Friday, July 24, 2009

More Harp Cases

Sent in by reader MD. I like that washboard necktie!

Harmonica Maintenance for the Complete Moron (ME!)

So, I've been making it a habit to sit down every week to work on my gig harps. Nothing fancy: I take them apart, clean them, and gap the reeds. If I hear a buzz in the reed I scrape the slot sides to be-burr. If the reed is not properly responsive or seems "airy" I do a tiny bit of embossing on the reed plate.. That's it... nothing fancy. I haven't even tried tuning a reed yet.

The result is my harps sound better and last longer. I doubt that is entirely because of my feeble attempts at harp maintenance... more likely I am playing less hard (high volume and excessive bends) because I'm working on my harps now. I used to toss a harp just because it had a buzz or sticky reed that could not be fixed with a quick rinse.

Winslow's book -- Harmonica For Dummies -- got me started. I bought the Lee Oskar tools (excellent kit) which also comes with a good set of instructions. Maybe one day soon I'll buy a tuner and actually make my harps play in tune. Wouldn't that be something!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Harp Cases

I use the venerable old tweed Fender harp case… The Mississippi Saxophone Case. Been using it for years. It’s a little small for me, but I like the mojo. For every gig it sits on top of my Charlie Musselwhite-endorsed old wooden barstool.

You can see what I carry in the case: A Peavey H-5C Cherry Bomb harp mic, customized with a hot Shure CM element, better connector, and upgraded volume pot. The only part that is still Peavey is the shell, which I like because its large cavity gives a good low-end tone, and the large shell fits well in my big hands.

Around the mic is a Planet Waves cable. The red thing on the lower left is a small Maglite flashlight. Next to that is a clothespin used to hang the set list (the white sheet in the case lid).

The black thing in the middle slot is the belt pack for my Line 6 X2 XDS95 Digital Wireless unit. Under that is a small chamois. The harp tray on the right has the harps I use most often with my band, Roadhouse Joe. I mark the key big so I can see it on a dark stage.

This pic shows the lower part of the harp tray, where I keep alternate harps and a couple of backups in A and D, the most common harps to blow out during a performance. I keep a full kit of new backup harps in a gig bag behind my amp on stage.

The Ol’ harp case has served me well, but it is kinda small and aging a bit. I’ve been looking around for a replacement, and looky here what I found: The MegaTone Wezo Harp Case -- The last harp case you’ll ever need:

This bad boy is coming soon from the good folks at MegaTone amps, makers of the excellent Wezo 45 harp amps. (I’ll have a comprehensive hands-on amp review soon).

The revolver does not come with the case. Too bad! I don’t own a wheel gun. For concealed carry here in Colorado I prefer my Walther PPK.

[NOTE -- PPKs are evidently popular with blues harp guys. Here's a pic sent in by a reader.]

UPDATE: More photos from Mike Wesolowski.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rick's Licks -- Random Thoughts

-In 3 of the last 4 years, the losing pitcher in the Baseball All Star Game has been a San Diego Padre. That is epic fail.

-In Sara Palin's commentary published yesterday in the New York Times she proved one thing: She does not understand Cap and Trade at all.

-Tom Ball's book and CD about Big and Little Walter Harp Licks is a goldmine of inspiration for blues harp players.

-At the Blues & Brews Fest in Denver last weekend, some harp player called "Sonny Boy" sat in with the Delta Sonics.

That's guitarist Eric Boa's 5-year old son. He's been playing harp since he was two, and he sounded amazing. His tone was excellent. Watch out for this kid!

-Here is another guy called Sonny Boy. I love this vid.

Vintage Supro 1690 amp

My friend Chris over at Gravity Music Gear has a very interesting amp up for auction on eBay: a 1962 Supro 1690 2x10 combo amp. This is a 2x6L6 amp with two vintage Jensen ceramic speakers. Jimmy Page is reputed to have used a Supro 1690 amp in studio for the early Led Zeppelin albums.

This is a very nice harp amp at a good price: Chris has the Buy It Now at only $600. There are five days left in the auction as I write this. Somebody is gonna get a cool old amp for not much money. I'd snap it up but I'm already set with vintage 2x6L6 harp amps....