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In Like a Lion - Riffs and Licks
In Like a Lion
So, this month I did some sweet country tunes, some electronica, some funny songs, some strange songs, and some not-quite-song songs. But I haven't really rocked out yet. Reproducing all those guitar parts for the last song (especially the, well, I won't tell you yet where that guitar riff at the beginning comes from but it's a great rock guitar album) made me really want to play some good loud rock&roll guitar. I found a good drum loop in GarageBand and played something Chuck Berry-ish over it (of course, all rock guitar is Chuck Berry-ish), and then played a bass line on the low strings of the guitar. And then, I just went crazy on the harmonica.

The result is my last FAWM tune, "In Like a Lion." Welcome to March.


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harrietbrown From: harrietbrown Date: March 1st, 2009 06:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Bwahahahahaha!!!! The ending took me by surprise!!!

I loved it.
From: trash80 Date: March 1st, 2009 07:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Just out of curiosity, what pickup do you use? I'd like to invest in a Shure bullet mic and an amp so I can crank the gain and get some decent crunching going on, as I've found if the group's playing loud, then a 'clean' harp sound just gets mostly drowned out (plus it doesn't really sound anywhere near as good for fast paced, heavier rock music).

When I was in my short stint as a harp player for an amateur band, I was poor and all I had was my harps. When the song called for some heavier distortion on the harp, we'd just crank up the gain on the mixer to saturate the sound a little.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: March 1st, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well I recorded these at home, so what you're hearing is an amp simulator (on both the harp and the guitar). The best amplified harp sound comes when you drive a tube amp very hard, and I can't do that in an apartment.

The microphone, it seems to me, is the least important piece of the puzzle. Obviously, strong acoustic tone is the most important. The amplifier is second. I prefer small amps because they can be driven hard without being deafening, and I like old amps because they distort much more warmly than newer ones. I'm not an amp geek so I don't know about swapping tubes and all that stuff.

My standard rig used to be a 1962 Fender Princeton:

and a vintage Astatic T3:

which is a rare bullet mic made by the same company that made one of the classic harmonica mics, the Astatic JT 30.

But a little while back I picked up a 1953 (or so) Fender Champ, a smaller and older amp than the Princeton, and I like it a lot more. It's smaller so I can drive it a lot harder and it sounds really wonderful.

Meanwhile, the volume control I'd been using on the T3 has become unreliable and I've switched to a standard reissue Shure Green Bullet. I also have a JT30 reissue as well (with a built-in volume control) that I like.

But I'll tell you, you can get a hell of a good sound with a standard SM58 plugged into one of those amps. I don't have a mic cable with a volume control but I've been meaning to pick one up, and if I do I'll use that with the amp. You lose the distortion of the crystal element, but you gain gain, and clarity.

But really, it's all about the tone that's coming out of the harmonica. For comparison's sake, and for fun, here's an acoustic version of the track. It's the harmonica and guitar tracks from the original, with all effects taken off. The guitar is my Taylor 414CE, plugged directly into my new Apogee Duet audio interface.
From: trash80 Date: March 2nd, 2009 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I was just given an SM58 which I made a 'cup' with, although I think the lead was being a bit cautious with the volume level as to avoid feedback. Pretty much all the chugging and licks I were doing were all 'clean', which is fine but doesn't have quite the 'kick' as crunching does to heavier guitar.

Also, I had no foldback, so I couldn't hear hardly anything I was playing. Most of it was just guesswork. ;)

I love that classic amp! The JT30 sounds really interesting, I've only seen/heard of the Shure green bullet. Only thing old that's audio I have is a 1960's Sanyo reel-to-reel tape deck that still works.
mary_wroth From: mary_wroth Date: March 3rd, 2009 04:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually really like the acoustic version. :)
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