It’s sometimes called a harp, sometimes a harmonica. Regardless of what you call it, this instrument is the secret ingredient to completing any blues or rock ensemble. But how are you supposed to amplify it?
It’s been the struggle of so many artists, musicians, instrumentalists, and sound engineers all over: amplifying a harmonica. To get the best sound out of your harp playing, it’s best to hold a microphone while playing and plug that mic into an amplifier.
That way, you can get the best tones possible and create a fuller sound that will instantly captivate an audience and add a great deal to any song out there. But what is the best harmonica amp out there? This question is pretty hard to answer, as different musicians and playing styles have different needs. While an amp which is the objective best would be hard (if not impossible) to find, there are a couple of great choices out there, and we take a look at them in this article. Read on to find out more.
Why Would You Want To Amplify A Harmonica: Harmonica Amplifier Reviews
While acoustically, the harmonica is a loud instrument, it won’t really stand out when being played next to amplified guitars, bass, vocals, and a drum kit. If it’s just you playing the harmonica while your friend plays the 12-bar blues on an old acoustic guitar, you will be heard clearly and loudly. But while with a full band and at a gig, you would need to amplify your instrument if you hope to be heard by yourself, the audience, and your band members
To do this, you would first need a mic. If it’s your first time amplifying your harp, don’t worry, you don’t have to think too hard about what mic to use. Harmonicas will work great with just about any vocal mic out there because of how close and similar its timbre can be to a person’s voice. So if the mic works well with vocals, it will probably work well with a harmonica.
When it comes to amplification, the story is a bit different. Usually, harmonica mics are plugged directly into the mixer. This works just fine, but the sound quality won’t be the best. Instead, the best way to go about things at a gig, recording, or even just a jam would be to plug the mic into an amplifier. Harp or guitar amplifiers work great for harmonicas because of the tubes that power the amp and the way the speaker projects the sound.
It’s best to look for amps that give you the option for lower-gain outputs, as too much gain will result in a lot of unwanted feedback from the harmonica mic (but more on that later). Using an amplifier for your harmonica will give your tone that boost and punch you need to really bring your harmonica playing forward, and since it’s an instrument usually used for solos and adlibs, having a great tone that stands out is integral.
Small Harp Amps – Under 10 Watts
These would probably be the first good harmonica amps one would be looking at when building their own harp rig. They are usually relatively affordable and are great easy to transport. That being said, this may not be the best amp for big gigs as they might not be loud enough. These amps are best for small jams, and gigs that don’t require you to be too loud, and our pick for a harp amp under 10 watts is the Fender Frontman 10G Amplifier.
Fender Frontman 10G Amplifier Review
This is a great amp for those starting out with the harp or for those who just want a small and portable amp with a killer sound. This small, two-toned amp has a classic look that perfectly matches the blues and rock and roll aesthetic. Since it’s small, the amp is very easy to move around, which is great if you need to bring the setup to a gig, jam, recording, or rehearsal. It has a variety of low and high gain inputs which gives you variety, but the low gain options are the best for harmonica players.
It gives off a distinctly vintage rock and roll and blues tone with nice and clear mid-tones that really make the harmonica sound shine. Since it’s a smaller amplifier with only one tube, it isn’t too loud, so you might have some trouble with this amp during bigger gigs, but since it isn’t designed for that, there should be no real problem. All in all a great amp for beginners and experienced musicians alike.
Medium Harp Amps – 10 To 35 Watts
This amps would be great for full band setups and medium-sized gigs. They could also be used for bigger gigs, but you might run into some problems. Our choice for the best medium harp amp is the Fender Blues Junior.
Fender Blues Junior Amp Review
You’d figure that an amp with blues in the name would be great for a harmonica player, and that’s exactly the case. This 15-watt medium-sized combo amp has a great 12” speaker and is powered by premium tubes that give it that great vintage sound. For blues and rock and roll harp players who are looking for an app that can keep your tone nice and solid while helping you stand out with a full band when it’s time for a solo, this one is a great pick. And on top of all that, it’s still relatively easy to transport, albeit a bit heavy.
Large Harp Amps – 35+ Watts
These amps may be hard to bring around and might be tough to get used to, but these large amplifiers pack a punch and are great for those big blues gigs where the solos have to hit hard. There are lots of big harp amps out there, but our choice is the Fender 68 Custom Princeton Reverb.
Fender 68 Custom Princeton Reverb Amp Review
This is one of the top Fender amps there, due to its relative affordability, and classic bright Fender tone that a lot of musicians associate with the brand. This reissue has been lauded by musicians for having even more versatility than the original. Yup, you read that right. It works great at any volume and gives both harmonica and guitar players a lot of tone options. It has a great silver look reminiscent of those used by the blues legends we worship today and is a great amp for those looking for a large partner to their mic and harp. It may be tough to lug around, but it will be well worth it for the tones you’ll be able to deliver.
Finding the right harp amp for you may be tough. We all have different playing styles and preferences, some of us may want a hot tone that really cuts through the mix, while others might enjoy a warmer and smoother tone to blend with the band. All of these great amps can handle a variety of tones, which is why they made the list. Since they’re all different sizes, they are also meant for different purposes. So the only thing left to do is really figure out which of these choices will suit your needs the most, and mesmerize the crowd and your band with your sound!