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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > F Harp help
F Harp help
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97 posts
Jun 09, 2020
11:42 PM
Over lockdown I got a Session Steel in F. This is the first "high" harp I've ever owned. Been playing it for a few weeks and the change in breath etc was quite a learning curve but I'm getting to like it a lot.

However, 10 hole blow, blow bend and to a lesser extent draw are incredibly loud and ear splitting, compared to the even playing volume of all the other holes.(I'd suggest 30% louder)

I've worked out that the shorter reed needs a bit more air pressure than other harps but I'm not blowing that hard compared to the other holes.

I wondered if not having side vents was somehow directing the high frequencies but my other Sessions don't do it, so I guess the problem must be me.

What am I doing wrong?
348 posts
Jun 10, 2020
3:27 AM
Chances are you're not doing anything wrong.Those notes do get mighty high up there on the F harp.
Any particular song you have in mind ?
I use that harp for a couple of songs, Sanfrancisco bay blues for example, but I'm on the lower notes.
Orange blossom special is another that comes to mind with the f harp.
I wouldn't worry much about the side vents one way or the other though.

The high notes there might be 'choking out' on you so less breath might do the trick.

If I am playing high note through a mic I do back away from the mic a bit or if I'm hand holding the mic I try to hold the harp away a bit...much like a singer would tend to do.

There are a couple of songs where I use the high end of a low F harp so it doesn't squeak out to much.

Good luck..have fun
6678 posts
Jun 13, 2020
12:21 AM
Hi, Gerry,
I’m far from expert at playing the high end and high bends of an F harp. I know it can be done and I can get 8 and 9 pretty well but I think I’d have to spend some one on one time working up to the 10. And I’m not about to do that because I have other priorities.

What I know though is that with harmonica decibels volume is directly related to the volume of air passing through the slot. You might try nudging the reeds a little closer to the slot so they get moving with less air. You can sit them quite close before they choke.
That’s all I’ve got. I haven’t tried it, maybe I will, later.
I play Marine Band types and the reeds are pretty small on the F harp compared to a C. On a Seydel steel reed harp though, the slots of an F are same size as a G, and that might make a difference compared to a Marine Band. I’m not clear about why Hohner use that 2 speed slot template but Seydel used to do the same until they went to steel and then they still used the 2 sizes for brass harps for a few years. These days they use the same template for steel and brass though.
Not that it’s all that related to you question about volume but I wonder if the longer reeds are easier to bend in the high harps.
I have some Eb 1847 plates here but I’ll have to wait until I finish tuning a few C harps before I can put one together.
101 posts
Jun 13, 2020
5:38 AM
Thank you for that answer. I've just taken it apart. Blow reed was fine but draw reed was over to one side. I've centered it and the good news is, it's partly fixed.

The loud ear piercing note is still there. I believe now that it is just the pitch that is annoying me. I'll have to live with that.

However, what I think has happened is the plates have settled better on the comb as the volume of holes 7,8,9 seem now to match 10. The cover plate screw was sealing 10 better than the rest. I'm definately feeling a better breath forcce.

Never owning a high harp before, I'd just assumed that they required more force, especially on the short reeds.

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