The blues harp, or otherwise known as diatonic, is the most widely known type of harmonica. It consists of 10 holes which offer the player 19 notes in total, in a three octave range. This harmonica comes in all 12 keys of music and allows the musician to play a complete 7-note major scale of the key of the harmonica. The musician may acquire additional notes from outside the major scale, by ‘bending’ certain draw (inhale) and blow (exhale) notes.
Diatonic specifies any harmonica designed to play in a single key, but the blues harp diatonic can play other keys by forcing its reeds to play other tones that are not part of its basic scale.
It is specifically designed for blues music, for consistent volume and tone. It is highly bendable and with a dark, hard rockin’ sound. Since the 1950s, many blues harmonica players have used microphones and tube amplifiers in order to amplify their instruments. This method was first invented by Marlon Jacobs.
Pete Hampton was the first black musician to make a record with a blues harp in 1940. Other famous musicians that played blues harp are: DeFord Bailey, Jaybird Coleman, Frank Hutchison etc. During these years, musicians started experimenting with new techniques such as hand effects, tongue blocking and the 2nd position.
Blues harps can be found in almost all styles of music but they are mainly used in rock, blues, folk and country. Contemporary harmonicists, such as Chris Michalek, Charlod del Junco, Jason Ricci and Howard Levy, use their own innovations and techniques for playing the harmonica.
At Varsity music we provide a great range of new and used blues harps available to buy online. Also, we have a wide variety of Hohner blues harps. They are the best on the market and serviced by our trained musicians.
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