A Dumb Design

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

A Dumb Design

Postby songdog » Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:10 pm

Well I couldn't resist the temptation of buying a new harp so I purchased one the new Suzuki Fire Breath harps with the rosewood comb. Boy am I dissappointed. REALLY dissappointed.

http://www.suzukimusic.com/harmonicas/P ... reath.html

First off, too much of the reed plates are exposed. i.e. they didn't make the cover plates large enough to protect your lips from the exposed metal. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb.

But what's even dumber, is they machined a channel towards the front of each reed plate. The front edge of the cover plate sits in this channel so I guess the idea was to provide a method to keep the cover plate from sliding around or moving if you squeeze the harp too hard? But they machined this channel all the way to the ends of the reed plates so this leaves a sharp notch on each corner of the overly exposed reed plates. I cut my lip on the harp within minutes of playing. I couldn't believe this. Don't the people that design these things actually play them? Did I say dumb? No this is Really Stupid!

I can't believe this is what I got for $60! And if that weren't bad enough, out of the box the thing doesn't sound one bit different than my $20 Suzuki Bluesmaster harps. I'm not real happy with the response I got from the Harp Depot either. Basically they said "It's not our problem - no refunds - no exchanges - call Suzuki about your defective harp." Great customer service!

I've bought a few of the more expensive harps from Hohner, Seydel and Suzuki and so far I've been mostly dissappointed with the results so I think I've fianally learned my lesson. It was just a painful lesson to learn.
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Postby steel1953 » Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:14 am

Wow........sorry to hear that. I was looking at the picture. So you mean the reedplates stick out past the comb?
Plus, the cover plates look rounded on the edges. They didn't make the groove to match the coverplates? That doesn't sound airtight to me...........

And doesn't have a better reed response? Man, I don't know where you come from, but here it's 3 strikes, you're out.

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Postby steel1953 » Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:21 am

After looking at it some more, it looks just like my ProMasters. I did have to get used to them, lip wise after playing Special 20's for so long.
Since I also use Big Rivers, occasionally I have to take them apart and smooth any sharp edges. You might want to try that if you're going to keep it. At least then you'll be able to play it.

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Postby t bone bruce » Wed Aug 30, 2006 9:29 am

I don't like designs where the reed plates protrude, they feel uncomfortable to me while tongue blocking. The MS series Hohner's have the same problem. I don't see why I should have to modify a harp to get it playable, when I could get a good harp that needs no mods for the same price. That's why I prefer LO's or Sp20's.
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Postby bosco » Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:45 pm

Well, live and learn I guess. Thanks for the review SongDog.

BTW, that is one of the stupidest advertising blurbs I've ever read-

Once again, Suzuki has researched and developed unique professional grade harmonicas.

Right. Then they would know that recessed reed plates are a better way to go. With laser wood cutting being an industry standard, why can't they reccess a reed plate into a wooden comb? I would imagine that their "channel" is to improve air tightness, but cutting it to the end of the reedplate is just plain dumb.

Rosewood allows unique tonal qualities and when used in harmonica construction, gives a warmer tone. Using Rosewood can produce a high velocity of sound and a broad range of mid and low overtones. These 'lows' help to create a complex bottom end which imparts a richness to the overall tone to the instrument.

You can't have it both ways. Rosewood would diminish the low end if anything, not improve it. Every plank spanker knows that-

Rosewood body = brighter guitar
Mahogany body = darker or warmer guitar

If you prefer to play a wood comb harmonica but dislike the problems associated with wood comb harmonicas in the past, then here is the harmonica for you.

How have they improved it? Wood is wood. Pear wood, banana wood, rosewood, whatever they wanna use. And if you're gonna seal a wood comb to make it impervious to moisture, then where is the "wood tone" advantage over plastic? The reedplates still protrude into the mouthpiece, they haven't changed that.

As far as I can see, they haven't done anything to eliminate the "problems" associated with wood comb harmonicas in the past.

What a bunch of hooey.

Not that it need to be pointed out, but $60.00 would have bought you three Special 20s.

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Postby songdog » Wed Aug 30, 2006 2:23 pm

Well, I have purchased a few of the Suzuki Overdrives and they are similar in that the reed plates protrude beyond the comb. But at least with the Overdrives they made a very firm cover that completely covers the reed plates which makes for smooth playing. BTW, the Overdrives do have a very unique tone and I feel they are worth the money. My beef with them is that Suzuki made them too small so they are difficult to hold.... and I don't have big hands!

The picture of the Fire Breath is a little fuzzy so you can't see the channel. The plates extend beyond the cover and comb by almost a 16th of an inch. While they don't have a sharp edge, I wouldn't exactly call it a rounded edge or consider it real smooth so one's lips would get a workout playing the thing. But it's the sharp notches on the corners that are killer! They should have cut the channel to match the rounded cover but instead, it's just a straight line groove that runs the length of the reed plates and all of the way to the edges.

Yeah, just really dissappointed. One shouldn't have to file or fix a $60 harp. In my opinion it should be special right out of the box.

I agree with you Bosco, I was somewhat leary of the Rosewood claim because it is such a very dense wood. But a few people on some other Harmonica forums were raving about how warm it sounded so in a weak moment I bought one. It's too bad harps aren't like guitars, i.e. you can't test drive them before you buy.
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Postby jeffl » Wed Aug 30, 2006 2:58 pm

Our host Coast to Coast Music, has 'em for $51.75 U.S.,but I don't think I'll be tryin' one any time soon. I can believe that wood combs perhaps have a little more resonance than plastic combs,but I have no complaints about the sound I've been gettin' outa SP20s. Thanks for the heads up.
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