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Tonyblues
80 posts
Jun 01, 2021
10:40 AM
Okay soooo, I have purchased all the cool mics, harmonicas, amps, books, pedals etc. And I have sold almost everything that I have bought. The truth is, nothing I have purchased has helped my performance, my sound or actually anything. The fact that listeners have no idea that I am playing a Hohner or Seydel, using a delay or a tone pedal etc. is something I have thought about too. Reality has really set in for me. The only real thing that can help the harp player is practice and pro lessons, not gear and gadgets (which are cool I admit). Played through the PA on a Memorial Day gig this past weekend (harp is the lead instrument in my band) and had the absolute best gig ever. No pedals, no cool mic. Just great compliments and tips. Just a thought.
Gabriel.Harmonic
80 posts
Jun 01, 2021
11:13 AM
When I first started 1974 I had a relative notice I was playing herp and asked if I knew who Charlie McCoy was (I may have only heard John Mayall at that point a couple months after starting and Tom Doucette in person ((he is on the Allman Bros "Live at The Fillmore" and was in my home town Florida)) and when I said no, he immediately took me to record store to buy "The Real McCoy". I had no clue how he could play those fast passages but, worked on it, started in Bluegrass Festivals invited to sit in with some great players. Then met Peter Madcat Ruth and he showed me a little since he knew the song "The Real McCoy". From there, as your post suggests, I knew it was in the harp, so it was 4 hours per day practice, religiously, and by20 was able to go full-time. I also had Little Walter's 2 LP "Boss Blues Harmonica" so was working on that front also.
Moral of story....yes, practice is top of list.
jbone
3352 posts
Jun 01, 2021
4:43 PM
You guys are both right in my book. I've never been accused of practicing too much but I have managed to do pretty well. I have bought and sold a lot of gear and gadgets over many years as well. Blown out a lot of reeds. Struggled with the volume disease electric bands love so much. Some years ago I even sold off my beloved replica '59 Bassman and stuck with the small 12w single 12 tube amp for when I do need to amp up a bit. One delay pedal. But most of the time we play acoustic and I'd rather not lug 3 totes worth of shit to a gig, set it all up, and then take it all down and drag it home. I do love amped harp sometimes but there's nothing sweeter than an acoustic guitar, some harps, and a couple of voi
ces.
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Mirco
674 posts
Jun 01, 2021
6:54 PM
I agree 100%.

Another point I'd like to add is that a lot of audiences really don't care about what kind of cool Little Walter lick you quote or what position you're playing in. Sometimes the most successful and crowd pleasing things are simple things, like chording or a shake on the 4-5 or a melodic run with the major pentatonic.

We sometimes get hung up too much on the intricacies and forget about showmanship.
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SuperBee
6960 posts
Jun 02, 2021
2:11 AM
Haha, yes about 10 years ago I posted a video of me playing Easy in a pub and I did a chorus which was substantially the melody played as shakes as per the record or my interpretation of it at least, and you can hear this cheer go up from the audience, which in reality was only one table of the audience but it was a women's basketball club out on the tear so it sounded big.
Someone here commented on how it didn't take much to impress or how the reaction was disproportional to the skill, something like that. In those days I had to shake my head a lot to do it, too.
If looking like a goose with a slice of bread counts as showmanship, I guess that could have qualified.

I agree that there's a lot of stuff people get distracted with but that's part of it too I think. I've tried to avoid getting too invested in mics and other gear but I've got a heap of stuff I don't use anyway. I think it's all served a purpose in some way but I too have a lot of stuff I want to sell.
Honkin On Bobo
1542 posts
Jun 04, 2021
6:22 AM
Great post. I have always felt this way.

"The truth is, nothing I have purchased has helped my performance, my sound or actually anything. The fact that listeners have no idea that I am playing a Hohner or Seydel, using a delay or a tone pedal etc. is something I have thought about too."

"Another point I'd like to add is that a lot of audiences really don't care about what kind of cool Little Walter lick you quote or what position you're playing in. Sometimes the most successful and crowd pleasing things are simple things, like chording or a shake on the 4-5 or a melodic run with the major pentatonic."

I absolutely love these statements.

The most pointed discussions I've ever had on this topic were with the "you gotta buy a souped up custom harp" crowd on here when I was first starting out. The rationale was that with a specially set up harp you'll be able to bend sooner etc. I didn't buy it then and I still don't. Still playing out of the box special 20s, got all the bends just fine. I've got one green bullet mic and a small amp. Sit in with buddys band a number of times. Sometimes play through the amp sometimes just through the PA. I've tended to avoid the gearhead threads.

Hey, i'm not a pro so that is probably the area where all the fancy gear makes a difference. But this thread totally resonated with me. Kudos.
snowman
706 posts
Jun 04, 2021
9:12 AM
My Karma is bad lately, so I don;t want to start a big controversy.

I, as well, have probably over the years purchased a ton of instructional guitar and harp stuff. I've also taken lessons on harp, guitar and singing.

There were 2 harp instructional things that helped me enormously. Jerry Portnoy 3 cd and Marc Hummel DVD.
The Portnoy cd'd got me over a major stagnant period. It explained a ton of stuff< I couldn't figure out. It clarified a bunch of stuff. Of all the stuff I bought -that taught me the most.
The "harmonica Party" instructional DVD with Mark Hummel, taught a ton of amplified techniques and theory.
I tend to get "too Busy" and have to reground myself. the Hummel dvd helps me "pull the reigns in". It showed me how cupping and technique are just as important as fast runs. Too many fast runs loses its effectiveness.

U never know what "u don't know",
until someone teaches u, or by chance u discover it.

I usually only learn 1-2 things from instructional stuff, but I will work on those 1-2 things sometimes for years. your right " I eventually sell it", but to myself it was worth it.

I agree that practice is key, but what I practice comes from [Stuff I've heard] [instructors] and sometimes [instructors in book, cd, dvd etc].

The gear thing is a normal addiction. I have pedals Im gonna sell, but it was fun trying them out.

The band Im in did "room to move" at a gig. My fancy pedals and amp wouldn't work??? After my initial panic-- I went through pa SM58 -no effects. It worked out fine. People liked it.

I think mixing it up is important;
1] chicago tone, through dirty amp--
2]play straight through a PA no effects--
3]-PA w/ effects
4] throwing chromatic in clean and or dirty
It keeps audience and band interested


to quote steve martin in "The jerk"
All I need is;

My chopped Turner w/ CM element I made
My 545 from "blows me away
My delay form LW w/slapback
My Reverb from LW
BBE sonic maximizer for leads to stand out
My Little Epihone head w/ 10"weber spkr

Its fun trying stuff out, its ok to sell it " now u know"

My Karma is really bad right now -so If I made anyone angry ---I apologize ahead of time
peace
BnT
270 posts
Jun 06, 2021
12:40 AM
Quoting the Tibetan Lama, Sogyal Rinpoche, "Practice, practice, practice" - is the secret to good meditation. It's true for harmonica too. As good or shi**y as the harmonica, mic, or amplifier, it's the skill and tone you carry inside that really matters. My measuring stick is if I can get people up and dancing, then everything else is okay.
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BnT
www.BluesWithAFeelin.com


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