Since the beginning of electrified harmonica, there has been an on going battle between tone, stage volume, and feedback.
I cannot count the number of times a harp player has walked off a stage frustrated because they were drowned out by the other instruments. This is particularly common during jams or in clubs where the sound engineer does not provide instrument mics. The fact is, regardless of talent, it is very difficult to play electrified harmonica loud enough to actually feel part of the band or be an actual equal in comparison to other instruments.
In recent years, there have been several boutique amplifier companies that have made amps designed specifically for harmonica players. More often times than not, these are priced way beyond the budget of the average harmonica player. This is not a knock or criticism of those companies. They make very good amps. However, the fact is that with The Squeal Killer in combination with a standard, less expensive tube amp you can achieve the same or, in my opinion, a better and more natural tone for a fourth of the cost.
Now, I would be foolish to try and challenge all of the past and current harp legends and players that can nail that tone with a number of different amps/mics/set ups. But challenging their tone or even your tone is not the intention. Fact is that even the legends have/had an issue with volume when playing live.
So, speaking of technique…
The Squeal Killer, and nothing else for that matter, will ever trump technique. I will never state otherwise. But a very close second is the rig you play/learn/practice on. I have yet to meet a harp player that does not begin playing without a very distinct tone in their mind that they want to achieve. Often it is one of the Walters or Clarke or Wells. Point being, in order to want to continue to learn/play, you have to be able to achieve that tone or, in many cases, you become frustrated and quit/put it down.
So, is it that good?
The Squeal Killer is almost too good to believe quite frankly and was discovered/patented during a build of a custom amplifier by Stella Vee Amplification for a musician who wanted both a guitar and harmonica amp in one. To date, it is the only tube driven feedback reducer that is designed exclusively for the electrified harmonica. It is very passive – your amp’s tone remains…only louder.
There are no buttons or knobs or levels to change. You simply plug it in and then be amazed how far your volume knob is being turned up.
I have personally tested and heard The Squeal Killer on the following amps and with a Turner or Astatic mic: 1959 Bassman, 1965 Vibrolux Reverb, 1966 Princeton Reverb, ’59 Bassman Reissue, Fender Champ, 1966 Fender Twin Reverb, countless Harmony and National amps. On average, each of the amps went from peaking out at around 3-4 on the Volume knob to around 8-9 or around a 3db increase (33% more perceived volume).
The fact is that it has worked on a very wide range of amps. Does it work on every single amp ever made? Of course not and here is why.
You need “headroom” in an amp’s design to get the full benefit from The Squeal Killer. A 5 watt amp has a very limited range to offer whereas a 59 Bassman has a huge potential of power to tap. Likewise, there are amps that have been made that have a much higher input impedance than say a typical post 57 Fender design. These higher impedances lower headroom and are counter effective to gaining more volume.
Likewise, if you own an amp that is already “modified” for harp or built specific for harp, you may not experience the same results.
I am the inventor of The Squeal Killer and would be happy to discuss its effects with any of you and, more importantly, the expected results on YOUR amp.
Again, if you have any concerns given what you have just read, please ask about what YOU can expect with YOUR amp.
Mostly, I am very excited to offer such a product to the harp player as it has always been my favorite instrument.
If you have any questions at all, please ask before you purchase. I would be happy to speak to you/email you with a very specific answer to any of your questions.