new harps

Hi everone, just want some advice. I have a handfull of harps i bought a few months ago, they sound crap on draw holes 8,9 & 10, they dont make much sound,just a little crappy squeek, What should i do ?

Ozman what kind of harps are they. Are they cheepie 5 dollar harps??? If so maybe there just worn out from you playing them and maybe you could invest in buying more. If there more expensive harps you could change the reed plates…

What I do when I wear one out is buy new one, They are not really expensive so I go that route.

Some guys pull them apart clean and adjust I’ve tried that with no luck at all (big waste of my time).

If your harps are not sounding real good on holes 8 9 10 draw but they sound good otherwise it maybe
you need a little more practice on the upper end of the harp. Or that’s what I found out in my own
practice. Although I would say I have a harder time down in the low end 1 2 and 3 holes

Harp on!!

Hi Joe, i have honer marine & honer blues harp, they are all fairly new & not worn out. I think you could be rite about not having enough practice on holes 8,9 &10, they sound like they are siezed up from lack of use, the rest of the harp plays fine on all of them. Thank you very much for your replie, cheers

Ozman what key harps give you most problems on the top holes?

I was the opposite to Joe as I always had problems up the top end of the harp ie anything from keys C up. I was learning fast Irish music which needed a lot of work up the top end of Ds & I struggled. At first nothing but now OK. I have never struggled down the low end on any harp nor the high end on low harps ie A or G. Its a matter of practice and changing your embouchure. It will come.

The holes are probably not siezed up unless you have allowed saliva to ‘set hard’. Cleaning is difficult with wooden bodied harps but in the case of the Blues Harp you could remove the covers and the plates and soak the plates in a mild denture cleanser. Be careful though & let them dry in the air before re assembling. Be careful with the screws on the Blues Harp as Hohner uses a special type which easily can be detroyed if you use the wrong driver ie I think they need a posidriver.

Some guys pull them apart clean and adjust I've tried that with no luck at all (big waste of my time).

Mwuahahahaha! Joe you’re always finding ways to kill me, bro! All in a good way, but killing me nonetheless!

Only because even he admits he has a difficult time explaining it, still, Howard Levy recommends everybody - both guys and girls - should learn something about maintaining their harmonicas.

He says how it became a life-saving necessity for him to do so when he’d be out in the middle of the Ukraine or Europe or wherever heading to a concert/performance and have to work on his harps.

Even with his own set of handmade customized Joe Filiskos, got to presume Howard’s not sending those off to get regapped and/or retuned to Joe’s protégé Richard Sleigh every time he runs into a little trouble with them.

And so well, if it’s good enough for Howard Levy, it’s good enough for me.

But also, it really is good to know just for yourself.

Confession time here: I never considered myself mechanically inclined. And really I’m not!

But when I started getting back into harmonica, I knew I had to learn about maintenance on them, even before I heard Howard Levy’s and other’s takes on the matter. I have a dream, a desire now to be able to be trained by Richard Sleigh or somebody who can show me these things.

For me, it’s not only something more I can do with harmonicas, but also for survival as well. If I can get any good at it, hey, then maybe I can make some sort of living at it too! Gotta do something now that my truck driving career is all but yes, it’s completely over!

But it’s just me, Joe!

Yet, I’m not mechanically inclined. However this past Labor Day Weekend, my fan stopped working. Thing is, I like this old stand-up fan. Been around for years!

Rather than toss it out in the dumpster, I decided what the hell, I’ll take it apart and see what’s what. Took me quite awhile to dismantle it. I couldn’t find regular tools to get to the little screws. But I had my posidrive screw driver from my harmonica repair kit, the one I got from David Payne. And sure enough, it worked well enough to take out them damn little screws!

I took it apart. Cleaned it up. I don’t know exactly what I did or how – But when I plugged it in, and very carefully, to the outlet viola! it worked!

I put it all back together again. And it works as good as new, maybe even better!

Made me feel 10-feet tall, dude!

I’m not mechanically inclined. But I know harmonica maintenance, even at its simplest easiest levels, at least for me and many others is a necessity and well worth the efforts to learn it.

One thing I’m going to invest in – after I get that Bottle of Blues mike/amp set to introduce me to amp harp – is reed replacement tools. I’ve already got my eye on a couple of leads.

So too maybe before you toss out your next worn out GM, you might be able to send it along this way. And I’ll be happy to practice on it – practice in the sense of working on the reeds of a junked harp to learn and try my hand at it.

Just a thought. But a good one anyways. And still yet another reason why Rupert Oysler, David Payne and others say:

“Simply blowing and sucking on your reeds all day and all night long isn’t going to magically fix them. Sometimes, maybe more than once, you’ll just have to go inside that harmonica of yours for a look-see and a whats-what!”

But again, that’s just them and lil ole me!

Keep on smiling!

Keep on harpin’!

Thanks for reading!

{Oh, quick PS: for me, another benefit of harmonica maintenance is that it teaches me patience. Something I’m quite more than happy to learn and acquire in this stage of my “young” life too! Ciao, babe!}

G’day Dave, thanks for your reply, it does it on all my harps, both marine & blues & they are all new. I do maintain my harps. I had no problem with my old harps, this is what prompted me to ask the question. So i thought maybe they needed some kind of adjustment. I’m not affraid to open them up & have a go, as i have altered pitch on a couple of harps before. Once again thanx & look forward to any further tips.

I'm not afraid to open them up & have a go, as i have altered pitch on a couple of harps before.

Good for you Ozman!

Thing is, holes 7-10 both Blow and Draw are usually my toughest to keep “open.” Meaning, it took a lot of massaging them reeds until they relaxed and responded they way I wanted them to.

Now, the only other possible tip/suggestion I might toss in here is what David Harp calls: A parallel harp postion.

Meaning, that one has to be aware of how the air is flowing into the harp. Even if one has to “cheat-tilt” the harp to get/learn a bend…Still overall, the harp should either be parallel to the floor, or parallel to your breath over the reed plates.

Without being able to show you, best way to describe it is lay your left hand flat, and stick it in your mouth. The only finger that should be there will be your index finger.

If it’s flat, it’s parallel. If it’s angled…well you get the idea now, hopefully. Holding it flat, you can move your head around and the hand stays in the same position. Know what I mean?!

Same thing applies to the little harmonica then. Especially on those higher sides of the instrument.

And if you’re having difficulty with single notes up there - well here’s something that might help you out as well:

http://www.harmonica.com/forums/harmonica-talk/finding-your-center-and-the-single-note!-(a-whistle-goes-a-long-way!)/

Every little bit helps, eh?

Good luck!

Laters, Ozman!

Just say ahh. If I ever pick up my harp backwards and draw through the upper holes like I would through the lower ones I get that little squeak. At least for me I really have to open up and relax and say aahhhhh when I draw on the high notes. Learning to play those well actually helped me play other holes better too.

I have no idea how long you have been playing so you may already know all of that. I haven’t played any of the brands you mentioned.

G’day Dude, thanks for the tips & link, i understand what you are saying & taken it on board. cheers for now.

Tell me to but out SPD but thats a tough brake not being able to truck drive any more . Did your injuries put an end to your career?. My son [x trucker] injured his left leg and it developed into a DVT and gives him a lot of trouble and nobody wants to employ him now for this reason insurance purposes. By the way I love watching those ice truckers man! what a way to earn a living . Big money to be earned though along with big risks. Hope I didnt step over the line asking you that SPD. If I did opologies in advance. Kind regards H/harpin.

Very common beginners mistake. You’re simply breathing wrong. I was in a music shop a few weeks back, and there was a guy there complaining about the exact same thing. I asked him if I could try to play them, because I reckognized the problem from when I was learning, and they played just fine. It was his breathing that was off. Be gentle, breath as if you’re yawning.