Harmonica Country

Lesson Ten

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Far too many harmonicas end up in the bottom of desk drawers waiting for some magic repairman to come to their aid. Their owners get frustrated with one hole that just doesn't sound right. Is there any hope?

That weird sound coming from that mysterious hole may be the result of any one of a number of things.

1. It may just be one of those difficult holes to produce a clear sweet tone. Actually, every hole requires a little different amount of air to make it sound right. And most reeds are pretty good at making a sound that comes pretty close to what it is supposed to be. But almost always there is one hole that just seems to sound off no matter what we do. Even if we go out and buy a brand new harmonica that same hole seems to give us problems. The problem may not be in the harmonica. It is just that it requires a more precise amount of air pressure than the other holes. Experiment with varying amounts of air pressure to see if that does not make a difference.

2. It may be that your harmonica needs to warm up, this is especially so if it is a new instrument. It may be a little stiff and if it is cold it just makes it even more stiff. If you carry your instrument in your pocket, close to your body, then it will warm up naturally. But if it has been in a purse or cigar box, then you may want to hold it in your closed hand for a few minutes.

3. It may be that a hair or thread has found its way inside your harmonica and is the cause of that weird sound. This happens to me all the time as I carry a harmonica in my shirt pocket everywhere I go. I also carry my comb in the same pocket.

4. Or, it may be that a small drop of moisture that was allowed to remain inside your harmonica actually formed a tiny bit of rust. To knock the moisture out of your harmonica, pound it in the palm of your hand from time to time to shake any moisture out of it. You should do this between every song if you are playing before a group. Moisture has a way of building up inside your instrument quite often. If you don't knock it out then you may get these weird notes right in the middle of your song. You often see harp players on stage pound their instruments in the palm of their hands. If the crowd sees you doing the same then they will think you must be experienced and know what you are doing.

If your harmonica was constructed with bolts and nuts you can easily do your own repairs. You simply, and carefully, remove the plates to your harmonica and break free stuck reed. Just don't use any pliers or screwdrivers on the reeds. They can easily get bent permanently and then you may as well chuck your harmonica in the trash.

Practice Songs
Beautiful Dreamer
Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie