3rd position, overblowing, £80 harmonicas, amp heads, loops.. I've never read so much pretentious stuff. It's enough to scare off any up and coming young (or old) harmonisist. If l had read all this bumf in the 1970s l would have turned to drink, drugs and BBC2. Learn to play the harmonica in your bedroom along with music that you like, if it sounds wrong then your in the wrong key. Once you think you've got to grips with it, buy a little amp, mic, delay pedal and join a band. THEN AND ONLY THEN look on the Internet for quality gear and that doesn't even guarantee a top blues sound - It comes from you. Your hands, mouth, breath, feeling, imagination. All of you OUT THERE don't complicate something that is already in soul of a natural perfomer For sale: 200 harmonicas, 17 tube amps, 12 valve amps, 30 various effects pedals, 5 teach yerself blues Harp manuals. And a autograph by Barry Adler. Not for sale: Hohner Pro Harp key of C, Danelectro Nifty Fifty Amp, delay pedal, Audix Microphone and The 'Don't Play It Dylan's Way' handbook.
Last Edited by Soap Music on Nov 30, 2020 11:10 AM
3rd position lets you play in minor. Loops let you build a song from scratch just by yourself.
You seem to be combining a lot of different things into one lumped category. We've all got different tastes. If you are listening to guys building loops and you want to woodshed to sound like that you should probably get a loop pedal.
I can overblow. I wish I'd learned it earlier because I could have made it part of my muscle memory earlier. Again, if you want to sound like someone who overblows, you need to learn overblows. It's fine if you don't, and I get what you are saying... we all know the guy who spends thousands of dollars on a hobby and then two weeks later has a different hobby. I've been in a band. It's great. I use an amp I bought for $30 at a garage sale that I could replace for $50 on ebay (plus shipping). I've played $100 harps. My current favorite is a $50 harp, but it's because I compared it to a lot of other harps.
You can do it all by ear, but instead of thinking of someone talking about knowing the circle of fifths and position as being pretentious, maybe think about it as a short cut. If I'm on stage and the band wants to just play a jam and they call A minor I can either grab a couple harps and see what works or I can grab a G harp and play in 3rd position or an F in 5th and start playing right away.
The way I look at it you buy the best equipment you can afford, at least up to decent quality, and keeping in mind what sort of return policy there is. A Special 20 is a pro-level instrument and is good for learning. If you are a lawyer who bills $500/hour might as well start off with a whole set and really, why not splurge for Rockets or 1847s. If you only have $40 to your name it's better to get one Special 20 than 7 Blues Bands and a Whopper.
Amps, amps can actually hold their value better than a used harmonica if you take care of them, so some people think of them as an investment... some of the old ones go up in price.
When it comes to positions I have a pretty good ear once I find the tonic note, so when I'm playing I'm not thinking about position much, but I use it to figure out what harp to grab in the first place because it actually saves me time and it gives me ideas for creating stuff. I don't see that as pretentious. Even in societies where there are higher incidents of perfect pitch only about 10% of the population has it. I have relative pitch, so getting the right key when the band calls the key is really useful for me. It lets me get into the song quickly.
Most of our members are probably not familiar with the expression, or the concept, that “nobody takes the piss like the Brits”. So I’d suggest that members have a look and listen to the musical output from the Society of Angelic Potheads before you take the post that started this thread too literally. Or seriously.
Your band is a hoot, and you’re a funny bugger Soap Music. Good on ya. https://www.reverbnation.com/societyoftheangelicpotheads/songs
Last Edited by Sundancer on Nov 30, 2020 1:56 PM
I was watching a random band I'd followed on YouTube one day and all of the sudden I was listening to surprisingly good harmonica playing (I'd never seen them play). Turns out John Sebastian is a family friend. It's like when Ratt had Milton Berle in their video.
I get you Soap. By the way welcome to this joint, I've been here ever since. My journey has involved a lot of that which you speak. For many years I was a one trick pony, played only cross harp, beat the hell out of a harp and replaced it when a reed died. I tried to learn notation from Tony Glover's book in the 70's and gave that up. Jammed to Lynrd Skynrd and J. Geils (badly) in my bedroom. Marveled at Bob Dylan's harp work, in fact I was convinced I could play at least that well and it kept me interested. Some years or decades later I realized that Bob was doing exactly what he meant to do on a harp, and also that he's a good player, having seen him in concert in the teens a couple of times. I have known "those guys" who were pretty much collectors of harps and gear. I did have about 3 amps at one time and maybe 8 mics. Being a working guy I never could afford a set of harps of any substance. My kit has been filled with mostly stock and varied brands for years. In recent years I've tried to buy good enough instruments that it was worth having them repaired when needed. I have played in bands and duos for about 25 years pretty regularly and during that time I've had several amps and mics, always seeking the best fit for volume and tone. These last few years I am in a duo with my wife and she is a great rhythm guitarist and singer. We play a lot of acoustic and have equipment to amp up when needed. Our lifestyle has no room for extra stuff these days. As for how to play, I discovered 3rd position some 20 years ago and it changed how I played, much for the better. I revisited 1st position and now play in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd regularly. This suits our material very well. I'm glad I know that much and we do one song I play in 5th position as well. I could not play a scale if you offered me money or held a gun on me. I have no idea what mode I play in. As for repairing a harp I just don't have the skill or tools or space. I am mostly a gut player with some nice accessories both physical and musical. To me music is a vehicle we can ride that spreads joy and good feeling. I have learned a lot over about 48 years messing with these damned tin sandwiches, but the benefit is always how much better I feel when we can throw down and play, either at home or out there someplace. Thanks for your post. Keep spreading joy, the world really really needs it lately!
If you check out the first link below it's to my FB harp players' page, all levels, genres, styles, nations represented.
Hey Jbone, THE J. GEILS BAND, enuff said, unfortunately l never had the privilege to see them play on this miserable grey little U. S. aircraft carrier of a island. But I've absolutely flogged to death their DVD 'live' at the Rock Palace in Germany. Visually it is all leather, hair and sweat - not a face mask in sight (happier days) but looking at the boat races in the first three rows of the audience you might wish there was some kind of mandatory covid protection in operation.
Last Edited by Soap Music on Dec 01, 2020 7:46 AM
The 200 harmonicas are ready for collection on the reception at the 200 Motels. Ask for Rusty Reed and the Reversable Puberty Blockers in the Spittoon Room.
Last Edited by Soap Music on Dec 01, 2020 6:04 AM
He really does manage to drink water and talk a lot without taking too many breaths. I would suggest he doesn't drink water but try swimming in it - definitely another Johnny Weismuller in the making.
Last Edited by Soap Music on Dec 01, 2020 7:44 AM
I hope you're not having a session with Mr H20 (as seen above). What hell of a night that'll be. "Hard water or soft water"? But then by the state of his glass he could be drinking battery acid.
Last Edited by Soap Music on Dec 01, 2020 10:24 AM
I watched one of those shows where they go around to different restaurants. There was an ice cream shop in Philly, I think, that always served water with their ice cream and people raved about their water. Turns out it was tap, but water tastes really good when your mouth is cold from ice cream.
I had a runner friend who told me it was bad to drink cold water when you were exercising because it put your body into mild shock.
I only worry about hard water though because every so often I have to soak my showerhead it vinegar to get it flowing well again. Nice and sudsy for my OCD hand washing though.
On the other hand, I'm trying to design an experiment to investigate overtones in reeds, but that's not so much a 'I play harmonica' thing as a 'I play harmonica so I think about harmonicas but I'm also into practical physics experiments and I love playing with magnets anyways' thing.
Soap, it's the modern world we live in! Ain't nothing simple anymore. But, you only get what you pay for. A custom harp is not only a massive advancement over the vagaries of buying stock harps, each one you buy is a map of how to customize your own harps. As for overblows and overbends, it's just another string to the bow. I do agree though that trying to play every one of the 12 keys on just the one harp isn't to my ear pleasing on every key, but hey, it's just another challenge to add to your playing technique. Oh, and if you haven't got into 3rd position playing you are missing out on so much of the harps expressiveness. I don't play pieces that sit in the 4 and 5th positions, though do practice it from time to time. Then there's 12 position for the more major stuff that I'm working on. lot's of information out there. It's just arrows in the quiver! Same as pedals, mic's amps and all of the rest of the gear. It's a techno sport like golf!
I never thought I'd read the words golf and harmonica in the same paragraph.. But in retrospect, l never thought I'd say "with this ring l thee wed" and "l get to keep the cat and TV, Bitch" in the same twelve months.
Last Edited by Soap Music on Dec 02, 2020 2:09 AM