So here is a continuation of my previous post, and since then, I have changed my approach (again) to get a sound and rig I like for playing the blues.
As noted earlier, I returned the narrow-band Shure 520 DX harp (harmonica) mic, and started using a Shure SM57. In addition, I was running the SM57 into a high-quality channel strip with a mic preamp, a gorgeous compressor, and an equally gorgeous three-band, semi-parametric EQ. I inserted a Lone Wolf Blues Company “Harp Delay” in the effects loop of the channel strip as it was the only place it would kind of fit due to its high impedance input. This setup was sounding great. The delay and compressor were huge in getting a professional sound.
One of the biggest problems, was getting my monitor loud enough to hear myself over the sound of the melodica itself, which is right in front of my face. I could never really hear what sound I was getting unless I put on noise-cancelling headphones.
Secondly, things were getting complicated: adjusting levels, tweaking EQs, getting the delay to “fit” into the signal path, etc. I had trouble balancing the levels and getting a hot signal out.
One of the key reasons for playing the melodica was to keep things simple and focus on the expressiveness of the instrument and my playing. Clearly I was getting off course.
So yesterday I decided to use a low-to-high impedance transformer and plug the SM57 straight into the Harp Delay and then just go straight into the 125-watt, two-way, JBL monitor. I also placed the monitor directly in front of me.
Boom. This was it. I could hear myself and my sound clearly over the natural sound of the melodica. I had very good dynamic range. The Harp Delay was giving me the “harp” sound by rolling off the high end and providing a cool thick delay. The setup was simple.
I cannot say enough good things about the Lone Wolf Blues Company Harp Delay. Plug your mic into this unit and your melodica immediately has a harp tonality. The delay provides a huge sound, like two melodicas playing. It can also provide slap back and reverb-type effects, all done by adjusting only three knobs. It is easy to use and dead quiet. If you are going for a blues sound, a Harp Delay is a must have in my opinion. Very few harp players play without a delay I do believe.
So now, I think the approach is to try out a tube-based harp amp instead of a clean monitor. I suspect that will be the last piece of the puzzle for the ultimate blues sound. I may also get one more pedal for additional EQ capability (Lone Wolf Blues Company “Harp Tone+” perhaps).
As soon as I can, I will post a recording. By the way, I am finding that the Cassottos have a place in the blues. In fact, I see myself playing all types of melodicas with the blues, as each type brings a certain sound to a given song. The Hohner Piano 26 and 27 are still my favorites due the modulation capability as I noted in my review of these instruments. I will demonstrate this capability in a recording soon.