New to harp

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

New to harp

Postby Slim » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:27 pm

Bought a couple harps and well...I completely and totally suck! How do you get the blues sound? I mean I have no idea what I am doing but it sounds like "home on the range" type harp...I wrap my hands around it but it still sounds...I don't know like dylan youknow? How do you get the growl blues sound? I know this is a stupid question but forgive a rank amature...
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Re: New to harp

Postby MakaInOz » Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:57 am

Slim you can pick it up be ear through listening to the type of music you want to play. But you need a good ear and a lot of time to experiment.

For quicker results, you need some instruction. The best form is through a good harp teacher (note: good harp player does not necessarily equal good harp teacher). If you can't find a teacher, I'd recommend an instruction book/CD/DVD, preferably one with a bit of structure - Dave Barrett (http://www.harmonicamasterclass.com) is a good example, although there are many others. Alternately, or as well, there are many lessons on youtube - just search for harmonica instruction. Gussow, Ricci etc have a vast range of material there - all for free. Some truly amazing, but often quite advanced, stuff.

To get that blues growl, you've got to get single notes happening and then draw bends on 2 and 3. There's a bunch of steps on the way to that, and many more steps after that, but that's the start of the blues harp.

And be gentle - don't try and bow the reeds out the back of the comb! Amplifiers are to make it louder, not blowing the socks off it.

Have fun!
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Re: New to harp

Postby Slim » Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:44 am

Thanks! Yeh I definitely need to get some instructional material. I don't know if I will ever get it.....but I like trying new stuff.
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Re: New to harp

Postby dcblues » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:59 pm

There's tons of great, free instructional material available online. Just do some searches on phrases like "harmonica lessons" or "free harmonica lessons" or "Blues harp how to play," etc. If I had the internet when I first started learning, I would have become a whole lot better at playing a whole lot faster.

Don't worry too much about that "blues harp" sound. Learn the basics of the instrument first. Learn where the notes are, the diatonica scale, how to play a melody, how to breathe properly (I'm sure our resident breathing expert from New England will have more to say on this).

Start with the basics of blues harp and learn about the 12 bar I IV V progression. The more bluesy sound techniques will come later. Too many harp players just learn basic blues techniques and never learn their instrument. Learn the harmonica before you take on the blues harp.
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Re: New to harp

Postby bottleneck » Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:27 am

you tube has plenty of free lessons from adam gussow ,jason ricci and others.also i think it is important to listen to the masters till it is coming out of your ears.
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Re: New to harp

Postby Slim » Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:00 am

Thanks guys! The harp is foregn to me...I can play a little diatonic accordion (Cajun single row) so the draw and push make sense but I know nothing of how to shape my mouth/what to do with my tongue/breath/etc...will be getting some instructional material from usetube! Thanks again! Harp is easier to carry around than the guitar at times!
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Re: New to harp

Postby dcblues » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:00 pm

Harp is easier to carry around than the guitar at times!


It's also much easier to fit in your mouth. :)
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Re: New to harp

Postby ricochet » Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:14 pm

Ask the next B-3 player you see if he can put his organ in his mouth.
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