RE: [Harp-L] lee oskar vs hohner

I began using Lee Oskars in 1986, at which point in time the quality of Hohner harmonicas, more or less the only available alternative, was intolerably poor. In the last 10 years, thanks largely to competitive pressures from Lee Oskar and other manufacturers, the general quality of manufactured harmonicas has improved considerably.

I make a point of buying harmonicas by different manufacturers several times a year so I can see what the state of the art is.  I continue to use Lee Oskars for lots of stuff, because they have a terrifically even response up and down the harp plus high durability.  The special tunings are very useful and convenient too. I actually like the crunchiness of equal temperament on the chords with these harps.

But I'm also impressed by the quality of the Hohner harmonicas I've bought lately, specifically the Crossover and Marine Band Deluxe, my Seydel chromatics and diatonics (both the stainless steel and Blues Soloist Pro models), my Manjis (which play very well, but whose stock cover plates are far too flimsy--Suzuki should really make those cover plates stiffer, as they did with the FireBreath), and my Bends diatonics and chromatics.  

In short: the differences between modern diatonics are less important to me than the similarities, and the most important similarity between different makes and models is that they all work a lot better than they used to.

Does this suggest that the best strategy for a player is to buy the least expensive instruments available?  I dunno.  I'm pretty happy with the instruments I've bought in the $45-and-up range. I still haven't bought a chromatic that costs more than $175--the Hohner CX12s and Seydel Deluxe seem to get the job done.  And I'm not going to stop checking out the new diatonics, though I'm going to wait until Harrison gets their order backlog sorted before I order one. 

Regards, Richard Hunter

author, "Jazz Harp" 
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