Harmonica Microphones

shuregreenbullet_lg.jpgI keep eyeballing the Shure Green Bullet. I bought a $5 harmonica at guitar center sometime in November or December after hearing a guy play one online inbetween rounds. I’ve got plenty of hours on my $5 Honer Bluesband harmonica (key of C), which, quite honestly, sounds 80% as good as my $30 Lee Oskar key of A harmonica. Of course they’re in different tunings (not to mention the A key harmonica is simply “grittier”sounding) but there’s an obvious jump in tonal quality as well.

Anyways I have a crappy Shure 8900 mic which came with a desktop tripod and XLR -> 1/4″ mono jack for not a whole lot of money. It sounds great through my amp setup without too much feedback. It’s a little heavy though and I’d like to try out something shaped like the Green bullet, which is easier to hold in your hand. Now this model is made out of cast metal (steel? aluminum?) so one would assume that imparts a better sound… somehow. In reality it all comes down to the actual microphone element (cartridge). One guy even sells wood harmonica mic cases. So it can’t be that crucial to your “tone”.

wooden harmonica mic

You can order them with matching wood grills instead of chrome as well. Find Greg’s custom mics here:

What a Green Bullet might look like dissassembled (not actually a Green Bullet, but close)

insideagreenbulletshure.jpg

Anyways came across this on, ugh, Make of all things. A hobbled together harmonica mic made from a lawn water spray gun, listerine mouthwash cap and some parts he had laying around, presumably epoxied all together. Personally I think he could have given it a good spray coat of black gloss coat laquer but whatever, it makes it easier to see the individual parts.

do it yourself harmonica microphone

So there’s the finished product. You can see, from left to right, the harmonica, the metal/foam grill from the sacrificial microphone, the bell from a lawn water sprayer (green), part of the microphone’s wand, a volume knob (wired in by hand), and then the listerine mouthwash cap with jack. I’m not a big fan of putting the jack out the back but whatever. An XLR jack out the bottom would have been a better choice in my opinion. Image description by the author:

I made this harmonica mic from scrounged pieces of other items. I got a $20 dynamic mic from Radio Shack and used the element and the windscreen. Also got a potentiometer (volume control) and a mono phono jack. Put them together using the bell from a garden hose sprayer ($8), part of the column from the mic, and a Listerine bottle cap. The mic fits nicely in the hand with a harp in my hand. Not too heavy, not too light. Unfortunately, it seems I wired the potentiometer incorrectly, so it doesn’t actually do anything. On version 2.0 I’ll wire the pot correctly, and use 2 listerine caps for extra room.

And then from Make:

Michael writes – “I remember building this impressive microphone myself a few years back. A great low-cost harmonica microphone built from secondhand stuff anyone can find in their local supermarket plus a few components that can be found in any electronics shop. At the worst the parts should cost around $8.”

Diagram:

do it yourself harmonica microphone diagram

So yeah, that about covers it. I would reccomend a 100K or 500K pointometer as the volume knob. And a coat of black gloss laquer paint. Some more links to DIY harmonica microphones.

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2 Responses to Harmonica Microphones

  1. Greg Heumann says:

    Hi – stumbled across your site today.

    Re: “One guy even sells wood harmonica mic cases. So it can’t be that crucial to your “tone”.”

    That guy would be me. If you want to use a photo of my mic, please include a link to my site.

    I’m also happy to answer questions. And you’re right – the material the shell is made from is far less important to tone than many other factors. On the other hand they’re lightweight and feel really good in your hands, which makes them easier to hold and cup.

  2. admin says:

    Aye, the text you quoted has always linked to your website. I’ve just now added two more links to your site in my blog post! Your site has excellent pictures and products. Thanks for visiting!

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