Puzzler

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

Puzzler

Postby gogs » Wed May 24, 2006 2:01 am

Here's something for all you geniuses out there:I've got 4 harps,all Hohner,2 Proharp,2 Bluesharp in the keys of A,C,D and G.On the D and C I can get the 2nd hole,draw and blow,clear as a bell;on the A and G,it's a foghorn both ways.All 4 played like this straight out of the box,they were bought in different shops at different times,and I also tried a Lee Oskar in G with the same result.The chances off all of them having duff reeds would be slim,but I'm damned if I can think of any other reason for this.
:?
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Postby jeffl » Wed May 24, 2006 1:20 pm

It's gotta be your technique,Gogs,unless you jus' hit the lottery. I've been playing for about 40 years,and I don't know if I've ever had to return a harp for a defect. The usual villain is the habit of playing with too much force. Does it play like it's supposed to if you just blow and draw normally on each note,without trying to bend it...?
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Postby songdog » Wed May 24, 2006 2:54 pm

Yep, I think Jeff is right about your technique. When I first started playing I seem to remember there being certain notes on certain keys that squawked, honked or just flatout didn't make a sound. Your initial response is to question the harp because it seems odd that not all of the holes would operate identically. But that's one of the mysteries of this fun little instrument in that some notes will bend while others won't, some require a lighter touch while others will let you suck a tornado through them.

As suggested before, try different techniques to coax some sounds from the difficult holes: Try not blowing/drawing so hard; if you are using the pucker method for single notes, try the tongue blocking method, or vice versa; try making sounds when you draw (eee, oooh, ka, etc.).

You will eventually coax some decent sounds from them and eventually playing through the little nuances of the instrument will come naturally.

My daughter played flute in her high school band. The band is mostly brass and wind instruments with percussion. Sophomore year the band concerts were a real challenge to endure with lots of honking horns, squeaking Oboes and shrill flute playing. But by their senior year it was just amazing how much the kids had improved, both from a timing standpoint and mastery of their particular instruments. The harmonica is no different from these types of instruments in that it will most likely take you a few years to refine your technique so that you don't sound like a sophomore. I've only been playing for a few years but I'm guessing that 5 or 10 years from now I still won't feel like I've mastered the instrument.
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Postby t bone bruce » Wed May 24, 2006 7:24 pm

I notice it's the G and A harps that you're having trouble with.. the lower pitched harps. It can be a real trial not to bend the 2nd hole draw on these when you're first playing. Just work on your breath control and embouchure, and breathe from the gut.
16 years after buying my first harmonica I still haven't mastered it. I did have a big gap between 1996 and 2003 when I hardly played at all. Then I started again, and now have started to take it more seriously.
If there had been all the stuff then like there is now, where you can learn from others experiences (like these forums, online lessons etc) I'm sure I'd have been a better player sooner.
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Postby gogs » Fri May 26, 2006 1:38 am

Cheers for the advice boys,you were right:it's all down to technique.Took me the best part of a nightshift to figure it out(mostly playin to Starlight Diamond.Man,I'm sick of that song!) and the problem was immobility.Because I do most of my playin while driving with both elbows on the wheel I wasn't getting any vertical movement.I found that if I move the harp about an inch up to blow and down to draw I get it pretty good.It's not perfect,but it's enough to stay in tune.
What gets me is the mechanics of it.The 2nd hole's the same as the rest apart from reed length,and it can't be that it's longer than the 3rd,other wise it would follow that the 1st would be even harder to get.And why is a higher key harp easier than a low?If you need less air for a low note,then surely it should be the other way round??The answer's probably quantum.... :?
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Postby qtheblues » Fri May 26, 2006 8:34 am

Glad you've gotten something out of this, gogs.
Ummmm...........did you say BOTH elbows on the wheel........????
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Postby bosco » Sat May 27, 2006 1:15 am

And why is a higher key harp easier than a low? If you need less air for a low note, then surely it should be the other way round??

The low notes on the lowest pitched harps in your case are the longest reeds... therefore the reed surface catches more air and it takes less effort to achieve a proper tone.

The highest notes on the higher pitched harps are the shortest stiffest reeds... they have less surface to catch air and therefore it takes more air and effort to achieve a proper tone.

To your point, a higher key harp will be easier to play on the low end and harder to play on the high end. Simple physics.

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