modular marine bands

In response to Winslow Yerxa...

 > I was less snobby about the Big River Harp than some
 > of the people who also
 > received them at the NAMM trade show in January, but I
 > did find some
 > problems with it. It doesn't overblow worth a darn-
 > squeaks and makes all
 > kinds of shrill noises. And, frankly, it lacks
 > carrying power.

 Hmm. I've never been able to overblow on anything anyway
(the reasons utterly mystify me...even your attempt on this mailing list to
describe how to overblow did me no good...and I can bend the heck out of a harp)
so I can't confirm this but it is commonly accepted that the "Asian" harps are
harder to overblow. I don't know what you mean by "carrying power," though,
because the Big Rivers are the loudest suckers I've ever played.

 > You're right in your observations about Hohner's
 > quality control on traditional
 > instruments. Many players who can't abide the action
 > or sound of the new
 > modular instruments or of Asian instruments (Lee Oskar
 > and Huang) are also
 > disgusted with the inconsistencies of the traditional
 > Hohner production, and
 > find
 > they have to tune and readjust the action on all their
 > new harps. Yet
 > I don't believe it's snobbery to prefer these harps to
 > the modular series.

 No insult intended. I meant it in a more general sense. I
think of electric guitar players, with their insistence on certain years of
instruments, and certain kinds of pickups, and certain tubes in the amps, and so
on. Some of this stuff gets out of hand at times, and I wonder if that's the
case with the new Hohners.

> For one thing, a blindfold listening test is
 > irrelavent to the guy who is
 > actually playing the instrument. If it sounds wrong to
 > him, he's
 > uncomfortable and distracted because he's trying to
 > compensate, or, at worst,
 > gritting his teeth.

Of course a blind test is relevant. It would disprove prejudices, or prove there
really is a difference. But in the end, of course, you pays your money and takes
your chances. Above all, buy what makes you happy!

 > And it's always preferable to make
 > corrective adjustments to a well-designed but
 > sloppily-built instrument than to try making compensatory
 > adjustments to a badly designed instrument, no matter
 > how well-built.

I should not have to take a harp home and adjust it because of *any sort* of
sloppy factory work, be it in construction or materials. Period. Why buy
defective gear?

 > Of course, what constitutes good design is a matter
 > for debate. In general,
 > those who like traditional Hohner harps prefer the
 > narrowerer, thicker reed
 > response to that of the wider, thinner reed design
 > used in Asian harps.
 > The Asian style reed is brighter, but, to many ears,
 > lacks depth of tone,
 > and doesn't overblow well.

Totally agreed. It's a matter of preference.

 > Also, I have in hand computer simulations of
 > of reed response by Australian harmonica scientist
 > Robert Johnston, which suggest that this kind of
 > reed is more sluggish in response.

 Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! I would *NEVER* use an engineering study to make musical
choices for me. This is one reason why so many modern guitar amps stink...they
were designed for "precise engineering standards" rather than what sounds good
to players. Result: Vintage amps are absurdly popular. If you want to talk about
engineering, why would anyone prefer a wood-bodied Marine Band over a
plastic-bodied Special 20, which lets far less air escape the harp in unwanted
ways? Because
they just like it, that's why.

 > By the way, you don't name any particular "other"
 > manufacturer when you claim
 > that they use "modern" methods, but do you happen to
 > know how Tombo
 > (Lee oskar) manufactures their harps? I don't and I've
 > never heard anyone
 > describe their production methods.

 Dunno, but Suzuki often talks about using lasers in their harp production
lines. I suspect Lee Oskar uses assembly lines, too...they're built in Japan.
 Ever played a Suzuki ProMaster? It's a retty good harp with a
metal body at half the price of a Meisterklasse.
 In the end, the tone of the harp has so much to do with the player that you
should just try 'n' buy. I have no trouble getting great tones out of Lee
Oskars, Huangs and Suzukis. I find the Hohner harps don't have as much treble
but they are not "thicker," and I suspect that's solely because of the way I
play. And I blow up Hohners left and right, but
I have yet to *ever* blow up a Lee Oskar.

--Randy Lilleston

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