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Which blues harp?
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mcgruff
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6th December 2011
Old 6th December 2011
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Which blues harp?

Don't know anything about blues harps but I'd like to get an instrument with a great sound. What models should I be looking at?
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6th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
Don't know anything about blues harps but I'd like to get an instrument with a great sound. What models should I be looking at?
The Hohner Marine Band ones are industry standard, and great.
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6th December 2011
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what he said...Hohner Marine Band...what wil you be using it for? recording?
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Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug View Post
The Hohner Marine Band ones are industry standard, and great.
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6th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
Don't know anything about blues harps but I'd like to get an instrument with a great sound. What models should I be looking at?
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6th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimsi View Post
what wil you be using it for? recording?
Fun mainly. If I get any good it might turn up in some recordings. It just looks like an interesting instrument: tiny package but huge howling, wailing sound. In the hands of a good player it can sound absolutely amazing.

Thanks everyone for the marine band tips. The special 20 looks like a good blues machine - just what I'm looking for
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6th December 2011
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I played Special 20s exclusively for years. When I started seriously I gigging, I noticed a flaw: they break. I had ones that lasted less than a month. After breaking a bunch and shoveling out the money for new harps to replace them, I tried a Lee Oskar. The Lee Oskar is just as comfortable as the Special 20 and I haven't broken one yet. Lee Oskar also sells replacement reed plates. Hohner doesn't sell reed plates for the Special 20. Another thing I don't like about the special 20 is the brass screws. Brass rusts pretty quickly, unlike stainless steel, which Lee Oskar makes their screws out of.

If you can find a dealer and want to spend a little extra, you should look into a Seydel Session Steel. They claim the steel reeds will last five times as long as brass ones.

If you're just starting to play, I suggest you find a harp with a smooth plastic comb as the ones with wooden combs or protruding reed plates will rip apart your lips and tongue. It's not unheard of that some players cut their thumbs on protruding reed plates. All three harps I talked about have smooth plastic combs.
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6th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug View Post
The Hohner Marine Band ones are industry standard, and great.
These are generally what I use, with a couple Hohner Blues, Big River, and Lee Oskar harps in the collection as well. I tend to use the ones with the plastic combs more because the wood ones swell from the moisture in your breath if you are playing for a long time, but the wood ones just seem nicer.

Really, for the casual player (as I am), any of the Hohner 10 hole diatonic harps will be fine.
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The new marine bands with the bamboo comb are excellent. Really a whole lot better than the standard ones.
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I feel the need to clarify that Marine Band is not a specific model. It is a line of harps, one of which is the Special 20. In my experience, the Special 20 is the best Marine Band model.
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Get those and the Hohner Vest Pocket harps, smaller, tuned up and they cut.
Then expand your horizons with the Hohner Chromatic, they make a new one they designed for Stevie Wonder, you can bend the notes just like a Blues harp!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warfunkel View Post
I feel the need to clarify that Marine Band is not a specific model. It is a line of harps, one of which is the Special 20. In my experience, the Special 20 is the best Marine Band model.
The Special 20 and the Lee Oscar harps sound similar. Compared to other Honers, both have a cleaner sound to my ear. I personally switched to Lee Oscar. It has a better feel to me and has the key and cross key written on it. Special 20s are great too.

At $30 a pop, harps aren't cheap. But, the price doesn't break the bank either. You can sound great with any decent harp (stay away from the cheapies). Just buy one and start playing. As you get better and blow through them, try out other brands and models. You will feel differences between models as you play more and get better and will develop a liking for a particular one.

Have fun! I love that I can stick a harp in my pocket and play just about anywhere.
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6th December 2011
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Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
I tend to use the ones with the plastic combs more because the wood ones swell from the moisture in your breath if you are playing for a long time
Yeah....I recall that swelling was always an issue back when I was doing the blues band thing.

Didn't help much that I was constantly dipping those Blues Harps in liquid (read - beer) to get that serious tone that saturated the room.

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7th December 2011
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27th February 2012
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Well my Promaster arrived today and I think I made a good choice. It's got a lovely tone, sweet and clear, and it's very easy to bend draw notes, even for a complete noob like me.

Thanks again for all your help.
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27th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
Yeah....I recall that swelling was always an issue back when I was doing the blues band thing.

Didn't help much that I was constantly dipping those Blues Harps in liquid (read - beer) to get that serious tone that saturated the room.

The benefits of soaking harps are only that it makes the comb swell and stops the leaks. If you get quality harps it won't leak anyway. Soaking also makes them rust and beer clogs the reeds.

All agree soaking is a bad thing to do. I've been playing harp for 25 years as a session player and I'm not even the main harp player in my band..... imagine how geeky we get on the subject.....

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27th February 2012
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What's your favourite make of harp, if you have one?
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28th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
What's your favourite make of harp, if you have one?

I like the marine bands. But they need to be either the deluxe, the new bamboo one, or a customised harp. I sometimes customise my own too, but its a lot of fiddling about and the deluxe is fine for me.

Cilit bang is great for cleaning the reedplates btw.
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28th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crosscutred View Post
All agree soaking is a bad thing to do.
Absolutely!

But...that quick dip in water always seemed to make my Hohner Blues Harps sound way better. Of course that could be because I never cleaned them and they got a lot of use back then.

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28th February 2012
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Yes it does, The water fills the gaps where the air escapes.
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28th February 2012
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Yeah...makes sense.

I was young and broke and those harps took a beating for a long time.....definitely got loose.
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