Gazell Method Seydel Half Valved Harmonicas

A few months ago I purchased some Seydel harmonicas. I bought 3 half valved harps from  PT Gazell  and after spending some time playing them I can honestly say I really like them.

I purchased a “C” 1847 silver, “Bb” Session Steel and a Low Db Session Steel.

As someone who has a love/hate relationship with overblows these harps make playing jazz lines a little easier. Notice I said easier, which is to mean not a silver bullet.

I have played most of the harmonicas currently on the market and like some better than others and I think I like the Seydels the best. I would love to go and buy a whole set of Seydels but I still have a large box with about 30 brand new old stock Hohner Special 20’s , Crossovers and Marine Bands I bought about 4 years ago and also have loads of  new Lee Oskar reed plates. I do plan on picking up a few more half valved harps from PT because I like them so much.

Out of the box the harps sound and feel really good. The hole spacing is a little wider than most Hohner players are used to but if you have been playing Special 20’s it won’t be as noticable as if you have been playing Marine Bands which is what I have been playing lately. I noticed on a few forums that for some the hole spacing is a problem. I can say that for myself, It’s an easy transition that happens in a minute or so. I can go back and forth between the Hohner’s and the Seydels without much of a problem.

The valves on the Gazell Method harps are much thicker material than used by Hohner and Suzuki. PT states on his website that he has tried most every material and this works best. I agree that it works very well. I haven’t heard any of that annoying Hohner wind saver buzzing at all with these harps.

The fit and finish on these harmonicas is top notch. Seydel seems to pay attention to the details

So how do they sound you ask?

These Seydel Gazelle Method harmonicas sound fantastic. I don’t know how to describe it except to say that these are smooth and full sounding harps. I haven’t been able to get the silky smooth sound PT gets but with lots of practice maybe someday.

It’s a funny thing, I’ve been working on overblows for so long that it’s a habit now to go for the OB5 and OB6. It’s a matter of practice time spent retraining as theses Seydel’s don’t overblow because of the windsaver valves mounted on the lower 6 holes. I think I like the sound better with the valves over the overblow but the OB6 can sure sound convincing. Time will tell after I get some more playing time with them.

While I don’t think I’m getting rid of my Hohner’s right away, I do plan on picking up more of the Gazell Method half valved harps to cover more keys.

Do you play Seydels? Half valved harps? Let me know what you think. Let’s get the conversation going!



Play Me A Song and Don’t Be a Foot Shuffler

How about playing a song for us!

How many times have you heard that!

There are two things you can do at this moment, shuffle your feet and mumble some excuse about not knowing what to play OR  take charge of the moment and play a song that will put a smile on everyone’s face and enjoy the rest of the day (or night).

I’m willing to bet that most would do the first thing. I know I have, and I hated the feeling.

Be honest now! If you play a musical instrument then you have been asked to play a song at some point for someone or a group of people in a casual situation. Everyone knows you play music and they just want to hear a song, how hard can it be?

Pretty difficult until you get over yourself and simply play some music.

You see, I found out a while ago that no one cares if you know a million scales, chords or blues licks. In fact, no one really cares that you can play a Little Walter solo note for note or can jam for an hour with your vintage JT-30 mic and tweed Bassman amp.

People want to hear a song.

Let me tell you a true story. A few years ago I was camping out with a large group of people and there were a few who played guitars but didn’t bring them. I had mine and so there we were hanging out and someone said to me “how about playing a song”. Now I’ve been playing musical instruments for a very long time, and I can play pretty well and know chords and scales and loads of licks and can improvise well. So then why was I like a deer in headlights? Because all that stuff, the chords, scales, licks and whatnot are not music but simply the components that make up songs and songs are music.

I did the foot shuffle thing and played some blues licks and other boring stuff and was glad when everyone found it boring and went on to other things.

That wasn’t going to happen to me again.

I started learning complete songs. (sounds obvious but most people only learn the hook or maybe the first few bars).

The takeaway of my little story is that to be a musician whether you play blues, country, jazz, pop or any other style is  to know tunes and songs that people will recognize. Does this mean we can only play some top 40 song? Not at all but it helps to play something somewhat well known before launching into an obscure tune that just sounds like a bunch of blues licks.

Foe me in addition to blues, I especially like bluegrass and old time music. So I might play a song such as “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” and then maybe a simple fiddle tune such as “Soldier’s Joy”.

Don’t be a foot shuffler and take charge of the situation and play music

Tell me your foot shuffling story in the comments section below and if you decided to do something about it!

Christmas songs are a fun and easy way to add songs to your library and you Will need to know a few once people find out you play a musical instrument. Go here for my Christmas For Harmonica songbook

7 Reasons Why Playing The Harmonica Is Awesome

I was playing my Hohner Marine Band Crossover today working out a cool Sonny Terry riff. If you haven’t heard of Sonny Terry, check him out. There is a lot of material on youtube and other sites.

As I was practicing, I started thinking about what a great little musical instrument the harmonica is. Then I started to make a list of why it is so great and here’s what I came up with.

  1. You can play the harmonica anywhere. The harmonica is a portable musical instrument that is easy to keep in your pocket. Whenever you have a spare moment simply pull it out and start jamming!
  2. Relatively speaking, the harmonica is one of the most inexpensive musical instruments. I realize that harmonica prices have increased exponentially the last few years but compared to a trumpet or flute, it’s not that much. This low cost makes it fun and easy to try out harmonicas of various brands and tunings.
  3. It is easy to play many different styles of music on one simple harmonica. Jazz, Blues, Country, Reggae, World music can all be played on the 10 hole diatonic harmonica.
  4. Easy to learn! Anybody can play the harmonica because it is the easiest musical instrument to play. A few minutes after opening the box most are able to play something recognizable. try that with a violin, saxophone or tuba!
  5. Loads of information available on learning the harmonica. Just today I was looking for information about Irish harmonica players and after a couple of google searches found loads of information and music about traditional Irish harmonica players. The internet has made it much easier to find more than a lifetime’s information on how to play various styles of harmonica.
  6. The harmonica has a rich and varied history. Most people are familiar with blues harp but did you know that the harmonica has a rich heritage in classical music? Harmonicas have been played on the stages of the finest concert halls throughout the world. In fact more harmonica music is available to play now than ever before. In addition to music of the western world, the harmonica can be heard in the folk music of many different cultures.
  7. Playing the harmonica is FUN!

The Biggest Harmonica Myth

Years ago when the only harmonica worth while for playing
blues was the venerable Hohner Marine Band. It sounded great
but leaked air around the wood comb which made them play inconsistantly.
There were some musicians that would soak their harps
in a glass of water and there are even some stories
of soaking them in whiskey! I’m sure most of us have
heard of this at one time or another.

These musicians would soak their harps to get better tone.
While this is true, what was actually happening is that the
moisture from the liquid would cause the wood comb to swell
up sealing any gaps along the reed plates thus
producing less air leakage and a fuller tone and greater volume
from their harp. The water did just fine and as far as the
whiskey goes, it probably did more harm than good by gumming up the
reeds and inducing corrosion on the reedplates.

Today we don’t need to do this and I don’t advise soaking
your harp, wood or otherwise in any liquid. I know there
are some that even soak their plastic comb harps! This really
won’t do anything except make them corrode and wear out quicker.
Modern harmonicas including the Marine Band are much better constructed
and the new Marine Band Deluxe and Crossover harps have sealed
combs so the wood expansion is no longer an issue.

Keep your harps clean and tap them on your leg or hand
when finished playing to get the moisture out and you’ll
have your harmonica for a long time.

Use my Handy Crossharp Harmonica Chart

The question I get asked the most is how to figure out what blues harp or harmonica to use when playing with a band.  I have made a chart that takes all the guessing out of this.  Don’t be the guy on the bandstand frantically testing out harmonicas trying to figure which is the correct harp to use. Simply follow my handy chart and print it out if you like and put it in your harp case so you always have a reference.  Click the button “Cross harp Chart” at the top of this page or simply follow this link to the easiest to follow chart to help you figure out what harmonica to use when playing with a band or other musician such as a guitar player. 

Also, be sure to visit my harmonica store for loads of harmonicas featuring the ever popular Hohner Special 20 and also blues harp instruction.

Jam On!

Hohner Marine Band Crossover

I’ve been playing the new Hohner Marine Band Crossover harmonicas for a couple of months and absolutly love playing them!

I’ve been playing Hohner Special 20’s for many years because it was a more comfortable harmonica for me. Hohner improved upon the venerable Marine Band a few years back by creating the Marine Band Deluxe. This harp is a very nice harmonica that solves the comb swelling problem by sealing the pear wood comb from moisture.

    Now, with the introduction of the Crossover, Hohner pushes the envelope a little further by using a bamboo comb. Not only does it not swell, it makes the harmonica loud, really loud!

    The harmonica is very responsive and fairly easy to overblow out of the box. This is a custom shop harmonica at a retail store price. I still play my Special 20’s because let’s face it, they are great harps for playing blues but when I want to play jazz or blues with a little more finesse, I reach for my Crossovers.

    I have the Marine Band Crossovers available in all keys at great prices. Most times I can beat the big name stores on price and you can deal directly with me and ask questions if needed.