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Newer harmonicas

Back to the Gear Room

Sep 29, 2011 4:41 AM GMT

A while back, there was a lot of buzz about the Manji and Harrison Harmonicas. I'm wondering how people feel about these and any other newish models, customizers, etc. I drifted back to plain ol' Special 20s, because I've played them so long that they just sound and feel right to me. I'm still curious about the newer stuff.

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Comments (16)

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Sep 30, 2011 4:39 AM GMT
Mondo Replied:

I've heard that the B-Radical is no more. This is from an August 9th article:

Harrison Harmonicas last week sent an email to customers explaining that it “is no longer able to continue as a company” and that another yet-to-be-named American company bought the B-Radical harmonica design and will build that and other Harrison designs.

Sep 30, 2011 5:27 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Ouch! There was a lot of buzz about those harmonicas, but I was waiting to see how it all panned out before I spent that much on a harmonica. I'm sad to hear about how it all went down.

Oct 01, 2011 4:10 AM GMT
walterharp Replied:

mostly you get what you pay for... on average the more expensive ones like the sydell 1847, the crossover, the manji play better.. customs play better still yet. you can get a mass produced one that is mucked up or a customizer who does not do what he promises.. just as you can buy a special 20 that has that special mojo.. but all things being equal, you get what you pay for

Oct 04, 2011 3:56 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Walter --

What do you notice with the more expensive ones? I think that you are saying that they are like a great Specail 20 right out of the box, and predictably ... but maybe I have it wrong.

Oct 07, 2011 8:56 PM GMT
Mondo Replied:

Anyone play with the new Hohner Thunderbird?

Oct 08, 2011 4:58 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

That Thunderbird looks cool!

Oct 10, 2011 10:03 PM GMT
walterharp Replied:

yeah, that is basically it, they are more reliably good.. every once and a while you get a really good marine band, golden melody, special 20.. but these more expensive ones are more reliably easy to play that way

Oct 10, 2011 10:38 PM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Okay ... do any of these higher-end harmonicas specifically feel like a really good Special 20?

I'm leaning towards trying the Crossover.

Oct 12, 2011 6:38 AM GMT
Mondo Replied:

@OrthodoxBlues, I understand that the Crossover is a modified Marine Band, not a Special 20.

Oct 13, 2011 3:56 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Mondo --

That's my worry. Years ago, I had some Marine Band harps and didn't like them. It is hard to tell if I'd like the Crossover ...

Oct 14, 2011 2:40 AM GMT
walterharp Replied:

also consider the suzuki manji, it is tuned more equal temeperment, wich could be better depending on the style of music you want to play and your approach. i like the suzuki promasters as well and the Sydell 1847 is a great harp that will last a really long time

Oct 16, 2011 4:11 PM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

I think that I default back to the Special 20s because I'd only want a fancier one if it sounded and felt like a great Special 20!

Oct 18, 2011 5:24 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

i got taken to the cleaners on the b radical, having paid and gotten stiffed. long story.

i do have several manjis in my case and use them a lot. to me they are what the marine band should have evolved into. now hohner has a few models that more or less compete with the manji but imho suzuki has the top honors thanks to their very precise reeds and plates. the comb is a wood/resin composite, the ends of the covers are opened, to me it's an all-around desirable harp. yes it costs more but i feel i got what i paid for in the manji.

i used a ton of sp20's over a lot of yeards once i became disgusted with the marine band. this was in the 90's and hohner had yet to retool and rethink the mb much. i blerw out as lot of sp20 reeds trying to play them louder- my bad. sp20 is a decent enough harp and therte are guys who do different levels of customizing on them to make them better than stock. i have a couple in my case right now, stock, but durable. they've lasted a few years.

i also used a lot of bushman delta frost for a few years. a pretty good harp but i found them to choke out pretty easy, requiring regapping, at which i suck pretty badly.

hering 1923 vintage is a pretty harp but to me the reeds are substandard.

suzuki has a couple of models you may want to give a try, the folkmaster and the bluesmaster.

all of these harps and a lot more are available at rockin' ron's and also coast 2 coast music.

Oct 24, 2011 3:33 AM GMT
OrthodoxBlues Replied:

Jawbone --

I really appreciate the detail of your post. It leads me to strongly consider the Manji, at least one. I'm sad to hear that you were stiffed on the B-Radical. It could have been me very easily, as I figured I'd wait to hear what people thought when they first came out, and then I became distracted and never checked until now.

Anybody else generally use and like Sp20s but found something newer that's better?

Dec 19, 2012 3:46 AM GMT
rick b Replied:

To orthodox blues,

I too have loved and used special 20's for years. I have been reading in other forums about how much players like lee oskars.I don't get it ! they will freeze up on you right in the middle of a solo. At least when the sp20's pack it in they only detone. I appreciated walterharps comments on the seydels . I generally go through a harp every time I play a gig so finding a more durable brand would be awesome. A question for Walterharp. Do you find custom harps more durable or merely more responsive. Which would make a more reliable workhorse a seydel or a manji. Have you guys tried a hohner extreme bend ? It's like having a baseball bat in your mouth but it is hard to kill . I kind of like the chicago style tonality of the thing . I just wish it wasn't so dam big

Dec 24, 2012 9:43 PM GMT
Mondo Replied:

Anybody try the new Olive? I picked one up in D and is sounds great (to my amatuer ear) and I can actually bend it fairly well. I'd read that they were designed using the Manji reedplates and redesigned coverplates. The low reeds don't hit the coverplates and I love the full cover design (my moustache is always getting "plucked" by standard cover plates!)

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