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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Advice for the G Harp?
Advice for the G Harp?
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3 posts
Feb 18, 2022
1:21 PM
Hi, all.

I have harps in 12 keys. I like some more than others, but I find the G the most problematic. I have a G Hohner Marine Band as well as a G made by East Top. I have several different kinds of Hohners, and I like them all. I also like the other East Tops I have. However, I like neither G.

I take it that the G is a challenging harp anyway because the lower holes are so far down in octave. (Then again, so are B flat and A, but I do fine with those.) On the Hohner as well as the East Top G, it's often difficult to even get sound from the 3 hole. Both harps have not seen much use, and in fact the East Top is only a couple of months old. (I got it because it was inexpensive and I wanted an alternative to the Hohner.)

Is this just the challenge of the G I'm facing, or can anyone recommend a good G harp manufacturer (or technique)?

7058 posts
Feb 19, 2022
11:00 PM
G is an interesting problem. I reckon you need to refine your airflow. That’s easy to say but when you are starting out playing it might not be so easy to implement.
If you play enough, you’ll probably just work it out. Some teachers are good at teaching practical things you can do to improve. Play gently, play flat out on your back to encourage your body to learn to play with belly breath, use your throat rather than your cheeks, learn to close and open your nose at will without need to close your mouth, so you can direct breath either through nose or prevent it going through nose without the need to open or close your mouth.
Harmonica is really all about breath control. There’s a lot more about playing notes and bending and playing musically, melody, rhythm, and all that, but the basic physical skill of playing harmonica is breath control. Like with singing. Singing will improve your harp playing and vice versa.
5 posts
Feb 20, 2022
10:25 AM
Thanks for all that. Very interesting concepts. I reasoned that it was probably the player rather than the harp that needs development. I'm especially intrigued by playing on one's back -- I can see how that would focus on belly breath. The nose-closing is interesting, too. I know how to do that but had never heard it mentioned in harmonica context. I sing sometimes, but not when I practice. I will try that.

It's remarkable how many physical actions and creative efforts inform others that aren't readily apparent until you try them. It's like musical cross-training.

I'm also a career writer/journalist, have done some spoken-word performance, and have long done surreal oil paining and "junk sculpture" for small galleries and other venues. I'm eager to learn how I might incorporate some or all of these with blues harp.
7059 posts
Feb 20, 2022
1:03 PM
I took some lessons from a guy called Jimi Lee for a while. The very first thing he did with was “check for leaks”:
He had me play a note on the harmonica, an A harp I think, and hold it as long as I could. I think he timed me.
I don’t know what his standard was but he proceeded to a series of exercises which involved having a harmonica in my mouth and inhaling and exhaling with and without making a sound through the harmonica. I think also maybe holding my nose and not holding the nose and listening for tonal variation. This was intended to teach me awareness of that ability to direct the air either through mouth or nose. And the effect this has on the tone and ability to control the sound.
All while breathing, as he put it, “from the glottis”.
We did lots of breathing exercises and with reference to an electronic tuner to see the effect of breath on pitch.

Last Edited by SuperBee on Feb 20, 2022 1:04 PM

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