[Harp-L] The "newest" Stradivarius of Harmonicas!

Joseph Leone 3n037@xxxxx
Sun May 8 20:02:43 EDT 2016

>> Michael Rubin wrote:
>> Vern,
>>> At the risk of opening up a can of worms, I participated in the comb test
>>> at SPAH where Tom Halchak had me and many other harp players play the same
>>> brand of harp with different combs.

Which somewhat cancels any idea that: People that weren't there have opinions that aren't valid. Could this be analogous to: People voted for someone
that 'I' didn't vote for, so their opinion(s) are not valid. 

>>>  I definitely noticed differences in
>>> tone.

An opinion? Maybe. But a person's opinion is as valid as anyone else's. As long as it's honest. And I trust Mr. Rubin to be beyond reproach. 

>>>  He gifted me with a special comb, I think it was brass 

>>> Just my opinion, comb affects tone, if only for the player.

Hmm, "If only for the player". Exactly what I have been saying for years. 

>>>  Many audience
>>> members stated they also heard variety.

I have a porous bronze combed chromatic. Regulars at the place I play knows when I am using it. BUT, to be honest that may be because
of the reed plates, covers, tightness, or something having nothing to do with the comb. But when I play an identical except for wood comb
chromo, it isn't as metallic...AND the sound doesn't 'last' as long. 

Michelle writes:

>> Well, Michael, I'm afraid you've stepped in it.
>> I'm with Vern 100%. Tom Halchak and I disagree and he will defend his test
>> vigorously. But unfortunately it simply didn't satisfy basic criteria of
>> scientific experimental design.

Me? personally? I would prefer younger listeners. With young undamaged ears. Let's say 12-13 years old. Who have no special affinity for
harmonica (per se). And only go by sound as a criteria. Sort of like those hearing tests that we used to get every year I went to school and 
the school administration gave a good sh*t. Like in 1947, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, and 57.  lol 

OR, what about an oscilliscope? 

>> It is an incontrovertible fact that any
>> test purporting to show small, qualitative and subjective differences in
>> sound quality ~must~ be randomized and double-blinded with a statistically
>> significant number of samples or it has to be regarded as anecdotal.
>> I was the official harp sanitizer at Vern and Brendan's 2010 SPAH comb
>> experiment. I also spent 35 years doing peer-reviewed medical research at
>> major teaching hospitals so I am not new to randomized trials. Over the
>> 4-hour marathon experiment I sanitized a single set of reed and cover
>> plates between sound samples using numerous comb configurations played by
>> half dozen top harmonica players. Same end result as you reported --

>> players claimed they could tell the difference

This is what I have been saying. Players claimed they could tell the difference. And frankly I don't understand why this would tick anyone off. 
Like..who cares? 

>> but the audience, myself included, simply could not.

Chris Michalek claims he could tell. We spoke of it at great length. 

>> Some of the players actually got angry because they sensed differences that the audience did not.

Uh-huh, I can see that happening. Some people may have felt that they were being challenged as to their veracity or maybe sincerity.
>> I say "claimed" to have heard differences because a player experiences
>> many different sensory inputs when s/he plays a harmonica that listener
>> cannot.

Which had ALWAYS been my point. And any time I brought it up, I was chastised. With all this 'so called' scientific evidence. 

>> The natural frequency of vibration of the entire harmonica is
>> influenced by the comb material. There is little question that metal combs
>> can transmit more vibrational energy to the player's hands and embouchure
>> than less dense materials. There is a significant amount of bone resonance
>> that transmits vibrational energy to the player's ears. Whether or not the
>> comb is slotted influences the level and nature of the sound heard by the
>> player.

I have a shattered jaw. Thanks to a prison riot. I have pins and wires in my jaw. I claim that for me comb materials DO make a difference.
I can feel the vibration(s).  Bone resonance? Maybe. And if no one wants to accept that and wants to include me in the 'delerious' group...so be it. 
>> But none of these effects are experienced by a listener.

Maybe not. But the listener isn't the one buying the harmonica. 
>> So, I'm with Vern there as well. If the only demonstrable differences
>> between comb materials are experienced by the player but not the listener,
>> who cares?
>> I don't.
>> Michelle

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