Ordered for my first harp!

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Ordered for my first harp!

Postby abhinav » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:19 pm

Hi, I post regularly on the bottleneck and slide forum. After dabbling in slide for a couple of years (and very happy with it!), I had the
itch to try my hand at the harp. So, I just ordered for a Hohner 560/20 special 20 in the key of C. I wish to know
how long such a harp typically lasts? When do I start bothering about replacing the harp/reeds, etc???? I am an absolute newbee, and
know nothing about harps!
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby jeffl » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:12 pm

Alot depends of course on how much you play. When I first got serious about playing harp I probably played an average of 4-5 hours/ day. One of the biggest problems with harp durability for beginners is the tendency to play too hard and develop too much saliva. It seems to be common among newbies and novices, and nearly everybody I know was guilty of it at one time. That kills harps. I've been playin' for a little over 40 years now and I almost never have to replace reeds or harps anymore. There's no real tellin' what kind of experience you'll have with durability.
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby abhinav » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:32 pm

If the reeds are damaged, are replacement reeds available for 560/20 special 20, or does one have to buy a new harp? If spare reeds
are available, can you please give me a link?
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby jeffl » Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:06 pm

I am not aware of any replaceable reed sets for the 560/20.
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby abhinav » Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:12 pm

Thanks, Jeffl! In that case, I will probably change my order (with Elderly) and order for two pieces!! I am
ordering from India, so if the harp conks out, there will be a problem if a replacement is not immediately available.
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby DeFord Harp Slider » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:47 pm

I haven't purchased a Special Twenty in over twenty years and the ones that I can still play do not have replacement reeds made for them.... I am pretty sure that the newer ones do. All of the 10 hole harps by Hohner from "The Big River Harp" on up the price scale have MS stamped on the cover and there are replaceable reeds available.... I changed some in a BRH 2 hours ago.
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby abhinav » Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:29 am

DeFord Harp Slider wrote:I haven't purchased a Special Twenty in over twenty years and the ones that I can still play do not have replacement reeds made for them.... I am pretty sure that the newer ones do. All of the 10 hole harps by Hohner from "The Big River Harp" on up the price scale have MS stamped on the cover and there are replaceable reeds available.... I changed some in a BRH 2 hours ago.


You're probably right. However, I checked the price of the replacement reed plate, and it is more than
that of the Special 20 harp! :wha:
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby DeFord Harp Slider » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:02 am

hi abhinav, Google, Musicians Friend. That is where I have found the best harp and supplies prices. The Hohner reed plates are priced high. Lee Oskar had replacement reed plates first and the harps and plates are priced more reasonably than Hohner and I like the feel ,sound, and durability of the Lee Oskars.They seem to last me longer, than Hohners . I have some old Hohners that are old enough to vote and still sound good, but as they die off I will generally replace them with Lee Oskars. If I have to get a Hohner I will usually only spring for the Big River Harp, and it plays as well and is louder than other 10 diatonic Hohners, It is a good buy. But the hard corps guys still go for the 1896 Marine Band. .... DeFord ....
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby tobiepsg » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:46 am

My Special 20 is one of the few harps I never needed to replace. Admittedly I don't play it as much as the other harps (perhaps because it's in Db). If you don't abuse it, it will last you a long, long time. Beginners-saliva should not be that much of an issue as it has a plastic comb. Just clean it out every now and again during play (by slapping its mouth-side against your leg - not too hard, just with enough force to get the garbage out!).

Instead of buying another C (a bit of a waste!), why not buy an F and try your hand at playing it in 2nd position (thus still playing in C)? Then you've got another key (F) to play 1st position in if needed...
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby abhinav » Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:57 pm

Changed my order with Elderly, and have instead ordered for two Hohner Big River Harps (cheaper!), again both
in C (I am paranoid about one conking out!)
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby jbone1 » Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:33 pm

many would say the big river is a leaky and difficult harp. i however have used them on and off for several years and find them to be a good harp. always, when you get a new harp, pull the cover plates off and make sure the screws holding the reed plates to the comb are snug! not killer tight as this will warp the plate and actually promote leaks, but snug so the plate is stuck to the comb.

the big river does have interchangeable reed plates, the ms series. but! a set of plates may cost you nearly what a fresh harp does, it's a choice you have to make. the replacement plates i have gotten have been thicker than the stock plates by a bit and have stood up well to many gigs.

the big river can fool people because it's slightly larger than say a sp20 ot marine band, and takes a bit more focused air to play. but the reason i began using them was, i was killing reeds on the afore mentioned harps at an alarming rate for a time, and i had no choice but a big river at a music store one day since i had a gig that night and no working harp in A. i found the big river to be different but by no means bad to play. it will stand up pretty well to a beginner's hard use. but once a reed has been overstressed, it's a goner and must be replaced. or the plate replaced. or the harp.

you are a beginner you say? let me tell you up front the primary danger to a harp from an uninitiated player- too much air! this causes more baffled and dissatisfied players early on than anything else imho. i know it was true for me, and until i got the idea of focused air rather than wind tunnel volume of air, i was buying new harps frequently. sometimes a sp20 would last only one or two nights. my quest to find a harp i couldn't ruin came to nothing. my ignorance cost me plenty over several years! a turning point came when i began to practice some breathing exercises and found my depth in my body cavity. it also came about as i learned more about holding the harp in my mouth- as deep as comfortable- and bringing the air from deep inside. like an air column. i have heard it said that learning to play softly- like there's a baby alseep in the next room- is a good way to go. later, once one learns how the harp actually works, maybe more focused air can be used for a bit more volume. but always the hazard is, too much air will cause tiny stress cracks in a reed and it will never be retuned successfully.

with all the great sites and forums online these days, you can find a wealth of information and support to get you started and take you very far indeed. here's the short list:
harmonicaspace.com
dirty south blues harp forum
bushman harmonica forum
harmopoint workshop

youtube has free lessons also. from beginner on up.

so when you get your harps, treat them like the instrument they are and you'll get good life from them, and probably before long you'll be looking at different keys and types. it may be inevitable, you may wreck a reed or two, but take it to heart, identify how that happened, and find a better way to play so you will both make progress and have long harp life.

ggod luck and hope you will let us know how it's going!!
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby abhinav » Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:11 am

jbone1 wrote:many would say the big river is a leaky and difficult harp. i however have used them on and off for several years and find them to be a good harp. always, when you get a new harp, pull the cover plates off and make sure the screws holding the reed plates to the comb are snug! not killer tight as this will warp the plate and actually promote leaks, but snug so the plate is stuck to the comb.

the big river does have interchangeable reed plates, the ms series. but! a set of plates may cost you nearly what a fresh harp does, it's a choice you have to make. the replacement plates i have gotten have been thicker than the stock plates by a bit and have stood up well to many gigs.

the big river can fool people because it's slightly larger than say a sp20 ot marine band, and takes a bit more focused air to play. but the reason i began using them was, i was killing reeds on the afore mentioned harps at an alarming rate for a time, and i had no choice but a big river at a music store one day since i had a gig that night and no working harp in A. i found the big river to be different but by no means bad to play. it will stand up pretty well to a beginner's hard use. but once a reed has been overstressed, it's a goner and must be replaced. or the plate replaced. or the harp.

you are a beginner you say? let me tell you up front the primary danger to a harp from an uninitiated player- too much air! this causes more baffled and dissatisfied players early on than anything else imho. i know it was true for me, and until i got the idea of focused air rather than wind tunnel volume of air, i was buying new harps frequently. sometimes a sp20 would last only one or two nights. my quest to find a harp i couldn't ruin came to nothing. my ignorance cost me plenty over several years! a turning point came when i began to practice some breathing exercises and found my depth in my body cavity. it also came about as i learned more about holding the harp in my mouth- as deep as comfortable- and bringing the air from deep inside. like an air column. i have heard it said that learning to play softly- like there's a baby alseep in the next room- is a good way to go. later, once one learns how the harp actually works, maybe more focused air can be used for a bit more volume. but always the hazard is, too much air will cause tiny stress cracks in a reed and it will never be retuned successfully.

with all the great sites and forums online these days, you can find a wealth of information and support to get you started and take you very far indeed. here's the short list:
harmonicaspace.com
dirty south blues harp forum
bushman harmonica forum
harmopoint workshop

youtube has free lessons also. from beginner on up.

so when you get your harps, treat them like the instrument they are and you'll get good life from them, and probably before long you'll be looking at different keys and types. it may be inevitable, you may wreck a reed or two, but take it to heart, identify how that happened, and find a better way to play so you will both make progress and have long harp life.

ggod luck and hope you will let us know how it's going!!


Thanks a lot for this extensive information! I will surely keep posting about my progress or lack of it!
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby bottleneck » Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:21 am

good luck with it!

www.myspace.com/shakeylyman
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Re: Ordered for my first harp!

Postby abhinav » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:19 am

bottleneck wrote:good luck with it!

http://www.myspace.com/shakeylyman

Thanks! Actually, I get the harp(s) sometime in June (someone carrying them for me). So, a long wait to get started...
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