz
- Output Impedance: 1k ohm
- Color: Grey
- Connector: 1/4″
- Weight: 1.62 Ibs
- Product Dimensions 9.25 x 4.5 x 3 inches
What To Look For In a Harmonica Microphone?
Directional Polar Pattern
To get the best results with fold-back monitors, choose a directional microphone. Although omnidirectional mics can be used on live stages, cardioids are thought to be the ideal choice for this application since harpists frequently use the cupping technique.
The cymbals’ brilliant sound and other high-pitched noises are kept out of the microphone signal by a roll-off of high frequencies. Anything above 5 kHz will be effectively filtered out by guitar amplifiers anyway.
A microphone that can withstand some physical abuse is the best option. It is certain that there may be some instances where the harmonica and microphone make touch while being mic’d while being held in the hands of the harpist. The performance of a microphone used as a harp mic will be improved if it can tolerate certain abuse (physical wear and tear, wetness, etc).
The microphone signal’s handling noise, wind noise/plosives, and low-end rumble are all reduced by a roll-off of low frequencies.
The intelligibility of the harmonica is enhanced by an increase in sensitivity between 3-6 kHz. When holding the microphone, this is especially true (which causes a boost in low and low-mid frequencies while cutting the presence and high-end frequencies).
Choose a microphone that you can buy in large quantities. This is critical for harpists, venue owners, and audio technicians who rely on their equipment/microphones for a profession.
Pick a microphone that is simple to “cup.” The size of a microphone directly influences the capacity of a harpist to adequately mic their instrument.
It’s lovely to be cable-free even though it’s not necessary.
Easy to clean
When it comes to harmonica microphones, hygiene cannot be emphasized enough.
The microphone diaphragm must be shielded from breath “wind,” spit, and foreign objects by a grille/pop filter.
FAQ Related to Harmonica Microphones
What other microphone would I be able to use for an amplified harp?
There are a few to pick from, not all of them brand-new; there is a large selection of vintage microphones that are typically more affordable than the bullet-shaped microphones of the past. James Cotton chose a Shure 585SA as his specific microphone, however, the typical mic form known as a Highball can be used with excellent results if it has the right impedance.
There are a ton of other vintage microphones available as well, including models made by Shure, Voice of Music, Akai, Grundig, Electro-Voice, Calrad, and Argonne, all of which come in a variety of shapes.
If you choose not to use a bullet-shaped microphone, find one that fits your preferences, style, and hands. Some may also feature on/off switches that are helpful for managing feedback.
Which are the cheaper options for a beginner?
There are a few inexpensive solutions if you want to attempt playing the harmonica as a beginner but aren’t always eager to spend a lot of money. After all, playing amplified music may not be for you. For more than ten years, the Robo-Hobo microphone has been a highly popular option.
The sound is actually quite fantastic, and it is excellent for smaller hands. For less than £30, you can have a great introduction to amplified harp with this little egg-shaped instrument. Additionally, there is a tiny mic known as the “Palm Mic.” This mic may easily fit in between the palms of any hand because it is so little. Because of its small and impressive lightness, you may simply make the Wah Wah sound by forming your hands. It may not be the best option for professional musicians, but it is a good choice for beginners.
Why are the traditional harmonica mics called bullet mics?
The bullet mics got their name due to their form. The microphones had an outdated American base station taxi design. These are excellent for blues harp because they are HI-Z. Older models of this mic, such as the Astatic JT30 and the Shure 520d, are becoming more difficult to locate, however, there are contemporary models of this mic that are well-known, in use, and practically identical to the originals’ appearances.
They also sound very well. There are current versions made expressly for harmonica because the original bullet mics are difficult and expensive to get.
Harmonica shops sell the updated Shure 520DX and Superlux D112/C harmonica mics widely. However, not everyone should use a bullet mic. It can be difficult for players with tiny hands to maintain an airtight grip. Little Walter, for instance, used a vintage Monarch MC-24 microphone, which has a form more akin to a fat pencil than a bullet mic.
What’s the best way to hold a mic while playing the harmonic?
Get a strong grasp on the object. Your tone will be significantly richer and the volume will increase by over 50% with a watertight grip.
When you let go, you’ll notice a rapid decline in these qualities. When other instruments are amplified, they typically only have a microphone nearby, like when you sing into a microphone. This will prevent you from using your harmonica to its maximum potential, but it contributes significantly to the tone of those vintage 1950s recordings.
The Harmonica is a French instrument, but for some reason, I can only imagine artists playing the Harmonica in the middle of Rome and people around dancing freely like they are worry free. If you become a great harmonica player with the mics that I have listed above, consider becoming a street artist, I promise to come and listen to you where ever you decide to play around the world.
If you are into harmonic rhythms, then I would only assume that you are into classical music as well, so I invite you to read the article about how the vinyl records work and also I have two other articles about the best soundbars for classical music and the best headphones for classical music, so I say that you have to give them a read, as well, and if you are planning to have a vintage-themed part, I present to you the best speakers for classical music.
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