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Oct 1, 2020 - 2:25 PM
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11335 posts since 9/23/2009

just a weird little tin fiddle that has no strangs and not much to look at

Oct 1, 2020 - 2:58:17 PM

2643 posts since 9/13/2009

I like playing harmonica.

I would advise getting a reasonably good one...and right layout... it will make learning much easier.

Keep in mind the most common tuning layout (10 hole Richter) that folks start with, as straight harp is missing the sixth note of the key in the bottom end... can make playing fiddle melodies difficult (requires good bending technique). But there are different tuning layouts... some might be easier or better suited for if that's goal than others.

Good luck

Oct 1, 2020 - 3:16:14 PM
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2232 posts since 8/23/2008
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No 'intangible and ephemeral' bowing patterns to worry about.

Oct 1, 2020 - 4:15:14 PM

11335 posts since 9/23/2009

my thunder harmonica from china cost 6 dollars...lol. i dont know anything about the instrument except im not ready to spend money...although i might actually get somewhere with it this time if i cant play my instrumebts before much lomger...i dont have the patience to study up on any of it, im afraid. mine is keyed to c, and whether in cross or srtaight harp, seems essential notes just arebt there. however, i keep remembering people from the old dats in s e ky, who coukd play in several keys on one marine inexpensive harmonica and just do amazing thibgs...i dont expect to ever get it. im working on a simple chord progression with a little shuffly type pattern that maybe i coyuld sing with...if i can manage that, it ll ne more than ive ever accomplished on one. i hope the day comes soon that i can play my instrumennts again...right now im just focused on learning to bend my wrist...ugh...long way to go. i did submit a left handed ink drawing for grandsons home school inktober sketching project...that was hard...and weird.

Oct 1, 2020 - 4:15:28 PM
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2072 posts since 10/22/2007

Listening to my buddy playing fiddle tunes on his harmonica is impressive. But i also think it's alot of huffin and puffin. I'm dizzy enough.smiley

Oct 1, 2020 - 4:16:35 PM
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11335 posts since 9/23/2009

my left thumb typing getsworse all the time...sorry.

Oct 1, 2020 - 4:17:34 PM

11335 posts since 9/23/2009

yeah...there seems to be a lot of hyper ventilation involved.

Oct 1, 2020 - 4:29:48 PM
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3556 posts since 12/8/2007

So when you play "Oh Sussanah," for instance, do you push the air into the harmonica for the first four notes, pull air for the next four:

PAI for 4, PAO for 4, 4X4,

Or do you just blow anywhichway, letting the notes form as you breathe?

I think Swagger McStagger, renowned OT harmonicist, used a synco-blowback pattern when he played the tune....

Oct 1, 2020 - 6:04:22 PM
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11335 posts since 9/23/2009

once you start to stagger you know you ve hit the anywhicway mark and you better sit down fast

Oct 1, 2020 - 6:22:12 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

633 posts since 6/22/2016

A few things to consider ..... If you're going to play fiddle tunes, you'll have to decide what you want to do about the 'missing notes'. A lot of the old timers would figure out their own ways to deal with the missing notes - they would either fudge it with a little huffing and puffing, or re-work parts of the melody. That kind of approach is unfashionable these days, if that concerns you. Another option is to develop your 'bending' technique to the point where you can usually get a missing note that way. Or, buy a harmonica with a different tuning that will give all the notes you need.

Oct 1, 2020 - 7:51:17 PM

11335 posts since 9/23/2009

well i dont find myself wanting fiddle tunes on this ol cheapir thing...i played guitar for almost 60 years, and theres been a lot of bluesy guitar times during some of those years, so at this point, as much as im seeing this little strange instrument as a fiddle substitute, im afraid it might lean more toward guitar blues licks now in my beginning early stuff...ofcourse, its pretty bad playin, no matter anywhichway i try or whatever i stagger into...thats always been my big harmonica problem...sorta just get lost in that thibg sand cant find my way. but what i really meant when i said its a tin fiddle, as i should have explained except my left thumb gets tired...i think i really meant with the shuffles and such...its got a lot of bowing issues, so to speak. seems to me, after 4 days of playin now...lol...total ignorance is what i got goin on so far...lol.

Oct 1, 2020 - 8:43:53 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

633 posts since 6/22/2016

Well, I would say just keep messin' around with it, then, and see what happens. I'm not familiar with the 'Thunder' harmonicas - there's the odd cheap Chinese harp that is actually pretty good - at least, I had one, an 'Angel' in the key of E that lasted me for decades; it's still playable - but mostly you get what you pay for .... Suzuki has - or at least, had - a decent cheap one, the 'Suzuki Folk Harmonica', IIRC .....

Oct 1, 2020 - 8:51:37 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

633 posts since 6/22/2016

Be careful, though -  a harmonica can be an "offensive weapon", apparently:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/harmonica-phone-robbery-arrest-1.5412764

It doesn't name the brand of harmonica, but it would be appropriate if it were a 'Thunder' .....

Oct 2, 2020 - 3:18:39 AM
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176 posts since 4/15/2019

I've been playing the harmonica, or French Harp as we call it for over 50 yrs. Never payed more than ten dollars for one in my life. Don't let anyone make it more complicated than it need be. Most simple instrument in the world to play. And you are right, it sounds like a fiddle without strings! In fact a good fiddle CD is the best way to learn to play. Just get a good slow fiddle tune and start matching the notes on it. Doc Watson's Midnight on the Stormy Deep or What Did The Deep Sea Say are good ones to start out with. The way you cup your hands and use your mouth have a lot to do with getting the right sound. I thoroughly enjoy playing the Harmonica! Just don't spoil it by making it too complicated!

Oct 2, 2020 - 4:41:55 AM

11335 posts since 9/23/2009

wow, old scratch...i didnt know it was a weapon too...lol.
well thanks, guys. i appreciate the opinions. ive tried to play one my whole life and now that ive gotta wait for my right hand...i might just learn. hand is feeling very good, by the way, but theres a long ways to go.

Oct 2, 2020 - 4:47:40 AM
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176 posts since 4/15/2019

Get you a Hohner Harmonica. They're made in Germany and in my opinion there is none better. I am playing ones I have had for thirty and forty yrs.! You will need one for each key you wish to play in. Yes you can get more than one key out of it , if you are long winded enough to inhale that long! You will need to learn to control your breathing so you don't run out of wind. This will all come sort of natural as you go along.

Oct 2, 2020 - 6:21:55 AM
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WyoBob

USA

141 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by old cowboy

Get you a Hohner Harmonica. They're made in Germany and in my opinion there is none better. I am playing ones I have had for thirty and forty yrs.! You will need one for each key you wish to play in. Yes you can get more than one key out of it , if you are long winded enough to inhale that long! You will need to learn to control your breathing so you don't run out of wind. This will all come sort of natural as you go along.


I've got a Hohner "Chrometta 12" that I bought around 61 years ago.  I tried to learn it when I was a kid but never made any headway.   I found it a year or so ago but it's just set in a drawer since then.

Oct 2, 2020 - 6:58:53 AM
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59 posts since 11/19/2019

I've been playing blues harp or cross harp for almost 40 years now. (thats hard to wrap my head around).

If you're interested in playing bluesy stuff, then check out this forum- modernbluesharmonica.com/blues...orum.html

As for a brand to buy, a good old Hohner Marine Band or Special 20 is really hard to beat. Suzuki's are very well made, but most tuned very slightly different (Still Richter, but different temperment), so they don't chord as well (chords sound funny or off), they are great however for soloing work.

I don't play first position much however, so I really don't know much about how to play a fiddle tune on one.

Oct 2, 2020 - 8:11:24 AM
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Fiddler

USA

4113 posts since 6/22/2007

My dad and granddad were both phenominal harmonica players. I never knew my granddad, but my dad told stories that he never played much openly, but he ALWAYS played while "shaving" every morning. Dad played both diatonic and chromatic harmonica and had an incredible tonguing technique that really made tunes bounce. He was a huge fan of the Harmonicats.

To encourage my brother and I to learn to play, he offered a reward of $10 to the first one who could play a tune recognizably. ($10 was a ton of money back in the early 60s.) Neither of us picked up the reward. However, as an adult I started playing to help keep me awake on long drives for work going across Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and others. I could pack it easily too when I flew to remote sites. I learned to play familiar songs and tunes. One of my favorite memories was playing harmonica with him at a family Thanksgiving. When I reminded him of the reward, he said I had missed the "play-by date." Oh, well. I tried.

His advice to playing the diatonic harmonica was simple. All you do is blow out and suck in.

Oct 2, 2020 - 8:13:41 AM
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Fiddler

USA

4113 posts since 6/22/2007

Oct 2, 2020 - 8:58:33 AM
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DougD

USA

9798 posts since 12/2/2007
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Peggy - Here's somebody who doesn't seem to have much trouble getting music out of a harmonica just like yours: youtu.be/3Wpjzb2o6HQ
Seems like your daughter made a good choice of a thoughtful gift.
In case you don't have it here's the layout of a 10 hole diatonic harmonica: researchgate.net/profile/Isaac...major.png
As you can see the middle octave is complete, but the lower octave lacks the sixth, which can be annoying, and hard to get by bending. The tradeoff is that the first three holes play the I chord on the blow, and the V chord on the draw. The upper octave lacks the b note, but that doesn't bother me much. The fact that there are three octaves in such a small instrument is quite amazing, and why its called a "mouth harp," "mouth organ," or "pocket piano." To call it a "tin sandwich" or "tin fiddle" seems disrespectful to me.
I have Marine Bands in C,D and G and a Blues Harp in A, but I keep a C Pocket Pal in the console of my car, and its been a great companion. One little story: For years I did the sound and recording at the National Storytelling Festival here in East Tennessee, which mostly involves driving around on a golf cart checking on things. I often keep the Pocket Pal with to fill odd moments. A few years ago I was driving down the short road from the hotel to the festival and heard Jerron Paxton, a fine young musician, playing "Chicken Reel" on his harmonica in the parking lot. I stopped and when he was finished I took out my Pocket Pal and answered him with my version. I must have closed my eyes, because when I was done Jerron was standing next to the cart, harp in hand, and said "Play that again." I had to tell him were in different keys, but we got together later and swapped some tunes and tricks. You can't do that with a guitar.

Oct 2, 2020 - 9:52:09 AM
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11335 posts since 9/23/2009

wow thanks for linking that review, doug. exactly the one i have...she told me she paid 6.00. cool. i thought mine was sounding pretty goid, but since im not sure what im doing i just thought i was hitting lucky notes...lol...i just do/try cross harp style. theyrev outside our front door replacing all water pipes now, and yesterday i stepped out on the porch just to get a little air...messin with that thing...when the machine stopped and there was a lull in the noise and the heads all turned and looked at me standin on the porch messin with that thing...i was sorta shocked and stopped to receive applause...lol...for a minute there i thought i found a couple of lucky notes, but maybe it was just the thunder taking over...or else an old lady standin on the porch with her jammies on and tryin her best to wail out some blues withanarm in a cast is just a sight to applaud...lol...for whatever reason.

Oct 2, 2020 - 12:01:15 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

633 posts since 6/22/2016

Yup, sounds pretty good - reminds me of that 'Angel' I was talking about, which was pretty much indestructible.

Oct 2, 2020 - 12:43:40 PM
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2643 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

 im working on a simple chord progression with a little shuffly type pattern that maybe i coyuld sing with...if i can manage that,


That might be tough to manage to sing while while playing. laugh

You might have misunderstood about getting a good harmonica.... I didn't mean a super expensive one in hundreds of dollars. Hohners, like Marine Bands and similar are good... not real expensive but bit more than $10 these days... and you can find some others that are equally fine for bit less money.  It's like fiddles, don't need real expensive; but just pointing out some are real junk that you will end up fighting to get good tone, balance, power, or bends. If having issues with cheap harp, you can actually open them up and tweak them to fix some issues such as air leaks and reed response. Lot of videos will show you how.

Yes, you can play in more than one key... though it can get a little complicated (dealing with missing notes, or using bends). Most folks start with either the straight key (as marked), so C on yours; or the basic cross harp a fifth, G on a C harp; but the seventh note is flat... but many tunes don't need the seventh... and of course many  tunes use the flat seventh... like Old Joe Clark. (good cross tune to start on).

Have fun

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 10/02/2020 12:47:02

Oct 2, 2020 - 1:29:36 PM
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2643 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry

No 'intangible and ephemeral' bowing patterns to worry about.


As a bisonoric it's hard to make a comparison. But directionality does affect the sound in harmonicas and diatonic accordions. Many tunes could be played in 2 (or 3) different keys on a diatonic, many ae essentially pentatonic. Choice affects the layout and flow of those notes; two notes that change of direction sounds different than two on same direction. As well qualities of note. Draw notes is easier to get a big fat whomping sound. 

Oct 2, 2020 - 1:48:29 PM

11335 posts since 9/23/2009

gee whiz yall...sounds like fiddle hangout is the best plkace to seek harmonica advice...thanks everybody...always learn a lot from all you guys here.

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