Author Topic: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?  (Read 211 times)

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Offline embishop

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Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« on: May 02, 2021, 06:46:58 pm »
Anybody have any favorite harmonica brands / models? When I play my harp for too long (which is any time I'm trying to learn something!) my lips swell up. That gives my partner and some friends a good laugh of course, but I'm thinking I should see if a different harmonica would get rid of the problem. My good friend google tells me that many people have a nickel allergy and many harmonicas are nickel plated. A wood comb vs a plastic comb can also have an impact. I have 4 Hohner harps right now, an Old Standby, 2 Marine Bands, and a Blues Harp. None of them cost very much. 1 has a plastic comb, and the others have wooden combs. They’re all nickel plated. I want to get one that’s a bit pricier to see if it makes a difference. There’s so many to choose from and even though going up a couple steps is still not that expensive if you were to buy one in every key that would easily add up to a very nice new guitar! (I don't think I'd ever really need all of them, just making a point :) ) There’s also no nice neat listing I can find of ones that aren’t nickel plated. There’s a couple into the hundreds but that’s a lot when I don’t know if it will solve my problem. I’m thinking about a Lee Oskar 1910-A Major Diatonic Harmonica, $65 at my local music store (Cdn $). I don’t see anything on whether it’s nickel plated, but it’s 2-4 times more expensive than my other ones so I might notice a difference anyway.

Any suggestions?

Thank you!

Mari
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Offline CT

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Re: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2021, 10:18:41 pm »
I can't really speak to nickel plating allergies or such. Maybe changing your technique might help? I go way back starting out with an early Jon Gindick harmonica book (really a fun read back then). I don't have near the chops that he has, but I try. He will get you putting the harmonica correctly in your mouth so that you can rule out that aspect of it:




I own two harmonica brands, Hohner Special 20 & Lee Oskar. My special 20's are older, because they were great in their day. All my new harps are Lee Oskar, hands down a better harp and the reed plates are easily removed and replaced. I should add that the lips and mouth area do toughen up over time with practice. Hope that helps! We don't get enough harmonica playing around here. :)

Offline embishop

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Re: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2021, 12:36:11 am »
Thanks for the input, Clint. I may have that same old harmonica book and cassette tape (!), Country and Blues Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless. (I was never fond of the title of that book - I'm not hopeless I would think lol.) I didn't progress much beyond single notes and occasional bends, but it still stays as an eventual goal of mine. It may still be technique anyway, I'll look at that, good idea.

And I definitely agree, we don't get enough harmonica playing around here :)
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Offline CT

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Re: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2021, 02:04:43 am »
This is the one that I started with and still have on my shelf:

It starts with the most simple and fun introduction to music theory I've ever seen. I need to go back and re-read it, it's dogeared beyond belief! Nice read from the pre-youtube era.   

Online DavidP

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Re: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2021, 07:59:38 am »
may have that same old harmonica book and cassette tape (!), Country and Blues Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless. (I was never fond of the title of that book - I'm not hopeless I would think lol.)

Agreed ... "Musically Hopeful" would be much more inviting.

I have a harmonica but making time to practice while practicing guitar and vocals hopefully is a bridge too far. So I won't be among those present to bring more harmonica to AVOYP  :P

Offline embishop

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Re: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2021, 01:42:54 pm »
Clint, I like the title of your book much better than the title of mine. I do have that cassette tape still mind you ... No idea when the last time was that I used a cassette player though!


David, good on you finding time for guitar and now vocals, 2 instruments is a lot, 3 is certainly not doable for me when I have a day job! :)
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Offline CT

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Re: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2021, 03:26:07 pm »
Straight harp is pretty easy to make sound good and hard to sound wrong (although I sometimes find a way). I-IV-V in the key of your harmonica is the place to start.

Offline sairfingers

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Re: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2021, 03:47:52 pm »
Hi guys
Here in Scotland we call harmonicas mouth organs or ‘moothies’.  Where does term ‘harp’ come from?
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Offline joueur de guitare

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Re: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2021, 05:08:24 pm »
There's nothing wrong with Hohner gob irons, but if you feel like spending a lot of money Suzuki are good professional instruments.

Hohner Meisterklasse have chrome plated coverplates, and are reassuringly expensive.
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Offline embishop

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Re: Harmonica brands and models - suggestions? favorites?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2021, 02:41:54 am »
Straight harp is pretty easy to make sound good and hard to sound wrong (although I sometimes find a way). I-IV-V in the key of your harmonica is the place to start.

I figure if (mostly) straight harp is good enough for NY and the Boss I’ll be happy enough on that until I get a lot more practice in. I’ve said before though that the heart of that little instrument is cross harp and the blues, so that’s where I’m headed eventually 😊

Hi guys
Here in Scotland we call harmonicas mouth organs or ‘moothies’.  Where does term ‘harp’ come from?

I had no idea where the term ‘harp’ came from, I actually just thought it was a simpler word! Apparently in its origin a harmonic did have a resemblance to a harp – I provide no assurance as to the source of this information though -

Why is it called a harp? (patmissin.com)

In many parts of the American South, the harmonica was popularly called mouth harp, French harp or just plain harp, a term now used by blues harmonica players the world over. The term is partly inspired by the Aeolian harp, a stringed instrument that is left outdoors to be played by the wind, whose name was taken from Aeolus the god of the wind. Early names for the harmonica were Aeolina, Aeolian and Mund-Aeoline, which stressed this link with the Aeolian harp. As the earliest harmonica-like instruments were little more than a few reeds attached to a reedplate that was held to the players lips, the resemblance to a harp was quite pronounced.


There's nothing wrong with Hohner gob irons, but if you feel like spending a lot of money Suzuki are good professional instruments.

Hohner Meisterklasse have chrome plated coverplates, and are reassuringly expensive.

I did pick up my $65 harp today, a Lee Oskar, and although I’m not sure that it will fix my swollen lip issue it is very obviously a much nicer little instrument than the cheaper ones I already have. I’m leaning towards thinking that my amazing(ly poor) technique is the root of my problem. Time to go through a few lessons I think! 😊



Thanks for the input guys!

Mari
American Pro Strat HSS, Gretsch G5420T, 
Taylor GS Mini-e Koa, Epiphone SG400
Boss Katana 50, Vibro Champ XD
Yamaha Clavinova CLP-525 digital piano

 

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