Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Harp Amps Gigging Musicians Use Most

The Harmonica Amplifier Survey conducted by The Blues Harp Amps Blog earlier this year revealed some fascinating information about amp preferences. As we drill down in the data we find more interesting stuff.

For example: One of the questions asked in the poll was, “Do you earn more than 25% of your income directly from playing harmonica?”

We put a lot of thought into this poll question. It was decided that players who earn at least 25% of their income from blowing harp are serious gigging players who might make different amp choices. The survey demonstrated that they do indeed have different performance amp preferences when compared players who answered “No” to this question.

Earn LESS than 25% of income from playing harp (top 5 amps):
maker -- pct

FENDER -- 28
SONNY JR -- 14
MASCO -- 5

Earn AT LEAST 25% of income from playing harp (top 5 amps):
maker -- pct

FENDER -- 41
SONNY JR -- 11

Fender amps took the most dramatic jump when moving from the amateur group to the pro* group, gaining 13 points in the poll. HarpGear amps had the second biggest increase among pro players with a 9 point increase. Mission amps jumped 4 points in the pro group.

The biggest losers when moving from the amateur to the pro group were Kalamazoo and Masco. (Remember, we are talking about the amp a player prefers most in a performance setting.) I think the reasons are obvious: The little K-Zoo amps put out about 3 watts on a good day and are more suited for practice and recording. I was a bit more surprised about Masco amps. (I own and play a Masco.) But judging from the list, pro players seem to prefer powerful fixed bias amps in performance settings. The lower-power cathode biased vintage amps such as the Masco may also be better suited for recording.

One thing that jumps out is that amateur players use Sonny Jr amps more than pro players do. Sonny Jr. amps dropped 3 points when moving from the amateur group to the pro group. Sonny Jr amps moved from second place in the amateur group to third place in the pro group, being passed by HarpGear amps as second choice behind Fender.

Pro – Don’t get heartburn about my use of the term “pro” to describe players who earn at least 25% of their income directly from playing harp. I know debates rage endlessly about what constitutes a “pro” player, but the use of the term here is ONLY to distinguish those who make more than others according to my arbitrary formul

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