Marking your Harp keys

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Marking your Harp keys

Postby bosco » Wed Sep 04, 2002 6:01 am

Ever grab the wrong key harp for a solo, or start playing on the wrong end by mistake? Of course you have. Those cheesey little key stamps are hard to read and the painted ones wear off. My solution;

I buy sheets of vinyl adhesive letters and numbers intended for mailboxes for about $4.00. One inch black letters on a white background seem to work best. I put them on the bottom harp cover on the high end of the harp. You can make signatures for your Flat harps by cutting the loop off the top of a number "6". I lay the harps out in my case in key order before a gig. The letters do not wear off, the stickers won't interfere with your playing and can be removed in one piece. This way you will never grab the wrong harp on a dark stage and will always know which end is which.

keep on harpin'...Bosco
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby dcblues » Wed Sep 04, 2002 7:21 am

I just mark the boxes (mainly Marine Band) with a Sharpie, and keep them all in an Anvil-like briefcase.
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby bigdaddy » Sat Sep 07, 2002 11:12 am

I just got aq case for harps, all two of them. I wondered if the painted key signature would wear off. The sticker idea is a good one, I shall employ it.
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby bosco » Fri Feb 28, 2003 6:00 pm

>I buy sheets of vinyl adhesive letters and numbers intended
>for mailboxes for about $4.00. One inch black letters on a
>white background seem to work best. I put them on the bottom
>harp cover on the high end of the harp. You can make
>signatures for your Flat harps by cutting the loop off the
>top of a number "6". I lay the harps out in my case in key
>order before a gig. The letters do not wear off, the
>stickers won't interfere with your playing and can be
>removed in one piece. This way you will never grab the wrong
>harp on a dark stage and will always know which end is
>which.

UPDATE:

Now that I have a full case of harps, another full case of backup keys and harps scattered all over my desk in various states of disrepair; I have found it necessary to update my system. Now when I buy a new harp and I apply a sticker for the key signature, I use a Sharpie fine point permanent marker and put the date across the bottom of the sticker in small print. This way, if I have three Hohner Special 20's in the key of "D", I won't accidentally put a bad harp back in my case after cleaning, inspecting or working on them. This will also be useful to determine average harp life for the brands and models you play.

keep on harpin'... Bosco
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby watertore » Wed Jul 09, 2003 10:48 pm

Bosco: I like that idea. I am going to do that now that I am getting to the age when the eyes don't see up close so good anymore. Thanks Walter


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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby tenholes » Sat Oct 09, 2004 1:28 pm

I've used a simple method for many years. I just peel the sticker off the box and put it on the harp. I put it on the "high" end on top. It's easy to see on stage and it's quick and easy to do when you buy a new harp.
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby jeffl » Sat Oct 09, 2004 2:34 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Oct-09-04 AT 10:37 AM (EST)]The ability to find the right key quickly, especially when jamming, not performing, has become essential, 'cuz I swear there's a longstanding conspiracy among guitar players to not tell the harper what key the tune is in. One of the reasons I'd take my little Yammy keyboard to jams was to just use it to tell the key. Most of the time, you can pick it up by ear, or by watching the guitars (if you recognize guitar chords), but occasionally it can be hard to tell. On some harps, the factory stamping makes it hard to tell the difference between G and C, E and F, even C and D. To read stampings, I have to wear reading glasses. I even went to putting a gooseneck lite on my case. There is no doubt that labelling them all in the same place aids all the other things you do to keep 'em straight, i.e. keeping them in order in the case, etc. Otherwise, I like the way LOs are labelled, not stamped. (BTW, the music rack on the little keyboard made for a nice harp rack, being able to accomodate about 6-8 harps, enough for most scenarios.)
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby bosco » Sun Oct 10, 2004 12:01 pm

>I've used a simple method for many years. I just peel the sticker off the box and put it on the harp. I put it on the "high" end on top. It's easy to see on stage and it's quick and easy to do when you buy a new harp.< Thanks for reviving an old thread TenHole. Welcome.

Yeah, that's the time honored method, which even some pro's use including James Cotton and Peter Madcat Ruth. But there are drawbacks to that in that those stickers are only made of paper, the adhesive isn't very good and the minor or flat signs can be hard to see.

Gimme the one inch black letters on white block. Once you try it you'll never go back. I put the yellow dot box stickers on a single sheet of paper to keep track of how many harps in a particular key I have purchased/worn out.

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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby bluzadero » Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:25 pm

I have always had the problem when trying to recycle the key stickers from the boxes onto the harps is that they go away after a few cleanings.

My solution? I bought a set of alphanumeric stamps for metal. I got the small size. I think it is supposed to be .25". However, more like it fits within a quarter inch.
I heat them up with a propane torch and 'brand' the letter into the comb. With a little practice, you know how hot and how deep to go for plastic and wood. With a Meisterklasse metal, just whack 'em like you would stamping anything else that was metal.
Then, to see the little buggers in dim light, I take a toothpick and fill the trough of the letter with hi-vis/glow-in-the-dark paint. The paint that works the best is the stuff that you apply to your gunsights. You can find it with your basic combat firearms supplies at your better gun dealers.
Works like a champ.

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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby jeffl » Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:28 pm

Muchas Gracias, Bluzadero! As you can see, there are lots of marking systems, and yours seems pretty good. We've had some entertaining discussions about how the use of alcohol can foil any labelling system.
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby fat rabbit » Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:01 am

>Muchas Gracias, Bluzadero! As you can see, there are lots of
>marking systems, and yours seems pretty good. We've had some
>entertaining discussions about how the use of alcohol can
>foil any labelling system.

For cleaning or drinking?
:9 :P :9
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby bluzadero » Sat Jul 23, 2005 4:15 am

<<We've had some entertaining discussions about how the use of alcohol can foil any labelling system.>>

Personally, I try to hold off the Wild Turkey until the paint dries.

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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby jellyroll baker » Sat Jul 23, 2005 6:32 am

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jul-23-05 AT 02:34 AM (EST)]> 'cuz I swear
>there's a longstanding conspiracy among guitar players to
>not tell the harper what key the tune is in.

And yet for some mysterious reason they often tell the drummer. I'll never understand that one.
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby jeffl » Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:12 pm

Hey Fat Rabbit and Bluzadero- you guys are fittin' right in here: jumpin' on a statement that leaves itself wide open for interpretation, and momentarily side-trackin' a thread. It's a longstanding tradition at BRB. This forum's dominated by players, as opposed to solely "fans" of blues- it seems like that brings with it a somewhat twisted sense of humour. Hallelujah! I think I may give that "glow in the dark" paint a try,though. I think I'm gonna run with less harps in my case,too, since I know aheada time what keys I'll use (Our playlist includes info. on key,author, and which guy in the band sings the lead). Up til now, I've been packin' several harps in certain keys, cuz I like the different sounds of the LOs,SP20's,Big Rivers,MBs,etc, for different tunes- so I've been settin' 'em in my case on their bottoms, insteada their sides. You can only put letters so big on top of the comb, where the plates allow more room. I have to use reading glasses to see close up, so big letters are a plus. Thanks.
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RE: Marking your Harp keys

Postby ricochet » Sat Jul 23, 2005 4:29 pm

>Hey Fat Rabbit and Bluzadero- you guys are fittin' right in
>here: jumpin' on a statement that leaves itself wide open
>for interpretation, and momentarily side-trackin' a thread.
>It's a longstanding tradition at BRB.

Yeah, J-Ro's catchin' on, too!
:P


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