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on July 8, 2004
I see that this book has 5 stars and over 30 reviews so I hardly have to convince any one of how good it is. The author is obviously a heck of a good guy and he talks you through all the techniques and riffs in the book. The fact that he is not only a great harp player but also a great teacher makes this book and cd worth it's weight in gold. Another great section of the book is the extensive list of albums that feature harmonica with every track listed along with the key the harp is played for every song on the album! I got myself a Hohner Special 20 harp which is Jon's top recommendation on his website. This is an updated version of the Marine Band and is easier to bend notes on than that. Make sure you don't pay too much for one of these harps, about 20 bucks is about right. I saw a catalog for homespun that had the Lee Oskar harps (also recommended and quite similar to the Hohner Special 20) for sale for 37.00 which I guess is list price. Yikes! Like I mentioned, the special 20 and the Oskar is about 20.00 if you go online or to the big guitar outlet place that's all over the place. Anyway, thanks Jon, I'll soon be getting your Americana book with the 2 cds. The Blues Harp collection (different author, but also on amazon) is also a fantastic book although of course you'll have to get at least a Little Walter and a Sonny Boy Williamson album to hear alot of the tunes transcribed in this book. I got the versions called "His Best" of both of these guys. One other book that is no less than amazing is the Bluegrass Harmonica by Mike Stevens (also available thru Amazon) Don't pass this by because you may not be into bluegrass, it's got quite a few traditional melodies and originals by Stevens but the main thing is the technique involved is incredible. It involves bending like in the book reviewed here but it goes a bit further into bends and a somewhat advanced technique called overblows which together will teach you to get every note available out of a regular diatonic harp. Also with a cd and again, the tunes and technique here are not to be missed.
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on January 10, 2004
I started learning the harmonica not too long ago and this was the first book I found & bought. I will elaborate where this book shined and where it fell short:
When I started with it, I was immediately was put off by this guy's terrible sense of humor. He teaches the harmonica using inane stories involving Biblical characters and cavemen, basically it sounds like you're participating in story hour for five year olds at the library.
The next thing that disappointed me was the cd. Though very useful, his playing on it overwhelmed me and he seemed to move slowly when I felt he could move quicker and quickly when I felt he should move slowly.
That being said, this book does the job it's intended to do. To get the most from it, jam every day with the cd (no matter how bad you sound) and of course the text is most important. He explains very simply how to jam & harmonize with the I-IV-V blues progression and does a satisfactory job explaining technique and how to develop good technique.
Don't buy this book expecting to be a good player in a month (or even a year for that matter), musical instruments take time to learn and the harmonica is no exception.
If you really are concerned with mastery and you're just beginning, try to find a private teacher, but this book can get you started and motivated.
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on December 16, 2001
From time to time while searching through the scores of musical instruction books available, a true jewel of a book is found. That one book that just somehow manages to make things happen..and now! That book is 'Rock n Blues Harmonica' by Jon Gindick. It is everything the details describe and more. It really is. I am a rank beginner at playing harp but this book has inspired me such that I won't be a beginner very long. I am primarily a bass player but after about an hour with this book I won't hesitate to jump on up there and jam out on harp.Not many instructional books can do that so quickly but this one sure can.It's amazing! My friends and family could'nt believe it was really me jamming out with the jam backing tracks provided on the CD. This is one serious, get down, cut out the B.S. instant result gettin book! Within an hour after recieving it I felt compelled to write an e-mail to Jon and share my thoughts with him. Below is that letter.
Greetings Jon!
> I just received my book today Rock n Blues Harmonica.
> I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying it. I have
> learned more in 30 mins than I have ever learned on my
> own in the past. It all makes sense now. You wrote it
> so well and easy to understand. The continous backing
> tracks,explanations and panning options are just what
> the doctor ordered.This by far is one of the best
> music books I have ever bought. My compliments on your
> ability as a teacher and a writer! I will certainly
> recommend your materials to anyone I ever hear express
> an interest in learning the harp. Just felt compelled
> to tell you this. I'm glad I found your website! You
> are an inspiration!
> God Bless and Have a Great Holiday Season! Alan
Don't take my word for it...Get it and Hit it!
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on June 26, 2001
from the ground up with this one. Gindick tells and explains all. From how to choose a harmonica to helping you pick a mike and amp to play live with by the end. You cant go wrong here. Not too heavy on theory(and thats probably a good thing, most original bluesmen couldnt read print, much less music)....why let it get in the way of good music? However he does give you a foundation and the vital I-IV-V blues progression. Laymans terms though, nothing to technical.
Using his fictitional tribe of ancients who just discovered a harmonica, he lays it all down for you. He boils blues harp down to its basic feeling, that it is a language of tension and release, something you have to feel and live. He gives you all the basics: individual notes, chords, too numerous to mention techniques, even a couple of pages on harp repair.
What I like is his inclusion of not only simple songs and how to spruce them up with your new found techinques, but actual blues licks that can be used to improv with or to use when playing along with a garage sitdown or eventually a stage jam. So many instuctionals leave this out.
The indexed 74 track play along CD instructional is the kicker. It actually lets you hear how you should sound. Allows you to get the tone down that is so hard do on your own when just starting out. Even lets you turn the band accompaniment or the harmonica sound off, so you can hear just what you need.
The only thing that keeps me from giving this 5 stars is that the CD is a little disjointed from the book. I wish it would have more closely followed it. Probably a 4 1/2.
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on April 4, 2001
Frustrated harmonica players take notice - your savior hasreturned. After selling over 1.5 million copies of his various how-toharmonica books (Country & Blues Harmonica for the MusicallyHopeless, Harmonica American and The Natural Blues & CountryWestern Harmonica just to name a few) Jon Gindick is back with hisrevised Rock n' Blues Harmonica book.
The first thing you'llnotice is the revised edition is huge. With 226 pages the 8 ½ x11-inch book dwarfs the first edition while sporting a new cover,bigger print, and a binding that allows you to lay the book down whilepracticing without fear of it closing. Not to mention the 74-minutejamming CD, which features tons of examples played over a loopingblues chord. With this edition Jon also goes into greater depth onseveral topics making the revised copy a must, even if you own theoriginal. "The instruction covers almost every topic in harmonicaplaying, and yet continues to focus on the skills a beginnerneeds," said Jon...
Jon began playing 30 years ago while workingat a packing plant. The Beatles had overtaken America, includingJon. He played along with pop music on the radio searching for thesounds of the harmonica. His first taste came from Rod Stewart whoplayed the riff on My Boy Lollypop, followed by John Lennon'splaying. This later lead to the blues, with influences Little Walter,Sony Boy Williamson and Big Walter Horton. Soon after he startedplaying frustration set in. "I didn't understand cross harp for thelongest time. Getting it, and the sound, was a revelation,"remembers Jon.
It was with that cross harp revelation that hewanted to write books. In 1977 Jon sent his book off to the publisher.Months passed and he still hadn't heard anything; a phone callrevealed that they had lost the book. It was then he enteredself-publishing and Cross Harp Press was born. He printed 2,000 copiesof The Natural Blues & Country Western Harmonica, and sold them tolocal music stores and through Rolling Stone. Several books followedand so did the praise.
"If the measure of a book's greatness isits ability to change a readers life, then your instruction books onthe harmonica are great books," said Gene Berk who bought Jon'sfirst book. Jon is able to take learning the harmonica and turn itinto a process. He knows learning is not an easy thing, contrary topopular opinion and acts as a "big brother" through the book andCD. He starts off by slowly teaching some simple riffs and giving thereaders a sense of accomplishment before moving onto harder subjects.His books are very simplistic in teaching but detailed inknowledge.
Rock n' Blues Harmonica is no different as Jon expandson several subjects including bending, harmonica positions, tongueblocking, breathing, and slant harp. "I am something of acollector of how-to harmonica books and tapes and I wanted you to knowthat your stuff is the best," said Joe Vitale in a letter toJon.
When you've finished the book and want to expand your playingcall Jon at 1-800-646-9245 and get a lesson. Leave him a sample ofyour playing and he'll give you some free feedback. Along with Rockn' Blues Jon has also released a CD entitled Banished Moon. It runs 49minutes through 10 tracks in which Jon plays a majority of theinstruments and supplies the vocals for each song. The CD is harmonicaheavy and showcases his ability to play different styles andpositions. Jon's writing, vocal, and playing skills are superb withsongs like All I Ever Needed, Maxine and Mystery of Your Love. Jonsupplies the key and positions for each song for anyone interested inplaying along...
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on February 28, 2001
I really enjoyed this book. Jon really understands what the blues, and particularly what blues harp is all about and knows how to explain it to you in an exciting and interesting way. Much of the essence of the book seems to be that blues is about creating and resolving tension by knowing which draw notes to accent- (particularly in 2nd position.) I realize that he isn't the first to "define" blues in such a manner, but rather the first author to clearly show you how each note can be used to effectivly create and resolve tension so essential in this style of playing. I also liked the emphasis on good tone. Clear tone after all, can make the difference between mediocre playing and excellent playing. Finally, what I really enjoyed was the CD that comes with the package, which allows you to shut off the instruction and jam with the band (or shut off the band and listen to the instruction). Jon has a really exciting-somewhat offbeat teaching style that really makes it fun to learn from. This book is not big on theory-though he generally teaches you enough to get by. ( for more a great introduction to this very important subject I highly reccomend reading "Music Theory Made Simple", by David Harp. I would have liked to have seen some more information of position play..particularly third position. (..sorry...I just can't seem to get enough of those minor blues!)For those serious about learning blues harmonica this is no doubt the book to get. Highly, highly reccomended.
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on February 14, 2003
There are a lot of books out there for the people who REALLY want to get into the musical theory, but what about the beginner?
Yes, there's a quite a bit of fancyful storytelling about Stone, the caveman hamonica player and his experiences, but that's just one of the things that separates this book from the hundreds of other instruction books that just get too technical for the person starting out.
Rather than confuse the novice with a lot of theory, Jon Gindick gets right to the heart of the matter... how to develop a "feel" for the instrument, and learn what notes sound right -- then weave that into your own blues improvisation.
Then, if you want the technical info (and, yes, it is really needed), that's in the back.
Bottom line... this is an enjoyable book that breaks from tradition and shows you how to sound good in a simple manner.
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on February 5, 2003
Jon Gindick is nothing short of genius. I've suffered through several books on blues harp without much success. Gindick had me blowing acceptable harp after 2 days. Gindick is an expert. That is not unusual. His ability to convey what he does and how he does it is rare. He shows you the technique was well as what will and what won't work. Gindick maps out the harmonica in such a way that you can play along with any 12 bar blues and not make a mistake. The easy to understand music theory was the key that unlocked the door for me.
Gindick guides you from the basics to the intricate in an easy and enjoyable pace. One of the first tunes he teaches is a bluesy rendition of "Amazing Grace" which sounds great from the moment you first practice it.
If your goal is to be able to play harmonica that sounds great in a very short period of time, Rock n' Blues Harmonica essential. I only regret that I didn't stumble across this book first.
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on February 21, 2002
"Rock n Blues Harmonica" is simply AWESOME! I've learned so much in such a short period of time. I listen/practice with it everyday, to and from work. Don't worry, I keep at least one hand on the wheel at all times. My playing has gotten so much better that even my wife and daughter don't mind me practicing around the house and the cats don't run away in fear anymore. I consider this essential instruction material for all first time harp players and I'd think that advanced players can still learn a thing or two from this media. I bought several other training aids prior to this one. Wish I'd started here first. It gives you a great foundation on which to build. There's a little music theory that's good enough to help you get by but for other's it'll help spark additional interest. I'm somewhere in between. I can't say enough good things about this material!
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on January 23, 2002
January 23, 2002
I have been playing and studying harmonica lessons now for about
6 months. I have purchased numerous books at music stores and
downloaded harp songs from the internet also. If I could go back
in time 6 months, "Rock N' Blues Harmonica" by Jon Gindick would
be my first choice for introductory and intermediate level harp
lessons. The CD is excellent and a necessity when starting out
on this instrument. My background in music encompasses 48 years
starting out with tenor and alto saxaphone, bass guitar, upright
bass, pedal steel guitar and dobro. My main instruments of study
at this time are blues harp and keyboards (for blues and boogie-
woogie of course). I now have 9 diatonic harps and am getting
ready to order my first chromatic harp in a few weeks.
Wes Koehler Fallbrook, California
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