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Thread: Choosing my first harmonica

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    1

    Default Choosing my first harmonica

    Hi.
    I'm new to the forum since I didn't know much and have never been interested in musical instruments (and music in general). BUT recently I've tried playing harmonica myself and immediately I realized that's some magic in the process of creating sound patterns even when you don't have any skills. AND now I'm so much charmed and think about it so much that I'm creating this thread lol (I normally don't do such things).
    I consider buying one for myself and have already learnt some basics from these articles: https://windplays.com/best-harmonicas/ https://wisepick.org/best-harmonica/
    Found them quite helpful, but you can comment on them also, every opinion counts.
    My main question for experienced players: what harmonica can you recommend for the greenest guy like me to make my learning process smooth and what are the main points should I pay attention to? Theoretically, I can figure it out myself, but I'm sure there're many things that come with experience, so please do share.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
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    4,413

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    I've been playing harmonica since the early 1980s but it took almost ten years and special moment for me to break through the pre-internet effort. First let me recommend the Lee Oscar line of diatonic harmonicas by Tomi, I find them to be very comfortable. I also have a cheaper set of Honers, but the holes are little closer together, making them a little more difficult to play. I suggest spending for a better one, those $5-$10 models are not worth it in my opinion.

    Have you mastered the tongue and corner of the mouth technique. I tried for those ten years reading books and instructions, but couldn't figure it out. In the early 80s I worked as a propman in the movie studios. I was working at Paramount and was assigned to a situation comedy pilot starring Al Molinaro from Happy Days and Lyle Waggoner from the Carol Burnett Show. A couple of days along, the producers and writers decided to rewrite the script, so we were on hold for a couple hours sitting around the sound stage.

    About 15 minutes went by and Al went into his dressing room and brought out his ukulele and started playing. Then the casting director got up and did a soft shoe along with (he was a song and dance man previously). Then Lyle took out a harmonica and accompanied, he's really good. That went on for about 45 minutes. As soon as they stopped, I went to Lyle and said I'd been trying to play harmonica for almost ten years and couldn't get it.

    He said that he can show me the same way he was taught. He took my hand, put the fleshy side into his mouth and blew with his tongue resting on the flesh. That was all I needed, I totally got it. I took out my harmonica and he quickly taught me "On Top of Old Smokey" in just a few moments. For the next week all I did was play in my spare time. To cap off the story, I was then assigned to another situation comedy pilot with a young guy in the cast. He heard me playing during a break, came over, took out his harmonica and went into a great blues lick.

    I asked him to tell me how to do that, the blues was actually the reason I wanted to play harmonica, so he explained that you cup your tongue inside your mouth, then make the cup smaller and larger to get that bend sound. It took me just a few minutes to get that, mainly because as a youngster, I taught myself to snap my tongue really loud, which strengthened it so much that it was relatively easy to bend the notes.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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    Last edited by kohanmike; 04-22-2019 at 07:04 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    Looks like you're the same guy as on Chiff & Fipple, I've put some comments on the thread over there.
    http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/vie...?f=17&t=108499

    Basically don't buy too cheap, a decent harmonica is upwards of £30 for a diatonic or tremolo, & nearer to £150 for a chromatic.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada
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    Think about the songs you want to play and find out what key they are in. Harmonicas are available in many keys, and you will have to buy according to the key you want to play. Or look for a package deal, harmonica and instruction book. Might also want a soft cloth to wipe them after you play. Check also for a case to keep the harmony in.

    Harmonicas are one of those instruments where you may have more than one key. They are small and easier to hide.

    Have fun.
    LACole
    Laurie Ann Cole

    Northern UK20 Concert Mahogany GCEA Aquila Lava
    2018
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    CPM CT-Q2 chromatic clip on tuner
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada
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    Check out Amazon for Hal Leonard harmonica pack. It doesn’t indicate the brand of harmonica but I do know you can get Horner harmonicas in a package deal. Harmonicas come as 10 holes and up, and cost from 15/dollars and up. Find out if you like harmonicas before you spend too much. The chromatic are more money than the diatonic.
    LACole
    Laurie Ann Cole

    Northern UK20 Concert Mahogany GCEA Aquila Lava
    2018
    Beaver Creek BCUKEFM-T Tenor Maple Flame gCEA D’addario Pro Arte
    Eddy Finn EF-Moon Concert Mahogany gCEA Aquila SuperNylgut
    Beaver Creek BCUKE-S Soprano Mahogany gCEA D’addario Black Nylon
    2019
    Ohana PKC-25G Concert Mahogany Pineapple gCEA Aquila
    Donner DUC-3 Concert Spruce/Mahogany gCEA Donner

    CPM CT-Q2 chromatic clip on tuner
    Snark SN-4 tuner
    Donner tuner

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Port Hope, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    767

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    Harmonicas are no longer cheap instruments. In the early sixties a Marine Band (the only diatonic harp worth playing at the time) cost about two bucks. There is quite a variety of harps available nowadays, but I'd go for a Big River (abut as cheap as you want to go), Marine Band, Special 20 or Lee Oscar to start out.
    There are packs available from Hohner called "Piedmont Blues", made in China with plastic cover plates. They come in a pack of 7 in a neat little carrying case for under $30. The harps are garbage, but the case is OK.

    The C is a mid-range harp and easy to play. If you're gonna be playing with blues guitar players, get an A harp and play cross harp in E.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by thedude View Post
    Hi.
    I'm new to the forum since I didn't know much and have never been interested in musical instruments (and music in general). BUT recently I've tried playing harmonica myself and immediately I realized that's some magic in the process of creating sound patterns even when you don't have any skills. AND now I'm so much charmed and think about it so much that I'm creating this thread lol (I normally don't do such things).
    I consider buying one for myself and have already learnt some basics from these articles: https://windplays.com/best-harmonicas/ https://www.officialtop5review.com/best-harmonicas/
    Found them quite helpful, but you can comment on them also, every opinion counts.
    My main question for experienced players: what harmonica can you recommend for the greenest guy like me to make my learning process smooth and what are the main points should I pay attention to? Theoretically, I can figure it out myself, but I'm sure there're many things that come with experience, so please do share.
    This is a pretty hard question to answer because I think the recommendations are going to be different depending on the person.

    I would do some more research before buying, you definitely want to make sure you make the right purchase for YOU.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    5,967

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    Guide prices

    Diatonic
    Hohner Special 20 £28
    Seydel Session £28

    Tremolo
    Suzuki SU21 £33

    Chromatic
    Seydel Deluxe £120
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    CT
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    59

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    I tried all the common ones and in the end I can't recommend enough get the Hohner Marine Band. I tossed all the others.

    She plays it:


    ALSO...the thing that put the biggest smile on my face is when I finally learned how to bend a note. Some YouTube video helped me figure it out.
    Last edited by fingerguy; 08-22-2019 at 07:40 AM.

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