Hohner Golden

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Help a beginner at harmonica? ?

Well, iv'e decided that I want to learn the harmonica to add to my musical knowledge, so I have a few questions. First, what is a good harmonica for beginners? I don't want something very expensive, but I don't want a piece of crap either. Second, are there any helpful websites, preferably with videos, that I can use to teach myself some beginner techniques, scales, songs, etc.? Lastly, if you have any experince as a player of the harmonica, would you say it's difficult to play and how long does it take to start sounding at least decent at it?
Thanks in advance.

Decent beginner instrument - Blues Band by Hohner. It's all of about $5 It's not "a piece of crap" but it's not a Marine Band, Blues Harp, Special 20, Golden Melody, etc... either. Those will run you $30-40 and are well worth the investment once you know you want to get serious. If you think you'd rather do tremolo then check out the Suzuki tremolos and the Hohner Echo Celeste.

You'll find that the Blues Band doesn't bend as easily as the better instruments and that it won't last as long before you play it out (wear out the reeds) - but, it's a good place to start.

A 10-hole diatonic in C is the best place for a beginner to start. The reason is that there are TONS of tutorials online for that particular harp. Once you get to playing more you'll be able to better decide what way you'd like to progress with a better instrument.

How hard it is depends a lot on what style you want to learn and how much general music you already know. Improvisational blues is pretty easy to get started with. There's a pentatonic blues scale right up from draw2. Melody playing takes a little more effort. Chromatic orchestral playing (like playing classical music) takes the most effort. With just 30 minutes per day and some YouTube videos or a cheap "learn to play" book, you can be playing passably decently in about a week - "not too bad" in about a month. With a regular learning routine you'll be looking for a new harmonica (better than what you have) in about a month and may even be starting to "need" several types.

If you're thinking "scales and songs" you might want to explore whether you're thinking of blues harmonica or folk harmonica. You can play folk on a 10-hole diatonic (blues harp) but most players prefer a tremolo or chromatic for that music.

If you're already musical (understand scale theory) then just know that the 1 blow isn't the root of a major scale on a 10-hole diatonic - the major scale is 4, -4, 5, -5, 6, -6, -7, 7 ( "-" is draw; those two draws DO belong next to each other) On a tremolo or chromatic the scale will be differently placed. If you get a bigger diatonic (12, 14, etc...) then you'll need to determine where the major scale root is. Assuming some musical theory knowledge - you can now find the dorian (start on -4), minor (start on -6) and myxolydian (start on 6) scales. If you don't know scale theory, you'll learn harp positions and cross harp instead via tutorials.

If you already play a wind instrument then the most difficult concept is that the major scale doesn't start on hole 1 and that there are chords down there on the bottom 3 (there are chords other places too but that's mostly what the bottom 3 are all about). I know a lot of wind players that brain-block over that "start in four blow" idea.

The next hard thing will be getting used to not blowing or drawing too many holes at once. Melody players tend to use chords more sparingly than do blues players. That's also what makes the Hohner Golden Melody very nice for melody playing (it's tuned to the scale and not the chords) and not so hot for blowing blues riffs.

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