[Harp-L] Marine Bands

Though he says he doesn't play them, Bill Kumpe basically asks why anyone bothers to buy Marine Bands and suggests there is a concensus that the quality is getting worse. This is definitely not true, as Frank Evers has remarked. I've been closely involved with the struggle to improve this quality and can tell you with some degree of certainty that the time when the quality really did leave a lot to be desired was the 80s and 90s. The quality of the current production of standard MBs is something I check on whenever I'm in the factory (coupla time a year at least) and is currently the best it's been since the 50s or 60s. For blues playing they're fine out of the box but may need minor adjustment if you want to set them up to overblow.

Of course if people have issues about the wooden comb or the sharp corners this is another matter and is one of the reasons why Hohner has recently released MB upgrades in the form of the Deluxe (where not all those issues were addressed successfully) and the Crossover (which for my money is the best harp on the market today). Both these models are mid-priced in comparison with harps by other manufacturers. Sure you have to like the sound, but an awful lot of very good players do. It's also no coincidence that the harp of choice for a large number of customizers is the Marine Band. This is not because they're such poor instruments to start with, it's because in the opinion of these highly capable artisans they represent the best raw material on the market to make custom harps out of. They customize them because they're good, not because they're bad. To quote Brad Harrison, the Marine Band is the benchmark diatonic harp which everything else has to measure up to. Why not try playing one and form your own opinion?

I've played numerous harps from all other manufacturers which had flaws out of the box and would venture to suggest that this is almost impossible to avoid under the conditions of industrial series production. To imply that it's something which only affects Hohner Marine Bands is misleading and inaccurate,

Steve Baker

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