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View Full Version : I just bought a harmonica...



ukecoolness
11-06-2009, 09:00 AM
... and I don't what the hell to do whith it :D

It's a cheap brazilian made diatonic harmonica in the key of C, wich I heard is a good key for beginners, and it has a good enough rep around here, plus did I mentioned that it was cheap?

I love the Blues (Clapton, King, Robert Johnson, SRV) and those blues influenced rock n' roll bands like Cream, Stones, early Aerosmith, Allman Brothers... so I've figured why not give it a shot?

Anyway, I've been watching youtube lessons and searching for some tutorials around the web for the last couple of hours and I would love to hear some tips from the seasoned harp players here on UU... I know you're out there somewhere hehe. Seriously any help is welcomed.

Captain_Lovehandles
11-06-2009, 09:14 AM
You're in for some fun. To play blues, you play cross-key, allowing you to play in G minor on your C major harp. Go HERE (http://ovationidea.com/jamtracks/) and download the "12 bar blues in G" jam track. You can also download the PDF to show you how the chord progression goes. Play your C harp along with it for practice.

Listen to music by Sonny Boy Williamson II (Alek Rice Miller), Lil Walter, Sonny Terry, Junior Wells & Sonny Boy Williamson I. Have fun!

ukecoolness
11-06-2009, 09:48 AM
Thank you captain, I read about the cross-key, it works kinda like the cycle of fifths right? I guess my next purchase will be a harmonica in the Key of A, since most of the blues stuff are made in the key of E.
But for now I will annoy my neighbors and the rest of my family with this bad boy I've just bought.

One more thing, do you know any site with good tabs for harmonica, I can't read sheet music, but I guess some tabs would help me. The only one I know is harptabs.com

Oh, and I'm already having a blast, even though I can't really play a single clean note very well.

Captain_Lovehandles
11-06-2009, 10:03 AM
Sounds like you've got a handle on it. Yes, you play the harp that's the 4th of the root, so A harp for E and C for G.

I dunno about tabs. I'd say listen to recordings and emulate the masters.

Uncle-Taco
11-06-2009, 02:51 PM
I played harmonica for a living for a few years, but that doesn't mean I know anything. My biggest piece of advice, in fact, is this: Nobody knows anything. It's your mouth, your harp, your breath, and your ears, so you have to decide what's what.

C harp is a good place to start. Forget tabs; if you can't copy it by ear, it ain't you.

Work on getting good, clean, single notes, then work on bending cleanly and controlling those bent notes, and it will all come to you.

Best thing to do: LISTEN. Listen to the masters (Cotton, Branch, Little Walter, Big Walter [both of them], Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf, and all those old Chicago guys). AFTER that, you could listen to newer stuff (Wilson, Piazza, Guenling, Ricci, Harmon, DeLay) but switch to them AFTER you have heard who THEY were copying when THEY started out.

Have fun, be musical, and remember what all harmonica players have in common with vacuum cleaners: They all suck when you plug them in. ;)

(Okay, one more harmonica joke because I just gotta: Know how to tell when a harmonica player is trying to get into your house?
It doesn't matter. He can't find the key and wouldn't know when to come in anyway.) :D

JKoval
11-23-2009, 06:50 AM
For something a bit more contemporary, listen to the group the Blues Traveler. 'Hook' is a goody. :)

ukeninam
11-23-2009, 07:19 PM
... and I don't what the hell to do whith it :D

It's a cheap brazilian made diatonic harmonica in the key of C, wich I heard is a good key for beginners, and it has a good enough rep around here, plus did I mentioned that it was cheap?

I love the Blues (Clapton, King, Robert Johnson, SRV) and those blues influenced rock n' roll bands like Cream, Stones, early Aerosmith, Allman Brothers... so I've figured why not give it a shot?

Anyway, I've been watching youtube lessons and searching for some tutorials around the web for the last couple of hours and I would love to hear some tips from the seasoned harp players here on UU... I know you're out there somewhere hehe. Seriously any help is welcomed.

OooOO...i love my hohner marine band...I agree with the first reaction of what the hell to do with it...i had the same thing!! lol...after awhile though when you listen to the songs you just sort of pick it up and I tend to just do my own thing!! have fun with it...youtube is pretty awesome with tutorials...with some people at least..anyways it seems like you have a good handle on it!!

ricdoug
11-30-2009, 10:23 PM
Download this FREE harmonica lesson CD and book:

http://www.harmonicast.libsyn.com

It's a well structured lesson to begin to plays the blues harp, by "Blue Barry" Faust. The price is right, too!

Here's a 605 song harmonica songbook that tells you which reed hole to blow or draw (-) on:

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

Guitar Center has this reasonably priced 7 piece set for you to familiarize yourself in playing in different keys. When you "blow each one out", replce them one by on with nicer harps in the same key. The padded case is worth the price alone:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Hohner-Piedmont-Blues-7-Harmonica-Pack-with-Case-103225843-i1134124.gc

http://images.guitarcenter.com/products/full/Hohner/632866155519772474.jpg

http://images.guitarcenter.com//Stickers/GuitarCenter/120x120/merchTopSeller.gif

An assortment of harps at a super low price!
The Hohner Piedmont Blues 7-Harmonica Pack with Case is a super value. Includes 7 harps with Hohner-quality brass reeds, aluminum plates, precision molded combs, and a plush-lined nylon case. Keys: G, A, Bb, C, D, E, and F (lowest to highest).

Hohner includes a Bb harp for playing cross-harp in the key of Fa favorite key of harmonica greats like Little Walter.

nohandles
12-04-2009, 04:28 AM
Download this FREE harmonica lesson CD and book:

http://www.harmonicast.libsyn.com

It's a well structured lesson to begin to plays the blues harp, by "Blue Barry" Faust. The price is right, too!

Here's a 605 song harmonica songbook that tells you which reed hole to blow or draw (-) on:

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

Guitar Center has this reasonably priced 7 piece set for you to familiarize yourself in playing in different keys. When you "blow each one out", replce them one by on with nicer harps in the same key. The padded case is worth the price alone:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Hohner-Piedmont-Blues-7-Harmonica-Pack-with-Case-103225843-i1134124.gc

http://images.guitarcenter.com/products/full/Hohner/632866155519772474.jpg

http://images.guitarcenter.com//Stickers/GuitarCenter/120x120/merchTopSeller.gif

An assortment of harps at a super low price!
The Hohner Piedmont Blues 7-Harmonica Pack with Case is a super value. Includes 7 harps with Hohner-quality brass reeds, aluminum plates, precision molded combs, and a plush-lined nylon case. Keys: G, A, Bb, C, D, E, and F (lowest to highest).

Hohner includes a Bb harp for playing cross-harp in the key of Fa favorite key of harmonica greats like Little Walter.

Wow, thanks for these links. I was given a huge collect of my life long best friends after a year long bout with brain cancer. No one wanted to buy them from me since they were used- I'm liquidating his stuff so his widow gave them to me. I go an entire set of Bushman's in every key and another set called C A Seydel Blues session made in Germany in all the major keys. I've been wanting to play harmonica and Uke for quit some time so I could replace the Kazoo.
These links will be a great help to get started. -Doug

Hankthetank
12-06-2009, 04:04 AM
cool, I was wondering about some of this myself since there are a few songs that I want to do with a harmonica in it. I have no idea how do figure out what I need to play though. Hopefully, some of those links will help.
Thanks:)

Benno
12-06-2009, 12:07 PM
I have been playing harmonica, and the blues for about one year now. The harmonica is such a lovely instrument, because there is so many ways you can use it on.

I started out with a cheap harp as yours also in C, and since a harp in key of C, is a great key to start with, i used it for some months.
Like you, i had no idea what to do with this fellow, but luckily my good friend could play some "happy melodies", like "mary had a little lamb" and so on. He showed me how to play Mary had a little lamb, and then i was left on my own trying to find out more about this instrument. I went on the internet and just type "harmonica tabs", and that's what i found. I used harptabs.com for the 1-2 first months i played, but i quickly found it it's way better just to use your ears, rather than looking at numbers. That's one thing that will get you better quickly. So i learned a few "camp-fire songs" such as "Kumbaja my lord" and so on, and oooon. But i wanted to learn how to play the blues. So my advice to start with is; learn some simple songs, like "oh susanna", and just try to get clear notes. That's VERY important in the start, in my opinion. I tryed to learn some of friend how to bend notes, but it was too difficult for them, when they even couldn't just play 1 single note clear. Because this is your first harmonica, your mouth is not used to do these "moves" :P. You have to pucker up, and just try, try, try, and try to get a CLEAR single note.
The next step is learning how to bend notes. It took my a while before i got it down, and you have probably heard this many times before, BUT follow this rule like nothing else matters; PRACTICE PRATICE PRATICE! - if you're learning how to bend a note, just keep trying and repeating. It's better to just play 10 minutes(depending on how much time you want to put in this, personally i use alot of time on a regular day on just jamming) each day, than playing 1 hour one day, and then 1 hour a week later. There are many good lessons on youtube generally, also on how to bend. What i did was just watching a bunch of these, and taking a single thing from every video, and put it together, to bend a note. Every man/woman have their ways to learn it, because there really is a few metodes how to get it down.
Now when you got this down, and you have probably played for a few months (depends how much you practice ;)) it's time to listen to some old records of the blues harmonica legends. As some of the other guys here listed above, Sonny boy Williamson II, Sonny Terry, Little walter, James Cotton is SOME of the players you want to listen to. Listen cearfully, and take bits and pieces of them all and put it together to your own style of playing. Also search on youtube or other places for jam-tracks. You'll be using a lot of time playing along with jam-tracks.
On youtube there is a lot of harmonica "teachers", but two of my favorites, is a guy named Adam Gussow (Kudzurunner is his name on youtube), and Jason Ricci (who plays in the band; New Blood). I recommend you watch their lessons, because they have ALOT of great lessons out there.

After you've been playing some months (ofc. it's up to you when..) you'll probably want a new harmonica IF you have a cheap one. "Okay! but what to get?" you're probably wondering. There is alot of great harp brands out there, but i will just name a few which really stands out. I got my first "real" harp after i had been playing for about 2-3 months. It was a Hohner Pro harp in D, and a month later i got one in A. I now have a Hohner Marine Band in E, the two pro harps, and a Hohner Blues harp in C.
Hohner is a great harmonica brand, where i really like their Marine bands, and i've heard the "Special 20's" is really good too. Also, there is the Big river harps, and so on and so. Hohner have alot of great harps out there, so i would diffently check them out if i was you. Some other great brands would be; Lee oskar, Suzuki, Seydel, Bushman and so on.
I can't tell you what key to get, because that's up to you. But if i should recommend one is would be an "A" harp, because it's simply is a great key when you're playing harmonica (If you're playing 2nd position (Cross-harp, it's where you use alot of bend notes, and mostly use holes 1-6).
Also when you have mastered the bend notes, you could go jam with people! If you have a friend who can play guitar or Bass, it's great, because you learn alot just of jamming.

I'm not saying that this way of "practicing" is the best, i'm just telling what i did in the start, and later on.
Alright, i hope that helped out abit, i'm sorry if there is any typos, but bare with me, this was loong post :P


Feel free to ask any questions.
Keep on harpn'
- Benno

nohandles
12-15-2009, 02:19 AM
I've been using the links since they were posted. I must say they are really nice lessons. I'm getting it already and can make music with the harmonica now.Yeah! Thanks a million for posting these for us.

Doug

Captain_Lovehandles
12-15-2009, 03:09 AM
Glad to hear it's coming along. Here's a video of me playing harmonica with some other old f@rts from the Ovation club. A Grayson Capps song called Get Back Up Again (http://www.youtube.com/user/CaptLovehandles#p/u/2/GfF5q1LrJcE).

MoreUke
12-16-2009, 07:52 PM
Had to chuckle at your terminology of "cheap brazilian harmonica." I think you might be referring to "Hering" harps. Lots of folks (including myself) think mighty highly of them.

One guy Peter "Madcat" Ruth http://www.madcatmusic.net is or was a spokesman for Hering. He was also the guy that got me interested in the Ukulele. Don't turned off by the picture of the Chromatic on his opening page. He can blow one heck of a blues harp.

There is a load of great information for Harmonica Players on the web. One place you might want to check out "SPAH" http://www.spah.org/ (http://www.spah.org/) They have a convention in the United States every year. Keep moving it so it gets close to most folks.

I forgot to look where you are located at. There is also the Buckeye (Ohio -spring) Harmonica Festival. As a matter of fact there is a Garden State (New Jersey - fall) Harmonica Festival also.

If you do a lot of blues - cross harp playing. You will appreciate the fact that harps are cheap. Actually they seem expensive to me, I started playing a few decades ago.

Enjoy.

Have a Great Day,
Jim

couple of favorites of mine:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlLS_2yqQJE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfLhnkme2mE

ricdoug
01-04-2010, 06:01 PM
The Bushman set looks like a bargain, too:

http://bushmanmusic.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4&products_id=5

http://bushmanmusic.com/store/images/MH_p1.jpg

Blue Steel 12 Key Set
Here you get all 12 keys of our popular Blue Steel for only $39.95. The Cordura covered hardshell case is nearly worth that, but then you get the harps too! The Blue Steel is no Delta Frost quality wise, but it is easily worth the money being charged here. It's got brass reads, chrome cover plates, and a plastic comb. If you want harmonicas in all 12 keys but don't want to spring for our Delta Frost, then this is the set for you. The black case that accompanies this set can be used to fit Bushman Delta Frosts as well.

HumbleSounds
01-04-2010, 06:22 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHUuqsSCn5g
This harmonica video blew my mind.

Uncle-Taco
01-04-2010, 07:38 PM
I'd go with Bushman over Herring anymore. I have had a few nice herrings, but they have really declined in quality. Charlie Musselwhite quit endorsing them, and they basically lost all of their pros for a while because of that bad quality slump. I have a 64 chromatic that was made in '03 and a friend has an identical one (same model, etc.) made in '99. His is excellent and well made, and sounds great. Mine is a complete P.O.S. when compared side-by side.

I've bought a few of the better Bushman harps to gig with, and so far so good. EXCELLENT tone and pretty good setup out of the box.

Lee Oskars are pretty much bullet-proof, but expensive and rather shrill. They also have a famous tendency for the (shorter, wider) reeds to "wobble," which causes a shrill squeal for which L.O. harps are famous.

At the end of the day, I keep going back to good old Hohner Special 20s. They're ubiquitous, fairly consistent (at last, although far from superior), and they're still comparatively cheap.

Like stunt harp? Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIVPEHIhG1U

Deets
03-08-2010, 11:41 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRa6QpUZme0

Great beginner tutorial, if you want to play blues harp!