Exclusive Interview with Henning Eichler

Henning Eichler How did you discover the bluesharp ?
~ By chance. A friend of mine used to jam blues and boogie on his piano. One night I picked up an old and pretty rotten harp and started to play with him. In the beginning it sounded horrible!

If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ Little Walter on a good night.

What is your favorite bluesharp brand / type and tell us why?
~ Hohner Crossover. Very well crafted to detail, brilliant sound, very good dynamics, fine for overblow playing, long lasting reeds.

What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Learn systematically right from the start (check the internet for lessons and tutorials),take it as serious as any other instrument, play the songs and the music you love. Listen to good musicians (not only harp players) a lot and try to copy good harp players note by note (analyse solos), then try to find your own sound, put your passion and emotions in your playing, get in touch with other harp players who can teach you something

Tongue blocking or lip pursing, what do you prefer and tell us why.
~ Tongue blocker almost 100%, I even play the overblows with tongueblocking (Carlos del Junco wouldn't believe it when I showed him). I "grew up" on tongue blocking by listening to all the great players who do it. I love the rhythmic effects and sounds I can create with tongue blocking. Makes the instrument sound bigger. I really have problems with lip pursing. I know I could be better if I would be able to use both techniques.

Give us the 3 most important albums every (beginning) bluesharp player must buy.
~ 1950s Chess recordings by Little Walter in a good remastered version
All DeFord Bailey recordings
One of the many great West Coast players (William Clarke, Rod Piazza, George Smith...)

How do you clean your harps?
~ I don't. I tune them when they wear out. After that I change reedplates.

What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ Well, this is your job!

Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ I don't think there is the ultimate studio. It''s more a question of finding the right studio for a certain project and recording/producing situation. There are huge differences between recording a band live in the studio and working track by track. Also instrumentation and getting the right sound are important factors when looking for a studio. Not to mention sound engineers and producers.

Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves?
~ A bit of strage fright is important to gather oneself and to zoom in to the gig situation. If I need to calm down I concentrate on my breathing, especially on breathing out.

What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ Messing up a solo part in front of 12000 people (I won't give you any details ; )

Henning Eichler

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Answers given on June 1, 2016
Photography by Thomas Goos