View Full Version : Strumming while playing a wind instrument

11-29-2015, 10:55 AM
Does anyone else strum and play a wind intrument? At the same time? Or lay the changes down on a looper then pick up the instrument and play?

I've been trying to comp changes on uke while playing jazz harmonica at the same time. Wow, it's tough!

I've thought about a looping machine, but I'd rather keep my set up as simple as possible!

11-29-2015, 11:37 AM
I used to play blues guitar and harmonica, and I tried to do both at once on many occasions. I used a rack that held the harmonica up to my mouth, and it worked okay. The problem was that while I could make it work for simple things, I lacked the brainpower/multitasking ability that would let me play both very well. Worse, it seemed to sap my enjoyment of playing either and made it entirely too much like work. I've heard some people pull it off, but not very many. There always seems to be a trade-off.

I managed a little by practicing very simple things on the strings that I had committed to muscle memory, like shuffles or simple chords while playing the harmonica, then chugging the harmonica when I wanted anything fancy on guitar. I just never managed to be very comfortable with it perhaps more practice would have fixed that.

The looper sounds like a good idea. I notice a lot of multi-instrumental buskers using them when amplification is allowed. Good luck.

11-29-2015, 01:10 PM
Bob Dylan made a fairly good job of playing the mouth organ in a neck-brace in between verses whilst strumming along ... and of course there's always the kazoo, the faithful standby of many a one-man-band ;)

I did try it, back in the day before loopers and the like ... it's not as easy as it looks !!

Jim Hanks
11-29-2015, 01:41 PM
At the same time? No. I do multitrack projects with uke and wind instruments, mainly EWI but it requires fingers as well. I have thought about live looping with uke and EWI but haven't gotten around to trying it.

11-29-2015, 04:42 PM
Does this count as a wind inst? Just some blues harp on Sweet Home Chicago.


11-30-2015, 10:20 AM
I've done the harmonica-in-rack thing while playing either uke or piano. It served its purpose at the time, but wasn't particularly enjoyable. It would be really cool to find a way, without a looper, to play uke and recorder. :o

11-30-2015, 10:53 AM
I strum my resonator and play my harmonica (neck holder with a 42 hole diatonice harmonica (21 double rows). I can pretty much carry most most melodys on it and it sounds great together. I do stuff like "Nobody knows you when your down and out", Beatles medley, What a wonderful world which sounds great. Worth trying...

12-01-2015, 02:43 AM
If you can play the diatonic harmonica then I propose the following to you all. I play harmonica and ukulele at the same time with a neck holder so the harmonica is perched in front of my mouth. Neil Young and Beatles stuff with harmonica parts are great for this.

The way I approach it is that if you can sing and play the ukulele at the same time, think of the harmonica as a singing part. It makes it easier to get your head around it. The harmonica part is just like a vocal part.

Hope that helps,

12-01-2015, 08:07 AM
I'm thinking about dipping my toe in these waters. I play mostly jazz, swing, & depression era tunes. My chord comping has been getting better and better. Always been fascinated with the "one man band" concept. I play a Hohner 365 custom tuned to Bb four key so it's a diatonic that you play chromatically without a slide button. I'm going to buy a "Harp Arm" which holds the harp on a cantilevered arm attached to a mic stand (so no neck rack). If I have any success with this set up I'll add a high-hat with my left foot.

But that's getting way ahead of myself. But I am going to try some baby steps in this direction.

If you want to get a taste of looping, check out Slide Man Slim on youtube. He does a nice rendition of How High The Moon with guitar, looper, chromatic harp. Sorry, don't know how to add a link yet.

12-01-2015, 08:52 AM
Check you tube by searching "Bulldoze Blues Ukulele". The video will show my friend Joel Ulven playing uke and a wind instrument

12-01-2015, 09:15 AM
I have a similar harmonica to what you describe (mine is an Echo Harp), but was under the impression that it would not fit into a standard neck rack. What kind of rack do you use?

12-01-2015, 09:24 AM
I'm not playing any wind instruments, but I'm a toe tapper. I keep time by tapping my toe. But I bought this tambourine that has an elastic strap to go around the toe, in the hopes of adding some percussion to my playing and singing. Well, the tambourine noise disrupts my focus, and I get all messed up. I'm still working on it, but it is going to take a little time. I can't imagine how hard it would be for me to play a harmonica while playing my uke, when I can't even tap my toe in time, with a tambourine attached to it.