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
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.
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.
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!
The Green Bullet set to low impedance into a Shure in-line transformer with the 1/4" plug is the best thing into a Champ or any other Fender amp. That gives you the levels for overdrive and the mic is quiet at low impedance, no cable noise.
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.
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.