Hohner diatonics

I have some questions about 10-hole diatonic blues harps ( Hohner models ). If
 this is
a FAQ, please tell me where I can find the answers and pardon my ignorance.
Anyway, here goes ..
I'd like to know the major differences between the Special 20, (old) Blues Harp,
 (new) Blues Harp,
and the Marine Band. In particular, their tone, playability, expected life, and
to reproduce a traditional Delta blues sound.
I started playing harp about a year back and my first harmonica was one of those
 cheesy plastic
comb ones in C ( called a Hohner Pocket Pal ) which comes with a book and
 cassette ( for the price
I am not one to complain ). I thought the tone was OK ( I hadn't listened to any
 other !) and I thought
it was playable. This was till someone told me that no *real* harmonica player
 would play
with a plastic-comb. So the next harp I bought was the Hohner (new) Blues Harp
 in A.
The salesman told me this was better than the old Blues Harp since it had a
 modular design
( !! - after all he is a salesman!), and the comb was thicker thus making it
 easier to play-
larger holes etc, apart from the better metal finish making it smoother to lip.
I bought the pitch and the harp and liked the tone (though it is not as bright
 as the plastic
one, more mellow ), but found it harder to play especially 2Dbb ( E bent to D ).
 It is a lot
harder to *get a hold* on the bend with the wider comb and I hated that. With
 time I have become
better at it but it is still hard to play.
I am not sure if this is due to the fact that an A harp is lower in pitch than a
 C harp and hence
has heavier reeds, or it is because the harp is different. I suppose the only
 way to really know
is to buy all three harps in A and try them out, but I would rather buy them in
 different keys.
I have heard a lot of blues harp-players use the Special 20 or the Marine Band
 so I'd like to
know which to pick when I buy my next D harp.

Also I read an interview with John Hammond  ( in Acoustic Guitar ) where he says
 he plays his A
harp a lot and it would go out in 2 to 5 nights, sometimes as soon as after the
 first set!
I had no idea harps could go THAT fast - then again not all of us play like John
What exactly happens when a harp goes bad ? ( now my C is sounding funny on 2
 draw !)
Is the best way to check the tuning against a tuner ?

Shankar Subramaniam
M&AE Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853		 shankar@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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