How to learn Harmonica

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RoundI
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How to learn Harmonica

Post by RoundI » July 20th, 2011, 7:07 am

I just bought a harmonica. I have no experience with one but I would like to play some Neil Young, Bob Dylan type stuff to start. I have not found any great websites for lessons yet. Does anyone recommend any web sites. There is some stuff on YouTube I have started to watch but I guess I am looking for a good website or book etc to get me off on the right foot.

I actually bought two harmonicas one in C and one in G. Both are Hohner, a Blues Harp MS (G) and a Pro Harp MS (C) which is a cool black color.

I like the Blues Harp better so far but it tastes funny.

Any advice on where and how to get lessons or advice on playing these things would be greatly appreciated.

Dave H. Could you write An Idiots Guide to the Harmonica now that you are done with the guitar book.

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dhodge
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by dhodge » July 20th, 2011, 7:33 am

Congrats on the harmonica and I hope you enjoy it.

There's actually already a CIG for Harmonica (http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Idiots-G ... 923&sr=8-1) - I have to tell you I've not read it so I give you a review.

You might also want to check out David Gage's Harmonica page (http://www.harmonicalessons.com/). It's not free, but I've had a lot of people tell me that it's pretty good and he's also got a page especially devoted to "harmonica for guitar players!"

Hope this helps. Looking forward to hearing some clips of you playing at some point.

Peace

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RoundI
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by RoundI » July 20th, 2011, 10:54 am

Thanks for the info. I am going to check out the music store for a book ASAP. I will look at the David Gage site as well. I like the harmonica for guitar players idea a lot.

Tale Care

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1armbandit
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by 1armbandit » July 21st, 2011, 5:30 am

I have a copy of John Gindick's "Rock and Blues Harmonica" that I pass around. Kind of corny since its written from a cavemans perspective. John has a huge amount of youtube stuff. Dave Barrett has some books through Mel Bay I believe. Gindick's book comes with a CD also.
Most tutorial stuff is in C so that should work for your harp.

Good luck.

Jack

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kent_eh
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by kent_eh » July 21st, 2011, 8:10 am

1armbandit wrote:I have a copy of John Gindick's "Rock and Blues Harmonica" that I pass around. Kind of corny since its written from a cavemans perspective. John has a huge amount of youtube stuff. Dave Barrett has some books through Mel Bay I believe. Gindick's book comes with a CD also.
Most tutorial stuff is in C so that should work for your harp.

Good luck.

Jack
I have a copy of Gidnick's book around here somewhere too. Though mine came packaged with a cassette (and a Hohner Pocket pal in C). I should try to find it again. I remember it being a pretty good from a complete beginner's perspective.

I bought it over 20 years ago when I spent a lot of time alone in hotel rooms in small towns. Fun way to pass the time.
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep

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1armbandit
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by 1armbandit » July 21st, 2011, 10:18 am

kent_eh wrote:I have a copy of Gidnick's book around here somewhere too. Though mine came packaged with a cassette (and a Hohner Pocket pal in C). I should try to find it again. I remember it being a pretty good from a complete beginner's perspective.

I bought it over 20 years ago when I spent a lot of time alone in hotel rooms in small towns. Fun way to pass the time.
Same here, took up harmonica while living out of motels for company work. Mine came with a CD and no Pocket Pal. I got ripped!

Very good basic book and really helpful to listen to the lesson. You can pan left to right and remove the talking.

Jack

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RoundI
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by RoundI » July 22nd, 2011, 3:29 am

I got a book and discovered harmonica tabs (who knew they existed). I spent an hour last night playing along with Blowing in the Wind and Heart of Gold. Oh and the Harvest Moon solo (I love that song).

I am happy for 2 days of effort so far. I find I like th blues harp better than the Pro Harp. It makes noise easier on the draw. Also the funny taste is going now. :D

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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by 1armbandit » July 22nd, 2011, 5:08 am

Round,
I use denture cleaning tablets to soak my plastic combed harps in. I drop a tablet in a bowl of water with the offending harp, let it soak then rinse well with running tap water. Minty fresh! 8)

Since yours are new probably just a plastic taste but they will pick up the flavor of everything that blows into them and everything you suck in also. Smoke, beer, halitosis and whatever else.

I pull the covers off and brush very lightly down the reeds when I have one that gets sticky. You have to be careful because the reeds bend easily.

Glad you are having fun, keep it up.

Jack

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Vic Lewis VL
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by Vic Lewis VL » July 22nd, 2011, 6:39 pm

I actually own 5 harmonicas - harmonicae? - and I've never got around to doing much with them. I'm okay when I'm playing acoustic folk music, in what they call 1st position - but when it comes to blues harp, in what they call second position, I really haven't got the time to spare - I'm too busy with the guitars and trying to get a handle on some keyboards. Apart from that, I really haven't got the breath - almost 40 years of smoking really isn't good for breathing control. I know, I know, I should quit - but it's HARD to lose a habit that's been going on for so long.

But on a scale of priorities, guitar is #1 - bass comes in a distant second, and keys a very distant third. how the hell do I fit harmonica into that schedule?

:D :D :D

Vic
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by jwmartin » July 23rd, 2011, 7:00 am

I recently bought a set and until last night hadn't used anything but the G. I've been playing Heart of Gold, Mary Jane's Last Dance and Knockin' on Heaven's Door. Last night, we tuned our guitars down a whole step for another song and then played Heaven's Door, so I got to use the F harmonica.

I found some tabs on this site, but really I just listen and try to mimic it.

Now I just have to practice playing guitar or bass and harmonica at the same time. :|

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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by 1armbandit » July 24th, 2011, 12:39 pm

Hey Vic nothing wrong with first position. I play mostly 1st position at church. Single note melody stuff. I have about 15 Lee Oskars for that. I have 7 Hohner Special 20's in my gig back, my choice for blues and chords. 4 Hohner Echo Celest's that are good for old hymns and 6 or 8 others that I carry in my cars, my pocket and 5-4 hole harps on my harp playing hat. You all do have a harp hat right?
There is a respiratory therapist out there somewhere that uses harps to increase lung capacity. It really helped me.

That G is a natural for "Last Dance", I have used it myself JW.

Happy harpin everyone.

Jack

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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by jwmartin » July 24th, 2011, 5:13 pm

There's a harp hat? Where may I obtain one of these magical devices?

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1armbandit
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by 1armbandit » July 25th, 2011, 12:44 pm

It is all in the hat! That's mine hanging on the resonator.
Image
I have a regular Hohner 4 hole, Lee Oskar Oskmonica 4 hole, Suzuki 4 hole, Hohner Aerosmith 4 hole and a Shack Up Inn 4 hole hanging on the hat band.
You can actually play them. Key of C and take a huge amount of wind.

Some words I have for beginners is that harps can come with bad reeds and reeds will go quickly on some harps.
Use only enough air to get the notes to sound. Excessive air will damage the reeds.
Clean your mouth before you play, just a quick rinse with water if you haven't been eating, brush your teeth if you have been eating.
Don't share your harps or play anyone's harps (unless you are comfortable sharing a big wet sloppy kiss from them). Even my family won't touch mine.

I came at this backwards from where most of you are, I played harp (far from expert) then took up guitar to have something to play along with.
I still fall back on the harps when nothing is going right on the guitar. Just a short change up then all is right with the world again.

Jack

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RoundI
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by RoundI » July 28th, 2011, 5:03 am

Well it has been a week and I am still enjoying the harps. Just a quick questions:

What exactly is Second Position? Or should I say where is second position?

Am I correct in saying that on a C harmonica second position is G? If so that is Blow on the third hole right. I understand that this is a blues thing but if I play along with blues in C does that mean I want a C harmonica played in Second position?

I bought a harmonica book, maybe I should sit down and read it :lol:

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1armbandit
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Re: How to learn Harmonica

Post by 1armbandit » August 1st, 2011, 6:10 am

Round I would start getting very familiar with the "Circle of Fifth's". I also like Lee Oskar's charts of which harps play which position and he also has a note layout chart including bends.
I'm not the best one to talk on position playing as I like 1st position and some third.
Cross harp (2nd position) for G is indeed a C harp and G is the 3 blow but also the 2 draw. The draw is usually more expressive and lets you bend the note down in steps.

Jack

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