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Chromatic Harmonica

16 Jul 01 - 02:28 PM (#507838)
Subject: Chromatic Harmonica
From: Paul Mitchell

A music thread that I hope doesn't start an argument...

I've recently bought a chromatic harmonica (2nd hand). It's a Hohner one, qite nice sound and all that. I've a few questions I'm hoping people might be able to help with..

1) I think I need some of those things that go over the notes (a kind of reed thing, probably there to control the air flow or similar..) Can anyone tell me of a place I can get spares?

2) Where is a good place to start learning this instrument. I have played blues type harmonica at a very basic level for a while, so I hope I've got all that breathing stuff sorted out.. Any pointers gratefully received.

Whilst I'm here... Thanks to those that have created and keep this site going. It's been really helpful to me in several ways, not all musical.


16 Jul 01 - 03:55 PM (#507915)
Subject: RE: Chromatic Harmonica
From: Arnie


I bought a chromatic but could never get the hang of it. Have you tried a diatonic? I use a selection of these, all Hohner (the best!) and the sound is really strong - they are especially useful if you play the guitar at the same time and use the old neck brace for the harmonica as they sound ok in 'hands-free' mode. By the way, I couldn't contemplate a second-hand model when I look at what comes out of mine at the end of a session!!!

16 Jul 01 - 04:13 PM (#507937)
Subject: RE: Chromatic Harmonica
From: dwditty

Paul, I am absolutely no help. One of my great dreams in life is to learn to play harmonica. Every attempt has been a complete flop. So, I'm going to turn the tables on you. How did you learn to play basic blues harp? Every course I try starts off with Oh Susanna (and for personal reasons I cannot sing or play a song by that name). I even tried one of those Klutz books - flunked. D'ya think I should give up or do you have a magic answer for me. Thanks in advance.

Arnie, I second that emotion on second hand harps.

16 Jul 01 - 05:13 PM (#507992)
Subject: RE: Chromatic Harmonica
From: Paul Mitchell

Err... thanks guys.....

Arnie, I had a good look at the harmonica before buying it, and have opened it up expecting to give it a clean, but it's fine. I know what you mean though, I used to think a beard was a good place to store food for later until I started playing the blues harp...

As to how I learned that one, I just kind of did. I use the "rolled up tongue" method to get the single note, experimented a bit, listened to a lot of blues and picked out approximate versions of a few tunes. I'm no master on the thing. I learnt in the days when I had a lot of time to dedicate to it, which surely helps. So i'd suggest jamming along to some records and perhaps with some friends. Learn a couple of hooks within a piece (Sonny Boy stuff, Capt. Beefheart....,) get some blues progressings endlessly repeating on a tape and go from there. Good luck, and never give up.

So, any one got any ideas about the chromatic..


16 Jul 01 - 05:23 PM (#508004)
Subject: RE: Chromatic Harmonica
From: Green Man

The gadgets that close the reeds off so that they dont sound when they are not supposed to can be fabricated out of polythene and stuck on with wax or sooper glue.

There are several 'Larry Adler' publications about playing and as usual these assume that you can read music in at least a rudimentary way.

My local music store had a video tutorial but yesterday when I went in ( to buy a really nice guitar ) it was not there.

I have a hohner chromatic gob iron and it has square holes which can make your mouth sore. There is another use for vaseline here.. Hmmm.

Hope this helps. It is a terrifically versatile instrument in the hands of someone like Larry, however there are some really very good Irish players who play traditional Irish jigs and reels on them.

Can't help much more than that.

Hohner do repair them but that can be expensive. Mine cost about £45.00 and that was ten years ago so they must cost a lot now.

Best of luck, persistance is everything.!!


16 Jul 01 - 05:40 PM (#508023)
Subject: RE: Chromatic Harmonica
From: dwditty

Thanks Paul. I'll give it another try. I've got a neck brace-harmonica holder thing. Think I'll try to learn while driving the 40 miles each way to work. Outa my way!!!!!

16 Jul 01 - 09:01 PM (#508162)
Subject: RE: Chromatic Harmonica
From: Barry T

I play Hohner's 12 hole chromatic using a home-made neck brace, while finger-picking a background pattern on guitar. One thing to realize is that the holes on the chromatic are bigger and spaced farther apart than, say, a Marine Band model. So unless you do a lot of slow airs (which is what I prefer) you'll find yourself experiencing a little whiplash if you have to make large jumps up or down the scale. I tried to do The Maid Behind the Bar the other day and damn near got vertigo! ;-)

16 Jul 01 - 10:30 PM (#508226)
Subject: RE: Chromatic Harmonica
From: Mark Clark

Arnie, You may already know about this but try They list lots of instruction sites. You can also enter a search string like "(blues harp or blues harmonica) and (primer or lesson)" into a search engine like WebFerret or AltaVista that allows boolean search strings. You'll find a great many harp instruction sites.

      - Mark