Page 1 of 1

Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:05 pm
by Les Again
Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

Is it home made?

If store bought, have you made any adjustments or modifications?

I am no harp player but I do have a few and once or twice a year I try it again.

I had a harp rack but it is broken.

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:30 am
by allanlummox
I play more and more racked harp as part of my online broadcasts. I have a store bought one - dunno the brand, it just says 'made in Germany", I made sure I got one that was wide enough to hold the Hohner "Echo Celeste" and other big, double reed harps I like to use for 3rd position. ( when I started messing with these I was hoping they were significantly louder than Diatonics. They ain't.
When I play racked harp on the street, I use Turbolidded Special Twenties, which do have a nice volume, enough to cut through my National Delphi. )

I added a (home made) leather washer under the wing nut when it started to give it better grip - and help stay in position better.

Been messing with harp on and off as long as I've been playing guitar - just starting to be able to stand my harmonica playing myself.

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:11 pm
by watertore
here is the one I have used for the past 40 years. It cost about $5 when I started and now is about $8. It is the best deal in the harp world, where harps seem to go up dollars every year. The biggest mistake new to the rack players fall into is trying to get it to fit right. You have to look at it like a new instrument. It will take many years of full time playing on it to make it sound good. Often harp players that are fairly accomplished holding it in their hands think the transition to rack will be a painless one. Very few stick with it. Just look how few good rack harp players there are out there for proof of this. Also playing a guitar and harp at the same time challenges the brain in new ways that most tire of quick. they sell multi hundred dollar racks that have an infinite amount of adjustments on them, but I like the cheapo. I like to be able to move it around with my mouth. Walter

Image

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:49 pm
by jeffl
I'm in total agreement with Walter's post. I quit playing racked about 30 years ago, mainly for the reasons he stated. I actually became very accustomed to playing piano and racked harp, but it required more effort than I was willing to put out, and I found it difficult to sing over the top of the rack rig. I also became addicted to using my hands on the harp and was unable to get the kinds of sounds Walter does without using my hands.

IMO, Walter has been able to play with more expression and power than nearly any rack player I've ever been around... especially for playing crossharp rather than 1st position like alotta racked players. Walter's achieved his level of competence by playing ALOT though. If you play a fifth as much as Walter, you'd better be talented or it'll take you 5 times as long to get good at it.

However, if you want to be able to land small gigs regularly, there's no better formula than being able to play your main instrument plus a racked harp, and sing. You'll make more money and won't have to worry about scheduling rehearsals with sidemen and dealing with personalities. You'll also miss out on the comraderie of playing with somebody else, and some of us put a high value on that. Of course, the pressure will be on you at every gig to supply all the energy; you won't have a sidekick to help jumpstart you.

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:25 pm
by watertore
thanks for the compliment Bubba! I have been doing some ear listening today by holding the harp un cupped in my left hand and then in the rack. Having the thumb and first 2 fingers holding the harp takes a bit of the brightness off it vs. in the rack. I am going to put a piece of foam on the top and bottom of the harp and then put it in the rack and see how that sounds. I recorded a session today with an acoustic guitar and drums on my feet and it got me to thinking about this, which made me remember that when I put my harp in a beer can cooler on the the rack it really muted it down. I am off to record. Walter

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:08 pm
by jeffl
Walter, the resonance probably will change dependent on what type of harp you're using too. The cover plates make a difference. I play SP20s, but I think the cover feet reduce resonance, whereas the MB prob'ly has more resonant plates. Of the low price stock harps, I think the Lee Oskars seem to be the most resonant, but I don't like their tuning for all the passing chords I play. They're probably not well suited to the times when you dive into your chucking style either. You might wanna talk to some guys like Adam Gussow, or some of the guys on his board, about modding your cover plates for your style of playing. I don't know if I'd pinch the flanges of the bottoms for your style, and you don't have to worry about cavin' 'em in like I do, but there might be a way to set up your cover plates better for your style.

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 9:59 pm
by watertore
thanks Bubba! I tried a piece of foam in the rack. It was more hassle setting up than it was worth. I dabble with these mods for a few minutes and lose interest. I am content with the stock out of the box sounds of whatever kind of harp I play. I use MB, MB Deluxe, and Delta frosts. All work fine. I would rather spend my time playing than tinkering. Walter

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:14 am
by 1armbandit
Thanks for the bit about the foam Walter. I had thought about doing that. I may still to quiet down changing harps at church.
Also thanks for putting up the pic of you with the rack. I have thought about getting one like that, mine are packaged as Hohner and sound like what Les has. They are stamped "Made in Germany" on the lower part of the clamp. They aren't very adjustable because they are more of a flat bar than the wire style you have, so they don't really fit well.

Jack

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 3:39 pm
by jeffl
watertore wrote:thanks Bubba! I tried a piece of foam in the rack. It was more hassle setting up than it was worth. I dabble with these mods for a few minutes and lose interest. I am content with the stock out of the box sounds of whatever kind of harp I play. I use MB, MB Deluxe, and Delta frosts. All work fine. I would rather spend my time playing than tinkering. Walter


I'm with you on the tinkering thing, Walter. I don't mess with my harps at all. I'm just not mechanically inclined, and 95% of my playing is in my weekly jam, so I'm not real picky with those guys. I guess I'm old-fashioned.

Like I said, I primarily play SP20's, although I have MBs,LOs, Herings, Delta Frosts, Big Rivers, and mebbe other strays scattered through my case.

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:25 am
by watertore
I recorded these tonight with my 1940 national steel guitar and my 1 man band. Walter



moonshine and reefer

http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=10567646

my only girl

http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=10567611

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:13 pm
by Mars
That sounded good Walter. I mess with Harp rack and guitar off and on, hard but, if I ever get it I think it'll be a great addition.

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:43 am
by watertore
thanks mars! Unfortunately lots of time is the answer. I did nothing but music for over 20 years and most of that time it was 200-250 gigs a year and 5-20 hours a day. That added up to a lot of playing. I don't play full time anymore, have quit promoting/hustling gigs and did about 5-20 a year the last few years. I played anywhere for any amount during those full time years. Now I will only play good rooms where people come specifically to hear music and only in smoke free venues. I miss playing out and hope someone comes around before I die that will represent me and promote spontobeat to the world. In the meantime I play 3-10 hours a day in my studio recording all of it. Walter

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:51 am
by PHJim
I have a few racks and they're all about the same. One I bought in the early sixties and noticed that it was about the same as Jimmy Reed's, except that he had bent his so that it met his mouth straight on instead of at an angle. Being a teenager who wanted to be just like Jimmy, I grabbed a couple of vice grips and bent my rack too. My oldest rack says "Elton", but the other two have no name. Besides bending them (Look at a picture of Jimmy Reed) I have also added lock washers when they started slipping. A good friend and bandmate of both of my sons, the late Willie P. Bennett, was a master at making a throat vibrato while playing his harp in a rack. I've never been able to produce this sound. Any hints?

Re: Anyone using a Jimmy Reed type harp rack?

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:57 am
by PHJim
Here is a video of Willie playing the racked harp. Willie, like Sonny Terry, played his harps upside down, so the low notes were on the right hand side.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_F60DwKOZkU