I have put this site together at the request of friends, and many people who have contacted me for information, advice, or just to get an opinion about harp mics in general over the past few years. It’s here to share the information that I have gathered over many years of collecting and researching harmonica mics, and looking for ways to get the tone that we’re all looking for by using different mic’s, amp’s, and other gadgets. I have been collecting and researching harp mics for the past 15 years, getting as much information as I could from various sources, but mostly through collecting, and closely inspecting mics from various periods in time from the early 1940’s to present day mics. Much of the information also came from a couple of long time employees of Shure Brothers Inc., whom I would like to thank for their time spent with me on the phone, the info they gave me as they remembered it, and the info they sent to me from the very limited records that Shure kept on most of their early day microphones. I would also like to thank Rick Beall from bluesharp.org for helping me to share info and providing a link to me for anyone wishing to contact me for whatever reason. After all, what good is information if you keep it to yourself and don’t share it?
As many of you may have already figured out through the name of this website, the info on this site will pertain mostly to vintage Shure microphones, mainly, the Shure 520, otherwise known as the “Green Bullet”. I will also give some info on the early Shure crystal mics, and touch briefly on a couple of the Aststic Corp. mics, and, a few mics from other companies as well.
Before we get into it, a bit of info about myself. My name is David K. I was born and raised in Upstate, NY where I still reside. I consider myself lucky to reside in a city that has such a great number of blues fans, and a wealth of local blues bands that consist of musicians whom are without a doubt, talented enough to be on the national blues scene on their own. A few local musicians have made it to be part of nationally known blues artist’s bands such as Carey Bell, Savoy Brown, The Nighthawks, William Clarke, and others. Others have toured Europe and other countries on their own. To get a taste of the talented central NY blues scene, pick up a few CD’s from local CNY blues artists such as, The Kingsnakes, Built for Comfort, Roosevelt Dean and the Spellbinders, Kim Lembo & Blue Heat, Tom Townsley & the Backsliders, Phil Petroff & the Natural Fact, The Dirty Pool Band, Ron Spencer & Jumpstart, and other CNY bands. Email me for info on how to get them. Many of these great bands were recorded at a local recording studio, “Blue Wave Records” of Baldwinsville, NY. With all the search engines available today, I’m sure you can find these artists CD’s without much trouble.
These bands ALL consist of professional talent, and are well worth seeking out to add to your blues collection.
I started playing harp when I was about 15, listening to stuff by J.Geils, The Allman Bros.Band, which is one of my all time favorite bands, Southside Johnny, and a lot of southern rock before I really got into the heavy blues bands. I didn’t start playing amplified harp until I was in my early 20’s when I could afford to buy the stuff needed to do so. I was intrigued by the gritty Chicago blues harp tone heard in many old and new blues recordings, and thus started my investigation I guess you could say, into finding out how they were getting these incredible sounds out of a simple 10 hole diatonic harp.
My first mic was a Mexican made Shure 520D, and my first amp was a Fender Champ. Like many beginners, I thought that the right mic and a tube amp was going to give me this great tone that I was hoping for. Well, it helped, but I quickly found out that playing ability and technique are just as, if not more important to getting good tone. So like many others, I started to try different mics and amps hoping to get good tone. This is about when I started researching and collecting mics. I quickly became infatuated with my new hobby of vintage mic collecting, and since I liked the Shure mics the best after trying many of the more traditional and funkified harp mics, I decided to do most of my research on the Shure 520, “Green Bullet” mic.
OK, let’s get to the good stuff, but first let me say this. Most of this info was obtained from documents, and or information given to me years ago by a couple of very helpful Shure Brothers employees whom have been with Shure for 35+ years, and have since retired from the company. All the info given is correct to the best of my knowledge, but I can’t say that all the information is 100% fact because there is no written info, or records kept by Shure to back it up. So, given that, take this info for what it’s worth, with a grain of salt, but it is the result of many years of collecting information and the microphones themselves from various periods in time.
James Waldron is a blues player, harp mic builder, and a web site designer by trade. A couple years ago he noticed greenbulletmics.com had closed down. Somehow he dug into an internet archive and copied it all for his own records, and, he says, “as a huge repository of knowledge I couldn’t find anywhere else.” By hook and by crook he’s rebuilt and is hosting the original site for me, (for free) which allows me to improve it as time goes by.
Simple Mics is his shop for rebuilt blues harmonica microphones, and they’re pretty good. He’s got a boatload of harp mics and components for sale. You should check him out.