The Harp Weasel?

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  • Another part time harmonica player here. I also like Lee Oskars, Golden Melodys are also pretty good- VERY air tight & therefore good for over blows etc.

    If you're looking to get started, the best advice is to buy a harmonica (a good one is under £30 new) and give it a whirl. 
    It's worth bearing in mind that if you're playing blues you'll need to play in second position to get the notes for the blues scale.


    There are several excellent harmonica tutors on youtube. my favourites being Adam Gussow and Tomlin Leckie (the latter taught me).

    The main restriction to my own playing (apart from a lack of talent) is the fact that harmonicas are LOUD and there's no way to play them quietly. With two kids under 5 that's a fairly significant obstacle to consistent practice & progress.
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  • ↑ wise words. .. I started playing melodies. .ie. 'Michael row the boat ashore' theme from 'last of the summer wine' then progressed to like of drty old town' 'Billy Joel piano man'.then started in 2nd position bending the blues. .. as people have mentioned it's a great instrument and what started as a kids instrument, which was then taken to another level in the 20's/30's in the deep south all the way up to Chicago :-)
    and they were also issued in the first world war to frontline troops on both sides. ....
    I don't practice as much as I should, to take it to another level...but life gets in the way. ....
    great thread by the way , thanks to Ash for starting it =D>
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  • There is an art all in itself to playing in a band setting ... knowing when to lay back and just play little rhythm 'stabs' The volume control on a harp mic is essential here I find. I try to use a small amp really wound up, and when you are not playing it can feedback like hell. Learning to turn right down when you are not playing, up for 'horn stabs', and flat out for solos ... body positioning on stage can minimise feedback too. I have successfully used a Laney LC15r with a 10 inch speaker ...  
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • DominicDominic Frets: 4700
    Never understood why it is called a ' harp ' ....doesn't sound anything like one
    Is it just because it sounds cooler than 'mouth organ '
    No offence to the players but this is my most hated instrument sound - singlehandedly spoiled almost every decent Dylan track !
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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 4033
    edited October 2015
    Harp is short for harmonica ...
    Dylan murdered the harmonica ... 
    and this is what it is meant to sound like ... in my opinion
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • stimpsonslostsonstimpsonslostson Frets: 3630
    edited October 2015
    I've posted this before, but here's my inspiration for starting to play harmonica
    the fun starts around the 1.00 mark. It's Eric Oberlander of FIve Horse Johnson guesting with Clutch:

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  • That's brilliant ... I did a gig supporting the Blues Band with Paul Jones once ... that made me want to play.
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • JCA2550JCA2550 Frets: 130
    My other main instrument ... well, guilty pleasure is blues harmonica :-)
    Ever since the days I played in 'the Jukes' with Pete Hoggman ... the guy who did the 'My Boy Lollypop' harp solo ... I have been fascinated, and gigged many times as a harmonica player.
    Have always chewed the fat with other harp men about amplification, effects, being drowned out v drowning out the guitarist lol ... 
    image
    Ha! That wouldn't be smilin Pete Hoggman by any chance?
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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 4033
    edited October 2015
    It would be ... a fabulous caracter
    And a fabulous harp player. He was an absolute git to work with, total blues perfectionist, but it taught me loads. I played bass with him ... and his Mrs Jill shared the vocals. If she called for a bass solo I knew I was in for it ... Jill loved them, Pete hated them ... and he would just glare at me till I finished. Later at the bar he would have a go for playing that 'fancy s--t'.
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • That video of clutch with guest harp player. Awsome stuff. ..remind me a bit of 'blues traveller' sound. On listening to it without visual you don't know whether it is overdriven harp or guitar.

    And Ash I have wanted a laney lc15r for a while and wondered ...what valves and speaker your running. . ?
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  • Sold on my LC15 a while ago ... but had a 10" Jenson ... the HH fitted as standard was crap, and I believe i swapped to  12au7 in the preamp ... though it's been a while.
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • You guys any pointers to a starting out kinda lesson, harp "kit" per se? Any good "fretboard" for harpists sites? I've always wanted to play since seeing Paul Lamb regularly as a young lad.. I've also now got a wicked looking amp for it (my selmer discussion - probably sounds like shit lol)
    Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life
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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 4033
    edited November 2015
    Get a C harp, start drawing at the second hole (fnar fnar) and you are away (you are playing in G 'crossed harp')... lots of 'how to' its on u tube
    Concentrate on clear single note runs and slurs ... bending notes takes a while to learn, but it's simply a knack. I'm not great at blown bends, but drawn ones I can wail like a bugger at :-)
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • Thanks Ash! Will do this week so... Btw I always loved this track, think it sound deadly but is it the equivalent of Steve via wanking for harp players? Awesome album btw if you haven't heard it....
    Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life
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  • NomadNomad Frets: 521

    I found this guy's series of lessons helpful...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddM5RlWSJ4E

    That's the first one. Work through them step by step.

    A C harp is good to get first because most online lessons use that - you can sook and blaw on the same hole and get the same pitch as the teacher. A D is handy for jamming to blues in A. I'm another Lee Oskar fan - Thomann's prices are pretty good if you're ordering a few or buying something else already (the 10 euro postage on one harp wipes out the saving). If not, just get down to your nearest music shop and buy one.

    I wouldn't bother with things like mic and amp for a while - needs a bit of research, and costs money that's arguably better spent on some decent harps. You also need to work out if you want to play acoustically (cleanly amplified, like for recording or PA) or overdriven for the Chicago sound ('crap' mic and small amp getting pushed for a low-fi sound).

    Bending is weird. I found various web sites that claimed to have the theory behind it nailed, full of diagrams showing tongue positions and mouth shapes, but it still took ages to get it to happen. As Ash says, it's a knack, and seems to be a case of doing odd things with your mouth and throat until it happens.

    There are forums out there, but I never bothered with any of them. They can be handy when threads come up in searches, though.


    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 4033
    edited November 2015
    I found draw bending came from dropping my tongue and opening my throat a bit ... then initially tilting the harp up a tad  helped ... god knows why :-)
    And you can spend a fortune on harp mics ... but the ones that are cheap as chips seem to work best ... I had an old WW2 tank microphone in black Bakelite for ages ... bought it for 50p at a boot sale!  Sounded ace ... till some bugger stole it at a gig :-( 
    DIY and harp seem to go together
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • NomadNomad Frets: 521

    The Superlux D112 clone/copy/style of the Green Bullet seems pretty good, and Thomann's price is excellent...

    http://www.thomann.de/gb/superlux_d112c.htm

    About 15 quid less than even Amazon. Demo here...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCf4qNEtu88

    Decent length of cable and built in volume control with a centre detent. Quite a heavy and bulky mic, though. I've been harbouring plans to recase the cartridge from a cheapy dynamic to get something that fits into the hand better.

    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • Me, I like a good, big harp mic ... something to smack unruly punters over the head with :-)
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • NomadNomad Frets: 521

    The Superlux will certainly work for that. :)

    Before I got mine, I thought it was a plastic case. When I picked it up, I realised it was all cast metal. Fixed cable as well, so you can give it a swing and get it back into action right away rather than have to go and find it when the plug comes out. ;)

    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • My singer after years and years of harp sound issues, recently bought a new mic and a valve amp, been brilliant ever since, no feedback loads of power and a great tone, will email to find out details.
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  • The above site used to be based in Queensbury in Bradford.I bought quite a few harps from him...
    All good advice above about learning. ..just stick with it...
    hours of fun. ..In a sound proof room away from your loved ones....:-)
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  • so harp is a synonym for harmonica? confusing.

     

    I tried it a few times, could never bend a note which I really wanted to do (ala man with a harmonica) so I gave up.

    Is bending notes hard or is it pretty begginer?

    I'm not a McDonalds burger. It is MkJackary, not Mc'Jackary... It's Em Kay Jackary. Mkay?
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  • marktheharpmarktheharp Frets: 74
    edited November 2015
    I would say bending notes is the hardest. ..
    .and play in the correct key (called cross harp) when playing blues. ..
    straight harp is just playing the melody of a tune in the same key. ..If you want the blues sound, cross harp is your friend. I.e if guitar is playing blues in 'E' you need to be playing a harp in 'A'. To get the blues sound..
    I can highly recommend the book and cd called ' beginning blues harp by Don Baker'.
    Hopefully this link works?
    If not search above on Ebay, can be had for as little as £3.99.... This book is what started me off. ..:-)
    good luck with your quest and anybody else reading this.... us Harp players are a friendly bunch.....
    cheers Mark.
    http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&id=151873745286&alt=web



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  • Also to anyone who is in the Leeds/Bradford area and fancies a quick lesson I can show you how to start off... ;)
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  • Mkjackary said:

    so harp is a synonym for harmonica? confusing.

     

    I tried it a few times, could never bend a note which I really wanted to do (ala man with a harmonica) so I gave up.

    Is bending notes hard or is it pretty begginer?

    Harp was slang used among early masters of the blues harmonica ... it sort of stuck.
    I equate bends on harp to picked harmonics on guitar ... a knack: once you discover how to do it you always wonder why you had difficulty in doing it,
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • Cheers guys, I'll have a look for the Don baker book... A class musician himself! Looking forward to picking one up...
    Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life
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  • And listen to Little Walter till you absorb what harp 'should' sound like :-)
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • Yes absolutely and don't forget 'sonny boy Williamson'..... <:-P
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