#1
To start off, I'm planning on on the purchase of a harmonica. What harmonicas would you guys recommend?

I've done some research and learned that a harmonica can be bought in different keys, so would getting one harmonica suit one's needs? Or would someone usually own three or two of those?

I'm looking to play it in a folk or indie setting, if that helps.


p,ss. please rellocate, and my apologies, if this is the wrong place.

oh and ultimate-harmonica.com is nothing but an ad site.
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Last edited by Laces Out Danny at Sep 21, 2008,
#2
Yes you have them in different keys. (I've seen a set of: C D E F G A Bb) And those are the small harmonicas. You also have chromatic ones, but they are quite big.
#3
id get one in C. Its good for folk because a lot of folk is in the key of C (A min relative).
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#4
Quote by Laces Out Danny
oh and ultimate-harmonica.com is nothing but an ad site.


did you actually try that?
#5
Get a diatonic one in C.

And two good options are, either a Hohner Special 20, or a Lee Oskar Major Diatonic.
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#6
I'm a big fan of the Hohner Marine Band harmonicas. They play real nice. Though as a rather heavy smoker, I really only have the lung capacity to play well in the higher key harps (D being my favorite).

Keep in mind that the genre of music you're playing has an impact on which key harp you use... it's not a straight relationship to the key of the song. You can play in various "positions" which are each really a different mode with a different root, and since not all notes exist on a given harp, and different notes are played in different ways (blow, draw, bent draw, etc) you need the right one to get the right sound.

For example, blues harp is generally played in second position, which is the mixolydian mode of the advertised key. If you wanted to play blues in A, you'd get a D harp and play it in second position, which gives you A mixolydian. This gives you the ability to bend bvii -> I, biii -> iii, bV -> V, and so on, which are all key to playing the blues. You can't do that playing "straight harp."
#7
Quote by Laces Out Danny
To start off, I'm planning on on the purchase of a harmonica. What harmonicas would you guys recommend?
I'd say a special 20. Alot of guys like lee oskars and suzukis, and these harps have a great response. But after you get better, you'll want to mod your hap so they can play all 12 notes. Less oskars dont mod well (I modded mine though, REALLY harp and I fucked the reed). In the end though, you could get any harmonica because the sound is dependant on the technique, not which harmonica you have (unlike guitars/amps). Better technique, better tone.

Quote by Laces Out Danny
I've done some research and learned that a harmonica can be bought in different keys, so would getting one harmonica suit one's needs? Or would someone usually own three or two of those
Harmonicas come in just about every key. This is where it gets tricky.

When you first begin you wont be able to bend the notes of a harmonica (just like on a guitar, but harmonica bends lower the note). You will only be able to play the natural notes (harmonicas can only play 6 notes naturally per octave and theres 3 octaves to a harmonica). In this stage you should get a C harp and focus on breathing and technique.

Than you'll probably figure out how to bend. Here you should be using the harmonica thats a perfect fourth higher than your key. So if you want to play in C, play an F haromica. If your playing in G, use a C harp.
This is because some of the most important notes are achieved by draw bending. Like M7's, b5s and #2s (all very important in major based blues).
Here you should probably focus on your harp phrasing and being able to choice notes.

After a while you'll start to want to play all 12 notes. To do this you must overdraw/overblow, which can only be done on a modded harp. The perfect harmonicist can play 5 or 6 notes per hole (the natural blow and draw, one or two bends, the over blow and the overblow bend). Here you should pick the harmonica thats comfortable.
Dont buy a lee oskar. They dont mod nicely. Dont but a marine brand either, because to open them up you'll have to pull the nails out and hammer it back together.
#8
Quote by demonofthenight

After a while you'll start to want to play all 12 notes. To do this you must overdraw/overblow, which can only be done on a modded harp.

Not true. You can overblow on an unmodded harp. It's hard, but it's doable. You can play all 12 notes on any harp, if you're good enough (I'm not).

Quote by demonofthenight
The perfect harmonicist can play 5 or 6 notes per hole (the natural blow and draw, one or two bends, the over blow and the overblow bend).

Eh... again, not true. Some holes will bend 3 notes, and some won't bend at all without damaging the reed. It varies along the length of the harp.

Quote by demonofthenight
Here you should pick the harmonica thats comfortable.
Dont buy a lee oskar. They dont mod nicely. Dont but a marine brand either, because to open them up you'll have to pull the nails out and hammer it back together.

It's true that marine bands are hard to open up, but aside from that I think they play the nicest of any brand. When I first started I was recommended a Lee Oskar. I don't like them at all - they feel like cheap plastic.