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Are the cheap Chinesse harps worth buying?

PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 1:56 am
by straightblues
Hey guys, I am just starting to play harmonica. I have a Specail 20 and I need harmonicas in a few more keys. I see all of the these cheap harmonicas from China that are under $10. Are they worth it or should I just stay away? I was thinking I would buy a whole set so I at least have something for every key, and then as things progress, replace them all with Special 20's or some equal harp.

I am a guitar player so I have several amps and my dad used to play harmonica back 20 years ago, so I have an old JT30.

What do you think?

Re: Are the cheap Chinesse harps worth buying?

PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 3:14 am
by gheumann
I've tried a few - they were really and truly garbage. Special 20's are a great value - very good harps for not a lot of money. I know of nothing much below them on the price spectrum that's worth a damn.

Re: Are the cheap Chinesse harps worth buying?

PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:59 pm
by jbone1
i tried several cheepies years ago and was uniformly disappointed. then the bushman delta frost came along which i suspect is a suzuki harp slightly tweaked. i recently bought a suzuki bluesmaster just to check it out. the cover plates are interchangeable with a delta frost and the sound is very similar for about $7 less a harp. i do keep delta frost harps in my case and use them on a lot of things but i have also "graduated" to the suzuki manji, which is more expensive but worth it imho.
sp20 is a good work horse harp as is the big river, also a hohner model, made in china, but pretty well made. the big river is slightly bigger than an average harp and takes a bit more wind to play- different reeds and plates i think- but is a decent enough harp.

if i were starting out, i'd go with sp20, big river, or suzuki bluesmaster. all pretty well made and dependable if one doesn't draw too hard too often!

and btw, grteg heumann is a hero of mine- an ace mic builder and modifier! he's a go-to guy for your mic needs.

Re: Are the cheap Chinesse harps worth buying?

PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:08 pm
by dcblues
The Hohner Piedmont Blues are worth getting for the case they come in. You can give the harps to kids and put your regular harps in the case. I did that a few years ago.

Re: Are the cheap Chinesse harps worth buying?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:18 pm
by bottleneck
i think the suzuki harpmaster is one of the best bangs for the buck.if yyou can find them,hering master blues are also good lover priced harps.

Re: Are the cheap Chinesse harps worth buying?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:00 am
by too2tall
If your just learning harmonica then I agree the low end suzuki is the best bang for the buck as you get better then personal preference for the upper end harmonicas. Then on to customized and lots of dollars but playability that is necessary to do the more complex stuff. But James Cotton still uses Horner Marine band last time I saw him and he makes those things wail.

Re: Are the cheap Chinesse harps worth buying?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:45 pm
by jeffl
Regardless of what you play through in the beginning, no harp will stand up to the kind of abuse most of us perpetrated on our harps when we began to learn. BarbequeBob Maglinte-- one of our more accomplished harpers on this board -- would jump in with a sermon here about primarily playing with too much force when you start out. It's natural to do so, and it wrecks harps. Also, it's normal to develop too much saliva in the beginning, and that's hard on reeds as well. You're probably gonna blow up harps, so ya' just decide how nice a harp yer' willing to destroy.

On the other hand, we all know that no matter what instrument you play, an instrument that feels, looks, and sounds good can be an inspiration and a motivator to you for the purpose of advancing your abilities.

Force destroys harps, and it also slows you down and makes your playing less nimble. Practicing without amplification is preferential to wailing away through an amp. If you develop the tones you want acoustically, you'll only sound better amplified. You can always hook up the gear and get your ya-ya's when you've finished a good acoustic practice session... at some point you gotta learn the gear too. :)

Re: Are the cheap Chinesse harps worth buying?

PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:32 pm
by TC6969
Playing harp is like singing in reverse.

A lot of newbies try to get that wailing sound from the reeds before they learn that it actually comes from the mouth and diaphragm of the player.

Once you figure out how to shape the notes using your body, the wear and tear (and the replacement cost) goes down exponentially.

Re: Are the cheap Chinesse harps worth buying?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:31 pm
by TNFrank
Depends on how much work you want to put into em'. If you're willing to gap and adjust the reeds and Micropor them to make them more air tight then yes, they can be a pretty good value for someone just getting into playing but if you want something you won't have to fool with then spend the extra and at least get something like a Big River or HarpMaster. JMHO, YMMV.