Thoughts on Harmonicas

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
2 years ago
293 posts
Yeah, I know what you mean about clearing out. Sometimes I also have to let go of stuff. I've regretted selling some stuff, like my collection of flutes.

But, we go on, because every day is like a new little life.
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
1,767 posts

Terry that's so great!  That large 2-sided tabor drum of yours is quite impressive and 'primitive' looking with its lacing.  I bet that lady feels like a Wild Thang playing it.  red drummer   grin     So nice that your tabor drum has found a new honorable life of service!

Btw, I put up my five old harmonicas in the For Sale forum.  Figured I would start trying to move along instruments I will never play anymore.  Part of my Spring cleaning goals to myself.  I also went through my spice cabinet like a tornado yesterday!  pimento




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
2 years ago
293 posts
Lisa, guess what. Okay, I'll tell you.
I took along my tabor drum to an ALH this morning, and had a great time.
One 91 year old is really musical, so I asked her to give it a go. She timed every soft beat, right along with my dulcimer. Wonderful.
I always pass out hand skaters to the rest, so we sure made some noise this morning.

Every week, without fail, this one lady will always ask me to play Ode To Joy, on harmonica. Super old folks love repeats.

Anyways, I thought you might get a kick out of my Tabor Drum story.
Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
2 years ago
293 posts
Lisa, as you well know, we don't have to be good to still make wonderful music.

It took me a while to arive at this observation. But when I did, it was kind of like a chain was broken.
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
1,767 posts

Ah, those tabor drums we conspired on and purchased... co-enablers!   lolol... I do still like my drum and it was perfect for a children's parade I participated in last year.  I think they have great tone and yes I too am glad to still have my tabor drum!

I have NOT been playing the tabor pipe though... once I found out I had all the notes more quickly available on my penny whistles.  But I've kept up with the penny whistle and I really love playing.  I'm not a great player but that doesn't bother me- might take years to become proficient, but it's a happy pastime.  I have a small collection of mid-level pennywhistles now...Terry you know how we get tempted.  winker   Happily, the whistles don't cost all that much compared to most stringed instruments.  hamster   

I don't have to tell you to keep playing and having fun with your music... cuz I know you will.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
2 years ago
293 posts
Lisa, it is good to be back. A lot has transpired in the last two years, but music and serving never left. More passion than ever before.

I love the tremolo. A harmonica friend down in Florida, is about finished building wood covers for my favorite tremolo, key low F.
I traded a tremolo that he wanted for his work. Can't wait to get it back.

I'm thinking you must be some more tin whistle player by now. How about Tabor and Drum?

Some in our family were making some music recently, at our home. My grandson grabs that old tabor drum off the wall and joins in the fun.
So yeah, I'm glad I hung on to the booger.

Imho, the tremolo harmonica is just a wonderful accomplice to the dulcimer, or a ukulele. The trick is to not buy cheap. Anything under $30.00 say, is cheap.

Hey, one has to love the choices we have to make music. Fun fun.
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
1,767 posts

Terry Wilson: Here is the great thing:   I have never been a by ear dulcimer player, always using tab and memorizing the songs.   Here it is:  The harmonica is a by ear instrument.   Once I learning to play harmonica by ear, I began playing dulcimer by ear.   It just happens.  Why, I don't know, but it does...

It's funny how that works.  I usually find that making a little progress in one instrument leads to progress or insight on another instrument.  I love when that happens.   :)   I think Edelweiss would be a perfect tune for the tremolo harmonica. I actually had one of those big tremolo harps waaay back when i was a teenager (!) and I enjoyed playing it in my amateur way.

Terry, it's great to see you back on FOTMD again, and I'm so glad to learn of your wife's health outcome, and to know that you've had help for all the hand pain that was preventing you from playing almost everything.  I'm happy to hear you are still playing for the senior home... I remember how you described their joy (and yours) in your musical visits there. clapper




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
IRENE
IRENE
@irene
2 years ago
154 posts

My first cousin learned to play the harmonica while she lived in Sacramento, CA.  She said that the trip accross town was sooooo full of stop lights.  So she would play her harmonica while waiting at all the stop lights.  I love it when my husband plays the harmonica too.  aloha, irene

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
2 years ago
293 posts

Hello fellow harmonica players.

I've been away from the forum for the past couple of years, only lurking now and then.  Back surgery, 2 hand surgeries, and supporting my wife during her battle with cancer.   Thankfully, she has been declared cancer free.

Anyways, I have recently re-discovered harmonica.  Though it never left me, and I played at times, i just wasn't dedicated to harmonica, until recently.   What I have been working on is improving my skills with harmonica, along with playing it at the same time with my dulcimer.   Works really well, and the old folks at an assisted living home I play at each week just seem to love it.   They sing along, creating a lot of fun.

I am learning Chromatic harmonica, but my go to harps are tremolo and 10 hole diatonic.   Here is the great thing:   I have never been a by ear dulcimer player, always using tab and memorizing the songs.   Here it is:  The harmonica is a by ear instrument.   Once I learning to play harmonica by ear, I began playing dulcimer by ear.   It just happens.  Why, I don't know, but it does.

The song "Simple Gifts" is a wonderful dulcimer song, stroking each note perfectly, with no add on's.  As taught by many teachers, including a great one, Linda Collins.   However, you should try this song on a harmonica, especially in the key of Low F, or even A.   Beautiful.  Another beauty is Edelweiss, from the Sound of Music.   Sounds wonderful on a dulcimer, too.

I listened to Edelweiss several times on You Tube, to get the song in my head.   Played it right away with an A harp.  Set the harp down, and then picked it out on dulcimer.   Very very satisfying.  

Anyways, this is just a reminder to some of you to dust off your harmonicas and do some rediscovering.   Loads of fun.

And like Bob said, you can't stick your dulcimer in your pocket, or the piano, or a uke, but a harmonica fits nicely, for that trip to the grocery store.  Only problem is, you will find yourself taking the long route.

 

 

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
4 years ago
251 posts

I got a four way traffic light down my road. Stopping at red takes two minutes out of my life. Now I use that time playing harp. Most times I don't mind if the light stays red a little longer... Robert.

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
4 years ago
40 posts

And if you have a rack, it should be perfectly legal to play while driving.  In Canada, at least, hands free devices are legal.  I'm not sure the police would agree.

A couple of folks mentioned Chromatics.  Toots Thielemans, the master of the chromatic harp passed away today (August 22, 2016) in his early nineties.  Here's a clip of Toots playing his most famous composition, Bluesette.  Part way through he is surprised by another master of the chromatic harp, Stevie Wonder.
I bought a chromatic in the mid-sixties after hearing Toots, but it has not received much attention.

A friend of ours and a mentor to both of my sons, the late Willie P. Bennett was the best rack player I've ever heard or played with.  Here's the last song I ever heard Willie play:

Willie plays Stardust

One of our neighbours, Carlos Del Junco is one of Canada's (and the world's I'd guess) best mouth harp players.  He sometimes sits in with our jug band.  Here he is with our fiddle player, Jim Bowskill, playing guitar (Jim is a master of many instruments).

Jimmy Bowskill & Carlos Del Junco



Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
4 years ago
293 posts

HI Bob

You are so welcome.  Hey, that was a nice piece of playing.   Love a good harp play.

Bob, it's nice to see someone besides me playing harp in a vehicle.  Almost 100% of my practice is while driving.  Fear not.  I'm not in your neck of the woods.

Best regards

Terry

 

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
4 years ago
77 posts

Bob, that was inspirational !! I'm going to start taking my harp to work! A dulcimer might be noticeable, but a harp....

Bob Reinsel
Bob Reinsel
@bob-reinsel
4 years ago
75 posts

Hohner Piccolo. Hard times come again no more.




--
Bob
Site Moderator

The greatest music is made for love, not for money -- Greg Lake
Bob Reinsel
Bob Reinsel
@bob-reinsel
4 years ago
75 posts

Does anyone have any thoughts on the Hohner Puck? 




--
Bob
Site Moderator

The greatest music is made for love, not for money -- Greg Lake
Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

No.  The Echo Super Vamper is a regular 10 hole diatonic.  I have no idea why they used the word "Echo".

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

Jim

Does the Echo have a tremolo sound?

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

This is a Marine Band Special in C that was given to me by my ex-father-in-law.  It's a 12 hole diatonic with a wooden comb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a 10 hole Hohner Echo Super Vamper in A that I bought in Scotland circa 1969 when my Marine Band in A crapped out.  It's identical to the Marine Band except for the top cover plate.  I haven't been to the British Isles in many years and am not sure if these are still available over there.  Perhaps they now sell Marine Bands over there.

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

My bad, Jim.  Should have figured.

Merry Christmas 

Terry

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

There is a framed copy of this photo on my piano.

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

Jim, that is an amazing story.  Great photo of your friend and his HD.  Amazing.   Just look at the old cars.

I was stationed in West Germany near Frankfurt from May 1967 til Jan 1970.  Grand old time.  You ought to frame photo to pass along.  

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

In 1968/69 I took a year off to hitch-hike overseas.  I didn't want to take a guitar, but I did take a few mouth harps.  I became a much better mouth harp player from my roadside practice sessions.
Just to add a bit of non-mouth harp, but dulcimer (the wrong kind for this site) content:
Just outside of Kilkenny I was picked up by an older gentleman who asked me, "Are you goin' to the fleadh?"
I asked, "What's a fleadh?"
He told me it was a festival of Irish trad music, so I said, "Sure I'm goin' to the fleadh."
The fleadh was in New Ross and on the way there, he asked, "Do you know what a dulcimer is?"
I said sure and described Jean Ritchie's instrument.  He stopped the car and said that his was a different type of dulcimer.  It was a hammered dulcimer and the first one I'd ever seen.  I spent the day with Mr. Andy Dowling (pronounced Doolin) and a pleasanter day I can't recall.
Here's Andy standing in front of his car in New Ross circa 1969.

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

Jim Yates:
I recall finishing a gig with the North Shore Ramblers at the Wilno Station Inn and driving the 3 hour drive home to Port Hope in the middle of the night.  Since "hands free devices" are legal in Ontario, I put my rack on and made my way home while playing the harp.  Not sure that the police would approve, but it kept me awake.

 

Jim,

What you had to say reminds me of my harmonica career, which spans all of 13 months.  I would say 75% of my practice time has been while driving a vehicle.  That is literally how I have learned to play harmonica to some small degree.  

Some may ask, "hey, that seems dangerous to me".   I guess it could be, but certainly not as dangerous as talking or texting on a cell phone, or playing with the radio or CD player, or road rage.  

Enjoyed your story Jim.

Merry Christmas

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

That was very enjoyable Randy.  Good work there.

Are you a tongue blocker or puckerer?  I am solely a lip puckerer.  Never could get the hang of the tongue method.

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
5 years ago
95 posts

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

I recall finishing a gig with the North Shore Ramblers at the Wilno Station Inn and driving the 3 hour drive home to Port Hope in the middle of the night.  Since "hands free devices" are legal in Ontario, I put my rack on and made my way home while playing the harp.  Not sure that the police would approve, but it kept me awake.

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
5 years ago
95 posts

 

I've enjoyed reading the posts in this thread. 

My brother Rex had a harmonica and he could play it!  I couldn't believe it. 

I got myself one. In 1971 & 72 I was driving a concrete truck. Lots of waiting around to load and unload so I brought my harmonica and learned how to play it. 

I've always been a fiddle tune and old time song player 

Will post vid later can't do it from phone 

 

 

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

Well, I got the bid on the Marine Band 365, off of Ebay.  $21.00.  Sometimes one shouldn't get what you wished for.  Another one for the drawer for my heirs to squabble over.

Merry Christmas to all!

PS:  Nice collection there Jim.  I also enjoyed the your friend's music.

 


updated by @terry-wilson: 12/21/15 03:24:41PM
Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

This plastic parts box was bought at Canadian Tire.  It jst happened to fit six harps perfectly and fits in a guitar case.  The Elton harp rack is one that I bought in the early sixties, right after I first saw Jimmy Reed.  The only modifications I've made is lock washers and a bend in the frame so that it hit my mouth at the proper angle.
The box now contains a Marine Band, a couple of Special Twenties, a Big River, a Blues harp and a Lee Oskar.  I have them labeled A/e, G/d, lowF/c, C/g, D/a and lowD/a.

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

Here's a video of my friend Carlos that a local guy made.  I hope this works. https://vimeo.com/119268204?from=outro-embed

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

Robert,

Today I made a bid on ebay on a new but old Marine Band 365, with 14 holes, key of C.  I've gone as high as I am going to bid, so I will probably not get the bid, but maybe I will.  What you had to say about your 364 pushed me over the top on this decision.  

My favorite harp is a Hering Vencedora 60 reed double sided tremolo, keys of C and A.  On the C side, the 5th blow reed has failed, but I always liked the A side the best anyway.  I also have an 84 reed Vencedora, keys of C & G.  So if I need a C, I still have one.

Special 20s are my favorite ten holers.  I have Lee Oscars, Suzukis, a Marine Band, Bushman, and a couple of Seydels.  Something about the Special 20s though that float my boat.

Thats why there are so many different harmonicas how there, kind of like vehicles, no one of each makes everyone happy.

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
251 posts

The harp I use the most today was one I  bought back in 1970 that did not work for me then . its a Hohner 364... key of C. 12 holes three octaves. You can see the versatility of being able to go between three octaves. Too bad its not made in other keys, I could really use a D... Robert...

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

That's good news Bob.  You know, I still play dulcimer just as much as always.  But the harmonica gives me a way to make music  when it's  difficult or impossible to play dulcimer.  Put one in your pocket and away you go.

I too have a drawer full of harps, 10 holers and tremolos.  My main interest is tremolo.

Have fun!

 

Bob Reinsel
Bob Reinsel
@bob-reinsel
5 years ago
75 posts

Terry, your posts about harmonicas inspired me to dig mine out.  I have about half a dozen that I played in high school and college.  That's over 30 years ago now.  I guess they are all getting to be "vintage."  thumbsup   I have a couple of marine bands, a blues harp in b-flat, a chromatic (which I never really learned to play well) and a Piccolo in C.  I like the piccolo because it slides right in my pocket.




--
Bob
Site Moderator

The greatest music is made for love, not for money -- Greg Lake
robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
251 posts

Hohners marine band model 365 is the best of the series. Only come in C&G. 14 holes nice bass range and warm chording. I have a G model. Unfortunately with a broken reed. Larger body bigger sound and very easy to play... Robert...

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

My kids got harmonicas in their stockings at Christmas (as did I and my siblings).

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

Ken, 

If you had children,  why would you deny them access to a harmonica?  Open mine eyes, please.

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

Willie was one of Canada's best roots singer/songwriters.  He loved the music side of the music business, but not the business side.  He spent most of his career as a sideman, but released some fine solo albums along the way.

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
5 years ago
95 posts

Jim

Your friend Willie Bennett is a heckuva good harmonica player and singer.

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

I love the low D Special 20.  It lets me play in the same range as a fiddle and sounds good for "twin fiddle" tunes.  I find I get the most use out of my A and C, played cross for E and G blues and my G, low D and A played straight for folkier tunes and Irish fiddle tunes.

I often play on a rack.  My favourite rack player was the late Willie P. Bennett.  He was a good friend and mentor to both of my sons and I enjoyed jamming with him many times.  I inherited a few of his Lee Oskar harps and hope they still have some of Willie's mojo on 'em.

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

Jim, on Amazon Honer Marine bands and Special 20s go for about 35-45$.

Jim Yates
Jim Yates
@jim-yates
5 years ago
40 posts

I was surprised when I went to buy a new harp a couple of months ago.  They were about $70 for Marine Bands.

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

Charles,

Just to clarify, my Seydel is the Orchestra model, Session Steel.  It's also  solo tuned, which I love.  Most harps are Richter-tuned, which give me fits.

Seydel also sells another solo tuned harp, the Seydel Mountain Harp.  It's an 80 hole double sided, C & G, tremolo harmonica.  Forget playing the blues, its made for stuffing it in your mouth and blowing away.  I love it.  I had a reed to blow on the C side within 3 weeks of buying it.  Contacted Seydel, sent it back, and within two weeks had a brand new harp as a replacement.  No problems since.  

But what makes the Mountain Harp so special is  the solo tuning.

 

 

 

 

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

thumbsup

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
251 posts

The advantage a harmonica has over a dulcimer is being able to fit in a glove compartment in your car. Even in 150° heat. Always ready when stuck in traffic jams... Robert.

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

Terry, I really like the Seydel a lot. At first I was a little disappointed it didn't have a hard case, only a soft leather sleeve. But I found it fits in my pocket better.

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

They might poke their eye out! giggle2


updated by @charles-thomas: 11/03/15 10:03:03PM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,734 posts

Harmonica's are nice, but I wouldn't let my children play them (if I had any children)!

 

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 years ago
293 posts

That's the great thing about a harmonica.  It's a play by ear instrument. .

While I love the 10 hole diatonic, and I also own a Sessions Steel, I favor the 64 hole Hering Vencedora tremolo harmonica.  Sweet sweet sweet.

However, blow a reed, you're on your own.  Made in Brazil, which is the nearest repair facility.  One can buy a new harmonica for the price of shipping.

I don't play blues.  Maybe one day.  My harp career is 1 year old today.  

 

Charles, after messing around with the Sessions Steel for awhile, and have decided it sure has a nice sound.  But be careful with the edges, pretty shape.  For sheer playing for fun, I prefer my Hohner Special 20s, C & D & G.


updated by @terry-wilson: 11/03/15 05:19:07PM
Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

For me it was "Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live" 1979 ,I wore that record out! Now when I do play my harmonica I'll play along with anything- Abba to Zappa !

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
251 posts

Charles, back in June of 1967 I got my first radio with FM. No kid back then listened to FM. It was the domain of dull old people's music. So I hit the FM button and out came the Paul Butterfield Blue's band. They played the entire East West album. I was totally blow away. By 1969 I learned every harmonica solo on that record. Today I rarely play harmonica much. I'm totally immersed in Appalachian fiddle tunes... Robert.

Sheryl St. Clare
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
5 years ago
270 posts

Happy for you Charles! 

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

Well, I pulled the trigger and purchased a Seydel Blues Session Steel. What sold me was the stainless steel reeds, they claim to last 5 times longer than brass. I have blown out quite a few reeds over the years - I do love to WAIL on my harps!!


updated by @charles-thomas: 08/11/15 06:48:10PM
Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

Thanks everyone for the advice!

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
251 posts

Chromatics are not good for blues. You can't bend notes on them. They are stiff and un emotional. In my youth when I was totally emersed in the blues, I got thru many a jam with a D, G, C, E, A. Into a long night  of jaming it often did not matter what key I was in... Robert.

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

I've been pricing various models, I can't afford a chromatic, I'm leaning towards a Lee Oskar or a Seydel. I just need to figure out what key. I like playing along with older Dylan songs, my favorite is "Like A Rolling Stone" which is in "C" I think, and "Mr. Tamborine Man" in "F". I like to play along with Blues songs like Elmore James, Muddy, BB King ( I was in the front row a few years ago, BB gave me a pick and shook my hand!!). 

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

One problem with buying a harmonica is you can't try it out first.

Jim Kirkwood
Jim Kirkwood
@jim-kirkwood
5 years ago
0 posts

I like Lee Oskars.  I don't mind trading the mellow wood for the ease of the plastic comb.

 

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

Chromatic...that's a thought.

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
5 years ago
440 posts

Mine is a 1943 Wm. Kratt Co. "Mello-Chromatic Professional Harmonica" 10 hole that I got from my father.  Still works just great!




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke

updated by @jan-potts: 08/03/15 01:24:38AM
Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

 I know what you mean Robert, I used to soak my Marine Band in a glass of water before I'd play.

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
251 posts

 I still play the old wood and brass Marine Band models. Never tried the new fangled plastic models. The old wood models would swell up from playing and gave them that distinct sound you hear on old recordings from the 50's and 60's.... Robert.

Bucko Futreal
Bucko Futreal
@bucko-futreal
5 years ago
8 posts

I'm very fond of the made-in-the-USA Bushman Harmonicas

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas
@charles-thomas
5 years ago
77 posts

I've been thinking in investing in another harmonica. I have a Hohner Special 20 (D) and a Hohner Pro Harp (A). Any Thoughts on other Hohner types or other brands? Also what key? I play mostly bluesy stuff, but I'll try to play along with anything.


updated by @charles-thomas: 10/15/17 08:40:48PM