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Thread: Harmonica

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    San Francsico Bay Area
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    145

    Default Harmonica

    I’ve stated before I play free style 12 bar blues with a group of Harp and Guitar players.

    I played clarinet(s) for nine years , piano for 8 or nine years and saxaphones for 4 years. Hence, I tend NOT to sing when I Uke. But I think I terms of ‘keyboard’ progression. Different from hopping around on a 4 string.

    Therefore, I think I can transgression onto the harp.
    To that end, one of my Christmas gifts is an inexpensive 3-pack of harps.
    If I like it, and do well, I can move upward into more high-end mouth organs.
    Luckily, high end are definitely less expensive than moderate ukuleles.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
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    Default

    Welcome to the "harp" club. I tried to learn harmonica in the late 60s/early 70s when I was learning guitar (yep, I'm a Beatles influenced Baby Boomer), but couldn't get the hang of it from the reading material. In the late 70s I was a propman on a TV pilot at Paramount, which starred Al Molinaro from Happy Days and Lyle Waggoner from the Carol Burnett Show. During a break, Al brought out a ukulele and played, and Lyle pulled out a harmonica and they entertained the crew for a good 45 minutes, the casting director doing a soft shoe right along.

    When they finished, I made a beeline to Lyle and told him the difficulty I've had learning harmonica. He said he would show me the same way that a guy showed him many years ago. He took the side of my hand, put it in his mouth and played it like it was a harmonica. BAMM, I got it then and there. He had me play "On Top of Old Smokey" and I could very quickly.

    A couple of weeks later I was on another pilot with a 20 something actor who heard me playing, came over, pulled out a harmonica and did some great blues licks. I immediately asked him how to do that. He said you just cup the back of your tongue and bend it up and down to get the bluesy sound. As it turns out, my tongue was made for it. When I was a kid, I started snapping my tongue louder and louder, which made my tongue muscle very strong and flexible. I followed his lead and in a very short time I had it.

    I now will play blues on harmonica for select songs with my uke group during the week, and with an acoustic group that meets on Sundays in a park. I have a set of seven Lee Oskar Tomy harps (about $45 each), plus a Shaker MadCat palm mic ($135) and Fly 3 Duo amp ($125). Great fun.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 13 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 37)

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    Default

    You'll probably want to get the low tuned harps eventually....

    I wanted to play harmonica when I retired, but just didn't get how to, so got my first uke, & that allowed me to finally play music.
    Many ukes later, I went back & retried my harmonicas, & quickly came to the conclusion that for what I wanted, a chromatic would be best.
    Now I have a fair selection, diatonics, chromatics, & tremolos, & it has become my main instrument of choice.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Darlington UK
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    906

    Default

    I've been messing around with harmonica on and off for a few years, never got good at it. I'm convinced I just can't play the things. I got a second one recently, a second hand Hohner BluesBand. Sounds exactly the same as my unbranded cheapie. Luckily they can be recycled
    You don't stop playing when you get old. You get old when you stop playing

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Brenchley, Kent, England
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    Default

    One spin off from playing harmonica is that the 10 holes equate to the ten buttons of a one row melodeon - same in/out to get two notes.

    Also means you can add vocals.

    Can have up to four sets of reeds per note, three octaves and a musette. Those with stops on the top of the treble end let you add or block off any of the banks of reeds (like a harmonium) so plenty of variety in the sound available.
    Pete Howlett 'Deacon' - low G (That One With The Amazing Back)
    Gold Tone small bodied Tenor resonator - high g
    Kala Tenor resonator - low G

    Also Mark Savoy G melodeon, Andy Norman DG Anglo, Alba & MK whistles, Dave Copley flutes and Jon Swayne bagpipes. Well, keeps me busy.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Default

    Great stories, so, what do you recommend for type of harmonica to play with ukulele in standard c tuning. And, more importantly, how does one get started learning harp? I know from my learning style if someone were to show me the basis by feel, so to speak, or demonstration, I might get it. I picked up a three pack of harmonicas one time at Costco.i gotta go find the package, that I never opened. I got it for retirement. Well, it’s here and now. LOL. Any suggestions on how to get going and what to use would be helpful.

    And YES, I’m another Beatle inspired player in all facets but hearing my idol John Lennon on the early songs play the harmonica gave me the itch. I also love, Willy Nelson’s, harmonica player from his band. Willys, guitar style and Trigger along with that great harp play and Willy voice forge his sound.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2013
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    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
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    Default

    One thing to know when playing blues by bending notes, which is also also called 2nd position, the harp you use depends on the key of the song. If the Song is in the key of G, you use a C harp when bending, key of E, use an A harp. My Lee Oskars have the position 1 key printed on one end of the harp and the 2nd position for blues on the other end. Here is a list:

    Song Harp
    A>>>D
    B>>>E
    C>>>F
    D>>>G
    E>>>A
    F>>>Bb
    G>>>C

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

    You might like to get Blues Harmonica for Dummies - Winslow Yerxa for your tutorial. But there's lots online also, depends how best you prefer to learn.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Southern California
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    Default

    Another Ukulele, you better be careful. Harps grow on one even faster than ukes. I played them for many years, and my collection just grew and grew. I have carry cases, a harp holder for my neck, books, polishing rags, etc. I was really hooked. I even did maintenance on them and learned how to change the tuning on them. I confess to playing them instead of my other, more expensive instruments.

    I liked (like) Hohner diatonics until they sold out to China (sigh,), though I have chromatics too. I just never could cotton to the chromos or the Lee Oskars.

    I like the easy and readily availability of the diatonics. Take one outta your pocket, blow the lint out, play a tune or two and shove it back into your pocket (with apologies to John Steinbeck).

    Anyhow, have fun harpin’, but be careful wid ‘em . . .
    Last edited by Down Up Dick; 12-19-2019 at 05:19 AM.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Port Hope, Ontario, Canada
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    Default

    I started playing harp when my siblings were sharing one guitar and, being Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee fans, we decided that Marine Bands were a lot cheaper than another guitar (in those days, circa 1960, they were about $2.50). Once we discovered, through an article by Tony "Little Sun" Glover in Sing Out! magazine, that we needed an A harp to play the blues in E, we were all set. In 1968/69, I was on a hitch-hiking trip overseas and didn't take a guitar, so I became a much better harp player.
    At that time, we used to soak the harps in water to make the reeds easier to bend. Hohner soon came out with what they called the Blues Harp which was advertised as being easy to bend reeds without soaking. I got a few of them, but didn't find them any better.
    These days I have Marine Band, Big River, Special 20, and Lee Oskar harps. I like Special 20s best, but the others are just fine.

    I did buy a Hohner pack of Piedmont Blues harmonicas for $30. These had seven harps and a neat little carrying case. I gave the harps away to kids to play with, since they were crap. The case is nice, but not worth $30.

    The Big River harps are about the cheapest I'd get if I were you.

    Here I am with an Elton harp rack that I bought in the mid-sixties. I must be playing Walking My Baby Back Home, because it's the only tune I play with harp and uke.

    Jim with harp rack & uke.jpg

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