Skip to main content

Tour the Site

Click here to watch a video tour of what the inside of the site looks like. Take the tour now. >>

Levels of Achievement

Click here for our system of mastery for all skill level blues harmonica students.

David's Tip of the Day: What I Don't Like about Volume Controls

David Barrett Admin's picture

Why I don't like about volume controls...

1) The harmonica is a wind instrument... you control your volume with how much you breath through the instrument. Why do you need a volume control to control something that's part of the nature of the instrument?

2) Poorly located volume controls, or those with large knobs, are very easy to turn unintentionally during play. Just last Sunday a student was playing through another harp player's mic and was having a hell of a time with the volume changing mid-performance. The volume control was right between his palms. When he would move his hands for tonal effects, he changed the volume. It was messin' with him so much that I swapped out the mic for him in the middle of the guitar solo.

3) The amp (this is mostly in regards to Fender amps, and amps designed around Fender circuitry... the most common of amps used by harp players) like the strongest signal possible going into the preamp section to achieve the distorted sound we prefer. When dropping your signal to the amp (less than 10), the tone characteristics of your sound changes. Why buy a HOT element at a premium price just to deaden it by lowering the volume?

4) To install a control into the body of the microphone you have to drill a hole in it. I've seen some nasty holes in mics. As a vintage mic lover, I've often had to shake my head at heartless chop jobs.

5) Players that do this themselves often put the wrong value of volume pot, changing the sound of the mic dramatically.

On Monday I'll talk about how to fix these issues and why some people like volume controls. Make no judgements as of yet, just listen... I'm just sharing common grievances.