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Beginning to play Harmonica

Mr.Minor20

Member
Messages
100
I've played guitar for a few years and have always been interested in playing harmonica. Does anyone have any information on how to do so effectively?
 

guitgator

Member
Messages
3,969
ah cut it out! :)

Should I assume you want to play cross-harp blues & country style? When I started playing in the early 70s I pretty much learned by listening to Magic Dick of The J Geils Band...mostly off the Full House "live" album.

Cross-harp means you basically use a harp where the draw notes are in the key you're playing in. For instance...if you want to play in "G" then you use a "C" harp where the blow notes are in "C" and draw notes are in "G"....that's the classic blues sound. So basically for whatever key you'd want in guitar you'd got the second (4th of the scale) position and that's the key you need for your harp.

There was another thread about harmonica here awhile back...you might try searching for it.
 

Poppa Stoppa

Member
Messages
2,224
I learned the basics from a great book from the sixties, 'Blues Harp' by Tony 'Little Son' Glover. It was excellent on how to bend notes on both blow and draw, I remember.

Tip: if you want the Chicago sound, learn tongue blocking.
 
Last edited:

DBBlues

Formerly fullertone
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,835
The thread mentioned above is:
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/archive/index.php/t-406945.html
but it appears to be blank when I try it.

Some suggestions:
1. If you want to know more in a cerebral sense, buy Winslow Yerxa's Harmonica For Dummies. It covers diatonic, but not chromatic harmonicas, and despite the title, is rather encyclopedic.
2. If you'd rather learn more intuitively (the way I did and the way most people did "back in the day"), play in the correct key (usually the same key for genres other than blues and cross harp as explained above for blues) and noodle around. If you relax, and not try too hard, you will get better and better. That said, some players want to be more scientific and plan it out. Depends on what you like.
3. Check out www.harmonicaspace.com. It is a relatively new site, but has a lot of members already, and a good mix of new and experienced people, including some famous players. I believe that several of the members give long-distance or in-person lessons.
4. If you want to listen to harmonica music, I'd suggest listening to the older stuff first, including Little Walter, etc. and then move chronologically.
5. While there is much to be learned in terms of harmonicas, mics, amps, effects, and techniques, harmonica is also about knowing when to not play, or hold a note, or pause. Perhaps it is even more true of harmonica than guitar.

I've played harmonica for many years, and now I'm fulfilling a dream by finally getting guitar. The guitar habit has rejuvenated my interest in harmonica and led me to finally start figuring out amplified harp.
 

JUS1BEER

Member
Messages
251
You might try www.overblow.com that is a site that was interesting for me, and if I remember it had a lot of links to other good information.

I just started playing in a three piece blues band and started playing harp again, along with trying to play guitar at same time wich has proved challenging. I am out of practice but after a few tries I found I was able to hog all the solos....:rolleyes: I get to cut my own throat now, man this going to be fun:YinYang.

On a serious note harmonica was the first instrument I learned to play back when I was 7-8 yrs. old. I used to play with my dad when (I know this sounds crazy,but true) when he was plowing cotton in south Texas. It can be agood addition to any band if you don't play every note you know over vocals, keys guitar, etc. My goal now is to play fake horn parts with my guitar and harp, practice practice practice...
 

MikeNiteRail

Member
Messages
1,858
The thread mentioned above is:
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/archive/index.php/t-406945.html
but it appears to be blank when I try it.

Some suggestions:
1. If you want to know more in a cerebral sense, buy Winslow Yerxa's Harmonica For Dummies. It covers diatonic, but not chromatic harmonicas, and despite the title, is rather encyclopedic.
2. If you'd rather learn more intuitively (the way I did and the way most people did "back in the day"), play in the correct key (usually the same key for genres other than blues and cross harp as explained above for blues) and noodle around. If you relax, and not try too hard, you will get better and better. That said, some players want to be more scientific and plan it out. Depends on what you like.
3. Check out www.harmonicaspace.com. It is a relatively new site, but has a lot of members already, and a good mix of new and experienced people, including some famous players. I believe that several of the members give long-distance or in-person lessons.
4. If you want to listen to harmonica music, I'd suggest listening to the older stuff first, including Little Walter, etc. and then move chronologically.
5. While there is much to be learned in terms of harmonicas, mics, amps, effects, and techniques, harmonica is also about knowing when to not play, or hold a note, or pause. Perhaps it is even more true of harmonica than guitar.

I've played harmonica for many years, and now I'm fulfilling a dream by finally getting guitar. The guitar habit has rejuvenated my interest in harmonica and led me to finally start figuring out amplified harp.
Great post! Winslow is awesome!!! David Barrett has some great blues stuff at harmonicamasterclass.com.
 

IIIBOOMERIII

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,553
Harmonica blows and sucks.:thud

Did you hear that Bill Clinton stopped playing the saxaphone?
He started playing the WhoreMonica. :D
 

DBBlues

Formerly fullertone
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,835
Great post! Winslow is awesome!!! David Barrett has some great blues stuff at harmonicamasterclass.com.
Thanks, Mike.

I didn't mention what might be obvious, that there are tons of instructional videos on YouTube.
 

pdks

Member
Messages
116
I used to take my guitar whenever I was on traveling out of town. Now I often just pack a harmonica. The perfect road instrument!
 

epluribus

Member
Messages
9,170
Wow, lotta cool stuff on this thread. Years ago I got a copy of Klutz Books Learn to Play Blues Harmonica, stuck the harp in the car (long commute) and listened to the tape. Tell ya what, once you learn the shyoo-oowhee thing to do the bends, it's a blast.

...S'pose I really should pony up for a decent harp someday tho. :rolleyes: I hate goin' to rehearsal on time...

--Ray
 

jordanL

Member
Messages
1,478
Wow, lotta cool stuff on this thread. Years ago I got a copy of Klutz Books Learn to Play Blues Harmonica, stuck the harp in the car (long commute) and listened to the tape. Tell ya what, once you learn the shyoo-oowhee thing to do the bends, it's a blast.

...S'pose I really should pony up for a decent harp someday tho. :rolleyes: I hate goin' to rehearsal on time...

--Ray
I know some top level players that started with that book.
 




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