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Harmonium
Old 13th March 2004
  #1
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keyboardman's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Harmonium

Hey Ya

I've been wanting to pick a harmonium and have slightly less than _no_ idea what and where to look. Does anyone play one? Know a good place to buy one in the LA area? Are there any brands to look out (in both good and bad ways) for?

Didn't know where to post "muso" questions so I took it to the top...!
Old 13th March 2004
  #2
Gear addict
 
Carlos Boll's Avatar
 

The best one I found is the BINA 23B Deluxe which I got from Keshav Music Imports. He used to deal out of his apartment on the Lower East Side here in NYC but now he has a store and web site - http://www.keshav-music.com/harmoniums.htm

What I like about dealing with him is that he inspects every instrument for build quality and sound.

Make sure you get one that is tuned to A440 - just makes it more practical.
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Old 13th March 2004
  #3
Old 13th March 2004
  #4
Gear nut
 
splattercell's Avatar
 

ali akbar college of music (store), san rafael california usa.

(agreed about the 'A440', unless yer playing indian classical music, only).

dt / spltrcl
Old 13th March 2004
  #5
Lives for gear
 

McCabes usually has one lying around on the floor somewhere broken & neglected
I heartily second the recommendation for the Ali Akbar College of Music. It's a fun place to go but I wouldn't hesitate for a second to order from them long distance. I had a problem with a tabla I bought in person and they dealt with it very quickly through the mail after I was back in LA. They know how to set up the instruments and they carry used stuff as well. Give them a call and find out who to talk to about harmoniums. There are some helpful people there if you can find the right person to talk to. If you talk to the wrong person they can seem a bit flakey though

Check it out. Lots of good info at their site...
http://aacm.org/shop/harmonium.html
Old 13th March 2004
  #6
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

Personally I prefer a pump organ- saw a nice looking one at Lark of the Morning in SF. Pumping with your feet leaves both hands free to play, and some of these have a nice big sound.
Old 13th March 2004
  #7
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Thread Starter
Thanks for the heads-up everybody!

I'm going to SF in a couple of weeks...maybe I'll be able to persaude the fiance to go harmonium shopping!
Old 14th March 2004
  #8
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardman
Thanks for the heads-up everybody!

I'm going to SF in a couple of weeks...maybe I'll be able to persaude the fiance to go harmonium shopping!
Definitely check out the Lark store down there. Just plan on being there for at least 3 hours...

And see what's up at the SF Jazz Fest when you're there! Some great stuff this year.
Old 15th March 2004
  #9
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Lark is good. You can find anything old or foreign there, problem is they charge an arm and a leg for their stuff. I think you can check them out online.

Ali Akbar gets my .

Tuning is a big issue. I play live with a band that has two sometimes, and one is 3/4 of a step sharp, and the other is a half step flat. The would is not a perfect place.
Old 15th March 2004
  #10
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by David R.
Lark is good. You can find anything old or foreign there, problem is they charge an arm and a leg for their stuff. I think you can check them out online.

Ali Akbar gets my .

Tuning is a big issue. I play live with a band that has two sometimes, and one is 3/4 of a step sharp, and the other is a half step flat. The would is not a perfect place.
Ali Akbar is really cool, a great institution. Way out in Marin, but I did go to their shop and they do have cool harmoniums. Probably a better place to buy a harmonium, as Lark stuff seems to be chinsy sometimes- but their pump organ was real solid and impressive, worth a visit to give it a try.
Old 15th March 2004
  #11
Gear addict
 
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Half the stuff at Lark is constructed really well and sounds great - the other half seems more like decorative wall hangings.

It is a great place to look around and play stuff.
Old 15th March 2004
  #12
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David R.'s Avatar
 

OK, I was being too kind to Lark. It is a place to get a decorative drum from Africa, a nicely finished dulcimer, or a rare 16 century hurdy gurdy that you would never really play.
Old 2nd May 2010
  #13
Here for the gear
 

I'm looking to buy a harmonium. I checked out Keshav's place today, and his harmoniums were pretty nice, but they sounded a little too bright.

I'm looking for something that sounds mellower. Like this:
YouTube - Sigur Ros- Untitled (Vaka) Heima DVD

I saw that Keshav has a foot pumped harmonium on his website, but the sample of it sounded waaaaay too bright.

I'm living in NYC, does anybody know where I can get one?
Old 9th July 2010
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by blahblah View Post
I'm looking to buy a harmonium. I checked out Keshav's place today, and his harmoniums were ...a little too bright.
?
If you get down to Melbourne Fl, visit our warehouse for Harmoniums: www.mid-east.com (M-F 10-4:30 only)

If you get up to NYC go to Music Inn on West 4th st, ask for Jeff: 212-243-5715
Old 27th June 2014
  #15
Gear interested
 

Hi.

Does anyone know what microphone I should use on the harmonium for live performances so that I can get the best out of it ???
Old 27th November 2016
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by blahblah View Post
I'm looking to buy a harmonium. I checked out Keshav's place today, and his harmoniums were pretty nice, but they sounded a little too bright.

I'm looking for something that sounds mellower. Like this:
YouTube - Sigur Ros- Untitled (Vaka) Heima DVD

I saw that Keshav has a foot pumped harmonium on his website, but the sample of it sounded waaaaay too bright.

I'm living in NYC, does anybody know where I can get one?
Pretty much all harmoniums sound "bright" when new - compared to ones that have been played regularly. Most folks shopping for new harmoniums are looking for Delhi style harmoniums - which by nature are pretty bold sounding; but they all mellow over time from being played. Foot pump harmoniums are A. Really expensive, B. stupid heavy and C. much more delicate than they look. When they have issues it's nearly impossible to find a competent person to repair or adjust them. They are a really bad choice for a working musician, and a worse choice for anyone who tours. The smaller, more popular Delhi style harmoniums are vastly more practical - and if you listen to recordings (or go to concerts) where Krishnadas or Jai Uttal or Dave Stringer are playing, you will hear what these harmonium really sound like, BTW Keshav Music no longer offers foot-pump harmoniums.
Old 28th November 2016
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Kady, If you did not find what you liked at Keshav's, in NYC try Music Inn 169 W 4th Street, www.musicinnonline.com - Its worth the trip just to go to the store- its a historic landmark- very retro, very funky! Say "Hi" to Jeff- the owner when you get there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kady View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by blahblah View Post
I'm looking to buy a harmonium. I checked out Keshav's place today, and his harmoniums were pretty nice, but they sounded a little too bright.

I'm looking for something that sounds mellower. Like this:
YouTube - Sigur Ros- Untitled (Vaka) Heima DVD

I saw that Keshav has a foot pumped harmonium on his website, but the sample of it sounded waaaaay too bright.

I'm living in NYC, does anybody know where I can get one?
Pretty much all harmoniums sound "bright" when new - compared to ones that have been played regularly. Most folks shopping for new harmoniums are looking for Delhi style harmoniums - which by nature are pretty bold sounding; but they all mellow over time from being played. Foot pump harmoniums are A. Really expensive, B. stupid heavy and C. much more delicate than they look. When they have issues it's nearly impossible to find a competent person to repair or adjust them. They are a really bad choice for a working musician, and a worse choice for anyone who tours. The smaller, more popular Delhi style harmoniums are vastly more practical - and if you listen to recordings (or go to concerts) where Krishnadas or Jai Uttal or Dave Stringer are playing, you will hear what these harmonium really sound like, BTW Keshav Music no longer offers foot-pump harmoniums.
Old 28th November 2016
  #18
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mid-East.com View Post
Kady, If you did not find what you liked at Keshav's, in NYC try Music Inn 169 W 4th Street, mysite-1 - Its worth the trip just to go to the store- its a historic landmark- very retro, very funky! Say "Hi" to Jeff- the owner when you get there.
Guys - you are COMPLETELY missing the point. All harmoniums sound brighter when they are new. Play a new harmonium for three months and it will sound much more sweet and mellow. Play it regularly for a year - and it will sound like a whole other instrument. That is why so many people in India buy up old harmoniums and rip out the reeds to insert in a new body.

Going to Jeff's won't change that dynamic. Getting a harmonium to reach it fullest potential takes time and regular use.

Why anyone would suggest going to Jeff's is a mystery. I've known him for decades. He's the guy who for years had a sign on his door that said "$1.50 entry fee - refundable only if you buy something". He's well known
for selling tourist quality junk at inflated prices.
Old 28th November 2016
  #19
Here for the gear
 

A few corrections about Music Inn. ... There was a sign, and at one you did pay a whole $1.50 to come in because there were a large number of tourist pushing around inside. The owner, at that time, was elderly and suffering from Parkinson's- the "entry fee" was to protect him from being pushed over by the people just there to look and take photos. Jeff put that sign up to protect the owner, it was years ago- and you don't pay any more.

The New Owner, Jeff, is very experienced in Indian instruments. He may even have an older harmonium that has settled into its richer tones. If that is what you are looking for.

Saying that people look for older harmoniums in India to pull the reeds, may be more a factor of them lookin for old German reeds- than just old reeds.

Well, best of luck finding the one you want- I know when you do, it will just speak to you, and regardless of the age- that will be the one.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kady View Post
Guys - you are COMPLETELY missing the point. All harmoniums sound brighter when they are new. Play a new harmonium for three months and it will sound much more sweet and mellow. Play it regularly for a year - and it will sound like a whole other instrument. That is why so many people in India buy up old harmoniums and rip out the reeds to insert in a new body.

Going to Jeff's won't change that dynamic. Getting a harmonium to reach it fullest potential takes time and regular use.

Why anyone would suggest going to Jeff's is a mystery. I've known him for decades. He's the guy who for years had a sign on his door that said "$1.50 entry fee - refundable only if you buy something". He's well known
for selling tourist quality junk at inflated prices.
Old 30th November 2016
  #20
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mid-East.com View Post
A few corrections about Music Inn. ... There was a sign, and at one you did pay a whole $1.50 to come in because there were a large number of tourist pushing around inside. The owner, at that time, was elderly and suffering from Parkinson's- the "entry fee" was to protect him from being pushed over by the people just there to look and take photos. Jeff put that sign up to protect the owner, it was years ago- and you don't pay any more.

The New Owner, Jeff, is very experienced in Indian instruments. He may even have an older harmonium that has settled into its richer tones. If that is what you are looking for.

Saying that people look for older harmoniums in India to pull the reeds, may be more a factor of them lookin for old German reeds- than just old reeds.

Well, best of luck finding the one you want- I know when you do, it will just speak to you, and regardless of the age- that will be the one.
Respectfully - I have been going by Music Inn since the '60s when they used to only sell dulcimers, autoharps, banjos, folk guitars and folk music LPs. In fact I purchased multiple guitars from the original owner back in the day. They were always a bit high-priced but they sold quality goods. Nowadays only the former is true. If you're looking for a fake "antique" war mask from Mali, a "rare" Chinese nose-flute or an overpriced gong, Music Inn is your go-to place.

Regarding people in India taking apart older harmoniums for the reeds - the reason is exactly as I described. I would know.... I lived in India for 10 years and worked and played with many classical players there. While there are those who make a silly fetish about German reeds - it's not really that big a deal. I know from whence I speak. I have done numerous transplants of old reeds into newer harmoniums and there is no question that older reeds sound better; not because of age alone, but because the reeds change physically from being played over the years.

Regarding the sign; the reason the sign was there was because for decades the store was a ridiculous rat's nest of garbage instruments and brick-a-brack and you had to be a black-belt yoga contortionist just to walk down the aisle. It was so crowded with dusty junk - that you could hardly edge through between the stacks of moldy bits of who-knows-what without your clothing getting snagged on some rusty old thing-a-ma-bob. Doubtless Jeff must have had a lot frustration at not being capable of allowing more than possibly two customers in the store at a time - because of the risk of having all heaving shelves of rubbish topple over onto the customers.

In recent years Jeff purchased the basement and finally cleaned out the worst of the tired old rubbish he was selling to gullible tourists and rubes and soccer moms in search of an exotic souvenir for the nic-nac shelf at home, and set the place up like a proper store. Last time I was there was about two years ago. A former worker from Jeff's place, who still does sitar work for me, asked me to meet him there and I brought over a sitar that needed a five minute touch-up and asked Jeff for an estimate. He wanted $275.00 for a five minute job. I took it to a local Indian player who did the job for $25.00. At the time (two years ago) Jeff still had the sign up. Jeff's former tech guy quit working there because Jeff constantly made excuses for not paying him and was incredibly abusive to this young impressionable kid.

Yes - Jeff is knowledgeable; no doubt. However any time I have ever seen an instrument of any real worth in his place - has always demanded insanely extravagant prices. Great knowledge and ethical sales practices don't necessarily go hand-in-hand.

Lastly - old harmoniums, like as not, are not a great bet. I used to buy "vintage" harmoniums from a friend in Delhi and refurbish them and I can tell you that the amount of labor required made the finished product very expensive, and in the end they were, on the whole - OK - rarely really worth the money unless the buyer was a collector.

In the end, the best way to have a good sounding harmonium - is to buy a good name brand from a trusted dealer who deals exclusively in Indian instruments and play it and play it and play it - until it breaks in and reeds get sweet.
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