|Question: What if I play with too much force?|
Answer: Playing too forcefully will slur or choke the reeds so they cannot respond. Playing with a normal and relaxed amount of breath will leave the reeds free to vibrate and respond with a low, clear, sweet tone.
|Question: What if my reeds appear to be stuck?|
Answer: If a reed sticks or appears to be stuck, try freeing it by blowing and drawing a few holes at once. You may also try tapping the harmonica against the palm of your hand. These procedures may clear the reeds, allowing them to vibrate freely again. This may save you the time and expense of sending the harmonica to be repaired
|Question: What should I do if my harmonica requires service?|
Answer: Each harmonica company maintains a full service repair department. Please send your harmonica directly to the harmonica company, where it will be examined and evaluated for warranty coverage or no-warranty repair.
|Question: Why can't I obtain a good sound from the lower draw notes?|
Answer: The low draw notes, especially on lower key models, require an adequate space in which to resonate. Readjustment of the tongue and throat muscles may be necessary to achieve a good sound.
|Question: Do all harmonicas have brass reeds?|
Answer: Harmonica reeds are made of brass or similar alloys such as : phosphor bronze, or beryilium copper. Different reed materials or dimensions are used in various models or keys to insure optimum manufacturing standards.
|Question: How come the notes on my diatonic go flat?|
Answer: Notes may go a little flat if too much residue and moisture builds up on the reeds. This is one reason the instrument should be played with a clean, dry mouth, and be tapped out after playing. Playing too loud will also strain the reeds and eventually cause them to become flat. If a reed goes drastically flat, a quarter tone or more, it has most likely been strained and should not be played further, but should be repaired or replaced.
|Question: Why do I have trouble getting all of the notes? (This harmonica just doesn't sound right)|
Answer: Although a harmonica is basically a simple instrument to play, it is very common for beginners and even professionals learning a new technique to have problems that are not the fault of the harmonica. Notes may not sound or even buzz with too much air pressure and if very little pressure is used there may be no sound at all. A harmonica will sound best when a normal and relaxed amount of breath is used.
|Question: What is the difference between a Marine Band and Blues Harp?|
Answer: The Blues Harp is designed specifically for blues playing styles. Featuring a lower profile and enclosed cover ends, the Blues Harp facilitates deep note bending and a rich / lush tonality. The Marine Band with its unique arched cover design, produces a bright, strong sound well suited to all playing styles.
|Question: How do I tell what key this model is in?|
Answer: All models have the key designation stamped on the coverplate or on the body.
|Question: What is "cross harp"?|
Answer: Originally a blues style, but used today for many kinds of music, cross harp is a system in which a diatonic harmonica is played in a key seven half-steps up from the key in which the harmonica is tuned, e.g. a C harp played in the key of G. This produces a blues scale with a flatted seventh and has the advantage that the most important notes can be in the low end, producing a fluid quality and great expressiveness.
|Question: How do you clean your harmonica?/ And should I soak my harp? |
Answer: The only cleaning normally required is to remove the excess moisture from the harmonica after playing by tapping it on the palm of the hand and wiping it clean with a lint free cloth. Equally important is to avoid allowing food particles or saliva to enter the harmonica by playing with a clean, dry mouth and keeping the head erect.
Never soak your harp, soaking can damage most parts, especially reeds, valves, wood bodies, cover plates, and VOIDS the warranty.
|Question: Any suggestions on books or CD's that would help a beginner?|
Answer: Yes, the Jerry Portnoy's Blues Harmonica Masterclass is a Great source for beginners as well as anyone who wants to improve their harmonica skills! You can buy this from our site under Books and Manuals. Jerry Portnoy suggests you use a harmonica in the Key of A.
We also have alot of other Great books for beginners and players alike, just to name a few, Rock n' Blues, Teach Yourself Harmonica and many more, just check out the Books and Manual section !
|Question: What kind of hamonica do I need to play in Cross Harp?|
Answer: You can play in Cross Harp on any 10 hole diatonic harmonica.
|Question: Which is better a plastic or wood body harmonica? And why?|
Answer: Each material used for the body or comb of the harmonica has its own tonal characteristics and unique quality. For example, a plastic body, (Special 20, 562 Pro Harp, Blackbird) is characterized by a warm, even sound while being smoother on the lips, and is not subject to the swelling that sometimes occurs with wood bodies. However, a wood body (Marine Band, Blues Harp, 1923 Vintage Harp) typically produces a resonant full bodied timbre with an even tone reproduction for the low lows to the high highs. Additionally, a metal body (580 Meisterklasse, Thunderbird, Promaster) or a metallic finish, (565 Cross Harp) will produce a bright and clear sound.
|Question: Are there many types of harmonicas?|
Answer: Yes, there a quite a few, but the most popular are the diatonic and chromatic harmonicas. Other types include: bass harmonicas, chord harmonicas, tremolo and echo harmoicas.
|Question: Why does my mouth and hands get tired after playing for a while?|
Answer: Some people starting out may find that if they practice or play for more than 10 minutes, their mouth and hands get tired and begin to fatique. This is normal. Try to practice for 10 minutes 2 or 3 times a day and build up the accociated muscles and your endurance. Even 5 or 10 minutes a day is better than none.
|Question: Which harmoica brand shoud I buy?|
Answer: This is a personal preference, but here a few tips. Lee Oskar and Hohner both make great harmonicas for around $20-$30 dollars.The Lee Oskar Major Diatonic are consistently good sounding constructed (aritight) and easy to play right out of the box. Some great Hohner harps include the Special 20 and the Pro Harp. Just starting out you should choose the Key of C.
|Question: What key should I start with?|
Answer: We recommend that you start with the Key of C. As you become more advanced you can move into the other Keys. Also any 10 hole diatonic harmonica will be just fine. It is really a personal preference as far as the harmonica brand goes. Most harmonica instruction books are written in the key of "C".
Playing Tips for Beginners
Most of the beginning harmonica instruction books are incremental...that is, they start you out with easy songs and build in difficulty level as you go. The easy songs usually don't sound very exciting and you will be tempted to skip them and move on to better sounding stuff. DON'T SKIP OVER THE EASY SONGS. Play each song a couple of times. Record yourself on tape. If you sound OK then move right on to the next song...otherwise spend an hour on the piece and learn what the author intended you to learn. Skipping the easy songs early in your harmonica learning cycle only means you'll struggle longer with harder (better sounding) songs, and perhaps get so frustrated you quit.
The flip side of this advice is...don't spend forever on each easy song. These are training songs not performance pieces. Each one teaches you something you need to know but polishing each song to performance level probably isn't necessary. Pick the songs you like and spend extra time on those.