Welcome to Harmonicas and Stuff your one stop harmonicas store. Browse to your left and you will see all the brands of harmonicas that we sell, including Hohner harmonicas, Lee Oskar harmonicas and Suzuki harmonicas. We also have harmonicas book, harmonica holders, reed plates and more.
Harmonica Lessons & Tips
Playing the harmonica should be done by breathing through the harmonica, not by thinking about blowing or sucking. Let's talk about blows and draws, but it's about inhaling and exhaling. The breathing should come from the diaphragn. Breath control is as important in harmonicas playing as in singing. The air should be slowly inhaled and exhaled. Practice playing a note and holding it for as long as you can, being careful not to get dizzy. Also practice breathing in as much air as you can.. hold it.. now breathe in a little more, and a little more. Practice breathing in and out as fast as you can..
The harmonicas numbering system is really quite simple. Over each word or syllable in the lyrics to a song is a number. If that number is a 4 then you blow into hole number 4. However, if it is a -4 then you draw into hole number 4. If the number is preceeded by the < symbol, (which only occurs on the chromatic scale songs) then this means that you push the lever in on the right side of the instrument to produce a sharp note. This is what enables the chromatic scale harmonica harp to be able to play any song, regardless of the number of sharps and flats in the song.
What If You Don't Know The Harmonicas Songs?
Only attempt to play familiar harmonica tunes. If you can hum it or whistle it, then you can learn to play it fairly soon. In fact, think of yourself as singing the song through your instrument and the reeds of your instrument as a substitute for your vocal chords we offer song books.
Chord Rhythy Harmonica Lessons 1
Lip Pursing Harmonica Lessons 2
Wet those lips and insert the harmonica well inside your mouth.
A mistake many harp beginners make is to try to play their instrument out on the front of their lips. It is almost impossible to get clear single notes and get that bluesy harmonicas sound. Wrap those lips around the hole you are trying to play the harmonicas - harp. Pucker up as if drawing through a straw. Keep those lips well moistened so your instrument slides easily back and forth.
As you move your harmonicas from hole to hole, move the instrument inside your mouth. Do not turn your head to move up to another hole.
Concentrate on quality of tone rather than speed in changing from note to note. The harmonicas sounds best when playing slow emotional tunes. Try to make your music express emotio
Harmonica Lessons 3
How To Use Your Tongue On The Harmonicas
Most beginners puff from their lungs for each syllable or number. It is much better to use your tongue to break up the syllables and produce rhythm. Try whispering "Taa-Taa-Taa-Taa" through your harmonicas into any hole. Just use one gentle steady blow but break up its rhythm with your tongue. Now vary your rhythm pattern much like the old Morse Code. Whisper, "Daa-dit-daa-dit-daa-dit".
When you are playing a song use your tongue to form the words. In fact, try to pronounce the lyrics to the song through your harmonicas. Think of it as "singing" through your instrument. It will improve your playing tremendously.
Standard Tongue Bloch
This embouchure is favored by many skilled players, as there are many effects that can only be done by using tongue block, and, in fact, necessary for jazz and classical playing. Simply put, it involves stretching the mouth over about four to five holes, and then using the tongue to block the holes.
This is the most difficult embrochure, but there are many methods of achieving it.
A few useful tips that will help greatly:
- Bring the harmonicas deep in your mouth. If the mouthpiece hasn’t penetrated past the front teeth, you need to open your mouth wider and get the whole front of the harp pushed further back in the mouth. This has two effects: it gives you a fuller sound, and allow your breath to access to several holes.
- Tilt the harmonicas so that the mouthpiece is tilted downward; that way, you can use more of the tongue to block, and you will find the technique less tiring.
- Push the tongue to the harmonicas. Don’t use the tip of your tongue to block the holes - instead, press it to your lower front teeth and gently push the tongue forward so that the top of your tongue contacts the harmonicas. This will allow smooth transitions as you move from hole to hole.
- After you place your stretched mouth over the holes, jerk the tongue to the left on higher octaves, and to the right on lower octaves - then place the tongue over the holes, such that only one hole is opened for air. If you have problems doing both sides, try jerking the tongue to the left only.
- If it seems like you are making more than one sound, either press the tongue wider on the harp, or narrow your lips
Harmonica Lessons 4
A Word About Tone On The Harmonicas
How come the harmonicas professionals that you hear sound so much better than you on the harmonicas? We not speaking about technique. But their sound is much different from your harmonicas. Is it because they are using a more expensive harmonicas?
Most professionals cheat !. They use special microphones and amplifiers that actually change the natural sound of the harmonicas. But in all fairness We should tell you that what you hear from your harmonicas is not the same sound that someone standing directly in front of you is hearing. You are hearing it partially from the inside, through your throat, nasal passages and up into your ear canal. For a more realistic listen to what you really sound like, play your harmonicas inside a shower stall (without the water running). Then you will hear more of what others hear as the sound bounces off the walls.
Also everyone has a slightly different harmonicas voice. The tone is partially produced inside our mouth. Children, with smaller mouths. will sound different than adults whem playing the harmonica. Men will sound different than women. Big men will sound different than small men. But you can have some control on your tone. In general a gentle blow will have a more pleasant tone than a blast of air. Blowing from deeper in your throat will sound different than puffing from your cheeks. As you can change how your voice sounds, you can also change how your harmonicas sounds.
Experiment around a little. See if you can produce noticeably different tones by the way you shape your mouth, jaw and tongue. The experienced harmonica player will have developed his ear to the point that he can tell the difference.
Using Your Hands On Your Harmonicas
What Is A Bent Note On A Harmonicas?
A bent note is one that is not true to the note the harmonicas was designed to play. A draw 4 on a C harmonica should be a true D note. A bent draw 4 is actually playing it in such a way as to produce a note that is just 1/2 step down or a D flat on your harmonicas.
This is how some harmonicas players are able to play songs that have sharps and flats that are out of their natural position in their keys. It is how they use a diatonic scale harmonica to play notes that are not programmed into their harmonicas.
If you are learning to play the chromatic scale harmonicas it is recommended that you do not try to bend notes. It will cause the reeds on your expensive chromatic harmonicas to wear out much too soon and these are not cheap to replace.
It is also how you produce a wavy or bluesy sound on your harmonicas. By bending a long drawn out note while playing it you can produce a rather nice sounding emotional expression to your music. Many of the spirituals included in these lessons sound really good if you bend those long drawn out notes. It gives the song a kind of mournful sound.
How To Bend A Note
Bending Notes on a Harmonicas
Bending notes to play pitches that are not designed into the harp is the very essence of blues, rock, and country harmonica playing. Bending notes on a harmonica/harp is the lowering (and sometimes raising) of the pitch of a note by altering the direction of the airflow and the shape of your vocal cavity. Through the traditional bending technique, you can play 32 notes on your 10-hole major diatonic harmonica, as opposed to the 20 that are available in its design. Here’s how you do it with your harmonicas.
The Basics of Bending a Harmonicas.
The notes available on a C-major diatonic harmonica through bending are shown in the following.
There are a few important things to observe in this drawing above.
- There are five draw notes and three blow notes that can be bent on a major diatonic harmonicas.
- Five of the notes can be bent a half step down in pitch (the 1-4-6 draw holes and 8-9 blow holes). Two of the notes can be bent down two half steps in pitch (the 2-draw-hole and 10-blow-hole), and one of them can be bent down three half steps in pitch (the 3-draw-hole).
- On any one hole, you can bend only the higher of the two notes available on that hole. For example, you can play a blow C and a draw D on the 4-hole. The D is higher than the C, so you can bend only the draw D. On the 8-hole, you can play a blow G (higher) and a draw F (lower). You can bend only the blow G on this hole.
- The larger the interval between the two notes available on any hole, the greater the bend you can achieve. For example, the interval between the blow and draw notes on the 4-hole is one full step, and you can bend the higher of these notes a half step. The interval between the blow and draw notes on the 3-hole is two full steps, and you can bend the higher of these notes three half steps.
- You can bend the higher note on any hole down to a pitch that is approximately one half step higher than the lower note on that hole. For example, the draw D on the 4-hole can be bent down to a D flat, which is one half step higher than the blow C on the 4-hole. You can bend the draw B on the 3-hole down to an A flat, which is one half step higher than the blow G on the 3-hole.
- Note that the 5-draw and 7-blow are designated as question marks. You cannot achieve a pure bend on either of these holes. You can bend the pitch down somewhere between the draw and blow notes available for that hole, but you can’t achieve a half-step bend. That’s because the blow and draw notes on these holes are already only a half step apart. Remember that you only can bend down to a pitch one half step higher than the lower note on the hole. For these holes, the high note is only one half step higher than the low note to begin with, so there isn’t room to bend a half step.
The Physics of Bending a Harmonicas
The flattened pitches you can achieve through bending notes on any hole actually are created by the interaction of that hole’s draw and blow reeds. As the higher reed (in pitch) is bent, the lower reed begins to vibrate as well. This is caused by the alterations to your airflow and vocal cavity that result from your bending technique.
- Over Bend Chart .
- Allows playing of octaves, side-pull, pull, slap, self accompaniment, and many other techniques
- Allows legato and fast phrasing
- Louder volume; Lips can create higher pressure on the harmonica, which can create higher pressure in the cavity of mouth.
- Allow changing tonal quality through manipulation of oral cavity
- Allow longer playing; tongue block allow air flow into the mouth
- Harder to bend with the tongue (but not impossible, if one can control airflow properly)
- Harder to utilize free-tongue specific techniques (such as singing into the harp)
This is probably the instinctive single-note placing most players adapted: the lips narrowed to a small hole, so that the breath was directed into one hole at a time.
- Learning curve is small (as I said, instinctive embouchure)
- Frees up the tongue for many other Blues-oriented effects, such as bending, tongue vibrato, and singing into the harp
- Good for very short staccato passages
- Difficult to play legato, since it actually involves moving the entire harmonica from side to side.
- Lack or surplus of air can only be maintained through the nose.
In blues, a different lip block is used:
- Stretch your mouth across approximately 3-4 holes
- Tilt the rear of the harmonica upward (or tilt the mouthpiece-side downward) so that the lower lip touches the comb, which should properly block the non-playing holes on both sides of the current hole.
- Upper lip should be on top of the upper cover plate.
- Same as pucker, but allows for even more throat techniques (e.g. throat vibrato) and bending (as now you can also use your lips to control the embrochure)
- Same as pucker, plus difficult to control the proper tone, since bending is now very easy.
- Not as loud since it's easy for the lower lip to get in the way, quieting the reeds.
A complementation option require much greater dexterity on the tongue; curl your tongue into a "U", and use it to direct the airflow to the holes.
- provide fast speed when moving up and down the harmonica
- Require much more concentration; if one did not focus enough, there will be no airflow toward the hole.
- Require throat bending
- Unable to utilize tongue block specific techniques.
The U-block should be used mainly as a complement of the tongue block, as it allow rapid switching of notes that lies between the two outermost notes.