new to the scene

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

new to the scene

Postby foster » Mon Jul 24, 2006 9:41 pm

Alright, a bit of a lie - but what the hell ;)

I used to own a diatonic harmonica (in the key of c obviously) that i picked up from the local music shop for less than £3. Wasn't amazing and it was a bit iffy on one of the holes, never liked it when i drew in.

Anyways i've lost it, hardly the end of the world for me, but i want to get back into harp playing - so as a replacement i kinda want something better. But then what key (keys) do i need, what kinda harp should i go for, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Any recommendations for a new harp player as to what gear i should get? I wan't something half decent but that dosn't cost a fortune (in case i lose the bugger again).


Cheers - Foz
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Postby jeffl » Mon Jul 24, 2006 11:28 pm

Welcome to the forum! If you jus' wanna screw around on harmonica,and don't need a better quality harp, our host, Coast to Coast Music, sells Johnson Blues King harmonicas for about $4.50 U.S.; you can buy a 7-harp or 12-harp set cheap too,if you want, and get a buncha keys. Blues harp is generally played in "cross-harp" or 2nd position,and that requires sucking or drawing, and you need a harp a fourth above the key you wanna play in. So, you use a D harp to play in A, a C harp to play in G, an F harp to play in C. If you wanna play blues in cross harp, you'll need more than one key to play with other musicians, so you might start with a C,A,and D. If you wanna play straight harp and jus' blow for the most part, you might as well get a G,C,and E. If you want a little better harp, a Hohner Marine Band,or Hohner Special 20, for a little over $20 U.S. will do the job nicely. This is a grossly simplified piece of advice,but it sounds like that's what you might need right now. Bear in mind that most harpers play tunes in about 7 different keys,and many serious harpers have harps in 12 keys, plus a chromatic or two in the case.
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Postby guitarslim101 » Wed Jul 26, 2006 2:50 am

I second the Johnson Blues King set. I've got a set of all 12 that I picked up on eBay a few years back for, I think, $20.
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Postby foster » Thu Aug 03, 2006 5:07 pm

Well today i splashed out on a hohner big river harp (seeing as it wasn't too much and i need a harp for a song i'm writing) and i actually forgot how fun the harmonica is :D


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WHAT KIND OF HARP

Postby cowboyjake » Sat Aug 05, 2006 7:13 am

I think Bubba's pretty much on the money ... I don't like the real cheap one's myself, ya have to work a lot harder to get a good sound, although I've got a buddy who can get sound out of a 6 dollar delta blues that I can't ... me, I kinda favor the hohner Bluesharp myself, it's not real pricy or real cheep either, about the same price range as the Special 20 a lot of guys go for ... I just feel like the tones are warmer, What key? listen to Bubba, he's pointed out the road to righteousness

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Postby angerboy » Sat Aug 05, 2006 9:52 am

You would be better off setting fire to a $20 than buying a set of Johnson Blues Kings.
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Postby foster » Sat Aug 05, 2006 3:17 pm

angerboy wrote:You would be better off setting fire to a $20 than buying a set of Johnson Blues Kings.


Yer but then i'd need to muck around going to the travel agents so i can get my greasy mits on a $20 note :P And i've steered away from any harmonicas with the word "blues" in their title, if only for the fact its really cheesy.
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re new to the scene

Postby cowboyjake » Sun Aug 06, 2006 5:37 am

...setting fire to a $20...

hmn, pretty small fire, you'd get warmer tryin' to get a rich sound outta a cheep harp :lol:

I don't know a lot about harp brands, but I'vefound as a general rule with any equipment, cheepest generally turns out to be inferior and a waste of good money, middle of the road is still good practice equipment after you get bucks up enough to upgrade ... top of the line is the best after yu know for sure you aren't gonna give up and quit --pawn shops are full of that kinda stuff, still usable, just overpriced usually ... i'd play a used guitar ... a used harp :?: :( :?:

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Postby scrapboss » Thu Aug 10, 2006 2:05 am

[/quote] And i've steered away from any harmonicas with the word "blues" in their title, if only for the fact its really cheesy.[/quote]


You must not have heard of a Seydel Blues harp. They make some of the worlds greatest harps.

http://www.seydel1847.de/epages/Seydel. ... cale=en_GB
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re new to the scene

Postby cowboyjake » Sat Aug 12, 2006 6:37 pm

Your right ... nevr heard of em ... don't meen nothin' thoug ... i'll keep my ears and eyes open ... this is one old dog who don't mind learning a new trick :lol:
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Postby jeffl » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:23 pm

It makes a difference whether you're a harp player,or somebody who's found out how easy they are to play at the novice level and jus' wants to screw around on 'em,or play a little generic accompaniment to their guitar playin'. It doesn't take long to learn how to do 1st position blowensuckin' on Dylan type stuff,so you can play Steve Earle,Tom Petty,Dylan,and some country blues. I've noticed alotta acoustic guitar players can play a $5.00 harp,and they're perfectly happy with it; that's fine. But,if you're a harper,and your harps are your whole reason to exist musically, then you're payin' attention to what you play in a whole different way. For a person who's not a harper, a five dollar harp and a 25 dollar harp are gonna sound about the same,to the person playin' AND the people listenin'.
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Postby foster » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:31 pm

well i doubt i'll ever be a great harper, but its something i want to get good at (i'm a guiarist by nature). So while i wont be spending a fortune on harps i will eventually get some good harps in my favorate keys.

And those metal comb ones look nice, how do they sound compared to wood or plastic?
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Postby jeffl » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:52 pm

I've never played metal combed harps; I've settled into pretty much playin' Hohner Special 20's. I've got a few Marine Bands,Big Rivers,Lee Oskars,Seydels & Herings,but I reach for 'em less and less.
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re new to the scene

Postby cowboyjake » Sat Aug 12, 2006 8:31 pm

And those metal comb ones look nice, how do they sound compared to wood or plastic?

I dunno a thing about metal comb ones -- even the plastic I'm kinda iffy on --I do blow a special 20 'A' harp, but my G and C are Hohnner BluesHarps with the wood comb--I find the wood comb gives you a lot warmer sound for some reason--seems like that to me, and my next harps are gonna be wooden comb ones, now that I've learned to keep 'em dry and not blow the reeds out of em before I break em in
:lol:

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Postby bosco » Sun Aug 13, 2006 3:24 pm

Those metal comb ones look nice, how do they sound compared to wood or plastic?

I own one metal combed harp, a Hohner Meisterklasse with a solid aluminum comb in the key of F that was given to me. I'm not sold on the alledged benefits enough to spend $55 a harp to outfit myself with them, I know that.

The tone is noticeably brighter than either wood or plastic. As a performer who plays amplified 90% of the time, brighter isn't necessarily what I'm looking for. Also the high end reeds tend to hesitate and even lock up when I try to play a staccato riff. This may be a function of the extra air tightness of the metal, but I doubt it as the Special 20s I normally play are already extremely airtight. You certainly wouldn't think a $55 harp would need to be regapped either.

Jake- If you're going to go with wood, you should at least step up to the Marine Band, the Blues Harp is not known as much of a preferred instrument among players. The MB just seems to be more responsive.

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