Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

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Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby jbone1 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:45 pm

this harp has been out for several months now. i had planned to wait before getting one in my hot little hands, but as good reviews came in i couldn't restrain myself and had to try one. in november i got my first, in A, and loved it. it has held up nicely since i first played it. and since then i've slowly added keys, i now have also a C, D, low F, and G.
brendan power has videos posted of all sorts of suzuki models, these can be seen at rockin ron's music store online. the manji is among them, and his demo video is part of what sold me on the harp in the first place.
here's part of why i have fallen for this harp so heavily: simply put it's at least 20% louder than other harps using the same breath force. closed ends of the cover plates, and the rear of the plates opened up from the factory contribute to this improvement, but the core of it is the reeds and plates. they are the tightest tolerance of any production harp made to date by anyone. this results in high efficiency. more air that comes into the harp vibrates the reeds. much less leakage around the reed itself. the reeds themselves are of tougher than usual material, phosphor bronze (i think!) the comb, which is also precision cut, is a wood/resin composite, which gives some qualities of wood without the swelling that is characteristic of an average production comb. the reed plates screw onto the comb to make changing reed plates easy if and when the time comes. it never needs sealing and retains its shape and tonal qualities, never absorbs water or other fluids, so your lips will never get that buzz saw effect i remember well from early unsealed wood comb harps.
the tuning of this harp- and i am not sure which it is but i think it's a compromise tuning- sounds equally good for single notes or octave playing in say third position. i have not been kind to harps over the years but i find that this harp takes less wind and a bit more finesse to play well. the reeds WILL stall with too hard a draw or blow. but this only serves to remind me that i don't need to strain to get a great sound out.
this harp has replaceable reed plates as well.
the heft and feel of this harp reminds me of what a similar harp by another manufacturer could be, if they hadn't taken an easier route and marketed the same old harp with different covers for decades. the manji represents a true advance in manufacturing technique, and the improvements are based on what modern harp players have sought for years. i personally always wanted a harp that sounded great, held up well, looked good, didn't cost a fortune, and didn't need a pro to keep it in good shape.
lastly, the price. this harp costs $46 at rockin' ron's. for what you get though, in my own opinion, it's definitely worth the extra. this is to me the very best mass produced harp ever made. the features embodied in it are worth a little more. these features translate to dependability on stage, whether it's all acoustic or amped up with the big boys. other makers have risen in their own way to current demands for a better quality harp and charge at least a few bucks more that suzuki for a similar (but not quite as high quality or innovative) harp.

i am gaining nothing by doing this review. no affiliations etc etc. i'm just a harp guy of long standing who has finally found a harp i can truly live with and depend on. i wanted to share my take on this innovation in the harp world so that maybe someone else out there in harp land might get the same benefit i'm getting!
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby bottleneck » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:26 pm

i'm always glad to see your reviews.i've been interested in the manji and you seem to give it the thumbs up!i'll have to try one.

www.myspace.com/shakeylyman
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby dcblues » Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:39 pm

I ordered one this week and I should get it by tonight or tomorrow. Looking forward to trying it.
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby jeffl » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:11 pm

Somebody help me out.. does the Manji have braced or supported cover plates? One of the reasons I switched from MBs to SP20s was that the cover plates on the 20 had "legs" that wouldn't collapse. For some stupid reason I've crushed harps for 43 years if the covers were unsupported. Also, can anyone draw a comparison to the Hering 1923 vintage? They seem to share some characteristics.
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby jbone1 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:02 am

in answer to your questions:
the manji has no posts or feet on the covers. however, there is a fold-over section around the rear of the cover, about 1/8" is doubled and the covers have held their shape for me just fine. if you squeeze one too hard i guess the cover could collapse on you. old habits do die hard!
i bought several hering vintage 1923's a few years ago and liked the heft and build of the harps. my main issue with them aside from getting otb harps with loose reed plate screws several times was, i didn't like the tuning, and the 4 or 5 draw reed invariably went flat. this may have been partly my draw technique at the time but i think the reeds were really soft. or maybe the way they tuned the 4 or 5 draw weakened it, i don't really know.

i must add, i'm just getting started on the long term shakedown of the manji. i got my first one in like november and have added one at a time since then whenever i can justify it- blowing a reed in a current harp etc. i'll be checking back in from time to time on this to let y'all know how long the manji lasts reed-wise etc. with the warm season approaching i expect we'll get out to busk at least twice a month, and this to me is a real test of any harp.

stay tuned....
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby bottleneck » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:24 am

my girlfriend gave me majis in G,C,A & D for my birthday today.i can't find a single fault with any of them.great harps!!!
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby jeffl » Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:37 pm

bottleneck wrote:my girlfriend gave me majis in G,C,A & D for my birthday today.i can't find a single fault with any of them.great harps!!!
Now THERE'S a woman. A woman like that could be butt ugly (no inference about YOUR girl) flat-chested, and mean, but if she buys you a set in those keys, she's perfect.
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby stumblin » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:07 pm

They look like great harps, but at fifty quid a throw that's a bit out of my league. I think I'll stick to my £23 Herings.
One of these days, my luck's bound to change :roll:
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby bottleneck » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:11 pm

stumblin wrote:. I think I'll stick to my £23 Herings.
One of these days, my luck's bound to change :roll:

i like herings(and bushman and seydel)too!it is all good!!
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby jbone1 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:42 am

we just spent last weekend in Clarksdale MS over Juke Joint Fest weekend. I played electric a couple of times with the bassman replica and a crystal mic and also played a couple of times acoustic, with an amped guitar once and all acoustic the other time. not surprisingly, the amped sound i got was killer, and on stage with Big Red and the Soul Benders, with Selwyn Cooper sitting in, and a sax guy as well, i had no volume or tone issues and no failures of equipment of any kind, including my harps. the all-acoustic set was a real pleasure as it was live on KFFA radio, Terry Buckalew's show last friday. i was standing since all the chairs in the broadcast booth were already taken, and a lot of my fills and accents didn't come through, but at solo time the manjis cut through very well.
on saturday night Jolene and i were strolling around downtown Cdale just seeing who was out and about when we chanced on a young guy sitting with an amped electric guitar, just wailing away solo in front of a new club there. i sat in with him for maybe 15-20 minutes before we had to get on to something else. the manjis did definitely put out more volume with less effort. i didn't have my amp with me so i was standing while the kid was sitting, and my harp cut through nicely. people up the street were coming by to see what was up with us and that was partly due to my harp i think. it could be heard over young Omar's amp. i did bear down harder than i usually play and have noticed no damage to the reeds, no flat notes or seizing up reeds.

i'm really looking forward to busking with these harps, total acoustic out in the open. i have a high confidence level on how they will sound and perform.
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby bottleneck » Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:28 pm

i did my second show with the manjis last night and i have to say they were perfect.i'm still very happy with these harps.like jbone i played them a little harder (both shows were acoustic)and was surprised at how they reacted.they are great.

if these things last between tunings and don't blow out too fast i think i'll stick with them,at least for my main keys.
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby jbone1 » Tue May 04, 2010 11:24 am

they are likely to increase in price, at least here in the usa, but probably still worth the dough. what i'm hoping for is that reed plates will come availlble for them soon. that's what always fails on a harp for me and what i want to keep handy.
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby ricbleu » Sat May 22, 2010 10:41 pm

Hi guys, I'm new to the harp board, but relatively active on the guitar ones. But I do play harp. Excuse me if I cover ground already covered here, but a few years ago I discovered Delta Frost harps and bought a couple each of D,G,A,C. I love everything about them - they have a gutty sound, they move easily with litle air, they bend just fine and at the time they were a good price and Bushman shipped them to me in New Zealand for a very reasonable rate. So how do these Manjis compare with the DFs? Thanks. :D
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby jbone1 » Sun May 23, 2010 2:38 pm

note that this is my opinion only. i think suzuki makes the delta frost harp and sells it to the vendor with the covers and brand name stamped on. the vendor may tweak the reeds a bit but to me it's a suzuki bluesmaster with different covers. i have a hybrid in my case as we speak which plays real nice, says bushman on the covers and suzuki on the comb.

delta frost is a good harp, no argument here. the saving grace to me is replaceable reed plates. i do still blow a reed here and there and i've had little success doing a lasting repair once a reed goes out.

to me the manji represents what the delta frost could be, albeit with upgraded reed plates and a solid comb etc. there is a solidity to the feel of a manji that isn't found on many other harps, and the composite material means no swelled comb, ever. in my book manji is the top harp in production models.
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Re: Suzuki Manji- a Timeless Quality Built Harp

Postby ricbleu » Mon May 24, 2010 3:06 am

thanks, jb, and what about the Seydel stainless steel reeds? Any groundbreaking improvement in tone or longevity? They're mighty expensive. But I'm glad to hear (or see) you say that you give the DFs the thumbs up - I really do prefer them in all ways to the Hohner MS range (all the same harp with different names) and it's good to know I've thrown my $$ in the right direction. I've tried a few different types including a Suzuki ProMaster with an aluminium comb but the thing tasted so foul that I made a wooden comb from a very hard New Zealand hardwood that is so dense it doesn't absorb water although I soaked the comb in shellac just to make sure. The harp sounds good but the aluminium (aluminum to you) left you with a taste like you'd had a mouthful of coins. One utter indugence was a Suzuki Humming Pipe. Have you seen those? A round chromed split tube, open ended with the comb sprung into the split. You get an amazing tremolo by closing the LH end with one hand and "tremolo-ing" at the RH end which has a removable extension on it. I was struck badly by HAS with that one. :oops: I'm primarily a tongue blocker and find the Humming Pipe is easier using the pucker style. Anyway, thanks for your advice.
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