Learning the harp

I’m actually a harp dad. My 8 year old got her first harp for Christmas 2010 and has done very well thanks in part to lessons from JP. You can see some of her work recorded in early June 2011 with less than 6 months play time.

Amazing Harmonica Player

I have one small problem. I’m having to buy a new harp about every other month because one or two of the notes is going out of tune. She really likes the sound and feel of the Special 20 so this isn’t a cheap habit. Is this the price of progress or is there something we can do to lengthen the lifespan?

Hi jammin,

You got an amazing little girl there. Saw her youtube a few week ago and she
blew me away.

Here’s a thread on harmonica maintenance that you should read through.

Good thing harmonica’s are relatively inexpensive not like piano’s I hear she plays that also.\


Wow! I been playing for 6 months times 6 and I ain’t that good!

Tell her to keep it up and never give up!

As to your question…has she tried other harps? Sometimes another one will work just as good and stay in tune longer. My Marine Band has sustained a few years of agressive playing and is holding up fine.

You also might look into learning how to tune them! Might take an old one and experiment…don’t worry, your first is almost destined to be a failure, but keep it up!

Peace Out!



Just thought of something if she likes playing tunes you should definitely
get her a Golden Melody.

I like mine there great for tunes.

Check them out here they got a different look and feel to them also.

Just watched that video again for the umpteenth time and I love the way she pats that harmonica at the end like a seasoned pro.

Harp On!!

3 of my special 20’s have gone out of tune (2 C 's and an A) and a suzuki pro master ©. I have found my Hohner marine band, Have stayed in tune the longest but beware, The comb and cover plates can be very sharp.

Amen, they are sharp! But thats what I got sandpaper for! Find the lightest grit there it, and take the plates off and sand down the corners! In no time your lips will heal and you will be back at it! :stuck_out_tongue:


Do you use any kind of finish on your MBs, BT, or do you just sand 'em down?

Great video, Jammin! Now I’m inspired to try playing some tunes like that one. :smiley:

No…but if you want to know how to do that there are resources!

Personally, I just played it hard until the wood swelled, and then I sanded down the comb! Not the most professional, but it works!

If you want to seal the comb so it won’t swell, just look back a ways on the ‘Harmonica Maintenance’ Forum Board…there should be a few ideas about using beeswax to seal them! I am probably going to do it eventually, just haven’t got around to it!


No, that sounds good. I still have to sand mine down at some point here because it was an older one that I got second-hand, so I’d like to shave off just a little to make sure it’s all sanitized and all.
Does it stay swollen and that’s why you have to sand it down, or what? I really don’t have any experience with wooden combs on any harps I’ve played yet (besides taking one apart), 'cause the two MBs I got were older ones, so I don’t know much about them, yet.

It kinda does stay up, so you get that sawtooth edge when you try to play.

Lets see if I can explain this right. If you sand it down to the level of the reedplates when its already swelled, you should be good. Very rarely will it swell farther…it can only do so much! When it drys out, it will retract down below the surface, which will make it just a little bit ‘un’ airtight, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Sanding fixes, (in an unprofessional way) the swell, and also prevents any other problems with swelling.

See what I mean?

Please excuse my non-clarity in typing…I have had really hard days of work this whole week, and I am brain dead! I can’t hardly think!


Great! Thanks for the help! :slight_smile:

Hope work goes better for you the rest of the week.
'til then, I’m logging off, 'cause I’m pretty dain bread myself…

Try the Bushman Delta frost. It has phosphor bronze reeds and they hold up well. I can’t blow it hard enough to make it not sound even if I try. They are tough as nails. They are slightly tougher to bend, but they last.

wood will continue to swell if it gets wet again. It needs to be sealed with something. make sure it is a food grade sealer or bees wax (melt on with hair dryer)

Thanks for the tip, PB! :slight_smile:

You have one amazing daughter who will one day be a great harmonica player.

But, she should not be blowing out harps like a SP20 in such a short time. The Sp20s should be ideal along with any other plastic combed harp eg Suzuki Bluesmaster or Harpmaster, Hohner Golden Melody, Lee Oskar etc. They should last for a year at least.

Amazing player your daughter is but kids can be kids and often don’t adhere to basic care of their harps. I know as I have similar age grandchildren & they can be pretty rough. Dropping the harp or putting it away not in its box or in a lunchbox!

Have you taken her harps apart to check that it’s not just things getting stuck on the reeds?

I wouldn’t go near harps with wooden combs even though they are excellent they are not IMO for children.

I agree with you on the wood harps David T. I bought one and I almost never play it because I usually end up hurting my lips in some way when I do.