Any of you guys noticed this?

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

Any of you guys noticed this?

Postby steel1953 » Thu Sep 14, 2006 4:46 am

I don't know if the harps I'm buying were built on Monday or what, but lately the tuning/workmanship has been lacking. Things I've noticed;

Reeds not straight in the slot. Gapped inconsistent. Upper octaves out of tune.

Now for me who gaps and tunes his harps, these aren't big things. But I just think that a brand new harp should be in tune, and all the notes sound. Gapping, well, that's a preferential thing. I just thought they test these things before they send them out.

And to be fair to them, you have to consider just how many harmonicas they make in just a week! I don't know anybody that bats 100%. It's just that for a while, they were great. Lately, not.

Do any of you guys have a tester like at the stores? When I buy a harp at the store, I can put it on the tester and hear/feel most of these things. In this time I buy mostly online though.

Just wondering in Peoria..........
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Postby jeffl » Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:11 pm

What kind of harps are you buying? I haven't bought any harps for a while,but mebbe I oughta start using the test bellows they have on the counter top, when I buy at the store.
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Postby 1armbandit » Thu Sep 14, 2006 4:46 pm

So Bubba am I NOT the only one that DOESN'T use the bellows at the store? I don't want to look stupid (er), but I'm not sure what it would tell me other than a stuck reed.

Doesn't matter though, I buy all my harps from Pappy and they are all perfect and last an unbelievably long time. :wink:
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Postby jeffl » Thu Sep 14, 2006 5:45 pm

I try to split my business between Pappy and my local guy. Sometimes our host can get 'em to me faster, 'cuz the local guy waits to accumulate an order. If I need one quick,and it ain't in local stock, then Pappy's the guy. I never use the bellows,'cuz I figure if there's a problem with the harp, either guy'll take care of me. I'd still like to know what kinda harps steel1953 is gettin' his hands on. Sometimes I buy a harp for a backup,and I throw it in the case and don't play it for months; by then,I'd have a hard time rememberin' where I bought it,if it's defective.
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Postby steel1953 » Fri Sep 15, 2006 6:14 am

I use Special 20's and Big Rivers........
The way I use the tester is this;
I obviously get several of the same key. Then I put it on the single notes and push and pull with a consistent pressure on each one. After comparing harps this way, I can tell which ones are "tight" ( need more air to make them sound ) or "loose" ( less air ), which is generally related to how they're gapped. Plus if the reed is crooked, I'll hear the metallic sound as I use the bellows.
Then I put the bellows on the chord slot and push/pull again. I've played long enough to be able to tell if the chords are in tune. If they're not, chances are some of your octaves are out too. Unfortunately. there's no good way to test the tuning of the octaves except playing the harp. Usually, one or more of the high notes ( 9 or 10 ) are a little flat.
When I get a student, this is one of the first things I teach them, so they can learn what works for them, and buy the harps they like.
I've actually found harps that were defective, not just out of tune, this way. But I have to say I've been doing it for a very long time.
I honestly think everyone should learn to tune and adjust their harps. It's saved me money and embarrasment through the years. We expect singers to sing in tune, guitar players to play in tune. Us harp players aren't any different.
To be fair, not everyone needs there octaves in tune all the time.........

To get back to the discussion, I wasn't having trouble with either harps for at least a year. Just lately.......I remember way back when I believe in the 70's or 80's, I couldn't buy a decent Hohner to save my soul. So I switched to another brand for a while. Must of been my Karma! :>).......
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Postby bosco » Fri Sep 15, 2006 2:08 pm

I never use the bellows,'cuz I figure if there's a problem with the harp, either guy'll take care of me.

I don't pay much attention to the bellows either. That thing can't put the kind of pressure on 'em that I'm going to, or expose all of the potential problems. Occasionally, by playing, you'll get a rattle on the 1 hole on an G or A harp that the bellows won't pick up.

I've only had to send a couple harps back to Hohner in all of these years though.

Like Bubba, I tend to purchase harps in quantity for when I need them. I don't need the Hohner Spec 20s to take a quality dip that I wouldn't have noticed for several months. Thanks for the heads up Steel. Think I'll get 'em out for a quick test drive!

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Postby truck driver » Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:37 am

Generally I don't have a "back-up" harp. I try to treat my harps like tires on a car, use them all up at about the same time, and then start all over again. Of couse it doesn't really work, but thats the theory. :roll:
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Postby steel1953 » Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:08 am

Bosco, you're right. The bellows doesn't expose ALL problems. But it definitely helps me to pick the best harp for me out of the box from whatever the store has in stock. It's great when they get 6-8 harps in the same key for me to choose from! Plus you're also probably right about the bellows not pushing the same amount of air as you. I've really noticed lately how different people play as far as laying into it, or laying back.
I guess I've used the bellows for so long, I've learned how to make it work for me.......

As far as it not making a difference, cause either guy is going to take care of you, am I mistaken that once you play it and find out there's a problem, isn't all they can do is direct you to the manufacturer? Don't you have to pay the shipping ( additional cost )? How did you do it when you sent yours back Bosco?
That's one of the reasons I took the plunge and started working on my own diatonics.
I had Hohner do some work on my 2016 chromatic, and they missed one of the reeds that was rattling big time. I had to pay to ship it back to them, but they fixed it and shipped back no charge. Seems like a pretty good service dept. Works great now!
I too, buy extra harps for backup. When I play out, I'm prepared. Plus I've recently started jamming with a jazz group, so I need to tune up a # of harps for all those flat keys horn players like to play in. At least for me, the country tuning works best.
Man one armed bandit........all the harps you get are perfect all the time? I'm going to have to try Pappy too!........
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Postby bosco » Mon Sep 18, 2006 1:16 pm

I had to pay to ship it back to them, but they fixed it and shipped back at no charge. Seems like a pretty good service dept.

That's pretty much how it works. Once you play it, the retailer can't help you. Still not a bad deal though. It only costs a couple bucks to ship a harp back to Hohner. Otherwise, if it's something you can't fix, you're stuck with an $18.00 paperweight (for a diatonic). Hohner will repair or replace at their descretion and ship back at no charge.

On a different note, I bent a 7 draw reed flat at our gig last Friday night. First time that's happened in 35 years of playing as it's usually the 4 or 5 draw that goes. To be fair, I've been playing alot of 3rd position lately. Also it was a D harp, and the band plays a lot of songs in A so it probably had more playing hours on it than any other harp in the case.

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Postby 1armbandit » Mon Sep 18, 2006 1:41 pm

>Man one armed bandit........all the harps you get are perfect all the >time? I'm going to have to try Pappy too!........

Well to be honest I've only bought a couple dozen harps total, maybe 30. All the LO's, SP20's and Vintage 1923's were good out of the box and are still holding up. The only ones that have failed have been Johnson Blues King, bad out of the box and Kay Chicago Blues, not bad but didn't last long and Hohner Blues Bands, again not bad but didn't last long. I don't bother opening up the $5 harps except to clean out the pocket lint.

I don't gig yet and go to a jam every other week, so YMMV.

Pappy's selection and delivery time are excellent. I live 75 miles from the nearest store with any selection and a resonable price. That's what I get for living in the sticks I guess.
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