If I keep practicing harmonica.....

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by RevMike, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. Platefire

    Platefire Friend of Leo's

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    One big difference in cross harp is most of the notes are pull notes that lend their selves to bending notes as straight harp is mostly blow notes.

    I use Lee Oskar harps which shows the straight harp key on one end and the cross harp on the other that to me helps. It's awful embarising to start a solo and realize you grabbed the wrong harp.

    Also Lee Oskar makes replaceable Reed plates so instead of replacing the whole harp, you can just replace the plate. Platefird
     
  2. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Your harmonica "crosses" to the 5th of the key it's labeled with. To buy a harmonica for playing in a particular key, go to the 4th of that key. You can play in the labeled key, but the difference is that the "draw" notes--the ones you can bend--are in better places for blues music when you play cross harp.
     
  3. BartS

    BartS Friend of Leo's

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    I picked up harp and learned to play it pretty good. I guess what you would call cross and strait harp. Thing is harp is one of the most annoying instruments on the planet that can still sound really great every once in a while. So I hardly pick them up these days. It still can sound really great and is fun to play.

    If your going to spend money get a cheap set that has a few keys the hohner plastic ones sound good and for about 30 dollars you get I think 7 keys.
     
  4. Sandhill69

    Sandhill69 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    And it's the bending where (to me) it all happens. I have yet to buy a Lee Oscar, I just quit playing when Marine Bands got so expensive (I was paying $4 when I was ripping them up) and it doesn't take me long to kill the tonic (#2 hole) draw reed on a Marine Band. Sure you could go easy on it, but that just seems like restricting your playing style on a guitar to avoid wearing strings or scratching the pickguard.
    A Lee Oscar is way towards the top of my "buy this soon" list. Being able to replace the reed plate to change key, pop it out to soak it, even at $18 or whatever per plate is enough to get me wanting to play again.
    Drive with your elbows. It takes both hands to play harp.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
  5. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    OK, a few things here...

    --I, too, learned to play harp during a long commute to and from work back in the early 1990's. Lord only knows how many wrecks I caused between Fort Worth and Las Colinas, Texas...but I worked an off-hour shift, so very little traffic.

    --I mostly play cross-harp...I will dabble on straight harp for a folksy tune, but I don't like listening to the best of the straight harp players very much, so I certainly don't spend a lot of time practicing that technique.

    --Harp should be considered my primary instrument, outside of vocals, since I'm much more accomplished at harmonica than guitar. The only thing(s) I've ever been stumped by are the extreme stuff, like John Popper, Toots Thielman and Lee Oskar do/did...but I can even do a reasonable facsimile of their work as well. I'm a decent guitarist and a good slide guitarist, but if I'm honest with myself, Harp is my forte.

    --This next part is PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ONLY, and I don't want to get flamed out based on this PERSONAL EXPERIENCE...but...

    Playing harp is kinda like singing; you can either do it or you can't.

    You can get better, but if you don't have the ability to play a basic melody or a lick on the harp from Day One, you'll probably never be a good harp player.

    I don't want to discourage anyone, but I have extensive anecdotal evidence that this is true.

    I've jammed with guys who were amazing musicians, and could sit down with any kind of instrument--strings, keys, drums, wind instruments even--and when they tried to play harp (cross or straight), they couldn't get a decent sound out of it if their life depended on it.

    One guy in particular was sincerely baffled and upset. He was an "educated" musician--he could read music and explain scales and theory and modes and time signatures better than anyone I've known...and he could play circles around most musicians on most instruments. So after failing to understand the mechanics of playing the instrument, he sat down and read everything related to the theory of the instrument (the Diatonic scale, playing techniques, the construction, the difference between the reeds and various types of harps, etc.)...and he still failed miserably at playing it.

    He was able to explain to me the way a Diatonic Scale worked (I'm pretty ignorant as to scales and modes and theory) and how the instrument worked, but he couldn't play it.

    Another guy was a Blues Freak--with a Capital F...he knew everything about every artist from WC Handy onward, he could play guitar, bass, sax, trumpet, trombone, keys, drums and could even sing...he was a great songwriter, very creative and could blend several different strains of blues within one song. But he got so frustrated that he literally threw his harmonica down and stomped on it. He said, "Why can't I get this? I can play everything else!"

    I told him my theory (you either got it or you don't, as far as harp is concerned), and he agreed...he said there was a demon in that thing and the demon didn't like him. :eek:
    (That sounds like a great blues song)

    Anyway, keep plugging along, but don't be discouraged--I had the same problem with piano.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
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  6. Tom in Georgia

    Tom in Georgia TDPRI Member

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    I tried to learn harmonica while driving also and damn near hyperventilated. Had to pull over and let the dizzy spell pass. Be careful!
    Tom
     
  7. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's

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    Much truth in this..
     
  8. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. adeiderich

    adeiderich Tele-Afflicted

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    Get yourself a Pignose amp and mic. The neighbors will hate you even more then they already do!
     
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  10. Doyledagain

    Doyledagain Tele-Meister

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    The hard thing about harmonicas is that that statistically, most people are killed by their spouse or neighbors long before they get good.

     
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