This mic gets its name from one of its most prominent features, my exclusive “Twin Tone” circuit.
I start with a vintage Shure CM (controlled magnetic) or CR (controlled reluctance) element, which many pro players feel are the best of what’s out there. I add your choice of a Shure 520 or a beautifully chopped & shaved Turner shell (other shell choices available)… and then set out make things even better.
Many of the older CR and CM elements incorporated a bleed resistor soldered across the input terminals. Most of the CM and CR mic’s were originally intended for announcing, dispatch, aviation or ham radio use. The resistor was added to bleed off specific frequencies, this filtered background noise and increased voice intelligibility. Some harmonica players like the darker sound of these elements with the resistor in place, others don’t and simply snip it out of the circuit... My exclusive “Twin Tone” models offer both tonal options in the same mic!
Sometimes asked about a Twin Tone "If I prefer the sound one way or the other, why would I need or even want the second tonal option?"
Here are the answers:
- Some mic’s are a better match for certain types of amplifiers or particular room configurations. A Twin Tone lets you shape your tone at the source, and therefore is more adaptable to a wider variety of amps and performance venues.
- When the resistor is in the circuit (dark mode) some frequencies are reduced, and so is feedback… Nice indeed in those situations where feedback is an issue.
- Backing rhythms and fills are less pronounced when you use the “dark” mode, the people you are playing with will almost always appreciate that. Switch it to the bright/normal setting to give a bit more punch and projection to your solos.
The tonal difference between the two modes of a “Twin Tone” is subtle by design, just enough for a discernable nuance in your sound. I believe it to be an extremely useful tool for just about any player. A crystal element “Twin Tone” is also available. If you prefer crystal elements over the CM’s/CR’s just let me know and we can go from there.
Here's the construction overview, I’ll be pleased to discuss the “Twin Tone” in further depth with any interested party.
- Every “Twin Tone” is hand built on my well equipped workbench, using high grade materials, meticulous construction techniques, and painstaking attention to detail. Each vintage shell has it's own unique character, no two are exactly alike.
- The stripped and polished finish on a Twin Tone is absolutely stunning. I hand sand these shells in progressively finer steps all the way down to a 3,000 grit finish! When thus sanded and polished the bare cast zinc is a gorgeous metal, it assumes a deep luster and a brilliant chrome-like shine. It has the added benefit of not becoming extra slippery like chrome plating does when your hands perspire under hot stage lights. Please note that the bare uncoated finish will tarnish when handled. I usually let mine go to a nice gray color, which also looks good but isn't shiny. But no worries, you can quickly restore the beautiful shine a couple minutes with any commonly available metal polish, I highly recommend MAAS paste polish.
- The factory brush plated finish offered with the Turner shell does not tarnish. It's very attractive but not nearly as shiny as the stripped & polished version.
- Every element is hand picked for condition and tonal quality. Old factory wiring is de-soldered and the terminals are correctly prepped for new leads. The terminals are also checked for tightness where they are secured to the bobbin and properly secured so the bobbin does not later begin to rattle and create unwanted noise. The other parts of these vintage elements receive similar scrutiny.
- The all new internal wiring is Mogami or Canare OFC (oxygen free copper) or in some cases is a special silver tinned wire, these will not oxidize and therefore won't degrade the signal over time as inferior wire types can do. The wire jacketing is resistant to abrasion, dry rot, and temperature extremes.
- Expensive silver solder is used in every “Twin Tone” mic. It is stronger and has better conductivity than other solder types.
- All soldering is done with a pro quality temperature controlled station to further assure consistency and reliability. All solder connections are inspected and hand cleaned under high magnification, no flux residue remains to corrode and weaken the solder bond.
- A tight fitting gasket is crucial if you are looking to get that nice overdriven tone from your harp mic. Gaskets are either supple factory items for the specific shell, or hand made when necessary, or they are supplied by harpmicgaskets.com … good stuff! These gaskets will typically last a couple decades or longer.
- The bleed resistors I use are the Shure originals or quality replacements.
- The 5/8" screw connectors are new high quality items from Switchcraft. They are well secured and properly (silver) soldered to assure maximum conductivity and long term reliability. Silver solder is very hard, it will not mushroom and create contact problems when tightened as conventional solders will do.
- Screw fittings are backfilled with expensive flowable silicone, in a proprietary time consuming multi-step process. This immobilizes the wire at the solder connection, it can’t move around inside the connector barrel when you are playing and eventually break off. This voidless backfill process also serves to reinforce the fiber mounting washer for the center contact, and it also helps to reduce handling noise. I invented this process and know of no other mic builder who uses it.
- The switch for the “Twin Tone” circuit is properly located where it won’t be easily damaged or accidently moved while playing. It is ergonomically positioned depending on which hand the client uses to hold the microphone. I use a toggle type switch so the position is readily determined by either feel or by sight. Worst case on a broken “Twin Tone” switch is that the mic is stuck in bright or dark mode, the mic will continue to operate.
- Even the windscreen fabric is closely considered. What is good in front of a crystal element is entirely unsuitable for a CM/CR setup. As with every mic I build, the correct layering and density of material is hand cut and properly affixed with an acid free, moisture resistant, and non-toxic adhesive.
- I care about your health... you are after all breathing through this thing. Locking compounds, silicones, and other adhesives are properly cured before moving to the next stage of the build. The mic isn't closed until any and all potentially harmful VOC's are outgassed. A final wipe of all components with 91% (medical grade) alcohol is also performed.
My “Twin Tone” harp mic is built to survive the rigors imposed upon it by a touring musician. I offer a one year warranty* on parts** and workmanship.
* Excludes exterior finishes, abuse (determined at my sole discretion), accidents, acts of nature, theft or loss. Warranty is void if the mic is modified or tampered with. If you ever have a valid warranty claim I will pay shipping one way (return to you) to US locations only. I will quickly repair, replace or refund at my discretion.
**30 day warranty on vintage elements applies, NOS versions carry a 60 day warranty. Due to the fragile nature of crystal elements, I can not offer a warranty on those items beyond a safe delivery.