Harp fever: I has it [Archive] - Sax on the Web Forum

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03-18-2009, 09:23 AM
I've gotten just enough control of the harp to
have become 'disturbed.' These little devils
(ten hole diatonic) are so insanely difficult
as to make the oral/esophageal demands of
the sax seem simple. Marvelous portability,
I've always got one nearby.

There's also a whole different culture and
potential for gas and tinkering if you so choose.

We'll see; should make for a stronger
approach to the sax if I continue.
Any experienced, practical comments?

Panther Pinkus
03-31-2009, 02:52 AM
I keep a few diatonics around and handy - keys C, G, D, A. They're great fun. I haven't gone in that much for cross harp playing, which is where most people are at, nor have gone that far period. I just like the sound of straight harp. To this end, I've gone for the Paddy Richter tuned harps (blow 3 is raised an interval so it's no longer redundant with draw 2). These are great for Irish music and traditional folk songs. The modification gives you a continuous scale from draw 2 to draw 10. Paddy's are available ready made by Seydel (my favorite harp).

03-31-2009, 03:08 AM
Thanks for the reply.

Blew out the 5 draw on my Golden Melody (A)
today just before they pulled that tooth.
A glorious day; perhaps tomorrow I'll replace
it with a Seydel, thanks for the endorsement.

I'm just slogging along with typical blues pursuit.
I enjoy it but confess to utter technical ignorance of Irish music.
Thanks for the Paddy R explanation. Harp GAS is
slightly less painful than most other forms.

Any experience with Suzuki harps or the Hohner XB-40?


Panther Pinkus
04-01-2009, 02:37 AM
Suzuki has a good rep. XB-40 is a new design with extreme note-bending ease. I haven't tried either. You might want too join the Harp-L email list. It's VERY active. See http://harp-l.org/mailman/listinfo/harp-l

I have a few Lee Oskars, which are very well made and have a slightly brighter and louder sound than other makes (it's tuned a tad higher). It's also modular, which lets you replace components and swap plates to make your own tunings (I built a Paddy by merging two Oskars).

The "Harp handbook" by Steve Baker (http://www.stevebaker.de/index.php/cds_books?language=en&type=1 ) is a great resource, as is "Harmonica for Dummies" by Winslow Yerxa.

I've tried some tremolo types, but don't really care for them. Others love them. Also, I have several Hohner chromatics. They were $20 apiece when I bought them nearly 40 years ago. Now they're over a hundred. You might think that "chromatic" means you only need one. I quickly found it was easiest to play the one that was in the key I was playing, so I now have three. I find them a bit fussy in that they need constant cleaning. I also don't like the sound as much as that of the diatonics.

-- Pinky

Chilly Zee
04-01-2009, 06:13 AM
I started messing around with blues harps a couple of years ago. My favorites blow is the Hohner Super 20. But I like the tone of the basic Marine Band slightly more, so that's what I have in the most keys.


04-01-2009, 09:38 AM
Thanks for the info, everyone.

Marine Band is doubtless the definitive blues harp but
the comb wears & swells and I suffered several days
with a nasty injury as a result.

Then I blew a reed on my Golden Melody and it may not
be worth shipping from over the Pond for a replacement
reed set not available stateside.

I'll snoop around & settle on a replaceable reed system.
I've a Lee Oscar and it is perfectly competent & durable
but I want to check all the modular types (3 more brands.)
One needs several harps anyway.

The XB-40 is a blues harp designed to be pushed
to chromatic extremes. This interests me more than
straight chromatics; I'd just like that one missing note

Great avatar, Chilly.

04-01-2009, 11:14 AM
Concerning the swelling of the wood on a harp, I was taught by Terry MacMillan (now passed away Nashville harpist) to soak a new harp in water until it swells and then sand it to eliminate the lip cutting. When the harp is dry, the wood will sink in but with a little quick soak or warm up playing it will return to where you want it.
I now use a Golden Melody (same brand but with plastic). Great harps... try one.

04-01-2009, 11:51 AM
I would go with the Marine Band though prices have become a bit insane (in the UK at least) for what it is. They should be soaked for best results. Cross harp is certainly the way to go (IMHO) if you are into blues. I always liked this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blues-Harp-Instruction-Playing-Harmonica/dp/B001AX5V9G/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238586330&sr=1-17

I still maintain one of the best (easy) ways to get into blues saxophone impro is to listen to a lot of blues harp. The riffs and solo ideas tend to be so simple and soulful with a tremedous use of rhythm.

Disclaimer: I am no blues harp player though I would love to be. Could never really nail accurate note bending properly. :)

04-01-2009, 12:30 PM

I you're interested in cross harp or blues, do yourself the favor of getting familiar with this guy, Adam Gussow. His youtube channel has enough free lessons for you to stay busy for a few years.