Review: Harp Wah™
Harmonica World Magazine (UK)
by Neil Warren
Canadian harp player, Roly Platt, has developed the Harp Wah, a mute/resonator accessory based on the diatonic harmonica trick of playing into a glass. This produces a pronounced wah sound. The glass trick has long been a gimmick to pull out for a song or two. The Harp Wah provides a more permanent solution.
Roly realized the main limitation of using a glass to be that the sound comes out at the top of the glass. The Harp Wah’s sound emanates from the bottom end, and so offers much better sound projection. It also produces a more satisfying wah sound than a glass, has a slot to place the harmonica, is easier to hold and is made from aluminium and so it won’t smash if you drop it!
The Harp Wah comes in a nice pouch with an instruction leaflet, and an optional grip attachment. The Wah looks the part with its shiny metal and lower red section. The Harp Wah is quite big in the hands, in order to create a larger chamber for more effect. It’s similar to holding a bullet mic: you hold the Wah with the hand holding the harp. The free hand holds the bottom of the Wah, which keeps it firmly in place, and of course allows for the blocking off of the open chamber to create the wah sound. And very effective it is at it too. With both hands required to hold it, the Wah can be held in front of a microphone on a stand when needing to amplify.
The sound produced is best used on lower keyed harmonicas and slower songs, with long held notes to emphasize the wah effect. Although it works well on higher keyed harps too.
There are plenty of videos of Roly Platt and other players showing what they can do with it. The Wah isn’t a replacement for hand vibrato, with the hands offering a greater range of effects. The Wah is another string to your bow, providing an alternative sound, and a very cool one at that.
On my first outing with the Harp Wah, it received a great reception. People compared it to a trumpet mute and they loved the sound. I wholeheartedly recommend the Harp Wah . It sounds great, it looks good, it provides a different sound and it doesn’t cost a lot of money (around £40).