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Miscellaneous Diatonic harmonicas, harps, gob irons...

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
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brighton by the sea
long time since I played it, but I'm sure I used to be able to do it on all but the lowest notes.

overblowing to get blow ontes to go up a semi tone at the bottom end of your harp... are you sure?!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
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Just north of Munich
Must dig it out and try, I remember the very low notes were tricky, but I thought so. Hmmm.
 

Al Ex

Member
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65
Locality
France
Digging out this old thread...

I had always been wondering how harps worked. It seemed to me like a strange instrument (and it looked like a toy, eh). Last december, I went to my sax shop to get some reeds, and saw a few harps. I decided to give it a try and got myself a Hohner Special 20 in C.

Since I already take sax lessons, I could not afford to get a teacher for another instrument, so I searched the net for information and videos (some good things and lots of crap, as usual). First attempts were funny. After a few minutes, I could play single notes so I started playing the major scale to get the "feel" of the instrument.

I found it quite interesting, so a few days later I got another Special 20 in G. At first I thought the second hole draw was messed up. It sounded so bad it made me a little angry. After a few minutes of basic moaning against the instrument, words of wisdom came back to me: "if it sounds bad, chances are it's your fault rather than the instrument's" (this does not apply to rock guitarists, of course). And indeed, working embouchure and breath control solved the problem.

Once again, it took me a few days to get another harp in a different key. In a "hey, it's Christmas" mood, I got a Seydel 1847 classic in A. Wow! The quality of the instrument was such that I got another one in C shortly after, so that I could compare two models in the same key. And today, I got another one in D. This model plays not as easily as my SP20, but (to me) it sounds and feels much (MUCH) better!

The point is: I LOVE this tiny instrument! The range of sounds that can come out of it is impressive (and I know I'm far from making it sound really good). Although I bought my first harp only to give it a try, I now am almost as involved in practicing it as I practice my sax. It is even easier to find a few minutes to practice every day, since I can take it out everywhere I go. So if anyone's got advice for a newbie, feel free to share them!
 

spike

Old Indian
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2,429
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Half way up a hill
I've tons of harps lying around here: Lee Oskar, Seydel, etc.,
but on the whole I much prefer the Marine Band harps these days, the De-Luxe model is a little more expensive.
I find them to be louder and far more versatile than any other make of blues harp.
Depends on what type of music I'm playing, -
I tend to pick up the Lee Oskar for Piano Man or Pop songs where there's no big bending tricks required.
But when it comes to down home blues the Marine Band harps are my weapon of choice.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
3,802
Locality
brighton by the sea
I've tons of harps lying around here: Lee Oskar, Seydel, etc.,
but on the whole I much prefer the Marine Band harps these days, the De-Luxe model is a little more expensive.
I find them to be louder and far more versatile than any other make of blues harp.
Depends on what type of music I'm playing, -
I tend to pick up the Lee Oskar for Piano Man or Pop songs where there's no big bending tricks required.
But when it comes to down home blues the Marine Band harps are my weapon of choice.
how do you find Marine bands for robustness? Back in the day when I played with my street band I used to find I blew those harps out far more than was economically viable... or it could have been youthful enthusiasm! I went over to Lee Oskars because I didn't wreck them every few weeks...
 

spike

Old Indian
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2,429
Locality
Half way up a hill
how do you find Marine bands for robustness?
Yes, you're quite right Jules, this is it. The Marine Bands don't last as long but the sound and playability are for me the deciding factor.
I've always found the Lee Oskars as well the Sydels to be a bit stiff and stuffy, I find myself fighting them.
It's a bit like playing sax when the reed is a bit too hard and unresponsive.
Re: Another thread - have you any experience with the Shure Rocket harp mike. I've never tried it.
Soundchecking a mike for vocals and flute is okay but then using the same mike for harp I always have to back off.
Playing harp over yer average vocal mic is always a bit shrill.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
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3,802
Locality
brighton by the sea
I've always used a separate mic for harps for exactly that reason. going through my regular vocal mic is ok for acoustic, 'camp fire' harmonica but for wailing blues I've not found anything beats getting right on top of the mic and using my hands for air seal/wah effects.
I have to confess I've not really experimented much with options- I used to use an old Green Bullet but found it too heavy and the lack of a volume control or on/off switch bugged me, swapped for a Hohner blues blaster about 15 years ago and have been using it ever since...
 

spike

Old Indian
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2,429
Locality
Half way up a hill
Thanks Jules,
can't find a Hohner Blues Blaster here in my neck of the swamps,
Seems like they don't make it anymore.
The Shure 520 DX does have a volume control and the 100 - 5.000 Hz sounds about right.
My new band wants me to play a lot've blues harp.
What the freak - for €129 minus my spike's special deal rebate.
The marine band harps do have a lot more "cut".
"It's only money honey, an' ma honey juss ran off with a railroad man.
but why should I care ? Maybe I got lucky - Oooh whee!
Dames are dime a dozen when you're a harmonica man"
 

Al Ex

Member
Messages
65
Locality
France
Indeed, the Seydel feels harder to play than my SP20 and I sometimes feel like I'm fighting against it, but the overall feeling is so much more pleasant that I am willing to go on trying to tame the beast!

By the way, the harmonicist of this band from my area plays it so well that (like when my sax teacher plays my YAS280) I can't help thinking "wow, one day I'll make it sing that way, too!":

View: https://youtu.be/gT2ewECj_Wg


Looking at the mics (though I don't need one for now), the Audix fireball seems to be a nice choice.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
3,802
Locality
brighton by the sea
Thanks Jules,
can't find a Hohner Blues Blaster here in my neck of the swamps,
Seems like they don't make it anymore.
The Shure 520 DX does have a volume control and the 100 - 5.000 Hz sounds about right.
My new band wants me to play a lot've blues harp.
What the freak - for €129 minus my spike's special deal rebate.
The marine band harps do have a lot more "cut".
Check this page out.... Hohner Blues Blaster Harmonica Microphone
 
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