Re: What To Buy?
Well, I'm no expert, but here's a brief summary of my opinions on the
First of all, before I forget, here's my thoughts on soaking. My
understanding of soaking is that when a wooden comb harp starts getting old,
the wood starts to warp from age and the elements (saliva, etc.) causing it
to lose airtightness. There is no cure for this, but if you in a really
tight bind (like you've got a gig and no spare harp), soaking the harp will
cause the wood to expand and *TEMPORARILY* increase airtightness. This will
however make the harp absolutely *UNUSABLE* in the future because after the
wood dries, it will contract and will be horribly warped. You can probably
soak it a few more times before it goes completely dead. But my point here
is that soaking the harp will destroy it, which shouldn't really be a problem
if you're in a bind because the harp's going to have to be replaced anyways.
I believe Tim mentioned that you should never soak a wooden-comb harp.
Well, I don't think you should ever soak anything *BUT* a wooden combed harp
since soaking a plastic or metal-combed harp isn't going to accomplish
anything (plastic won't expand when wet). However, with plastic or
metal-combs, you shouldn't have any problem with them losing airtightness
anyways (unless you leave it on the dash of your car in the sun).
Now, about what harp to buy. I had this problem a while back. Here's what I
did. I used to play on Blues Harps, but I found that they were too easy to
destroy. Not because of thier construction, which is basically exactly the
same as a Marine Band (although the new Blues Harps I've seen are different),
but because thier reeds are more geared for beginner's to learn bends and
have a tendency to break easier. So I bought a Lee Oskar and a Golden
Melody. I loved the Lee Oskar, and the Golden Melody was nice, but I didn't
like it's tone as well for blues. I was pretty much set on Lee Oskars when I
finally learned *WHAT* Howard Levy was doing (overblowing) and discovered
that Lee Oskars have very thin reeds that cause them to squeek when trying to
overblow (at least with my lack of skills ... I'm sure someone like Joe
Filisko has no problem overblowing Oskars). I still didn't like the Golden
Melody's tone so much for blues (although it rules for non-blues music), but
I fell in love with plastic-bodied harps. However, my fav blues player out
there (James Harman) uses Marine Bands. So I broke down finally and grabbed
a couple of Marine Bands myself, and althought it took a while to get used to
the wooden-comb again, I now love Marine Bands for playing blues.
The moral of this bordom is that you are just going to have to try out a few
different models and see which ones you like. I would, however, suggest that
you stay away from Blue Harps if you play hard.
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