Help me select a new harp...

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Help me select a new harp...

Postby jagarner70 » Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:33 am

I have finally decided to get serious about playing blues harp and I have lost the marine band that I have had for approx 10 years. We moved a couple of months ago and I put the harp somewhere so I would not lose it. Ever do that? Anyhow, I have started soaking my current cheap harp after playing and I would like to avoid the swollen wood on the mouthpiece of a new harp. Is there a good blues harp that has a plastic mouth area or should I just trim the wood when it becomes swollen?
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby bosco » Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:34 pm

Here is a link to an archived thread from Feb 2003-

[link:www.bigroadblues.com/cgi/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=show_thread&om=68&forum=DCForumID15|Soaking Harps BRB Feb 2003]

I play Hohner Special 20s and highly recommend them. Airtight with a plastic comb but with the same reeds and reedplates as the Marine Band...best of both worlds. As you'll read, soaking harps served no purpose other than to swell the wood making them more airtight, but damaging the harp in the process.

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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby dblues » Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:04 pm

Don't ever soak wood combs. If the comb has fully dried and the "teeth" are still raised, you can sand them down and seal them with clear finger nail polish
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby jagarner70 » Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:18 pm

Got it. No soaking. Its funny, Im into old cars and the same thing happens. You read an article about something and you think "If they say its cool I'll try it". Then 20 other guys tell you its BS. Almost makes you ask for a second opinion before you try something...
Bosco you are one cool cat. I will look into the harp you recommended. One of the guys on this forum has a favorite bumper sticker quote as his signature and it made me think of my favorite sticker. In big bold text "JESUS LOVES YOU" then underneath in small text"everyone else thinks your an a##hole"
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby paulw » Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:21 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Mar-05-06 AT 09:31 AM (EST)]There are many good harps out there. Heres my take on the ones I own. My personal favorite is the Bushman Delta Frost. It has long lasting phopher bronze reeds which also give it a sweet raspy blues tone. Easy breathwise to play and bend notes on. It has a plastic comb which wont swell up on you. Confortable to play and easy to hold, many like them. This is what I learned on and still love. You cant go wrong with this harp. Same size as a Lee Oscar which is also a good durrable harp, slightly brighter toned than the Delta. Both of these harps are a little bigger than the marine band.

Marine bands and special 20's are good as well and if you want a sealed wood comb harp with the old school pre 1985 marine band tunning get a Hering 1923. Same size as the MB except for taller cover plates. The covers are brass which has a different taste to them. Sound for solo play is awesome, hard to put them down.
I have a Promaster as well which is very comfortable and plays well.

I bought most of my harps from our sponsor, coast to coast. Fast service great prices and wide selection.

Well, good luck and have fun!
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby rookie » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:47 pm

Why not just order a bunch of different ones from C2C in different keys? My best harp at the moment is a LO, but I tend to agree with those who say they're a bit bright sounding. So as I fancy a few good-quality harps in other keys, I've just ordered one of each of the ones that get talked up here - Special 20, Marine Band, Hering 1923 etc - in various keys and when I've made my mind up which one I like best, I can replace the others as and when necessary with whichever model I decide on.
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby roy bluesboy » Tue Mar 07, 2006 3:29 pm

I 2nd Bosco's recommendation. Special 20's are my all-time favorite. Smooth platic comb, responsive & very airtight. Best harp for the money. Roy BB
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby syracuse_duck » Tue Mar 07, 2006 5:35 pm

What type of music you're going to play will pretty much narrow down your selection of harps. I play mainly shuffle/blues and I've always used the Special 20 or Blues Harp from Hoehner. I just got a Bushman Delta Frost in 'A' that I'm really liking. I seem to be able to sustain overblows more consistent. And the bends are real sweet if you control the draw softly. A little different flavor from my other harps so I need to play with it a bit. Well, back to the subject, a melody harp is nice for a more full chorus sound (if that makes sense), I also think it's got kind of nice sound for country. Also for country I like the marine band. Both also sound good for, honest to God, polka! A chromatic is my prefered choice for jazz stylings. Once you get good enough, you can make any harp swing to whatever genre you prefer. Personally I like plastic comb over wood. But then again, wood combs have a certain warmth to them. I don't know, it's kind of like answering what's a good flavor of ice cream. Try it until you like it!
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby jagarner70 » Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:03 pm

Well I ordered a Special 20 from Coast to Coast and I should have it in a couple of days.
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby jeffl » Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:24 pm

You should be fine with that decision,Jag. I played Marine Bands and Lee Oskars for 30 years before summa these guys turned me onto SP20's. I've never questioned the decision; I absolutely love them. I like the feel,playability,and durability. As for price,I get my local guy to match our sponsor's price,to buy locally when they have stock. If I have to order,then our host gets the sale. Our host (Coast to Coast) is very good about e-mailing you with harp specials,too,so if you're in a mood to try a different harp down the road, jus' wait to you see specials from C to C,and order a harp you've always wanted to try; that's how I got my first Hering and Bushman.
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby angerboy » Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:49 pm

Did you realize agonize over the purchase of one diatonic harp?
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby allanlummox » Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:52 pm

Wealthy parents, angerboy?
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby angerboy » Wed Mar 08, 2006 9:13 pm

No. Not really. Considering that a new diatonic harp is about $20, it isn't much of a gamble.
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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby eline » Fri Mar 24, 2006 3:24 am

I started out playing nothing but LO, then later switched to the old marine band; I loved them, the LO. The thing that I didn't like about the LO, was that my mustache kept getting caught in the top holes of the cover. As for the Marine Bands, they are great harps. My only problem for me was that they just weren't as durable. The wood comb became leaky and they seem to loose in quality....So, I found myself in the realm of the special 20 crew, and I gotta say they are great harps. Like somebody said earlier "you get the best of both worlds".
Heiring also makes the Vintage harp, but the sound was a bit to tinny for me. Or at least thats what I thought. Anyways, good luck with your choice and your purchase, but I'm pretty sure your going to be happy with a special 20.

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RE: Help me select a new harp...

Postby t bone bruce » Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:11 pm

Yeah, special 20's are nice harps. You can't really go wrong with them. I used them and the old style handmade pro-harps for a while, but switched to the Lee Oskars for 2 reasons.
1-Durability. I've never had one go flat on me yet they last years (over 10 years in the case of some!). 2-The stainless cover plates. Makes cleaning the harp eaiser, and I'm not sure if it's just something about my spit, but the Special 20's covers would discolour after a while, and occasionally even rust!
I'd like to try the Delta Frost, but they're harder to find in the UK without getting mail order, and paying more for them.
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