[Harp-L] Comb Debate

Richard Hunter rhunter377@xxxxx
Thu Jul 27 10:34:03 EDT 2017

Vern wrote:
<Finding even one person who could reliably identify comb materials by
playing or hearing the <harmonicas under such controlled conditions would
confirm a materials effect. So far, that <hasn't happened.

And that goes double or triple once you bring an amp and (Lord help us) FX
into the picture. If you can hear the comb differences (or even the brand
and model differences) once amp distortion and compression (let alone an
auto-wah) are added to the tone, you've got much better ears than I.  A
well set-up harmonica sounds to me more or less exactly like any other well
set-up harmonica on stage or on a record.  For that matter, I was fooled by
a synthesized harmonica run through a distortion device on the soundtrack
of the (admittedly not worth the time) horror movie "Pumpkinhead 6."
 (Don't ask.)  I didn't know it was a synthesizer until the composer told
me.  Sure sounded like the real deal to me.  (I presume that everyone here
who knows me will agree that I've heard a lot of harmonicas in the last 50
years, and this was not a rookie error.)

I readily grant that different combs can have a different "feel" to the
player, and that this may affect the player's enjoyment of the instrument,
and so the way the player plays. I have nothing against anyone making their
instruments more enjoyable to play, or even to look at.  But for myself, I
continue to believe that the best and surest way to make my harmonicas
sound amazing is to practice more.

Regards, Richard Hunter

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