MORE ON MODULAR HARPS
Replying to Randy Lilleston:
< I don't know what you mean by "carrying power," though,
< because the Big Rivers are the loudest suckers I've ever
What I meant by carrying power was exactly that. I agree, drawing
a note with the same amount of breath at speaking volume, on a
Big River and some other harps, will produce a louder note on the
However, the Big River won't carry as far for two reasons. One is
that you can't play it much louder than speaking volume - it just
tops out sooner and can't give much more without the kind of
extraordinary effort that is impractical in a performing
situation. Second is that its tone is a little thin. I always
feel you need a stronger tone to carry farther. The Golden Melody
just seemed to fill that big room better, while the Big River
seemed weak. (By the way, I'm not one of those Golden Melody
mystics who believes that curved ends channel the power of the
< 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.
No insult taken taken, on any of your statements.
I agree that people do make irrational claims about instruments,
just like some people claim CD's sound better if you keep the
energy from leaking out the sides by running a *green* marker
along the inner and outer edges.
< 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!
What I meant by a blindfold test (and assumed, apparently
incorrectly, that you also meant) was a *listener's* blindfold
test (which I did state). David Harp tells me that such test have
been conducted, and that listeners (at least non-harp-playing
ones) generally can't tell the difference in sound between one
harp and another. But this has nothing to do with the player's
experience, which is what I'm getting at.
If you blindfold a harp player, it would prevent him from
dismissing an instrument at first glance. That much is true.
But once it is in his hand, you must put put padded gloves on him
so he can't feel what the harp is made out of or how it is
shaped, and put him in a reduced gravity condition so he can't
feel the heavier weight of a metal-bodied harp, and do something
so his tongue can't feel what the comb is made of.
Even then, he can still hear the difference in sound as it comes
to *his* ears, and still tell the difference in response. No
tactile or ocular impediment can disguise these two most
important criteria, the ones that "makes you happy." This is what
I mean when I say that a blindfold test is irrelavent.
< 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?
Right you are. You shouldn't. I shouldn't. Nobody should. But
given an imperfect world, sloppy assembly is still better than
poor design (don't you love having a choice?). One can be
rectified, the other can't. By the way, Hohner is not the sole
culprit here. Huangs are notorious in this regard as well.
< 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.
I don't agree with your prejudice against using scientific
information. It's been used to make better trombones, better
guitars, and better wines. Why not better harmonicas? It's not
whether this information is used or not, it's *how* it's used.
Hohner misused it on the modular series to cut production costs
without sufficient regard to how it affected the playing
response. If they'd concentrated on *that* information, who knows
what they'd have come up with? Although I agree, mathematics (and
statistics) can be misused to disprove the existence of water to
a roomful of fish.
In the case of Johno's computer simulation, it confirmed what
many players were trying to tell Hohner - that the modular
instruments as they now exist, in their humble opinion, as you
put it, stink.
It would be instructive sometime to find out more about the
production methods of the various harmonica manufacturers. I also
*suspect* that Tombo uses modern assembly line methods, but I
don't actually know.
Yes, Suzuki talks about laser tuning. That's nice, and may
produce a harp that starts out in tune. But I can tell you that I
have a 13-year old Meisterklasse that I've overblown the hell out
of, and it remains in reasonably good tune, while I have a one
year-old Valved ProHarp that's way out of tune after relatively
little playing. The valves are also very buzzy.
Also, the laser welding used to attach reeds (a la Suzuki) makes
it impossible to remove and reattach reeds. Yes, there are
harp players out there with rivet punches who remove reeds and
reattach them with bolts. You can buy a kit for this purpose from
Farrell to upgrade your chromatic, but I know diatonic players
who do it as well (facilitates reed replacement to extend the
life of an instrument).
I agree 100 percent - chacun a son gout. Use what works for
*you*, regardless of blindfolds or computer simulations.
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