Quality performance microphones that are rich in tone
Reviews | sound samples
Reviews and video sound samples
Review of the Special Edition 50K ohm (Dirty) by Liam Ward. Liam Ward is an award-winning harmonica player and teacher – well known for his harmonica lessons, blues band, song studies and inspiring videos – supporting absolute beginners, intermediates and advanced players alike.
Liam takes a look at Silverfish Harmonica’s Silver Bullet Special 50Kohm (Dirty) – listen to his review and some cool playing on this terrific harmonica mic by Silverfish Harmonicas!
Check out a sound sample and video review of the Clean dynamic harmonica microphone at: Review
Check out Tim’s Douthit’s (harmonica player from MI, US) independent review and sound sample of the Dirty Dynamic Silver Bullet comparing it to the classic Green Bullet – CLICK HERE – for the video review and of the Dirty 50K-Z Dynamic Silver Bullet.
Feedback from harmonica players who use a Silver Bullet microphone
Paul Wilcox, CA, US (Silver Bullet Dynamic | 50KΩ High-Z Dirty – wood and Silver Bullet Dynamic | Special I 50KΩ Dirty)
Hi Rick. Got mics today. Absolutely fantastic. Best, hottest mics out a pile that I have or have had !!! 👍🕺💃🏻 Tanx…
Holger Hagen, Germany (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Special – Dirty 50KΩ/Clean 4KΩ switchable)
Hello Rick, I must admit, I am not the harmonica Player in our duo. He is 76 years old, never learned to speak English and he hates to buy something on the Internet 😊 But anyway, I want to tell you about the shine in his eyes (and in mine as well) hearing the full sound of the dirty version of the mic. And when he has to do some background vocals, he easily switches to “clean“.
That is good enough for that and keeps him mobile with his wireless system. Last but not least, he is really pleased with the smooth feeling in his hands. He likes the design, the size (in his small hands) and the leather wrapping. So we are looking forward to our next gig on 6. December.
This microphone is really easy to catch in the hand with the harmonica, and the sound is really good!
Thank you, best regards!
Nic Down, Devon UK (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Special I 50KΩ Dirty – with ergonomic customization)
Mic has turned up and looks and sounds great. Thanks for including all the extra stuff I really appreciate it. Had a play into a really small pocket amp and its sounds fantastic. Now just the choice of a small harp amp or pedals into a powered speaker/PA………..decisions decisions.
Once I’ve given it a thorough workout Ill let you know how it goes
Steven Boker, OH, United States (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Special I Dirty)
Recently bought one of your “dirty” mics. I use vintage mics from Astatic, Shure, and Turner. I also own a Bulletini and a Bottle of Blues.
I didn’t know what to expect from your mic so I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.
I have relatively small hands and the mic is a pleasure to hold.
Sound:? Wow is what first came to mind. It took one gig using it to fall in love with it! I’ve played it through a vintage Gibson Maestro GA-40, a Harp Train 10, and a Stage 5 Ronnie Shellist Signature amp and it sounds amazing with them all. Fat tone, crunchy, dirty, even clean by turning the volume down a bit.
I’m so glad I’ve added this mic to my collection! Thanks!
Katsuyuki Harpman Sakata, Yokohama, Japan (Silver Bullet Dynamic | 50KΩ High-Z Dirty – wood
Katsuki’s gear – with Silver Bullet showing retro-fitted gain knob
Ben Hewlett, South Gloustershire, UK (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Medium-Z Clean (gain) – lime green and Special Edition 50KΩ
Bens name and terrific harmonica playing will likely be familiar to many of you! Ben compares the Silver Bullets which he likes very much and recommends.
Check out his video review comparing the Clean and Dirty Silver Bullets – which includes some cool playing showcasing the lovely tone of both these microphones when played by an expert!.
“Ben Hewlett is one of the UK’s most respected harmonica teachers and the UK’s most prolific author on harmonica tuition.
the Chairman of the NHL – National Harmonica League in the UK
Professional Harmonica Instructor since 1996 qualified as CTABRSM in 2002 (Certificate of Teaching – Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)
Accredited Diatonic Harmonica Teacher 1993 – HTAB (Harmonica Teachers Accreditation Board, supported by Lee Oskar Harmonicas, the National Harmonica League of UK and the International Harmonica Organisation).
Ben’s teaching business ‘HarpsCool’ is proud to be ‘in partnership with HOHNER’)”
Trevor Llesley, Hampshire, UK Silver Bullet Dynamic | Special – Dirty 50KΩ/Clean 4KΩ switchable
Hi Rick, received my mic. It’s bloody gorgeous to say the least. Just had a blast on it, flicked the switch [from clean to dirty] and wow, different gear. Love it. I hope you sell many because they sound great and look fab. Cheers Rick
Clive Ellul, Barcelona Spain Silver Bullet Dynamic | Special – Dirty 50KΩ/Clean 4KΩ switchable
Rick, played my first gig this weekend and as you say, it´s lovely piece of gear. Bit bigger than what I thought but even with my small hands it doesn’t get uncomfortable as it is light and grips well.
I´m using it through a VOX AC4TV which I was intending to mod, changing capacitors and valves, but now I don’t think I will bother, because with this mic I get the crunch that I like and feedback doesn’t seem to be an issue. Via a cheap Chinese spring reverb pedal, the tone is great. Clean has also a great tone.
Sometimes it´s worth paying a bit more. Great mic very happy and please keep me posted on the new gear you bring out.
Cotton, FL, USA (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Special Dirty)
Your microphone arrived today. Fast shipping from “across the pond” I was surprised. I like the size and weight. As you mention, it looks a little Steampunk, which I like. Sounds real good with my small easy to carry setup. High Z is what I need with only a 5 watt amp. It is nice that I do not need any adapters for my cordless setup.
John Collings, Christchurch, New Zealand (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Dirty – purple)
Mic arrived today and I have given it a bit of a run. All I can say is AWESOME. watch out world.
Huw Davies, London, UK (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Dirty – wood)
The microphone did indeed arrive today, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to you for building such a brilliant bit of kit. I want to thank you too for the advice you gave to help me choose it.
I won’t be able to gig the microphone for a couple of weeks or so, so I can’t tell you yet. about how I find it in the live situation, but so far in my front room I’m really impressed with the sound possibilities. I’ve played it straight through the Quilter Micro Block at various ‘Tri Q’ settings (that’s a kind of EQ adjustment from clean to dirty), and it sounds really good, and at the clean end of things, and then through a Joyo American Sound pedal it sounds distorted and honky, maybe a tad to much for me, but I know I can get that tone if the band needs it, and through a reverb pedal it sounds very interesting, especially tweaking the mic’s gain control, which is a lovely addition.
The mic is good to hold, has a nice heft, looks great etc etc, I’m sure all your customers rave about it and deservedly so!
So – so far so good. I was almost certainly going to buy a different brand of mic because I’d only seen yours in passing on eBay and had no idea whether they’s be any good compared to say a Shaker or a Shure, and I can’t even remember what made me reconsider. But more harp players should know about your mics, basically!
Anyway, I’ll stop there, send you my heartfelt thanks again, and if you want me to bore you with how it performs in my next gig (quiet pub) I will. Cheers,
Further feedback from Huw:
As threatened, here is a quick report on my first gig with my dirty Hi-Z Silver Bullet. Our normally quiet Monday pub gig was enlivened by some raucous Bank Holiday drinkers, so, unusually, we needed a little bit of poke – the difference in sound between the Silver Bullet and my old mic was phenomenal. For the audience, it added a layer of sound to my (nothing special) playing that made it seem more professional and realistic. I know because someone came up to me as I was packing up to compliment me – I’m sure the mic was largely responsible for his perception of my playing! The mic was hot enough to get a ton of sound from my 30w speaker cab, and controlled enough to stay clear and true to what I’d set the amp to. The mic feels good in the hand, you can play cupped or uncupped and get good variation, the gain control delivers really well, my bandmates were very impressed with it, and I couldn’t be happier!
Many thanks again,
John Silk, Litchfield, UK (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Dirty – black cat)
Nice meeting you, perhaps do business again.
Donna Pinkard, Alberta, Canada (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Medium-Z Clean (gain) – hot pink)
Hi Rick! I had a chance to try out today and the mic sounds perfect and also fits nicely in my hands.
Thank you for following up to make sure it arrived. I can tell you care deeply about your business.
Judith Tyler, Ontario, Canada (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Variable impedance – black cat)
Hi there just wanted to let you know that I received my mic… It is so awesome , it took me a long time to decide which one to buy and now I know I bought the right one. Also the guy who bought the other one really satisfied. Please have yourself a happy holiday and you never know you’re probably hear from me again.
Julian Roe, Bristol, UK (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Special Clean – antique brass)
Awesome, thank you
Sidney Gouveia, Sergipe, Brazil (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Medium-Z Clean (gain) – wood)
Great equipment! Very light and great sound!
Atin Malaviya, Cambridge, MA United States (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Dirty (gain) – wood)
Thanks Rick – I received the Silver Bullet 40K mic today! It’s lovely, fits my hand so much better than some of the bigger mics and the rubberized outer part is gyreat!
Goran Begonja, Manchester, UK (Silver Bullet | Clean Special Bronze)
Hi Rick, Finally get some time to share my impressions. I am very happy with the microphone, it is nice, well made and it sounds nice. I like nice and clear sound when uncupped, which suits well type of music my current band is playing, but also, when cupped, it can give nice bluesy sound (as example attached, Honkin’ Tom’s Vintage 15g amp, a bit of delay on the pedal, and the golden melody in Bb).
The microphone truly is a piece of artwork……
Maybe my words do not have a power of the great harmonica player, but I am yet another satisfied customer.
All the best Rick, keep up good work.
Stefan Winter, Trier, Germany (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Medium-Z Clean (gain) – wood)
Das Mic ist super verarbeitet. Es ist sehr hohenlastig
Andy Kwok-on Chiu, Hong Kong (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Dirty (gain) – wood)
Thanks Rick for the wonderful mic. Fast shipping and good email. A good experience.
Tim Douthit, MI, US (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Dirty (gain) – wood)
Hi Rick. Got the mic – very nice – I really like it a lot…. Thanks, Tim
Tims’ feedback after his first gig with the Silver Bullet: “Gig Report: Mic was awesome. The tone was excellent – playing through a VOX modelling amp, which the purists absolutely hate…. but it’s really only the sound that matters, and the sound was good. Anyway – excellent mic, great comfort and cuppability, the rubber cover made otherwise sweaty conditions really manageable. Kudos! Tim”
Check out Tim’s independent review and sound sample of the Dynamic 40K-Z Silver Bullet comparing it to the classic Green Bullet – CLICK HERE – for the video review and of the 40K-Z Dynamic Silver Bullet.
Tim Douthit, MI, US (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Clean (gain) – bamboo)
Just got your 4Kohm bamboo mic in the mail – thanks so much! I’ve already given it a quick spin, and my immediate impression is that it’s “natural” tone is considerably cleaner than the 40Kohm mic, but that you CAN push it into dirty ranges by cranking gain on both amp and mic. So it appears to be a great choice for flexibility – it does well with both that acoustic folky sound and the dirty blues sound. I mostly live in the dirty range of things, so the 40Kohm mic will probably remain my main, but we do the occasional French bistro sort of thing now and again, and it’ll be great to have this mic on hand for those sets (where I’m basically trying to emulate an accordion). And, the leather case is AWESOME.
Anyway, I’ll mess around with it more in the coming days and let you know if I have anything to add to my first impressions. Regards, Tim
Jerry Jonsson, Limhamn, Sweden (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z 40KΩ (gain) – wood)
Hi Rick. Just a quick feedback. I got it, I tested it, I love it. Thanks! Jerry
Jakub Svoboda of the “The Weathermakers” – showcasing the low-400Ω dynamic Silver Bullet
Check out a sound sample and video review by harmonica player Jakub Svoboda of the “The Weathermakers” – reviewing the superb Low-z 400Ω dynamic Silver Bullet
Lesley Foster, Shropshire UK (Silver Bullet Dynamic | High-Z Dirty (gain) – purple haze)
A bit late but never mind – just some feedback (no pun intended!) on the Silverfish. I am not very techie so I can’t comment in detail, but I really like it. It is so small and light and easy to hold and I like the sound I am getting from the amp. It will be great for our next gig, better than sharing a mic on a stand with singers etc. and not being able to control the sound or volume. All I need to do now is become a better player! I did follow Tomlin’s recommendation by the way. He had a YouTube demo of various mics and this one seemed the one for me. Lesley
Andreas Glas, Oldenburg Germany (Silver Bullet Dynamic Clean| Medium-Z Mic – ivory with gain)
Hi Rick, the microphone arrived here safely…. I can already say that it really produces a nice saturated big-volume sound when cupped tightly. And the design, which really is a treat to the eyes as well as the hands of the holder, makes cupping for me a lot easier than on the traditional bullet mic. Cool….
Cheers and keep up the good work, Andreas
Russ and Linda Stern, Nelson, New Zealand (Silver Bullet Dynamic Dirty| High-Z Mic – ivory with gain and Dynamic 40 | Low-Z ivory mini)
Hi Rick – mics arrived today. Very pleased. Appreciate matching the ivory – looks great.
Richmond Chadwick, Smyrna, GA United States (Silver Bullet Ceramic | High-Z Ceramic Mic – wood with gain)
Jamming with a Silver Bullet Ceramic | High-Z (wood/gain) – Georgia US
Richmond Chadwick, Smyrna in Georgia US enjoying his new Silver Bullet Ceramic – High-Z
Jamming with his mates using a 10W Vox tube amp – and lots of soul!
Paul Barley, Grimsby, UK (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Dirty Mic – black cat with gain)
Great value and super fast service, product as described A+++++
Grenville Fletcher, Leeds, UK (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Clean Mic – black cat with gain)
Thank you, received well packed, quick delivery, pleased with purchase
Paul Costes, Pyrenees, France (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Clean Mic – Jade with gain)
Transaction sans problem, Vendeur serieux. Envoi rapide. A recommender. Merci
Daniele Brignoli, Brescia, Italy (Silver Bullet Ceramic | Dirty Mic – poker chip)
Unique item, great seller, fantastic communication!! A+++
Colin, UK (Silver Bullet Dynamic | Clean wood with gain)
Really loving the mic and customer service was way good. Thank you
Nick – Batfink17_1 (Silver Bullet Ceramic | Dirty black cat)
Excellent mic really worked well in rehearsal today cheers Rick
Jakub Svoboda from the Czech blues band “The Weathermakers” reviews the medium-Z dynamic silver bullet harmonica mic. Jakub uses Silverfish dynamic (Low and Medium-Z) and ceramic microphones as part of his rig and recons the silver bullets have taken his playing to “another level”! Check out his sound sample and video review of the new Medium-Z Dynamic harmonica microphone: video review
Tomlin Leckie – YouTube “Harmonica Microphone Blowout” Check out this great independent review by Tomlin of the Silverfish Bullet Ceramic Microphone alongside his other top favourite harp mics
Peter Thompson, Queensland, Australia (Silverfish Bullet Ceramic Mic – blues wood)
Great mic…will get another soon!
Georgios Trakadas, Athens, Greece (Silverfish Bullet Ceramic Mic – blues wood)
Really sweet tone and light weight microphone, thank you
George Manno, Illinois, United States
(Dynamic Silverfish Mic – black cat)
Richard, new microphone arrived the other day. Right out of the package I could see that this mic is a serious piece of equipment. The first thing I did was to gather a handful of harmonicas and head into my practice room. I began using my Fender Blues Junior. I was surprised how responsive the microphone is. It doesn’t take much to launch this rocket. I moved to my small 5 watt boutique amp. I got some amazing tones from my harp and the mic captured them all. Finally, I ran the mic through my stage amp; An Egnater 20-watt Rebel head with a matching cabinet filled with a 12” Weber. There is plenty of mojo in the little microphone. This mic is a keeper!! My first thought was, I should have ordered two.
Richard, I have used 50 or 60 different “bullet” mics and I have a box full of old “57s”. Your microphone are every bit as good if not better. I can not wait to record with it.
Jakub Svoboda, The Weathermakers, Czech Republic (Dynamic Silverfish Mic, Blues Wood)
Hi Rick …. I am coming back to you with my feedback on your mic. I have to say, it is absolutely stellar. Not only is it super-light, which really saves my back after a long gig, but man does it play! I have used it at almost all our shows and it took my playing to another level. Compared with classic harmonica mics such as the Shure Bullet and Superlux, the level of player comfort is simpy incomparable. We have recently recorded a new EP with our band “The Weathermakers”, where I used the Silverfish exclusively: the studuio guy was genuinely impressed with what the mic is capable of.
…. you can hear what the “‘fish” sounds like on our bandzone pages – http://bandzone.cz/theweathermakers. The fisrt four songs are from the new EP, “Dnes!” [Today!] We are also going to make a video from the session: I will be happy to send it to you when it is finished – hoping to get a glimpse of your mic in there. … I am thinking about buying another one of your things – what would you recommend? All the best from Brno, CR. Jakub Svoboda
Damon Green, Hampshire, United Kingdom (Ceramic Silverfish Mic, Blues Wood)
Superb product, amazing service
Manfred Kruse, London, United Kingdom (Ceramic Silverfish mic, Quicksilver)
Professional service all round!
Anna Howe, Swindon, United Kingdom (Dynamic Silverfish Mic, Cool Wood)
Great thanks.. the greatest
Daniele Brignoli, Travagliato, Italy (Dynamic Silverfish Mic, Cool Wood)
Hey Rick – mic arrived today, I plugged into a slightly distorted amp just when arrived and .. WOW – well.. Sound is OUTSTANDING ..! but I’m really happy not only for this .. Also finishing is so nice.. It’s Very good looking. Thank you for your efforts and the love you put into these beautiful little things. Thanks!! This is an outstanding mic for nice price, truckin’. GREAT tones! Daniele
C Ellis, Cutler Bay, Florida United States (Ceramic Silverfish Mic, Black Cat)
Little miss-communication was quickly rectified – love the product
Petr Wohlmuth, Rokycany, Czech Republic (Ceramic Silverfish mic, Quicksilver)
Light body, great sound! Quickest delivery! Thanks!
Jean-Luc Navette, Lyon, France (Dynamic Silverfish Mic, Black Cat)
Thankx a lot i received it and tried it !!!!! it’s a blast !!! i love it. This black cat is evil!!!!!!! silverfish harmonicas makes some fantastic microphones!
David Evans, Liverpool, UK (Dynamic Silverfish Mic/Blues Silverfish Bullet Mic – Las Vegas)
Arrived am 26th April. As described, great item from reliable seller. David
James Robbie, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Rick, Got the mic couple of days ago, really happy with the way it fits in the hand. I used it at a jam through the pub PA system with a bunch of rowdy guitars and drums it carved really good and not even a hint of feedback. I was hoping to get on my banjo or cigar box guitars but the bandleader just made me play harmonica on set for over an hour. Anyway hopefully I can really get some nitty gritty through my amp today … it also fits neatly in my pelican case, I really like it so far. Some of the gig was being filmed I’ll let you know if it pops up somewhere on the net. Cheers JR
Brian Hughes – Eccles, UK
Hi Rick – Received the Mic this morning, first class service, top quality product. Have tried it through my Roland FX mobile cube which I use to practice – sounds superb on this … I play with a small band in drinking holes, lots of varied music. I play the harp solo on “Dirty Old Town” great with your Mic – normally on a G diatonic but tried this morning with a Tremolo harp. Sounds really crisp and clear – another good selling point for anyone playing this type of Harp.
I love the look and layout of your mic’s, very modern and logical but with a nice industrial feel as well, nice job.
Great Mic and very helpful seller. Couldn’t ask for more
Excellent piece of kit
Item received in good order… well pleased!
Very nice, light, small, outstanding!! Good communication!!
Bart de Vos Netherlands
I’ve been impressed by the Silverfish Harp Mic III since it arrived a couple of weeks ago. Sounds great through my valve combo and is comfortable to hold and work with. I’m recently back to harmonica playing after a 20 year absence from the sport and found that my old harps were very much past their best so invested in some new ones.
The combination of this harp and the mic gives a whole new perspective on what can be done with such a simple instrument!
Thanks Chris Brady Bedfordshire UK
The Silverfish Mic III works exceptionally well and I am pleased. My friend who is a guitarist thinks its just great . Thanks again for your service and keep in touch. Best wishes for the future.
Brian – The Harmonica Man (Chromatic harmonica player) Manitouwadge Canada
Fast delivery, well packaged, great comms & great mic!!
Chris Brady UK
Harmonica Player Kenny Boag of the “Blues Devils” uses a Silverfish Harp Mic as part of his rig and loves its size, terrific tonal range and versatility: “This beauty is easy to cup and easy to get a good seal on – one of the most important aspects of great amplified tone”
Tomlin Leckie tomlinharmonicalessons.com Strollers Music School
Hello, Tomlin from tomlinharmonicalessons.com here to give you a review of the Silverfish Harmonica Mic III.
” ..you can get some very tasty creamy overdrive without the annoying mid-range honk you get from a lot of microphones. So, you can really cover all the bases..”
What does it sound like when you plug it in? The answer is, good and very versatile”
I am a full-time harmonica teacher and player based in Edinburgh, Scotland. I teach people all over the world through Skype and my online harmonica school. Personally, I play a lot of blues, Jazz, R&B and funk/soul which sees me playing in function bands, original bands as well as recording sessions.
The Silverfish Harmonica Mic III microphone is specifically designed for blues harmonica players and features a ceramic element which can go from clean to creamy overdrive. The first thing that is a big plus for me is how nice and compact the microphone is. I personally don’t have the biggest hands in the world and I often struggle with the typical harmonica mic; The Green Bullet. As a result, I normally use a stick microphone such as a Shure SM57. The reason that it is so important to have a microphone that fits your hand size is that you want to create an airtight seal around the harmonica and microphone in order to get the biggest “tone” you can. Already, without plugging in I could tell that the Silverfish would make it easy to get a decent seal.
Furthermore, it has a big advantage of the SM57 in that it is much lighter so you don’t get hand cramp after a long practice or performance. There are a couple of nice details which confirm that Rick knows what harmonica players want and need. For example, the volume knob is small and very firm which means you are not going to accidentally twist it in the middle of a particularly enthusiastic harmonica solo. Another nice detail is the rubber around the microphone element itself which serves two purposes. Firstly, it means that the harmonica isn’t going slip out of your hands when they get sweaty (a real issue!). Secondly, it also helps the airtight seal by making sure that no air can get out of the pop shield around the microphone element.
Okay, enough about the nice design!
What does it sound like when you plug it in?
The answer is, good and very versatile. It is naturally a very clean microphone but when you cup it tightly and with a little help from the amplifier you can get some very tasty creamy overdrive without the annoying (in my opinion) mid-range honk you get from a lot of microphones. So, you can really cover all the bases which is great for me as I will quite often find myself playing some old Chicago blues then some jazz standards in the same set.
Finally, it is so affordable that everyone should have one either as your only microphone harmonica or as a spare in your gig bag.”
Andreas Rassow Germany
Nice light, little Micro. Easy to handle. Sounds good. Vielen Dank!!! I am happy
Robert Park Glasgow
Excellent buy *****A+++++ star all the way thank you
Dean Hinchcliffe, Western Australia
Shane Chamberlain Melbourne, Australia
Julia Sokolova Tulskaia, Russia
Excellent Thank You
Matt Gray Dunoon, Argyll Scotland UK
Top Class, Many Thanks, Would Use Again, Grade A+++++
Hi, my name is Kenny Boag and I have been playing harp since I was 17 years of age that means I have been playing for …….. well a long time! For a large part I have played in electric bands covering a range of genres including blues, rockabilly, folk and even pop! However I have mainly played in blues bands and my first and abiding love is still big, fat Chicago blues! This has required me to immerse myself in the quest to find and develop that iconic Chicago amplified tone. It has been a long and expensive journey where my many mistakes and preconceptions have led me down blind alleys and involved hasty and ill-advised expenditure. In all of this I have learned a number of key lessons:
Little Walter sounds like little Walter because he was Little Walter!
About 80% of what makes his sound is down to his acoustic style, the way he mixes tongue blocking and lip pursing – his ability to move between single notes and chords and octaves, the size of his hands and the shape of his mouth. The remaining 20% is down to the microphone and amplifier or in his case the tube driven PA he used to play through. Unfortunately many will think the opposite, like I did, and neglect the fundamentals and think they can buy that sound with a combination of expensive mics and big amplifiers. WRONG! Get you acoustic playing and fundamental sound and style right and your gear will add the finishing touches not the other way round. Look at James Cotton – basic vocal mic straight into the PA and what a sound!
Set a budget
I have spent well over £2000 pounds in my quest for amplified sound. I have bought over 10 different mics, pre-amps, noise gates, feedback suppressors, effects pedals, vacuum tubes and amplifiers and lost a fortune on them all. Now some of that is linked with the above and some of that is simply that I fell for all the sales nonsense and hollow promises given. If you are going to buy, go and speak to other harp players. We have all made these mistakes to a greater or lesser extent and we are a collegiate bunch in the main that are happy to share our views and experiences. But like anything there is a Rolls Royce option and a mini metro option – you will need to be realistic and pick what is you and what you can afford but more importantly what it is you need. For example – if you are going to play in your living room then you do not need anything more than a small 5 watt amp and a half decent mic that cups easily. If you are going to play small pub type gigs then you have a variety of options ranging from a small 15 watt amp to a pre-amp that plugs into the PA – getting slightly bigger you may need a line out on your amp to the PA (depends if your guitarist thinks he is Eddie Van Halen).
I play regularly – I play mostly in medium to large venues and I have a couple of original Astatic JT-30 mics and I play through a customised Fender Blues Deville 4X10 60 watt amp. That is far too much for a small pub gig and on the odd occasion I do play smaller venues I have a custom built preamp that I plug straight into the PA. So, its horses for courses and you should pick what suits and make the best of it.
Decide what you want to sound like
We all have harp heroes that we want to aspire to sound like. Mine are original guys like Little Walter, Sonny Boy, James Cotton and Paul Butterfield but I also love more modern players such as Rick Estrin, Andy Just, James Harman and Lester Butler. But if your boat is floated by Sonny Terry then you don’t need a big rig. Be careful and chose what suits.
Silverfish Harp Mic
So – following the above are essential. I have recently acquired one of Rick Park’s most excellent Silver Bullet Harmonica mics. When it arrived I was firstly struck by its shape and size. I am 6’5″ tall and I have big hands but even I struggle to cup a big bullet mic solidly for 2-3 hours of playing in a hot and sweaty venue. This beauty is easy to cup and easy to get a good seal on – one of THE most important aspects of great amplified tone. In addition it has probably the best placed and easiest to use volume pots that I have ever come across. That makes varying tone and volume very easy and as well as managing the harp layer’s nemesis, feedback, much more achievable. As far as tone – this baby barks really well at the bass end and covers the mids to high tones with little or no break up or squeal. Its range is terrific and its versatility a joy. I will be shortly be recording a Youtube video where I will demonstrate this in a bit more detail.
In short I really like the Silverfish Harp Mic and it is now firmly a feature in my gigging back-line. I would have to be honest and say that it would not replace my vintage mics as first choice for playing with an electric Chicago Blues band. But you should bear in mind that at less than a third of the price the trade off in tone is well worth the price and on that basis I would recommend this mic for those of you that don’t have the where-with-all to shell out £300 on a vintage bullet mic but still want excellent performance and a great sound. I have started playing as part of an acoustic duo and the Silverfish Mic gives me great service in that format as it allows me to blend an acoustic and amplified sound to great effect. I have received numerous enquiries from fellow players and I suspect they may soon be beating a path to Rick’s door or visiting his website: