Choosing a harp (not a brand question)

Hey everyone,
I plan to buy my first harmonica, but its not quite simple, i have a certain disability and not sure if I could produce enough air required to play.
Is there harmonicas that doesn’t require too much of air? Or are they all actually the same from that perspective ? Sorry if the questions sound silly, but I never had anything to do with harmonicas :slight_smile: Thanks!

Howdy!

To be honest:

If your disability prevents you from breathing into a harmonica, then perhaps the harmonica isn’t for you.

Being said though:

David Harp, JP Allen and others have worked with the young and elderly teaching them how to strengthen/retrain their lungs, diaphragms, etc. by playing the harmonica.

Many members here too can attest to how learning how to play a harmonica helped them in better control of their breathing apparatus et al.

With that in mind then:

Unless there’s some other harps we haven’t run across and/or used at some point in our harmonica journeys –

The easiest of easiest harmonicas to play (by popularity and consensus; and sans any customized harps etc.) is the Hohner Special 20.

It’s well made, endurable, and sings with lightest of breaths.

Hope this helps!

Smiles!

Good Luck!

I think the Suzuki’s are even more responsive than the special 20. I would go with the suzuki Bluesmaster if you don’t have a lot of wind and you want to make sure you get the most from what you have.

I’ll second Greg on that. My best buy so far has been the Suzuki Bluesmaster set, which can still be found at a price that amounts to under $22 per harmonica. Here for instance:

http://www.themusicoasis.com/items/Harmonicas/list.htm

If you are just buying one though, I would go with the Harpmaster, which is very similar to the Hohner Special 20, but plays even a bit easier.

The Hohners have a bit brassier tone, and a compromise tuning, which sounds better for chording and some traditional blues playing. The Suzukis I think have a mellower tone, and an equal tempered tuning, which sounds sweet for playing melodies.

I find I do a lot of playing and practicing on my Bluesmasters, and like to supplement that with some Hohner Marine bands when I really want that Hohner sound. The Special 20 though is a good all-arounder, it’s tone is somewhere between a Marine Band and the mellower Suzukis; if I could only have one I might choose that. But the Harpmaster is the best for something that plays with little air. Some will even think it’s too responsive. It’s not for hard blowers.

I’ll add that larger harmonicas often require more air. Larger chambers, and sometimes longer reeds, can lead to more air being required to get the most out of them, though they are usually good and loud when you do give them enough.

You will often see people referring to harmonicas as “leaky” if they require a lot of air. If tighter tolerances are used in fitting the reeds to the slots, and if a good flat comb is used with the plates well fitted to the comb, you tend to get a more responsive instrument. If the screws are overtightened, that can bend reed plates slightly and hurt the tone and playability of a harp as well. So if you take a harp apart make sure you don’t over-tighten the cover plates.

Anyway that gives you an idea of some things to look for for an easy to blow harmonica.

Well okay…

I guess I should’ve been more suggestive and less definitive in my answer.

Meaning, as I don’t own any other Suzukis except two Manjis, and am still more partial to Hohner Spec20s overall:

Nevertheless, in considering which harp brand/make/model one should get as easier to play over another brand/make/model – It’s all in the personal hands of the beholder.

Be they Hohner Spec20s or Suzuki Bluesmasters or one of each to see which you prefer-- Still I think everyone would be in agreement as to not go get yourself a cheap cheapie harp to start with.

So hope it all helps!

Good luck!

Happy Harpin’!

WOW! Street Player Dude, Greg, Ken, Thanks a lot for your great replies!! They are of great value and help to me!

To SPD: You’re right I actually thought about it, but the disability isn’t that bad. And what you said about the breathing apparatus, makes me really glad, cause i thought about the harmonica in that way too, and you just gave me live proof of what I had in mind! It’s exactly what I need! You make SP 20 sound like a very good choice, but I would like to check other options too(Blues or Harp mater). I think I should follow your suggestion and see which I prefer.

To Greg: You spelled it just right, that is exactly what I would like, “to get the most of what I have”! I’ll try to look for the Suzuki, did a quick search, but it seems it’s not as much available as the Honer’s to ship to my country.

To Ken: Your wide explanation gave me a great idea of all the aspects possible!

Again, thanks a lot guys!

Nick

WOW! Street Player Dude, Greg, Ken, Thanks a lot for your great replies!! They are of great value and help to me!

To SPD: You’re right I actually thought about it, but the disability isn’t that bad. And what you said about the breathing apparatus, makes me really glad, cause i thought about the harmonica in that way too, and you just gave me live proof of what I had in mind! It’s exactly what I need! You make SP 20 sound like a very good choice, but I would like to check other options too.

To Greg: You spelled it just right, that is exactly what I would like, “to get the most of what I have”! I’ll try to look for the Suzuki, did a quick search, but it seems it’s not as much available as the Honer’s to ship to my country.

To Ken: Your wide explanation gave me a great idea of all the aspects possible!

Again, thanks a lot guys!

Nick

P.S

Is the Hohner Blues Bender any good?

Out of the harps I’ve played there’s one that has stood out from all the others in terms of being air-tight, and that is the firebreath. It was an amazing harp, very responsive and I didn’t feel any air escaping (like I often do with the cheaper brands). I bought it when I was not experienced enough tough, so I broke the four draw reed (as long as you don’t bend this isn’t a problem).

see if amazon will ship to your country.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_17?url=search-alias%3Dmi&field-keywords=suzuki+harpmaster&sprefix=suzuki+harpmaster

Thanks, but they do not. I usually buy from Ebay, but is available from only one seller,a quite expensive one. But strangely other Suzuki’s are available. Like the Folkmaster, Easy rider etc.

I guess it’s OK, I like the small size, and the Marine Band style vented cover plates. But I think it’s worth spending a bit more for any of the Special 20, Bluesmaster, etc. I only tried the Blues Bender in F, and I suspect I might like it better in a lower key, but my Bluesmaster in the same key is much smoother, more consistent note to note, easier to play and more musical sounding. The Blues Bender has kind of a bright metallic tone to it. Even in the same price range, I think the Big River is a nicer instrument; I just like the way the reeds play better on the MS harps. Though neither of those is really the first choice if you want “easy to play”. I haven’t tried a Folkmaster yet, though are supposed to play pretty nice for a budget harp, but on the quiet side, and with somewhat flimsy cover plates.

What country are you in?

Im from Israel, but problem solved, I checked with RockinRonsMusic4Less and he ships to my area. Thanks.

Another thought I had. what about harmonica for kids? Lets say the zuzuki airway. Are they easier than the more advandced one’s? If it is then maybeI should first try them… What ya thinkk?

Well Nick –

The idea here is you don’t want to go “cheap!”

Meaning, getting a $10-15 harp because you’ll think it’ll be as good as a $25-30 one. It really doesn’t work that way, sad to say.

As you’ll note from our fine forum members/contributors here, less is not at all better.

Suzuki does make good harps; as does Hohner.

However, realize that their less expensive cheapies are just that – A big pain in the ass, and certainly not worth the hassle.

No doubt, the harmonica is an instrument that you can pick up and play on Day One.

However, if you wish/desire to get anywhere with it – It’ll take TIME!!

So better to not short-change yourself and get discouraged from the get-go, eh?

Rockin’ Ron is a cool dude. And if you invest in a decent harp out of the box, well, we’ll certainly be here to encourage and support you along the way!

Good Luck!

Smiles!

“Have Harp, Will Travel!” 8)

Well I absolutely agree. Chances are I’ll go with the Bluesmaster. But, what if the Airwave is much easier to blow(younger person=smaller lung capacity?). Then it could be a good tool to learn the basis, I think. It also looks very airtight to me. Again I’m looking for something that could allow me to play easily(not ease of learning, I realize it takes time) therefore, no frustration of not having enough air.

Well Nick:

As I don’t know how old you are – as the ads say these Airwaves are good for ages 6-12…

http://www.suzukimusic.com/education/harmonica/

If this is your bracket, and you’d be more comfortable in getting one of these then okay, who is lil ole me to disagree?! :slight_smile:

Even an outlet store’s no-name made for kids harmonicas will allow you to play easily. Christelle did it in one of her vids. However, please don’t expect to play like her starting out on such things. She’s in a class all by herself! Hehehehehe!!

http://www.harmonica.com/forums/harmonica-gear/playing-a-plastic-toy-harmonica/

By the same token, when you see a younger person with smaller lung capacities playing their daddy’s chromatics that are virtually bigger than they are and like there’s no tomorrow –

http://www.harmonica.com/forums/harmonica-talk/wow!/msg5642/#msg5642

Well, all I can say is: Welcome To The Vast & Mighty Harmonica Universe! :wink:

Have fun!

Smiles!

Keep On Harpin’ and Rock On, Yo!

Hehe, you’ve just changed my mind my friend! :slight_smile: It’s definitely not my bracket, Im 21… ;D
Very clever telling me about the awesome kid! Due to this iI watched another vid, of a 2 years old kid, awesome:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F21xijx6tmQ#noexternalembed
The greatest 2yr old Harmonica Player in the World

Can I play? Absolutely!

Thanks man :slight_smile:

Yeppers, that kid is giving Bob Dylan and Neil Young a run for their money!! Hehehehe!

“Have Harp, Will Travel!” 8)