C vs G

Hi guys. I’ve been playing harmonica for about a month now and I play in first position, straight harp, simple melodies such as Happy Birthday, She’ll be coming round the mountain, You are my sunshine, etc…

I have a C harp and a G harp. I find the G much easier to play, particularly on the top 3 holes. And I like the deeper sound. Yet I keep reading that the C is the better harp to learn on?

I get that if you’re playing bluesy cross harp then a C might be better, or if you’re playing with a band, you need a certain key, but if I’m just enjoying playing melodies at home, does it really matter?

Should I keep persevering with the C? Or simply enjoy playing the G?

Am I overthinking it?

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Definitely. Just enjoy learning to play well with whatever key harp you wish. If you are taking lessons (e.g. from Luke @Luke) then it is typical that most of the instruction assumes you have and play a C harp, but that is only important if you wish to play along and be in the same key as the instructor – all of the techniques taught apply to any key diatonic Richter blues harp.

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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I’d say to rock the G whenever you wanna be free and do the C whenever you wanna follow our fearless leader @Luke :blush:

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Sage advice, thanks Bobby

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Most every harp instructor will suggest a C harp, I think because it’s basically in the middle of the range - not as low as, say, the G nor as high as an E. Top notes on a G are easier to play because it takes less precision in technique. Back when I started an old harp player told me when it comes to holes 7-10 “don’t go there.” But I eventually did and you will, too. If you can play top to bottom on a C harp it will be easier on lower keys and a good start to the higher ones. Incidentally, my carry harp is an A or a G because I like the deeper sound as well and I can sing to it when I’m feeling brave. But, like the others have said, play and enjoy what you like.

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In my (limited) experience, I have found that I also prefer the sound of the G when I’m playing for my personal enjoyment and want the fattest sound. However, I found that when I began to learn bending, it was easier for me to bend the C and the C used less air. You will find slight bending differences across the C and G harmonicas. I started hitting bends on my C before my G.

In general, I use my C harmonica for (most) practice since so many lessons are in C and the bending is easier (for me). But I switch up when I’m playing for pure enjoyment, depending on what I’m in the mood for. But yes, the G and A are definitely the nicest to play alone and if you’re only playing straight, first position I would just enjoy the fat G.

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When you play by yourself, use whatever key harp you like. But most instructional material uses a C - next most used is an A.
However, if you want to play along with recordings, or a vocalist, or a band, you need to be able to play in the key they select - but you get to figure out which position you want to play in and therefore what key harmonica you will use.
Vocalists pick a key they like singing in, but guitarists like E (lots of easy chords), so I use an A in second position for a lot of blues in E.
I practice using my Ab and B harmonicas, as I have all keys of harp and those two are the least used in bands in my experience. But at jams I often get surprised when someone wants an unusual key, so I have learnt to always bring all the harmonica keys. At last week’s jam I was onstage when they decided on a late change - to do the song (Elvis - ‘Mean Woman Blues’) in Bb, after initially agreeing to do it in E. A quick sprint back to my harp case to swap the A for an Eb and all worked well.
FYI, I use mainly LO harps, but got a set of 12 keys of Easttop T008K in a case for a good price as backups.
Cheers
Maka

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