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Stasher1

Anyone here play harmonica?

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I've always loved the sound of a harmonica, but have never really played one. I'm interested in learning, but need advice on a decent starter harmonica.

The Hohner Special 20 in the key of C seems to be a popular choice, as does the Lee Oskar Major.

Opinions?

I see that Hohner also has a new-ish one out called the Blues Bender that is supposedly a lower-priced version of the Special 20, and it seems to be gaining popularity as well. The main complaint seems to be its country of origin (china), rather than its sound or durability...

ETA: Les Stroud (Survivorman) plays a Hohner Special 20, and he's a badass.  ;D

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I started playing blues harmonica a while ago for a little bit. I was teaching myself and I basically stopped playing about a year ago. I have a Hohner Blues Harp in A, a Special 20 in D, a Less Oskar in C and A, and set of Hohner Piedmont Blues harmonicas in C, D, E, F, G, A, and B flat. FWIW, I prefer the Lee Oskars

The biggest thing is having a harmonica in the correct key for the music you are playing. It gets more complicated when you get into 1st vs. 2nd position. You have to match the harp to the music you want to play. I got a bunch of different keys because I wanted to play along with songs that are written in different keys. It's difficult to play to music in one key with a harp in another key.

Most people will say that a harp in C is the best place to start for a beginner. I don't know what music you're playing but a lot of blues seems to be written in A and C. Good luck with learning to bend. It's kinda tricky to get a hang of.

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Thanks for the input guys. I'll leave this up for a little while longer to see if anyone else is willing to chime in, but it looks like I'll be adding a Hohner Special 20 to my next Amazon order...  ;)

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When I started blowing a harp, Honer was the only game in town...I don't think Lee Oskar was born yet! ;D

Marine Band's were $7

Marine Band's are great, but Blue's Harps are my favorite.

Get an A or E if you want to play along with Blues albums, as many will be in those keys. Heck, you'll end up with every key if you stick with it. I always rinse them with hot water. Some folks never rinse 'em and say they last longer. I like to get all the spit out of 'em!

And note that you can bust a reed the first time you play it. I wonder what the reeds are made of in a Special 20?

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I'm not sure what the reeds are made of, but I've read a few different comparisons between the Blues Harp and the Special 20 and the general consensus seems to be that the Special 20 bends easier than the BH. It also has a plastic comb instead of wood like the BH, which will make it a bit more spit-tolerant I suppose.

Not having any experience at all, I doubt I could tell the difference between the two if I was blindfolded.

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I've been a pro/ semipro musician since 1976. My first instrument is electric/upright bass but I double on harmonica. I have Special 20s in every key. I have played Blues Harps, Marine Bands, Special 20s, and Lee Oskars. I prefer the plastic combs of the Special 20s and Lee oskars over the wooden combs of Blues Harps and Marine Bands. The special 20s are a better buy, so I recommend them. Enjoy!

www.meowbaby.com.

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I've been a pro/ semipro musician since 1976. My first instrument is electric/upright bass but I double on harmonica. I have Special 20s in every key. I have played Blues Harps, Marine Bands, Special 20s, and Lee Oskars. I prefer the plastic combs of the Special 20s and Lee oskars over the wooden combs of Blues Harps and Marine Bands. The special 20s are a better buy, so I recommend them. Enjoy!

www.meowbaby.com.

x2 I like the plastic combs better as well

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Thanks for the advice, guys. I hit the local music chain-store this morning and walked out with a Special 20 © and managed to talk my wife into buying me a Suzuki Bluesmaster (A) for Christmas. I've got my eye on a Lee Oskar Major right now to finish off the set. I just need to pick a key.

If you can't decide which one to buy, sometimes the best thing to do is buy both (or all three, in this case). :)

ETA: I opted out of the Lee Oskar Major in favor of a Bushman Delta Frost in the key of C. My local dealer stocks the Lee Oskar so I can get one at any time, should I feel the need.  ;)

Now I just need to practice...and practice...and practice some more.

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That's the only way to learn, practice. By the way, my harmonica rig is a real classic; a 1949 Shure 520 bullet microphone and a 1949 Gibson BR9 amplifier. The amp has the original Jensen elecromagnet speaker and original tubes. The only knob is volume. It's only 9 watts but believe me this baby SCREAMS. I do need to mic it though in anything but the smallest clubs.

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This thread has got me interested in this instrument.  I have been researching and reading and watching videos.  I am hoping for Santa to bring me a new one so I can start learning.  I have always enjoyed listening to it so why not learn it.

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Suzuki Bluesmaster showed up today and the sound is definitely different than the Special 20. It has a kind of...um...almost like a reverb thing going on. Strange, but really cool.

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This thread has got me interested in this instrument. I have been researching and reading and watching videos. I am hoping for Santa to bring me a new one so I can start learning. I have always enjoyed listening to it so why not learn it.

Killer deal on the Hohner Special 20 right here...

http://www.harmonica.com/store/harmonica-hohner-special-20.php

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