Re: [Harp-L] Re: Hohner chromatic reeds (was Out of the box)

On Apr 10, 2012, at 11:38 AM, philharpn@xxxxxxx wrote:

> It might be helpful to keep in mind that most of these instruments -- if not all -- are mass produced. Even the so-called handmade versions are produced in large quantities.

This is true
> I once had some entry level harps that I argued with a reseller that they didn't work very well. What was the difference? I was using whistle shape (lip block) and he was using tongue block. My whistle shape was more percussive than his tongue block.

This is true
> So who was right? Sometimes the embouchure makes all the difference in the lifetime of the harp.

This is true
> I've found in over 20 years of harmonica experience that the harmonica that lasts the longest out of the box is the one that I frequently put back into the box. I've got a Blues Harp from 1970 (the nailed kind) that is coming unnailed. It still plays fine, but you have to hold it together with your fingers. 

I generally get rid of diatonics at the 16 year mark. I give them to Dave Payne now. I used to just throw them out. Actually I would strip the brass, toss it in the recycling can. My feeling? If 'I' though the harp was dead, there is no sense keeping the parts, as they would (as a group) also be dead. AND I wasn't a wealthy person. 

I generally do the same with chromatics. Most of mine are about 16 years old now (or older). 
> Some harps overblow better -- out of the box or after adjustment. Others -- especially some non-German made harps don't seem to last as long. But then Norton Buffalo used Huangs and I never heard or read about any complaints from him.

I had some early Huangs and Suzukis. Leghorns, Folkmasters, etc. I wasn't enthralled. Once I found the spl-20, that was it for me. ALL my diatonics (abt 17) are spl-20s. Most are very old. Most are still nailed. Some have the corners of the combs filled with epoxy putty. And when I DO get rid of them, they are still playable. I just don't bother. Some may even have a reed replaced. Sometimes the reed is a halved, flattened, 38 cal casing, sometimes, it's a razor blade. Sometimes an electrical contact point. Whatever I had in my work bench at the time.  
> I agree with smo-joe. It's difference strokes.  If the same guy is blowing out brand-X and but not brands Y and Z, he might want to check out how he changes his attack on the troublesome brand-X. 

This is true. 
> I'm always reminded of the newbie who walks into a SPAH store and buys a brand new harp and proceeds to complain that "draw 2 doesn't work right."

Ha ha, yes, this is common. 
> I'm also reminded of how Howard Levy relate about how he would try an entire box of  Golden Melody harps at a retailer before settling on 3 or 4 Golden Melodys that were just right for his purposes.

Also true. I several times witnessed on different occasions  Sandy German, Danny Welton, and even Pete Pedersen go through 7 chromatics, keep putting them in order, switching them around, and finally walking away with 2. This is fine as long as the dealer will let you do that.  

> All the GM were German (and handmade?) Even among the same brand and line of German-made harps there was variety.

Also true. 
So, in case everyone wonders if I am some kind of whack job when I say Hohners are fine..or as fine as any other harp. I have a modus operendai. Early in my life I had maybe 2 occasions to make a claim on a warranty. In both cases, the schmuck with whom I was dealing with turned everything around to where it was "I" whom had abused their product, and in those cases, I wasn't under consideration for an adjustment. So I quit asking.

I expect everything I buy to last a reasonable time. MY reasonable time equates to 2/3rds of the average persons expectations. Perfect example. If I buy tires with a 60k mi. rating, I am tickled to get 40K out of them. problemo. BUT if I buy a washing machine and can reasonable expect 16 years life span and it breaks down in 10-11 years, I will NOT 
buy that brand again. I boycott it. Ergo..they loose a customer. For LIFE. I have no tolerance for shoddy goods nor sloppy workmanship. 

I started with Hohners back in 56, and so far, I am happy with their compared to other products. 

Now a little about me. I started chromatic in 56 (age 12.5), diatonic in 59 (age 16). I have been on several records, telethons, stage productions, TV, radio. I have sat in with some of the best musicians that ever came through Pgh., belonged to local 802 of the musicians union, played trumpet, currently play clarinet, chromatic, diatonic, a wee bit of flute. So I'm not exactly a virgin at this. Why am I not famous? I was protecting my job. A job that gives me a comfortable retirement. While all my friends are struggling. 

I currently play mostly Hering chromatics and spl-20 diatonics. This after a 30 year lay off on harmonica from 1961-1991 (my first SPAH). 

End of rant..I remain Jo-Zeppi....the man from Mars.....Mr. cellophane.....the most unforgettable character you will ever meet. 

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