Mouth Organ
#1
Slightly off topic but someone might know a bit about these instruments. They are reed instruments after all.
I have been given a mouth organ. It says on it "Hero harmonica, Shanghai" and has 48 holes to blow. Seems to play CEGCEGCEGC.
Does anyone play one? If so, can you recommend a tutor book?
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#2
I like the Tomlin Leckie YT harmonica tutorials.
The country blues rhythm is super on the harmonica. 

Don't know about the Hero harmonica, but 3 things are vital for a good harmonica :
Airtight, Airtight and Airtight 

My favorite diatonic 10 hole harmonicas are 
Hohner Special 20 in low G plastic comb
Seydel Session Steel in low G plastic comb
Suzuki promaster aluminum comb 
Seydel Big Six in C, a 6 hole mini harmonica, sealed wooden comb 
Hohner Marine Band in low G, sealed wooden comb 
Seydel Noble 1847 aluminum comb 

The Hohner Special 20 is ideal for beginners, and medium priced. A plastic comb never cracks, humidity has no influence on plastic. 
And with a plastic comb you only use a minimal amount of saliva. The moisture facilitates fast lips moves from low to high notes, etc 


I have 16 harmonicas, and they all feel different. 
With harmonicas we're talking about very subtle differences. 

Generally speaking, good harmonicas start from 25 euro to 100 euro, I mean blues harmonicas. 

Don't blow your lungs out on cheap Chinese harmonicas. Cheap harmonicas usually go flat very fast and are not airtight.
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#3
It is most likely that you have a tremolo instrument and that the note placement requires you to blow and draw to complete the scale of C over two and a half octaves. If this is the case, each octave will probably have a separate and specific note layout. As there are a number of different note placements in use, you will need to play each note and write out the scale. I suggest that you mark each note, either on the stave or simply the letter, with an up arrow for blow and a down arrow for draw. If you find that there are 'missing' notes in the lower octave (and possibly one in the highest partial octave) the instrument has the 'Richter' layout. This allows for the I chord and the V chord to be played on the blow and draw.

I recommend you to learn to play without a book. If you play scale and arpeggio sequencing up and down each of the octaves to memorise the blow/draw patterns and then simple tunes, again in each octave, I believe there is nothing more required to establish a thorough knowledge of the instrument. The only other aspect of playing that you will need to consider is how you use your mouth to produce the sound. The two established techniques are 'puckering' and 'tongue blocking'.

If you search the internet for the chromatic harmonica forum called Slidemeister, you will see a board entitled Diatonic Discussion wherein you will find a huge amount of helpful information.

Kind regards, Ian.
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#4
As Ian said - most likely tremolo. "Chromatic" or "Diatonic" or "Blues Harp" instruction materials or videos won't help much.

Of course you can take the "identifying notes and and following a tutor book" approach if that's how your mind works, but I think the vast majority of harmonica players the world over have just taken the approach of diving in, sucking and blowing, and starting to work out tunes that you know. It's an amazingly intuitive system and it doesn't take most people long to start playing tunes.

One thing that is worth bearing in mind - you need to find a way of playing one note at a time. (Otherwise your tune my sound like a rapid alternation between two chords and only you know what the tune is!)
There are two ways, either using your lips so you only blow/suck one note at a time, or using a larger lip aperture and using your tongue to block the holes you don't want to sound. I've always used the first, a Hohner tutor book I had years ago suggested the second. I think most good players use both, depending on need.
Good luck!
Tom
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#5
I had intended to put a few lines on about this, but somehow all I managed to do was copy Ian's post and duplicate it.

I've now deleted the one and a half cents worth the post contained, as I think just about everything's been covered, except to say that if you decide to take it up seriously you probably won't want a "Hero" in your pocket for long. They aren't the best.

Try and find a Hohner or a Seydel, unless you have lungs like Sherpa Tenzing had. There are other worthwhile makes available in the UK, but I think you'd need to look hard.

I forgot the Suzuki brand, and they're OK too. They're very expensive, although I've had one for a year, and get about 46 mpg from it. It fits in the wife's mouth no problem at all!
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#6
Or if you get some practise in there's always one of these:

   


Saw it on ebay a while back and didn't know what it was so I looked it up (I know nothing about harmonicas).

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Hohner-kreuzw...7675.l2557
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#7
There are some good harmonica forums on the internet. Most will be about the diatonic 10 hole harmonica. 
Slidemeister is one of the best harmonica forums.
Or this one:
https://www.modernbluesharmonica.com/blu...forum.html

Check out the patmissin harmonica website, packed with info and docs about harmonica 
https://www.patmissin.com/ffaq/HarmonicaPhonetics.pdf


If you have been given a Chinese tremolo harmonica, you are rather limited in music genres.

In my collection there is a Hohner Echo tremolo harmonica, and a double sided Hohner Echo tremolo harp. 
I never play these, because the high notes don't sound, the tremolo sound at the top register sounds horrible. Only in the low register do I like the "Wiener" tremolo sound of a harmonica.

My simple advice would be to get a plastic comb 10 hole Hohner Special 20 or something like that.
You will have a much easier learning curve, and you can do soooooo much more with a blues harmonica !

Cheap leaky harmonicas are the worst. If you spend some more money, to get an airtight harmonica, harmonica is all fun, and you can go on for hours without fatigue.

(the same is true with accordions. They have to be airtight. I once tried to play a leaky accordion. Those bellows changes ! And almost no sound coming from the reeds !)

Tomlin Leckie is a real expert, and he is right about plastic comb harmonicas for starters.
(He says he prefers wood combs himself, but correctly says that wooden combs can "drink up" a lot of saliva, if the comb is not perfectly sealed. And then your tongue has got to wet your lips very often. With a plastic comb the moisture stays on the comb much longer. Every harmonica player hates to "burn" his dry lips in fast moves around the comb)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMcUBTu0yeU
[color=var(--ytd-video-primary-info-renderer-title-color, var(--yt-spec-text-primary))]The Absolute Best Harmonica To Start With (Blues Harmonica)[/color]


With a tremolo "Wiener" harmonica, the holes are so small, you can't bend the notes. 

Chromatic harmonicas with a slide stick are not so airtight as blues harmonicas. Because there is a minimal spacing between the slide and the holes. 
And the air can go in between the slide and the airholes.

(Something similar is true for accordions. I have eg a 60 bass CBA accordion, tremolo sound MM, without register buttons or slides. This little accordion is very loud ! Because 100% of the air pressure goes to the reeds. No leaks.)
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#8
(12-09-2019, 02:06 PM)Stephen Wrote: There are some good harmonica forums on the internet. Most will be about the diatonic 10 hole harmonica. 
Slidemeister is one of the best harmonica forums.
Or this one:
https://www.modernbluesharmonica.com/blu...forum.html

Check out the patmissin harmonica website, packed with info and docs about harmonica 
https://www.patmissin.com/ffaq/HarmonicaPhonetics.pdf

For those who play CBA accordion, chromatic harmonicas can be tuned (sort of) the same way as a four row CBA. Blow = first row
Draw = second row
Button in Blow = third row
Button in Draw = fourth row.

I have no experience with it other than reading about it.

You can get more info here.

https://jasonharmonica.com/dimi.html
https://jasonharmonica.com/Exploring_Diminished_Tuning.pdf
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#9
(12-09-2019, 03:34 PM)Jim2010 Wrote: For those who play CBA accordion, chromatic harmonicas can be tuned (sort of) the same way as a four row CBA. Blow = first row
Draw = second row
Button in Blow = third row
Button in Draw = fourth row.

I have no experience with it other than reading about it.

You can get more info here.

https://jasonharmonica.com/dimi.html
https://jasonharmonica.com/Exploring_Diminished_Tuning.pdf

That's a fascinating, and extraordinary, idea. Trouble is, where do you get one! I haven't checked but I'd have thought the changes were too great just to re-tune a chromatic.

Mind you, as a three row CBA player thoughts come to mind about having either Slide-in third row same note on blow and draw, or Slide-in gives rows two and three.....

We are digressing from the 48 hole Hero!
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#10
(12-09-2019, 03:50 PM)TomBR Wrote:
(12-09-2019, 03:34 PM)Jim2010 Wrote: For those who play CBA accordion, chromatic harmonicas can be tuned (sort of) the same way as a four row CBA. Blow = first row
Draw = second row
Button in Blow = third row
Button in Draw = fourth row.

I have no experience with it other than reading about it.

You can get more info here.

https://jasonharmonica.com/dimi.html
https://jasonharmonica.com/Exploring_Diminished_Tuning.pdf

That's a fascinating, and extraordinary, idea. Trouble is, where do you get one! I haven't checked but I'd have thought the changes were too great just to re-tune a chromatic.

Mind you, as a three row CBA player thoughts come to mind about having either Slide-in third row same note on blow and draw, or Slide-in gives rows two and three.....

We are digressing from the 48 hole Hero!
Chromatic harmonicas come in a variety of keys. You pick one depending on what notes you want, and have a harmonica repair person retune as necessary. Gary Lehmann <gnarlyheman@gmail.com> is one of the people who can do it. Alternately, you can figure it out yourself and order one directly from the Seydel company.
https://www.seydel1847.de/epages/Seydel1...Harmonikas
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#11
Thank you all for your help.

I have investigated a little further and Ian is correct in that the instrument is indeed a tremolo harmonica.

The suggestion that I write the blow and suck notes down on manuscript is a good one and in so doing I will learn to sound individual notes at the outset.

The web site below appears to be exactly what I was looking for and I will start with the beginners lessons. Best of all, there is nothing to pay and I will gauge from this how far I want to go.

https://www.harmonicaacademy.com/categories/20101027_1
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#12
That tutorial is for the Asian tuned tremolo harmonica, which your Hero may well be. However, as I mentioned before, if you find that there is an incomplete scale in the octave starting at the lowest note and in fact, it has a G on both blow and draw, you have the Richter note placement. I imagine that you will still be able to utilise much of the lesson material.

Let us know how you get on with it.
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#13
The harmonica's minimal size is a record, can't find another free reeds instrument that small.

And if you are out of breath, you can always use a bellows free reeds. With bellows no more fatigue.
An example from the master
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g-s4_JWOCY

(16-09-2019, 08:30 PM)Stephen Wrote: The harmonica's minimal size is a record, can't find another free reeds instrument that small.

And if you are out of breath, you can always use a bellows free reeds. With bellows no more fatigue.
An example from the master
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g-s4_JWOCY

oops, wrong video link, forgot to copy the link.
I wanted to post the link to "Tripping Down the Stairs Reel" by the english concertina master:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m98GxUVN9PQ
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