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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > A beginners thoughts so far......
A beginners thoughts so far......
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1 post
Apr 15, 2021
4:32 AM
Hello from London U.k, I just entered this exciting new adventure a few months back, I haven't touched a musical instrument since I was learning acoustic guitar back in school 45 years ago. I thought I'd better start to practice with an enclosed harp so I wouldn't disturb anyone so much! So I got a Suzuki BluesmasterC but was not impressed with it's sound (I am now though since I've learned to play simple tunes and chugs, It's also my slimmest harp which is easiest to play as I get a good seal for my small mouth and thin lips), so went for a lower key and got a Lee OscarA and thought yeah, this is more like it. Didn't practice too much as I was too Knackered after work, but thought it would be a good investment to get more keys for when I'm out of work like I am now,why not? they have all cost me around £30, only £2 more than a packet of tobacco. Next I got Marine BandG and Special 20D. Well the MB just blew me away with its surround sound from the cover plates, nice slim body, and the feel of wood on my tongue, I find it much more easy to tongue block so far. Don't think I'll buy anymore with plastic combs! My last purchase was a Seydel Solist ProLF and really love it's warm rich deep tone, but not as good as the MB's which has more dirt and grit to it, but it feels the best in my hand, it has a nice heft to it with it's steel reed plates, it screams quality,fantastic bang for buck, and is the one I keep reaching for so far. O.k, my 1draw reed on the Suzuki,don't respond unless I blow it very hard, then it sounds like hollow wood. I thought I'd give it time to gently break in or improve my technique. Lee Oscar 2dr same problem, thought it must be me. MB 3dr, Sp20 perfect out the box, Seydel(handmade?)! 3dr. I have drew through them while covering adjacent holes with my finger, no difference, took the reed plates off the Suzuki and tried gapping and tapping the reed rivet, but no difference and they all look and ping perfect anyway(same amount of daylight between reeds). Took apart Lee Oscar( my hardest one to play on for a good seal with it's high plates and big holes) with my Lee Oscar repair kit, tinkered, but couldn't change nothing, all looks perfect. Beware, when I took the cover plates off, I only turned the screwdriver a quarter turn before nuts fell off, impossible for me to put them back on as the bolts are just too small, so had to take the ones off the SP20 and put them on LO. I am finding it amazingly difficult to believe that it's my technique or embouchere what is the problem, or the bluetak I have used to plug a gap in my teeth on the lower left side. I warm my harps up to body temp, and play gently, and haven't strained anything. Could anyone out there give some help with what I should do? I would love to play a Crossover one day, but Would not dare investing in one at the moment. Sorry about the long windedness of this post, if you've had the patience to read it through, then thankyou all, and stay safe.
Great news, Ive got my draw reeds going by playing 'stompin'from Adam Gussows youtube lesson and hitting the draw notes with a toh instead of a huh, so it really is technique after all! My liking for the Solist Pro is increasing, so I might go for an 1847 Classic instead of a Crossover, but will see how things go in the next few months or so first.

Last Edited by Gin&Diatonic on Apr 15, 2021 3:24 PM
6940 posts
Apr 16, 2021
2:29 AM
Hi G&D, and welcome to the forum.
With your LO, I'm sorry to hear you are having problems reassembling it. It can be a bit fiddly but should be possible with a persistent attitude. If you can get the nut on the bolt at one end, so that the thread is engaged, try to get the other end on before you tighten up the first one. You should definitely be able to get it together if you get everything sitting in just the right place as you do it.

With the reeds not sounding, this can be a problem for new players because just add you have said, it's hard to know whether it's the harp or your technique.
One thing though, you should not ever have to use a hard breath. Adam Gussow is an accomplished player but he does tend to use a pretty high breath force and you know, he's a good teacher in several ways but also I think he is not the best example always. It's taken me a long time to come to this conclusion because I'm still learning that I don't have to play so hard. I'd go so far as to say that in fact playing with too much force had been the number one factor holding me back. OK, maybe number 2 because number one is probably my practice habits, but then again if you practice a lot of blowing and sucking to hard you just get really good at playing too hard.
Playing hard makes it hard to play quickly, nimbly, subtly, musically, dynamically, makes it hard to keep time and wears out the harps. It also annoys the neighbors and children and pets.

I have definitely spent plenty of time scratching my head about how to play with less breath force when I can't even get a sound out of the reeds unless I blow hard.
It seems impossible sometimes, I know, but somehow you just have to work out how to "hold your mouth right".
Whistling is sometimes beneficial. If you can hold your mouth right to whistle, and observe how you change your vocal tract to whistle a tune, it does seem to relate to playing a harp.
I'm not a teacher, which I guess is fairly obvious, but there are plenty of good ones around online. Maybe try searching on some term like beginning harmonica common problems or such. Some of the members here will have have much better and more specific suggestions to help, I'm sure.
Soap Music
72 posts
Jun 30, 2021
2:07 AM
Where do you get your bacci from?
Cheaper than what l pay for it.
2 posts
Jul 21, 2021
2:16 AM
Thanks for your lengthy reply SBee, I persevered with the Lo nuts & bolts until I came to the conclusion that they were only possible to put on with a production line robot! So sent off £5 for SP20 cover plate bolts which fit perfectly. I don't get any problems sounding notes any more, if I do, I give the harp a good tap then give a rapid blow/draw chord to get the reed moving. I also swapped the cover plates from my harpmaster to bluesmaster which gives it a much better sound for me. I buy from Tesco's SMusic, £27/8 for 50g of Golden Virginia.
3 posts
Jul 21, 2021
3:02 AM
Been checking your band out online SMusic, would love to see you all if you play live again, as long as there's a smoking area of course!
Soap Music
75 posts
Aug 02, 2021
1:56 AM
Try Riverstone shag. 30g for about £10, just a good as G.V.
Soap Music
76 posts
Aug 02, 2021
3:09 PM
Thanks for checking out the Potheads. We're all a bit over the hill and far away to do much live stuff. We play it safe in a recording studio these days.
157 posts
Jun 07, 2022
8:50 AM
I think that using bluetak to cover the gaps in your teeth makes you a bluesman in so many ways !

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