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UkEdman90
03-11-2009, 02:30 PM
So i want a harmonica guys! REALLY BAD! i want to play along with my uke! so can anyone point me in the right direction to a nice harmonica? you know beginner ones preferably a diatonic. thanks!



-Don

Ahnko Honu
03-11-2009, 02:55 PM
Here's a good basic review: http://www.ianchadwick.com/essays/harmonicas.htm
I'm just a beginner Harmonicaist (real word?). Start with a decent C key, I like my Suzuki East Rider, though bang for the buck hard to beat a Japan made (by Tombo) Lee Oskar.

Waterguy
03-11-2009, 03:00 PM
I play harmonica way better then I play uke and I have not practiced harmonica in years. Best harmonica I ever owned for playability is a Suzuki Pro master MR 350. The reeds bend like butter. The Pro master series ain't cheap but this line http://www.harmonicasandstuff.com/suzuki-diatonic/suzuki-harpmaster-harmonica-mr-200.html is not bad and it has many fans. I can't compare the harpmaster series to what Hohner harmonicas you will find in your local music stare as I have never played harpmaster.

I can tell you this though. I learned on cheap Hohners and every thing I can do on my Pro master, I could do on my Hohners. It was harder on the Hohners but in a way that is a good thing. Had I learned bends on the Suzuki, i doubt I could pull it off on any other harmonica.

I love my Suzuki but I recomend learning on a low end harmonica. If you can do it on a low end, you can do it on anything.

Luck with your choice.

ukulelefatman
03-11-2009, 03:21 PM
Get a "Hohner Special 20"....They take a beating, which is important for a beginner. They also have a plastic body, which is a good thing, as the wooden ones swell...crack...and rip your lips up.

Special 20's can also be disassembled easily for cleaning, and can be dunked in a glass of water(or beer) before playing.....helps to bend your notes.

You'll need to buy several keys. If your playing "straight harp"... folksy, Dylan, Neil Young kinda stuff.....you'll buy a key to match the key of the tune, like if it's a C F G progression...you'd buy a "C" harp.

For blues, or "cross harp" where you'll be drawing more notes than blowing, you'll need to buy a harp 4 steps above the key your playing in. Like So:

Top row key of uke....bottom row key of harp......so, "E" uke "A" harp...."F" uke "Bb" harp..."G" uke "C" harp and so on...........Get it?

ABCDEFGABCDEFG
.......ABCDEFG.......("B" in this row is Bb...don't ask...it just is)

Worth the slightly higher price (around 30 bucks)


Have fun.....I played for many years on Special 20's....still do.....you can't go wrong.

Eric

UkEdman90
03-11-2009, 03:24 PM
thanks you guys for the kind words! i like that suzuki waterguy!

ive been practicing for only about a day :p but i can already play individual notes bend vibrato etc. i learned really fast! Its awesome! its not that hard for me! i was looking at this bad boy here, which is in the key of "c". is that ok? what key would be best? also its pretty and has a good price what do you think?

here is the link
http://cgi.ebay.com/New-Lee-Oskar-1910-Major-Diatonic-Harmonica-Key-of-C_W0QQitemZ120380949222QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_Defau ltDomain_0?hash=item120380949222&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C 240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50

UkEdman90
03-11-2009, 03:26 PM
Get a "Hohner Special 20"....They take a beating, which is important for a beginner. They also have a plastic body, which is a good thing, as the wooden ones swell...crack...and rip your lips up.

Special 20's can also be disassembled easily for cleaning, and can be dunked in a glass of water(or beer) before playing.....helps to bend your notes.

You'll need to buy several keys. If your playing "straight harp"... folksy, Dylan, Neil Young kinda stuff.....you'll buy a key to match the key of the tune, like if it's a C F G progression...you'd buy a "C" harp.

For blues, where you'll be drawing more notes than blowing, you'll need to buy a harp 4 steps down from the key your playing in. Like So:

Top row key of uke....bottom row key of harp......so, "E" uke "A" harp...."F" uke "B" harp..."G" uke "C" harp and so on...........Get it?



Worth the slightly higher price (around 30 bucks)


Have fun.....I played for many years on Special 20's....still do.....you can't go wrong.

Eric



ZOMG MORE INFO! wow thanks alot here! i want to start out with just one to mess around with and play solo at school and such. what key would be best? is it just personal preference when it comes to that?

ukulelefatman
03-11-2009, 03:45 PM
"C" is a good starter......."A" for blues, cross harp.

That Lee Oskar is a nice harp. You know who he is? Lee was the harmonica player in the band "War".......Low rider.....get a little higher......

I bought a few,nice harps for sure, but I still prefer Hohner.

UkEdman90
03-11-2009, 03:50 PM
"C" is a good starter.......A for blues, cross harp.

That Lee Oskar is a nice harp. You know who he is? Lee was the harmonica player in the band "War".......Low rider.....get a little higher......

I bought a few,nice harps for sure, but I still prefer Hohner.

yeah i know who he is haha. i love the look of that one and for 28 is a nice touch to! ok now to convince the parental units to let me use their paypal!!!!! haha im on it! going for the "c". I just got hired today finally after 6 months of searching for a job so many more in different keys are short to follow!

misterdub
03-11-2009, 04:07 PM
I second the vote for the Special 20. I actually started with a Lee Oskar and found them difficult to bend as a beginner. I went back to my Lee Oskar which I shelved and after a couple of months of working with the Special 20 and it was much easier. So, I'd stick with a Special 20 in the key of C for a beginner.

Also, I recently just tried the Bushman Delta Frost and liked it. The holes seem a bit larger (ever so slightly) than the Special 20 so I think it'd be easier to nail single notes on it. The downside is though you may be thrown off when going back to a Special 20 or Lee Oskar. I've been playing for 6-8 months now, mainly on Special 20's, so I can't be sure.

Good luck! If you're looking for harmonica instruction, look up Adam Gussow on YouTube. Fantastic instruction and he has downloadable lessons too -- but it's mostly blues and a little jazz. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions about online resources for harmonica... I've been building a fair collection. :)

UkEdman90
03-11-2009, 04:14 PM
I second the vote for the Special 20. I actually started with a Lee Oskar and found them difficult to bend as a beginner. I went back to my Lee Oskar which I shelved and after a couple of months of working with the Special 20 and it was much easier. So, I'd stick with a Special 20 in the key of C for a beginner.

Also, I recently just tried the Bushman Delta Frost and liked it. The holes seem a bit larger (ever so slightly) than the Special 20 so I think it'd be easier to nail single notes on it. The downside is though you may be thrown off when going back to a Special 20 or Lee Oskar. I've been playing for 6-8 months now, mainly on Special 20's, so I can't be sure.

Good luck! If you're looking for harmonica instruction, look up Adam Gussow on YouTube. Fantastic instruction and he has downloadable lessons too -- but it's mostly blues and a little jazz. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions about online resources for harmonica... I've been building a fair collection. :)


ok that is nice to know!

Yopparai
03-11-2009, 04:18 PM
No love for the Marine Band?
And I will second the Adam Gusso vids. And he plays Marine Band harmonicas.

UkEdman90
03-11-2009, 04:27 PM
No love for the Marine Band?
And I will second the Adam Gusso vids. And he plays Marine Band harmonicas.

oh man so many choices! im looking online at sam ash and they have fairly reasonable prices on their hohner's! im thinking about snagging one tonight :D

Im in heaven with my little cheapy one! i can actually play individual notes now! haha. so has anyone made one of those little things you put around your neck???

Oswegan
03-11-2009, 07:09 PM
I just got the Hohner Golden Melody today based on Ian's review.

Love the rounded edges - it just feels good.:shaka:

ukulelefatman
03-11-2009, 08:02 PM
oh man so many choices! im looking online at sam ash and they have fairly reasonable prices on their hohner's! im thinking about snagging one tonight :D

Im in heaven with my little cheapy one! i can actually play individual notes now! haha. so has anyone made one of those little things you put around your neck???


You should be able to buy a harmonica holder for around 10 bucks....it will last forever.
I've tried making my own......it's not worth the trouble. You need the wing nut adjustments, and spring loaded action of a store bought holder. I believe the Hohner brand are around 10 bucks.

russ_buss
03-11-2009, 08:13 PM
i have a few different brands: hohner special 20, lee oskar, hohner golden melody. i rank them in that order as well.

if you want a cheap alternative, look for the huang star performer. its shaped and sounds quite similar to the hohner golden melody but costs under $10. you can bend notes just fine with them too.

good luck!

mmanalo
03-11-2009, 08:24 PM
So i want a harmonica guys! REALLY BAD! i want to play along with my uke! so can anyone point me in the right direction to a nice harmonica? you know beginner ones preferably a diatonic. thanks!



-Don

Funny your'e asking, cuss when I was shopping at Target the other day I ran into a harmonica they have for sell and it comes with a learners book with notes and everything! I was thinking about putting it in the cart, but then my daughter broke my distraction of gettting it! It was pretty cheap at target or even wal mart carries dem!

Howlin Hobbit
03-12-2009, 08:03 AM
For blues, or "cross harp" where you'll be drawing more notes than blowing, you'll need to buy a harp 4 steps above the key your playing in. Like So:

Top row key of uke....bottom row key of harp......so, "E" uke "A" harp...."F" uke "Bb" harp..."G" uke "C" harp and so on...........Get it?

ABCDEFGABCDEFG
.......ABCDEFG.......("B" in this row is Bb...don't ask...it just is)

You don't buy a key "4 steps above" you buy a key "one fourth above", which is 5 half steps.

You need to know your chromatic scale. It's easy. You can download my "Cheater Music Theory" pdf file on the Ukulele page of my site (link in sig) and it'll give you some good grounding but I'll quickly jump through the rules.

The chromatic scale consists of the letters A through G plus sharps (#) and flats (b). This makes 12 half steps.

There is a sharp/flat between every letter except B and C, and E and F. Therefore it looks like this:

A -- A#/Bb -- B -- C -- C#/Db -- D -- D#/Eb -- E -- F -- F#/Gb -- G -- G#/Ab

When you get to the end of the notes you "wrap around" do the beginning again. The sharps/flats are the same note, just named differently depending on the key. Don't stress overmuch about that right now.

So... If you want to play blues/rock/etc. in the key of G you start at G and...


Go up a half-step to G#
Go up a half-step to A (note how you've wrapped around to the beginning)
Go up a half-step to A#
Go up a half-step to B
Go up a half-step to C (remember, no sharp/flat between B/C or E/F)

... see? Five half-steps, aka a "perfect fourth" in music talk.

Work it out for F and you'll see why it turns out to be Bb.

It's even easier if you know your circle of fifths. It's one note counter-clockwise.

UkEdman90
03-12-2009, 08:42 AM
You don't buy a key "4 steps above" you buy a key "one fourth above", which is 5 half steps.

You need to know your chromatic scale. It's easy. You can download my "Cheater Music Theory" pdf file on the Ukulele page of my site (link in sig) and it'll give you some good grounding but I'll quickly jump through the rules.

The chromatic scale consists of the letters A through G plus sharps (#) and flats (b). This makes 12 half steps.

There is a sharp/flat between every letter except B and C, and E and F. Therefore it looks like this:

A -- A#/Bb -- B -- C -- C#/Db -- D -- D#/Eb -- E -- F -- F#/Gb -- G -- G#/Ab

When you get to the end of the notes you "wrap around" do the beginning again. The sharps/flats are the same note, just named differently depending on the key. Don't stress overmuch about that right now.

So... If you want to play blues/rock/etc. in the key of G you start at G and...


Go up a half-step to G#
Go up a half-step to A (note how you've wrapped around to the beginning)
Go up a half-step to A#
Go up a half-step to B
Go up a half-step to C (remember, no sharp/flat between B/C or E/F)

... see? Five half-steps, aka a "perfect fourth" in music talk.

Work it out for F and you'll see why it turns out to be Bb.

It's even easier if you know your circle of fifths. It's one note counter-clockwise.

Thanks Hobbit more information i never knew! its greatly appreciated!

ichadwick
03-12-2009, 09:07 AM
Look for plastic (ABS) combs. Wooden combs are a pain to keep clean, and they swell with age and use. Plastic is easy to clean, too. Metal combs are nice, but a lot more expensive.

Best bang for the buck in diatonics: Suzuki Bluesmaster. Great, responsive reeds, very good price and durable as hell. Bushman sells a great harp, but their delivery and stock situation are spotty at best.

I also highly recommend Seydel harps - they're the oldest harmonica maker (older even than Hohner) and they have some terrific harps. They now have a US distributor and you can buy online.

If you can't get some of these locally, they're on eBay and sold through various websites. You can also look for a Lee Oskar or a Hohner Golden Melody. (the Hohner Special 20 is okay, but I think the Golden is a tad better and their inexpensive Big River is the loudest of the three).

Start with a C. Eventually you will probably want at least six major keys (C, G, D, Bb, F and A). Don't worry about the rest or the minors for now (but when you're ready there are two main minor tunings, as well as a Dorian tuning that are cool).

When you're up for some cool stuff, look for the Turbodog harps (Hohner harps with ergonomic, engineered covers).

Check my harmonica reviews for more.

UkEdman90
03-12-2009, 09:10 AM
Look for plastic (ABS) combs. Wooden combs are a pain to keep clean, and they swell with age and use. Plastic is easy to clean, too. Metal combs are nice, but a lot more expensive.

Best bang for the buck in diatonics: Suzuki Bluesmaster. Great, responsive reeds, very good price and durable as hell. Bushman sells a great harp, but their delivery and stock situation are spotty at best.

I also highly recommend Seydel harps - they're the oldest harmonica maker (older even than Hohner) and they have some terrific harps. They now have a US distributor and you can buy online.

If you can't get some of these locally, they're on eBay and sold through various websites. You can also look for a Lee Oskar or a Hohner Golden Melody. (the Hohner Special 20 is okay, but I think the Golden is a tad better and their inexpensive Big River is the loudest of the three).

Start with a C. Eventually you will probably want at least six major keys (C, G, D, Bb, F and A). Don't worry about the rest or the minors for now (but when you're ready there are two main minor tunings, as well as a Dorian tuning that are cool).

When you're up for some cool stuff, look for the Turbodog harps (Hohner harps with ergonomic, engineered covers).

Check my harmonica reviews for more.

I HAVE READ THEM ALL :D:D

very informative thank you! im leaning towards a Honer but i might snag a lee oskar im just not sure yet :confused:

jhob
03-12-2009, 01:00 PM
My wife bought me a harmonica (Hohner marine band in G) for Christmas two years ago and I'm ashamed to say that I've barely picked it up. I also have a cheap harmonica in C.

Having read this thread I am re-motivated to pick it up again and start practising regularly, it will be a great combo with the uke!

Can anyone recommend some good learning resources for a complete beginner? Those Adam Gussow videos looks like they will be useful but seem to jump the absolute beginner stage.

Shame harmonicas are so noisy as it really limits your practise time - I have an electric uke for late night practise, shame can't do the same with harmonica!

ukulelefatman
03-12-2009, 06:06 PM
You don't buy a key "4 steps above" you buy a key "one fourth above", which is 5 half steps.

You need to know your chromatic scale. It's easy. You can download my "Cheater Music Theory" pdf file on the Ukulele page of my site (link in sig) and it'll give you some good grounding but I'll quickly jump through the rules.

The chromatic scale consists of the letters A through G plus sharps (#) and flats (b). This makes 12 half steps.

There is a sharp/flat between every letter except B and C, and E and F. Therefore it looks like this:

A -- A#/Bb -- B -- C -- C#/Db -- D -- D#/Eb -- E -- F -- F#/Gb -- G -- G#/Ab

When you get to the end of the notes you "wrap around" do the beginning again. The sharps/flats are the same note, just named differently depending on the key. Don't stress overmuch about that right now.

So... If you want to play blues/rock/etc. in the key of G you start at G and...


Go up a half-step to G#
Go up a half-step to A (note how you've wrapped around to the beginning)
Go up a half-step to A#
Go up a half-step to B
Go up a half-step to C (remember, no sharp/flat between B/C or E/F)

... see? Five half-steps, aka a "perfect fourth" in music talk.

Work it out for F and you'll see why it turns out to be Bb.

It's even easier if you know your circle of fifths. It's one note counter-clockwise.

Thanks for that....30 years of harp playing and I always just counted 4 letters....you've made my simple method seem...well.....simple.:D

Guess I should learn to read music one of these days....but I'm having too much fun playing!!

ichadwick
03-13-2009, 02:02 AM
I HAVE READ THEM ALL :D:D

very informative thank you! im leaning towards a Honer but i might snag a lee oskar im just not sure yet :confused:

One of the things to keep in mind is reed stiffness. Reeds have to be both flexible enough to bend, but stiff enough to return to position without weakening and developing flaws (eventually they all do, however, but cheap harps get blown reeds far faster).

Stiff reeds generally last longer but are also harder to play - bends are not as easy to create. Flexible reeds give you much wider range of tonal opportunities, and are easier to play (they require less energy to bend). I like flexible reeds because they are more responsive with less effort.

So give serious thought to both Suzuki and Seydel. Both have flexible reeds.

SamWise
03-13-2009, 03:47 AM
Let me throw in a recommendation for the slightly more expensive Hohner Cross Harp. I have a couple of these, and they have a really ballsy, bluesy tone in the lower keys (my fave is an A for playing blue in E). Worth the extra money over the Marine Bands and Special 20s of this world, for me.

jhob
03-13-2009, 05:39 AM
I've seen that suzuki folkmaster harmonicas can be had pretty cheap on ebay. Does anyone have experience with one these harmonicas?

beeejums
03-13-2009, 05:48 AM
This thread has inspired me to pick up my cheap (at least I think it was cheap... it was a gift) and learn to play... but it's kind of dirty. It has screws, and the paper in the case says I can take it apart to clean it, but it doesn't tell me *how* I should clean it. Does anyone know? I'm afraid of damaging the reeds...

Ukuleleblues
03-13-2009, 10:37 AM
Hey wild man, good luck on the harp. I did this:

I didn't know anything about the harp so I bought an E harp cause I play alot of E blues on the 6 string. Well, when you play the blues you play 2nd position which makes a E harp B harp. Lesson 1 (F-up 1) Well I don't play B blues on the 6 string.

So I bought a cheap set of 7 harps (19.99) and figured out what I play by messing around with them.

http://folk-instruments.musiciansfriend.com/product/Hohner-Piedmont-Blues-7Harmonica-Pack-with-Case?sku=421179

When I figued out what key I liked to play in I bought a Lee Oscar, Honer special 20, Marine Band and a Bushman Delta Frost in one of the keys I played in. They all have different stuff about them good and bad. Even the key of the harp determines the charateristics. Even bought a couple of Lee Oscars in the Minor keys I play in (they sound so sad in those minor keys it make my eyes tear up). I don't regret spending the 20 buck on the 7 pack, Made me realize what I would use. I mean they cost less than one special 20 or Lee Oscar so they don't play a smooth but at least you don't piss away 28+ bucks on something you'll never use.

UkEdman90
03-13-2009, 11:51 AM
Hey wild man, good luck on the harp. I did this:

I didn't know anything about the harp so I bought an E harp cause I play alot of E blues on the 6 string. Well, when you play the blues you play 2nd position which makes a E harp B harp. Lesson 1 (F-up 1) Well I don't play B blues on the 6 string.

So I bought a cheap set of 7 harps (19.99) and figured out what I play by messing around with them.

http://folk-instruments.musiciansfriend.com/product/Hohner-Piedmont-Blues-7Harmonica-Pack-with-Case?sku=421179

When I figued out what key I liked to play in I bought a Lee Oscar, Honer special 20, Marine Band and a Bushman Delta Frost in one of the keys I played in. They all have different stuff about them good and bad. Even the key of the harp determines the charateristics. Even bought a couple of Lee Oscars in the Minor keys I play in (they sound so sad in those minor keys it make my eyes tear up). I don't regret spending the 20 buck on the 7 pack, Made me realize what I would use. I mean they cost less than one special 20 or Lee Oscar so they don't play a smooth but at least you don't piss away 28+ bucks on something you'll never use.

i think i might actually buy that set you linked!!!! im a total beginner and i want some to play around the campfire or when im just relaxing at the lake.
How is the sq on them?? i know you get what you pay for obviously but how do they sound when you bend the notes?

fumanshu
03-13-2009, 12:04 PM
The best harps that I've tried are the custom ones Seydel by Ben Bouman. These ones play very well and even the stock Seydel 1847 are very nice player.

Other than that, there's a guy here in Montreal that is doing some custom Marine Band....and the play.......LOUD like hell!!!! Sound is so huge on his harp!

So, that's what I like the best in harp.

In the stock form, I found that the Deluxe marine Band are very close to custms ones

ichadwick
03-13-2009, 01:22 PM
Don't buy cheap harps. They're crap. They are to harmonicas what the $20 Mahalos are to ukuleles. Piedmont, Johnson, etc - junk. You can blow reeds on them in the first ten minutes of owning them!

Folkmaster is a nice harp, but the Bluesmaster uses better reeds for bending. The best Suzukis are the Promaster, but they're a lot more expensive and have a metal comb and phosphor-bronze reeds.

Hohner Cross Harp uses the same reeds as the Blues Harp and the Marine Band. Just a name change.

Yopparai
03-13-2009, 04:38 PM
*grin* I play a $20.. hmm... I dont think its even a Mahalo.

While I understand and respect the school of thought that says "buy the best instrument you can afford," I tend to lean the other way. When I want to try something new, I go for the cheapest instrument I can get that will let me learn and play at a basic level. I can upgrade if my skill level exceeds the cheapo, or if my interest is clearly more than a passing fancy- which I have frequently.

BTW, Ian, I have bookmarked your harmonica page. Man, you have lots of great info. I will have to upgrade my cheap harps to tackle overblowing and I will be refering to your reviews when that time comes.

SamWise
03-13-2009, 10:25 PM
I tend to agree about cheap harmonicas, and all of mine are Marine Band level of above, with one exception. I needed an odd key (I forget what) for a particular song I'd written, so I bought an El Cheapo because I just didn't have any more money, and it actually performs well. You can hear it on this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGx1xmb9vgM

On the other hand, my Hohner Cross Harps sound way better, as you can hear here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juBoLP3TzSc

ricdoug
03-13-2009, 10:28 PM
Lee Oscar harps can be blown, drawn and bent like a mad dog. I also like the Hohner Blues Harp's and Pro Harp's.

All the above harps have replaceable reed sets.

The Piedmont set is a great tool to learn how to play in different keys and learn how to play "crossharp" as explained by Howlin' Hobbit:

http://folk-instruments.musiciansfriend.com/product/Hohner-Piedmont-Blues-7Harmonica-Pack-with-Case?sku=421179

It's a 7 harp kit. All the keys (G, A, Bb, C, D, E, and F) you'll need. They have plastic combs and brass reeds. The set comes with a nice sturdy padded case that you can use for more serious professional quality harps when you get better. This whole set of medium grade harps costs less than one professional quality harp. great to learn on! Print out the Musicians Friend ad and bring it to your local Guitar Center. They will honor the price.

http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics/products/6/1/0/475610.jpg

Now, for the GRAND FINALE!!!

Here's a lesson book and CD set that you can download for FREE from "Blue" Barry Faust, a Tennessee bluesman!!!!!!!!!:

http://harmonicast.libsyn.com

Download the sound files as MP3's/MP4's and then convert them to WAV files to make a CD.

Barry has a more advanced computor course, here:

http://harmonicast.com

Barry's courses work best if you have a harp in the key of A.

...and that's not all!!! (is this starting to sound like an infomercial?!):

...how about a FREE online 605 song harmonica songbook???????!!!!!!!!:

http://www.volcano.net/~jackmearl/songs

WORD! Ric

ichadwick
03-14-2009, 03:04 AM
This set is also sold under several other names - made in China and it's crap. It's like the sets sold under the Johnson and Delta Blues brand on eBay. Reeds are inconsistent, thin, easily bent and often not even in tune.

If a single harp of modest quality costs as much or more than a whole set of these, do you really believe they will be good?

jhob
03-14-2009, 03:53 AM
I'm getting slightly bewildered by the range of beginners harmonica resources there are out there. Can anyone recommend a single authoratative source that will get me going on the right path?

Yopparai
03-14-2009, 05:38 AM
This set is also sold under several other names - made in China and it's crap. It's like the sets sold under the Johnson and Delta Blues brand on eBay. Reeds are inconsistent, thin, easily bent and often not even in tune.

If a single harp of modest quality costs as much or more than a whole set of these, do you really believe they will be good?
Absolutely not. We don't disagree on the quality question a bit.

With what I know about playing the harmonica now (which is precious little) would I rush out and buy a set now? Absolutely not. Well, maybe... I am a sucker for cheap. No. NO!

But when I first started, were they "good enough?" Yep. Have I broken some of them? Yep. Have I out grown them? Just about. But they got me to the point of needing a better harp, with the certainty that when I purchase the thing, it won't be buried in a drawer. I will actually use it.

Speaking of cheap, Many thanks to you Ric! I love free even more that cheap.

SailQwest
03-14-2009, 06:23 AM
Not too long after I started playing harmonica, I got one of the Johnson Blues Sets. While it wasn't that great, it was adequate and it gave me a better idea of which keys I really needed "good" harps for.

In my most frequently played keys I have Bushman Delta Frosts and Hohner Special 20s plus a Hohner Cross Harp I received as a birthday present. I also have a Suzuki Pure Harp in my most-played straight harp key. It's SWEET! I don't care for Lee Oskars and have given mine to a friend who won't play anything else.

Unfortunately, my passion for the harmonica has been usurped by the ukulele and so my fairly extensive harp collection is pretty neglected as I expend most of my musical efforts with my beloved ukuleles.

jhob
03-14-2009, 06:29 AM
Does anyone have experience of the DVDs from http://www.freeharmonicalessons.com/? I've take a look at some of the 'tasters' from the DVD on the website and he does seem to take it in nice easy baby steps which I like. $50 does seem a little steep for the beginners DVD though.

I suppose I'd like to get to a level of competence where I can jam along a bit with friends and put in little harp solos into my uke songs. Once I can get the simple stuff I'm sure the more complex bits will come more naturally.

rabbit
03-14-2009, 06:12 PM
jhob,

I don't have any experience with the product you linked to.
I can give you the benefit of what little I've learned as a
harp beginner.

The 'deep relaxed mouth position' advocated by JP Allen
is also advocated in a text I purchased by David Barrett,
a highly respected, extensively published harp educator.
I haven't decided whether or not to use this yet.

I've got a Golden Melody (in A) a Lee Oscar (in C) and
just picked up a Marine Band (Bb) and the Hohner is
slightly the most sensitive, loudest, easiest to bend.
If your Marine Band is in good shape you're good to go.
Careful not to let that wooden comb swell and bite you!

It is important to get and keep as much of the harp in
your mouth as possible. This makes Allen's 'position'
desireable. Mouth shape, tongue position and a deeply
placed harp allow you to get the difficult notes
(namely draw 1 & 2 and all of 8, 9 & 10.) 'Draw
bending' notes on holes 1,2,3,4 & 6 (not 5) and
'blow bending' on 7,8,9 & 10 has everything
to do with a deeply placed harp and arching the
tongue back (draw bends) and collapsing
the oral cavity toward the front for blow bends
on holes 7,8,9, & 10. Bends drawn or blown
do require a little more pressure.

Don't blow or draw too hard. If the note won't
come you are probably 'not holding your mouth
right' and not enough harp in there either. It seems
that the harp is best played quietly and I read
somewhere that it should be played like there's a
baby in next room.

I wrote this novel because you can probably horse
around with the thing an learn enough to take
advantage of Gussow's excellent, generous
youtube tutoring. That's why I got the Bb harp,
he uses one a lot. If I can help, I will, if you
are more comfortable with pro help thru the rank
beginner stages I can dig that too.

ricdoug
03-14-2009, 06:58 PM
This set is also sold under several other names - made in China and it's crap. It's like the sets sold under the Johnson and Delta Blues brand on eBay. Reeds are inconsistent, thin, easily bent and often not even in tune.

If a single harp of modest quality costs as much or more than a whole set of these, do you really believe they will be good?


"The set comes with a nice sturdy padded case that you can use for more serious professional quality harps when you get better"


"The Piedmont set is a great tool to learn how to play in different keys and learn how to play "crossharp""


Not too long after I started playing harmonica, I got one of the Johnson Blues Sets. While it wasn't that great, it was adequate and it gave me a better idea of which keys I really needed "good" harps for

What myself and others are saying from our experience is that it's a good tool to experiment with and will help one decide what keys they need. They don't play like crap, to me. That's my opinion. My Pro Harps are louder, richer and more durable. One Pro Harp costs more than the complete Piedmont set. Heck, even a set of replacement reeds for the Pro Harp cost more than the Piedmont set. The case is nice, with seperators, rigid foam surround and it closes securely with zippers and velcro (it has both). As you blow out each harp, replace it with a better one. Harmonica instructor Blue Barry Faust recommends these:

http://www.harmonicast.com

M. Hohner makes the "Old Standby" http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Hohner-34B-Old-Standby-Harmonica?sku=420579 which is a good harp for anyone who wants to learn to play while keeping it on a budget. I recommend the Lee Oskar Pro-Design http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Lee-Oskar-Major-Diatonic-Harmonica?sku=423600 harmonica. It's more expensive, but it's a professional-quality instrument and one that will last you a lifetime. It has replacement reed plates that are easily changed out if a reed goes bad or you just flat wear it out! Either harmonica will work well for learning. You can get one at your local music store or order one online. Just be sure you ask for Key of "A" Major Diatonic; you can’t go wrong.

ricdoug
03-14-2009, 07:09 PM
I'm getting slightly bewildered by the range of beginners harmonica resources there are out there. Can anyone recommend a single authoratative source that will get me going on the right path?

Just listen to the MP3's/MP4's:

http://harmonicast.libsyn.com

These lessons cross from beginner to intermediate. If you don't like them, but I'll bet you will, ther's no money spent. Ric

SamWise
03-14-2009, 09:15 PM
[SIZE="4"]

Hohner Cross Harp uses the same reeds as the Blues Harp and the Marine Band. Just a name change.

I'm not sure that's true. Mine sound nothing like my Blues Harps, and I have several of each.

ricdoug
03-14-2009, 09:53 PM
Ian's correct about the replacement reed plates, Sam:

http://folk-instruments.musiciansfriend.com/product/Hohner-RP565-MS-Replacement-Reed-Plates?sku=421174

"Replacement reed plates for MS harmonicas (Cross Harp, Big River Harp, Pro Harp, Blues Harp and Meisterklasse). Include top and bottom reed plates, set of mounting screws, and instructions, in a plastic case"

I also agree with you that the Cross Harp, Blues Harp and the Marine Band all have different tonal character as I have several of each, too. I've given away several of the Piedmont sets, along with the Harmonicast CD and book. I let the recipients know that this is a nice starter set and to keep the case when the harps blow out (even the best harps blow out in time). The Piedmont set and Harmonicast set give new players an incentive to move forward. Blue Bary Foust's "SuperTutor" instructional CD:

http://www.harmonicast.com/

takes his free:

http://harmonicast.libsyn.com

course to the next level. Ric

SamWise
03-15-2009, 12:18 AM
Wow - the same for the Meisterklasse? That's their top priced model! Who knew? I stand by my view on tonal character though; they're quite different, it's more than different packaging, as Ric says.

ricdoug
03-15-2009, 10:39 AM
It's like the clarinet and saxophone, Sam. The same reed produces a different quality of sound, based on the instrument it's mounted on. Ric

UkEdman90
03-15-2009, 03:34 PM
hows this look guys??

http://cgi.ebay.com/SUZUKI-HARMONICA-Bluesmaster-MR250-NEW-with-case_W0QQitemZ250380932775QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_De faultDomain_2?hash=item250380932775&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C 240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50

Rock-A-Hula
03-15-2009, 10:04 PM
I'm getting slightly bewildered by the range of beginners harmonica resources there are out there. Can anyone recommend a single authoratative source that will get me going on the right path?

My humble suggestion would be Rock n' Blues Harmonica (224 Page book and 73- Minute CD Jamming Buddy) written by looooong-time harmonicist instructor Jon Gindick (http://www.gindick.com/)...

(His old OOP book (http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Blues-Country-Western-Harmonica-Beginners/dp/0825699231/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237189204&sr=1-5) shows a Fourth Edition publish date of June, 1986 -- but earlier editions of it were around in the Seventies!!) :D

Anyway, it might be a good place to start if you want to start off with a few "bluesier" riffs rather than "Mary Had A Little Lamb" or "The Darling Clementine Huckleberry Stomp Waltz"?! :)

...Oh and FWIW, my vote for best all-around harp would be the Hohner Special 20. :shaka:

jhob
03-15-2009, 11:38 PM
I'll take a look at that Gindick book, looks like it might be good. I think I have a reasonable range of learning materials now and I know roughly what direction I'm heading in. I'm going to be practicing single notes and the blues scale a lot to get that under my lips first, seems to be a core skill. Those podcast Ric linked to look good and the Adam Gussow stuff looks good too, he don't half natter on though - clearly passionate about the harp!

I currently have a marine band in G, a cheapo no-name in C and have ordered a suzuki folkmaster in C and a special 20 in A over the weekend, should be plenty to get me started.

ichadwick
03-16-2009, 02:19 AM
Check Kudzurunner's free harmonica instruction videos on YouTube. Very good.

Most of the difference in sound from harps with the same reed plates comes from the different combs and covers.

Size, shape, hole size and depth, and materials all have an effect. Even the distance between the hole opening and the reed is significant. The further away the reed is, the more effort it takes to blow and bend.

Plus there are the ergonomics: some harps simply fit better in your hands, which is are integral to the resulting sound. Your hand and finger positions really change the sound when you play. If the harp is easier to cup and create an enclosed space, draw bends are much louder and easier to make. I was really surprised that the little Seydel Big 6 (6-hole) harp sounded and blew as well or better than a full-sized one.

Turbodog shows how a Special 20 can be made to BLAST with a new cover designed to more volume. I have a couple of his cases and they really work. No reed changes required.

Rock-A-Hula
03-16-2009, 07:36 AM
...I currently have a marine band in G, a cheapo no-name in C and have ordered a suzuki folkmaster in C and a special 20 in A over the weekend, should be plenty to get me started.

Teriffic! Best of Luck in your endeavor!

I, for one, aspire to the the incredible talents of the late, great Harmonica Frank Frost...

http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/1047/harmonicafrankfloyd.jpg (http://img13.imageshack.us/my.php?image=harmonicafrankfloyd.jpg)

(This guy really nose his harmonicas!) http://img46.imageshack.us/img46/746/rimshotop4.gif

swervy jervy
03-16-2009, 08:07 AM
http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/1047/harmonicafrankfloyd.jpg (http://img13.imageshack.us/my.php?image=harmonicafrankfloyd.jpg)


Not a man to whom one should loan one's harp.

ricdoug
03-16-2009, 08:51 AM
S'not a man to whom one should loan one's harp...

RON<>VA
03-16-2009, 03:35 PM
Some great info and suggestions on harmonicas. Based on these posts I ordered and received a Suzuki Pro Master MR350 C. It's a beautiful instrument!

Rock-A-Hula
03-16-2009, 10:44 PM
http://img18.imageshack.us/img18/3678/mouthharp.jpg (http://img18.imageshack.us/my.php?image=mouthharp.jpg)


...Not a man to whom one should loan one's harp.


S'not a man to whom one should loan one's harp...

Good 1's!

But saaaaaay, that s'not nice! http://img237.imageshack.us/img237/6051/emogrinnojq6.gif

...Seriously though, the harmonica is surely a remarkable instrument! It's so versatile in fact, that AFAIC -- it really is a case of mislabelling to think of it strictly as a "mouth organ"...

Why even as I write, my research and development team here at Mal-O-Dor Music Co. is attempting to bring to the marketplace a new variation on the harmonica. We're going to call it The Flatulencia ™ой. So far the only real issues have been a few minor injuries resulting from improper placement of the instrument by the player.

My staff has assured me, however, that we are just about ready to move on this and that when carefully deployed -- the 1st position backup chording possibilities are unlimited, depending upon the gastric intake and reaction timing of the end user, of course...

Yopparai
03-17-2009, 02:46 AM
My staff has assured me, however, that we are just about ready to move on this and that when carefully deployed -- the 1st position backup chording possibilities are unlimited, depending upon the gastric intake and reaction timing of the end user, of course...
I only know of a couple of people that could take advantage of the draw reeds, though. And that old caution takes on new urgency: What you eat will end up inside your harmonica.