Special 20 or a Traditional Marine Band

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

Special 20 or a Traditional Marine Band

Postby eline » Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:01 am

Okay folks,
I'm debating on swapping out my marine bands for special 20's. I don't know what it is about the old marine band that I've grown so attached to, that I'm a little reluctant to switch over to the special 20's. I know the special 20's are air tight, and you don't have to worry about the comb deteriorating so they last longer, so is there any real reason why I should keep my marine bands? What do you folks prefer, Maine bands or special 20's? Or should I just go with, "if it aint broke, don't fix it :?: "
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Postby thebluesbox » Wed Dec 20, 2006 9:19 am

I think you should get you one sp20 to try and see. But like me I have both. Maybe you can do that get you a few sp20's and have the best of both worlds.
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Postby jeffl » Wed Dec 20, 2006 3:07 pm

I play SP20s because I like the way they feel in my hands, more than anything. I also like the cover plate supports because I don't tend to crush the covers in, like I do on the MBs. As far as durability, I have no issues with the SP20, and I play 'em stock, right out of the box, with no tweaking or embossing.
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Postby brianp » Wed Dec 20, 2006 4:15 pm

I play special 20s because they feel good on the mouth and the holes are slightly larger. I can also more easily tune them whereas on the MB I need to modify the stock one or buy higher end models. With the SP20 I can spend about 20 minutes with it when new and have an in tune harp that is setup to play easier and ready to go. With the MB I have to drill them, put little bolts and nuts in to hold the cover on, seal the comb, etc... If keeping your instrument in tune is important to you then there is another good reason to switch. I do have to admit that I do love a Richard Sleigh MB. I just don't have the money to spend on harps like that. If I made my living with playing the harmonica I would definately consider it though because all the aforementioned work is done and they are loud and play like a dream.

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Postby dcblues » Wed Dec 20, 2006 4:31 pm

The last time I tried a Special 20 I was very disappointed. It was the first one I bought in at least ten years. I prefer the Marine Band - it just feels right to me, and I don't like plastic combs (although I do like the Big River, and they're relatively inexpensive backup harps).

Like others suggsted, try the different harps that are available and play what works best for you.
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Postby watertore » Thu Dec 21, 2006 2:19 am

I also agree that you should try the sp 20. I hate them. Sorry to be so blunt, but a plastic reed harp sounds and feels tinny to me, much like a plastic bodied guitar does. Wood has a great tone and feel on the hands and mouth. I have tried most all the harps out there, except the customized ones. I can't bring myself to paying that much for a harp. I have stuck to the marine bands since the 70's, and became a hohner endorsee in the 80's. The hering vintage 1923 harps are very nice. The problem is they go flat to quick for me. Let you ears tell you which you prefer, and thank God we don't all like the same thing. It would drive the prices even higher :D Happy holidays to all. Walter
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Postby Erikjr21 » Thu Dec 21, 2006 3:02 am

I like them both, a mb has a good tone and and classic feel but is really hard on my mouth after awile. The special 20 i feel is a little quicker reacting. Basically i like to have a few different kinds and play different things with each. I also like big river harps they just sound good when it comes to playing cords it might just feel like it sounds better due to the fatter body. Id say just get one and try it out 8) im still trying alot of different kinds myself and find it alot cheaper just to get one at a time while im expirementing.
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Seydel Blues Soloist Pro

Postby Splash » Thu Dec 21, 2006 3:30 am

I recently got a Seydel Blues Soloist Pro from Rupert Oysler and really lke it. It's rapidly becoming my favorite harp. I've decided to get some other keys to add to the case.

Rupert says he prefers the session model, but I still like wood. Luddite?

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Postby steel1953 » Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:33 am

Hey Scott, I've got a SP20 Rupert setup for me. He does good work, period. Nice guy to boot.
Did he do a standard setup on your Seydel, or the works? And why does he prefer the Session?

Eline, try all kinds of harps. Because the design of the comb of a SP20 is different than a MB, it plays differently. Compare the two combs, and you'll see why the SP20 is "easier" to play. But I have to say, when I'm learning older music, you can't beat the classic sound of a MB. Do a Rice Miller lick on both, and you'll immediately know what I mean.
I play all kinds of harps, and they all have their own character/tone. Love them all!

If you're a tweaker like Brianp and I SP20's are alot easier to modify. Example;
For some reason, it's hard to get country tuned SP20's from the people I order from. They all have them back-ordered from Hohner. So I just get the regular key I want, tune the one reed and voila! No wait.
I can't imagine not tuning your octaves/chords on your harmonica. Well worth the time and effort to learn how.

So good luck and have fun on your harp quest! And like Walter says, Thank God we all don't like the same thing............
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Postby angerboy » Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:59 am

You should play whichever one gives you the sound you want.
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Postby steel1953 » Thu Dec 21, 2006 9:57 pm

Ditto what angerboy said.............
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Postby resoharp » Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:59 am

I prefer the special 20's myself. I feel the plastic is a bit faster
and it doesn't swell up and catch my lip. The sound is every bit as big and full as a marine Band's as well. Because I play a lot, I buy 10 or 20 at a time to get a beeter price and once in a great while get one that does require adjustment. When that happens, I quickly grab another and put it into the pile waiting for some lovin'.

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Seydel Blues Soloist Pro straight from the box

Postby Splash » Sat Dec 23, 2006 4:48 pm

Steel,

I got the Seydel straight out of the box.

Blues Soloist is wood comb, I believe the Session is metal? Or composite? When I talked with Rupert, he said he preferred that over wood. We really didn't talk more about that.

The Blues Soloist Pro is pretty responsive straight out of the box. I don't have a particularly hard attack and haven't had any choking. However it's not a good overblow harp stock either. It would have to get tweaked if I wanted to get good response on overblow 4 & 5. 6 is fair OB.

I might call Rupert and talk with him about his working over a "C" for overblows... sometime after the first of the year.

I just like wood harps. Never thought much of LO straight out of the box and I can go through SP20s like eating M&Ms. I still have a few MB that are more than 25years old that are going strong. I took it easy on them for a while at first and they never blew out. My best "C" is nearly 30 years old. I haven't bought a new one in many years so I couldn't recommend buying a new one.

I'm wondering why no discussion of the Golden Melody harps. I hear several top notch players using them. Modded? or Stock? I dunno.

Comments?

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Postby bosco » Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:56 pm

I'm wondering why no discussion of the Golden Melody harps

Splash-

Now we're getting into a different area than physical harp characteristics, but I don't like Golden Melodies because of their equal tuning, same reason I don't play LO's, they're a little on the bright side and favor single note playing. I love the GM's ergonomics and if it had just intonation and a recessed reed plate like my SP20's you'd have the perfect harp. Alas, Hohner hasn't figured it out in all this time!

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Postby eline » Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:09 am

I actually have a couple sp20's and I really enjoy them. I also have a boatload of LO that I've just about abandoned all together. I mainly played LO when I was first learning to play, but now they just feel bulky and sound off (or maybe I'm the one whose off). However my MBs just feel right. It's just like kicking an old habit; I really hate to give them up. I think I'm leaning toward keeping certain keys of sp20's around and sticking with MB as my primary axe. I agree with Waltertore, I just like the feel and tone of the wood comb, I just wish they would last longer. I've also come to think of the wood comb in the likeness of an acoustic guitar. Maybe it's just a mental thing, but it just feels more down home-and we all know that feel is more of the music than the instrument itself; especially when it comes to the blues. I guess what I'm saying is that I'd rather play with a traditional MB that puts me in the groove, even if it's a bit leaky and needs replacing more often, than completely switching over to sp20’s because of durability and responsiveness. Anyways, I appreciate all the input. I hope you all have a great holiday season!
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