[Harp-L] Re: Old time player's harp questions

pneupco@xxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

Back in the day when DeFord Bailey and all of the other greats were 
active, did they use strictly off-the-shelf MBs and Old Standbys which 
were used until they wore out and then a new one was gotten, or did 
they have people on hand to keep their harps in tune and well adjusted? 
Did they do the work themselves?

It seems to me that I read somewhere that Larry Adler had a 
repairman/technician on call and I would imagine that some of the other 
big name night club/stage/vaudeville performers had someone as well. 
Was that common?

Steve comments:
To the best of my knowledge, most diatonic players tossed worn out instruments and replaced them. Virtually everyone played out of the box instruments. Commercial independent harp techs in the modern sense didn't exist for diatonic instruments until the early 1990s and manufacturers were understandably not that eager to repair them. Anyone who fixed anything generally had to do it themselves. Few diatonic players knew how to tune before that time and even fewer did so.

20 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Earl Williams from Portland OR, he had done regular repair work for a number of the top US chromatic players of his day. Willy Danneker, father of Tony and Hohner's harmonica repair technician in the UK up until his retirement in the late 80s, maintained and repaired mainly chroms, I believe he took care of Larry Adler's needs. He certainly worked on a ton of instruments and was a delightful man into the bargain.

Steve Baker

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