Guitar Brothers | guitarbrothers.com.au | Expect to pay: $699
There are many joys of performing on stage, but there are few that offer more instant ‘wow factor’ than sharing the stage with a gifted blues harmonica player. When balanced and treated correctly, a wailing blues harp melody or solo can provide the kind of raunch and gravitas that few instruments can match.
There are few dedicated stompboxes companies out there with the blues harp player in mind, but the legends of Lone Wolf Blues Company clearly understand the need for such pedals. Having worked closely with one of the worlds most raucous players Marko Balland, together they have created The Boogieman, and what a delightful box of blues it is.
Known for their array of harmonica specific pedals, Lone Wolf Blue Company are no strangers to the needs of blues harp players and the high demand for authentic blues tone. Pedals like their Harp Break, Harp Tone + and Harp Delay (to name but a few) have earned their way onto stages across the globe and for good reason. The Boogieman cleverly combines all of the aforementioned circuits together into one intuitive pedal that just erupts the sound of blues.
Any blues harp player worth their salt understands the importance of tone and attitude their harp needs to ooze with but sadly, this is often left up to an archetypal dynamic mic (or possibly a “Green Bullet” style mic if lucky), plugged straight into a mixing console pre amp. At this point many may shrug their shoulders thinking ‘no biggie’, but listening back to any old blues records (think Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II and alike) from the mid 20th century will reveal blues harp tones bursting with grit, vibe and dimension; not simply achieved by mere preamp colouration. That grit, dirt, break up and space is definitive of the blues harp sound and what makes us go back for repeat listens, but how is it achieved? Let The Boogieman do the talking.
Firstly, the break side of the pedal allows controls for both the Tone + and Break circuits. When engaged, sculpting the subtlest of drive tones to full screaming distortion can be achieved with the simple drive control, with the volume knob helping keep things in check. Dialling in the perfect tone with the treble and bass knobs is easy and these controls allow for a whopping 20dB of potential gain, from rasping tops to bolstering low end goodness. This wide spectrum of tone and drive possibilities is massive and will find even the most distinguished harp players smiling from ear to ear.
The delay side of The Boogieman hosts controls which once again are simple, intuitive and provide just the right amount of tweak ability. The Delay knob controls (your guessed it,) the delay time, with the Repeats (AKA feedback) controlling the amount of delay repeats heard and the blend knobs allows for the perfect balance of wet and dry signal, a very nifty feature to have, which allows for lots of potential fun.
For first position players, the Boogieman serves as an awesome tone sculpting tool, adding a sense of experimental otherness to an otherwise stock harmonica part. The delay in particular is awesome for tonal sculpting and texturing in the live domain, allowing sustained notes to soar with that same forlornness that has made delayed first position harp such a common flavour on so many country-folk records.
For cross-harp players, the drive pot is your friend, providing ample raunch and grit where you need it most, while the handy two band EQ allows just enough control, especially of the all important high frequencies- a sore spot for the harmonica (and an area where you definitely don’t want to leave it to the front of house engineer).
In terms of construction, The Boogieman oozes “Made in U.S.A” quality throughout, with high quality knobs, pots and switches upon the top face. Popping open the hood revealed a beautifully laid out circuit board boasting again, high quality components, meticulous soldering, construction and attention to detail.
All of this together makes for a rugged, gig (and studio) worthy tool for pro and touring players (if and when that happens again). The high impedance input ideally suits high impedance microphones (low impedance mics simply require an impedance converter). The dual outputs make plugging directly into a mixing console (via XLR) or plugging into a guitar amp possible, giving a nice amount of control and alleviating the need for a DI box. The Boogieman runs off 18V, so you know there’s some serious juice under the hood.
Few stompbox companies know the demands of harmonica players like Lone Wolf Blues Company and The Boogieman is an absolute testament to that. The combination of drive, tone and delay controls in one box make for a unique pedal which all blues harp players can get around. Just the right amount of controls means users don’t need to be a pedalboard wizard to get great, authentic tones quickly, and the the clever design of two outputs, allowing for direct sound of the pedal, or the ability to blend this with a miked amp sound easy and will keep engineers happy. A truly well thought-out harmonica specific pedal that I’d happily put in front of my singer/blues harp player any gig of the week.
For local enquiries, get in touch with Guitar Brothers.