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Two questions for you harp (harmonica) player

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Zorro 31 Dec 98 - 11:43 PM
Don Meixner 01 Jan 99 - 12:31 AM
01 Jan 99 - 01:12 AM 01 Jan 99 - 03:28 AM
Mike Billo 01 Jan 99 - 12:08 PM
MG 02 Jan 99 - 08:59 PM
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Subject: Two questions for you harp (harmonica) player
From: Zorro
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 11:43 PM

I have several Blues Harps and find that when I don't play them regularly, the reeds seem to get stopped up. Is that normal? Is there anything I can do to keep that from happening? or to "fix it" when it happens? Also, what is a chromatic harp and it's advantages? O.K. that's 4 questions, if you're counting. I've been rehearsing for a St. Patricks day musical program and I don't want to have a problem when it's time to play. Can anyone help? (that's 5)


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Subject: RE: Two questions for you harp (harmonica) player
From: Don Meixner
Date: 01 Jan 99 - 12:31 AM

Mr. Fox,

I own several Blues harps which is a Tm of Honer for a specific style of diatonic harmonica. I find that depending on the key, Blues Harps tend to jam up. I much prefer Golden Melody harps for reasons of tone, durability, shape. Of course some one will have the same opininon in reverse.

You can take them apart and with a razor blade carefully clean out the stopped up reeds. Sometimes you can even be successful as well. Lee Oskar ios a brand of harmonica with removable and replaceable reeds. Kinda costlyand some folks don't like the tone.

Chromatic harmonicas are just that, chromatic. With a full compliment of sharps, or flats, for complete scales. They are very expensive and usually much bigger than the old Marine Band Harp.

Don Meixner

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Subject: RE: Two questions for you harp (harmonica) player
Date: 01 Jan 99 - 01:12 AM

I like Special 20's. If the harp is jammed, my first aid is usually flushing with water. This can make the wood part swell--Special 20's are plastic so don't have that problem. Lots of blues players have soaked their harps in water, not quite sure of the reasons. When the wood swells it may make the divisions easier for ginsoaked tongues to register.

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Subject: RE: Two questions for you harp (harmonica) player
Date: 01 Jan 99 - 03:28 AM

I also soak my harmonicas when they get hard to sound--and I use wooden ones. There are some who say that when you soak the wood ones before each session you make the wood swell and so make a better air seal.

One point about the chromatic harmonica. It is pretty much a melody instrument. That is it is difficult to play chords on it. Also the standard tuning of a 10 hole diatonic (like the marine band etc) is designed so that if you do happen to sound two adjacent notes, you have minimal chance of getting a disonance. With a chromatic, you usually get a real clunker of a sound if you hit two adjacent notes.

There are some intermediate harmonicas which are not chromatic, but which have sharps in place of some of the duplicated notes on the standard (so-called Richter) tuned harp. One is the Hohner Country Tuned, and another is (I think) the Lee Oskar Melody Maker. They make it easier to play melodies, but you have more danger of producing a bad interval if you hit two adjacent holes.


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Subject: RE: Two questions for you harp (harmonica) player
From: Mike Billo
Date: 01 Jan 99 - 12:08 PM

As to the question of soaking, if you do that often enough they will go out of tune. Often they will go out of tune uniformly, and you won't know they've gone out until you go to play with others. Also, the Hohner Blues Harps are not made with brass reeds, they are made with what Hohner calls "brass like metal substance". What that might be is anybodys guess. This cheaper reed makes the notes easier to "bend" for a bluesy playing style, unfortunately, it gives the harp a shorter life span. Thats why I play either the Marine Band or the Big River. They have brass reeds. When one of them go out, I run it under very hot tap water, slap the water out into the palm of my hand then gently blow the offending reed back in. This works 99 out of 100 times. Unfortunately, sometimes the harp just dies. The first harmonica I bought back in '64 lasted 5 years. Today, if one lasts 5 months I feel lucky. This is where I get to chant the curmudgeons mantra, "They don't make 'em like they used to". As to the chromatic, I've found it to be too demanding a task master, and too costly an instrument to have any practical application for most of the folk, blues, and country styles. There are players who play it beautifully, and who swear by it, but I'm not one of them.

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Subject: RE: Two questions for you harp (harmonica) player
From: MG
Date: 02 Jan 99 - 08:59 PM

Since when did a Mouth Organ become eliticised? And come to that, what is wrong with the old nomenclature "French Fiddle",as my late mother called it. After all, if Menuhin referred to his "fiddle" who are we to query his choice of name? Such patronising twaddle from "lovers" of traditional music!! But then, you prefer "folk music", don't you? MG

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