I definitely have to agree with Barry on this one.
Thing is, unless you come from a long line and/or family of harmonica players – Most everybody who ever picks up this instrument is going to get a bottom of the barrel or near it cheapie as their first taste.
Why is that? Well for one, most people get their first harmonicas from local music stores/outlets.
As the store’s main business is in drums, guitars, keyboards and so forth – Harmonicas are definitely way down the list of items they sell. Usually in a glass case near the register; or in another place with supplies and/or things called miscellaneous – such as toy recorders, tin flutes, and kazoos.
Unless there’s a big call for harmonicas and harmonica players in a general area – you ain’t gonna find a nice choice selection of harps to choose from. And even if you do, and you’re a beginner, chances are you’re going to take the least expensive harp in the racks/shelves anyway.
Why? Because A) You don’t know anything about harmonicas so why spend the bigger bucks to start with. B) If you do buy a higher ticket harp and find you can’t play it because it takes knowledge to begin with – and you end up putting it aside in a drawer somewhere – You’ll feel like crap for spending all that money in the first place.
Hey, man (and woman) that’s life.
Unfortunately too, for whatever reason, we psychologically equate that most all harmonicas are alike in our heads. So when we see different prices, we’re always looking for the better lower deals as well. It’s only later we find out what really happened.
Unfortunately, the dirty little secret is music outlets really count on us beginners not to know anything about anything harmonica. And they’re usually correct because they really don’t know anything about anything harmonica themselves. They’re into drum or guitar or keyboard lessons. Harmonica is the furthest thing away from their minds too!
Unfortunate as well is the idea we tell ourselves that we can play like ____________ (fill in the blank) with the little harmonica we just bought.
When we get past the first few tunes on the middle register, then hear/read about bending and whatnot on the lower/upper registers and find A) We can’t do it; and B) The harmonica isn’t cooperating because we apparently know what to do but it just ain’t happening –
Well, the dirty little secret here is: Yes, you can’t do it with that thing. And no, the cheap little harmonica isn’t going to do anything else unless you really know how to convert it into something workable and feasible to keep going.
Unless you’re a savant with customization, well ain’t no way in hell you’re going down that road to start with. Sure, open it up and see how a harmonica actually works; tinker around by plinking some reeds and what have you – But that’s about as far as this journey into that there will take you.
On the one hand – Welcome to The Harmonica Universe!
It’s bright, fascinating and fun!
On the other hand – Welcome to the Harmonica Universe’s Dark Side too!
Ah, but so many harmonicas, so many choices – What do I do? Where do I go to learn more?
Well this forum and others like it are great places to start. Additionally, you still have to do your own homework in research and so forth, and eventually make your own choices as well. Nobody but nobody can do these things for you.
Bottom line here: I and we all sympathize with your situation as it is at present. Because yes, I don’t know too many others who haven’t been where you’re at currently, so we all share in this big letdown experience - twas before alone, tis now as a group!
Yet also know it’s just a temporary situation. That is, even if you’ve only been with harmonica for two weeks and the fire was ignited in your gut and your soul to continue –
Well it’s most certainly time now to upgrade your instrument.
Therefore then, I definitely have to agree with Barry on this one.
Keep us posted!
Keep on harpin’!