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5 Top Tips for Blues Harmonica Beginners

by anonymous

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Have you got the blues?
First top tip and the most important in my eyes to become an accomplished harp player is that you really need to want to play that blues harp. As with any hobby or skill you will perform better if you don’t consider it a chore. Many beginner harmonica players buy a cheap harmonica or given a harmonica gift for a birthday or xmas, paly it for a week then stick it in a draw. Don’t be one of those!

Buying the right harmonica to play blues style
Although you always get what you pay for an unknown cheaper harmonica to start with is as good a place to start as with one of the more pro harmonicas that people have heard of by manufacturers such as Hohner, Lee Oskar, and Seydel.

No matter the cost your blues harp has to be a ‘diatonic’ harmonica, this is a ten hole model and the most popular in the world.

What key to buy your harmonica in as a beginner
There is no straight answer to this but here is any easyish one. If you are playing solo you can play in any key. But for many reasons starting in 'C' seems to make sense. Why? Well, it is easy for guitarsts to play along, there are a lot of songs to play along with in this key too. It is easier to have a go at bending notes without bending them all the time if you were to play the same way (beginner like) on a different key harp. One of the best reasons for the beginner harmonica player is that most cheap harmonicas come in 'C' only. Beginner harmonica players generally would rather not commit to a £25 blues harp if they are not sure they are gonna stick with it!  Enter the budget end of the harmonica spectrum.

Listen, Listen,Listen
In order to understand how a harmonicas played well should sound you have to listen to them. This way you can pick up sounds, tones, notes, runs and bends for you to copy. A few names to help you pick up a few tricks are Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, Sonny Boy Williamson I and II, Paul Butterfield, Carey Bell, James Cotton, Slim Harpo, Charlie Musselwhite, Lee Oskar, Jimmy Reed, George Smith, Sonny Terry, Rod Piazzo, Junior Wells.

Phew, that’s gonna take some listening to!

Equipment to help you sound more like the blues harmonica greats
Many places have harmonicas for sale in the UK but a specialist may be best for the full set up. Other than a harmonica there isn’t a great deal required but you will need a microphone and a harp amp, guitar amplifiers are commonly used for this. Harmonica microphones traditional are Hi-z ( high impedance) bullet mics like the old Astatic JT-30, modern version of the bullet shape are the Astatic JT-30RH and the legendary Shure 520dx although there are many other choices for different budgets . Traditionally these need to be hooked up to a tube amp or valve amplifier, these vintage style amplifiers are great but for the smaller budget any guitar amp will do for amplified harp for starting out.

This content has been taken from
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