Gear Review

Son of Dave

Garth Dynes - Spirit Harp Pro amplifier

I've been asked by Planet Harmonica to share my experiences with my new Spirit Harp Pro amplifier. Let me start by stating that I consider myself a serious amateur harp player. I practice a lot at home and try to play out at a jam at least once a week. Blues is my primary interest however I appreciate most forms of music and like to experiment with anything on the harp. I have no affiliation with Spirit Amps other than being a satisfied customer.

If you are not already familiar with the Harp Pro, I suggest that you go to the company's web site at http://www.spiritamps.com for specs and other information. Also harmonycentral.com has a couple of detailed user reviews (http://www.harmony-central.com/Guitar/Data/Spirit_Amplifiers/Harp_Pro-01.html).

The Harp Pro is a class "A" tube amplifier with around 15 watts peak power. It is very well constructed using first rate components and looks attractive. It is about the same size as a Fender Blues Junior. Easy to carry at only 23 pounds. The specifications and a photo are all on the spiritamps.com web site so I will let you study them for yourself.
Why did I buy a Harp Pro? Any amplified harp player knows the challenge of trying to find the happy combination of tone and volume without getting feedback from the amp. Although I have purchased a number of amplifiers over the years I could never resist the temptation to try and often buy another amp because I liked it better. I was like the donkey chasing a carrot on a stick. The few reviews I had read about the Harp Pro suggested that this amp was the ultimate combination I had sought. I thought -just one more amp then I can stop looking and sell off my other amplifiers. After a month of experimentation I have grown quite fond of this amp. For practice it is excellent. You can adjust the tone to your liking without having to crank the volume to overdrive the tubes. If volume is what you want this little beast will deliver a "loud" 15
watts of punch. Because many other amps require require lower gain tube swaps to control feedback will compare with a 30 watt tube amp for volume output. However with only 15 watts peak output you will not have enough juice to cut through a moderately loud band without miking through the PA system. Many harp players prefer this approach anyway so this may not be a disadvantage. The harp Pro is loud enough to use as a stage monitor especially because it is less likely to feed back than other amps.


Because the Harp Pro does not come with an instruction manual I don't know what to call the "mystery" knob on the back with no name. I believe that this controls the voltage to one of the tubes. What it does is "fatten" the tone. You have to experiment with the proper balance of the "mystery" knob and the volume control to get "your
sound". It does work though and this is one of the main features of this amplifier and a reason for its versatility.

It is very difficult to describe sound and tone in words. You really have to play and listen to an amplifier. Also, your microphone and playing technique has a dramatic effect on the sound you get.. out of your amp. I have several microphones but prefer to use an old Shure 520 bullet with a controlled reluctance cartridge. Through the Harp Pro I can mimic the tone characteristics of Taj Mahal on "She Caught The
Katy". Adjust the mystery knob and I can get that fat, Little Walter tone. Want to sound like a trumpet or muted horn - no problem. Another characteristic I recently discovered was that because it is less prone to feedback you can add more treble and your chords and octaves really sound fresher and more complex.

Unfortunately there are few or no retail stores where you can try this amp out yourself. You buy straight from the manufacturer, so unless you have a friend with a Harp Pro or you make a trip to the factory in New York you'll have to "pay now and play later". At $695 US plus shipping this is a leap of faith. However, I am now glad that I took the plunge.

To summarize, here are a few of the Pros and Cons of buying a Harp Pro:
-Great sound.
-Well made, will probably last a long time.
-Small, compact, attractive.
-Flexibility to adjust the tone at any volume..
-Good company service, fast delivery, quick response to questions.
-Loud for its size.
-Resists feedback.

-inability to try before purchase.
-not loud enough for some gigs (unless miked).

These cons will probably be insignificant after purchase. If you really need a 60-100 watt amplifier buy something else.

Well that's all folks! I need to go and practice some more if I ever want to sound like a Harp Pro.

Garth Dynes

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