From The Weird World Of Artist Relations…

We bring you, “What Is That Mic Application?” In this installment of unique encounters from the road, we stumbled upon a homemade, handheld device involving some toggle switches, heavy duty cabling and an SM58 gently wedged in the center. This creation takes center stage every night and is a big part of this endorsers live show. Before reading any further, care to take a guess at what this device is used for and who it belongs to?

John Popper's Custom SM58 Mic

So, to answer the first question of what this device is used for… the mic itself is used to pick up the sounds of the mouth harp or harmonica to the layperson. The push button switches (foot switches removed from a few guitar pedals for their ruggedness) remotely select different effects, similar to that of a guitarists’ (there’s even a Leslie Cabinet involved in the chain of command!). This unique apparatus is made of wood on the top, while the handle portion is made up of some type of fiberglass material similar to that of a cast. It’s heavy duty and quite road worthy. Upon first glance it appears that it may have come from the days of the cavemen… but they didn’t have SM58s back then. Shame really… amplified, organized grunting could have passed for an early form of music by today’s standards. Anyway, rounding out the uniqueness of this homemade harp mic thing is a 16 channel Horizon stage snake coming from the bottom of the handle portion. This snake feeds into all of the effects and also splits the mic into two outputs. It’s truly a work of art and engineering genius once you really dig in and understand the ins and outs of this thing.

John Popper Using his Modified Mic

As for the second question of who this belongs to… well, none other than John Popper of Shure endorsers Blues Traveler, of course! Every night on stage John man handles this oversized mic/toggle switch device with his right hand and plays the harp of his choice in his left hand. Mind you, all of this is happening AND he is still somehow manipulating these toggle switches on the top, adding reverb, delay, Leslie, etc. At this point, it’s like riding a bike for John, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around how one could hold the harp in one hand, this dinosaur bone in the other and perform in front of thousands of people… and do it with the greatest of ease. Hats off to you Mr. Popper, it’s truly a sight to see. Check it out the next time Blues Traveler comes to a town near you.


Subscribe here
Cory Lorentz

Cory Lorentz

Cory Lorentz is the Artist Relations Manager at Shure. He enjoys weekends, tacos and has a soft spot for the kind of lite rock music you’d hear in a dentist’s office.

Show Comments (4)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Cory Lorentz says:

    Hey Lee – Thanks for your comment. We’ve updated the post. The switches in question are from a few different guitar pedals and are indeed a type of push button switch.



  • Cory Lorentz says:

    Hey Mark – This is Cory Lorentz from Shure’s Artist Relations team. I wrote the post on the John Popper mic. I had no idea this thing existed until I went out to see Adam Fortin, FOH engineer in Chicago last fall. He asked me about possibly engineering something at the Shure factory that would meet or exceed their current intended use. That day I was only able to walk away with images of the mic along with my vague memory of what Adam told me this thing did and how. At this point, we now have one of these in house and have a few guys in the mic lab and customer service all contributing some spare time to engineering something based on your original creation. We’ve got most of the internal guts figured out and at this point we’re looking at modeling an actual housing for the rest of the piece. While we have no intention of mass producing this thing or making more than 1 or 2, we thought it was a cool enough piece to help one of our current endorsers with. We do custom mics for our artists from time to time, but this is the most unique piece to date. I’m not certain who you’ve spoken to in the past about this mic, but I can assure you, we all think it’s pretty cool and I can speak for the entire Artist Relations team when I say that when we see something cool and unique that needs our assistance, we always take it back to the lab to see what can be done. I’d be happy to share the progress and end result with you if you’d like.



  • Mark Tremblay says:

    I built the thing and am very surprised to see it praised so in the shure universe, considering that I approached them about developing and marketing it. Never heard word one. I’m not bitter, a corporation can only be in tune with its consumer base as much as it’s employees are. I’m just glad that people think it’s slick. Fact is that particular mic was my first attempt at ridding myself of the huge blob of electrical tape wrapped around a few switches and a microphone that the thing was for years. It’s a prototype that stands up to hard use. I’m proud of that, and proud that I could still do it better. I rebuilt the old ones over and over again . More proof that necessity is the mother of invention. In any case it has a shure mic at its core and I’d not have it any other way. The 58 has always been bulletproof . And I still use shure products at work every day. And to anyone out there who thinks that it’s cool… I am humbled. Thank you.

    Mark Tremblay

  • Lee Salter says:

    Interesting contraption. Those are NOT toggle switches, they are push button switches. They may be functionally push on – push off.

Short URL