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Sampling several harps

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Feb 02, 2009 8:57 PM GMT
OK, I've got enough bread saved up to buy some new harps. I'm strictly a beginner and can't afford custom jobs yet, so I'm sampling several of the common "major brand" models. Here's what I'm considering (one of each):

Bushman Delta Frost
Lee Oskar (trad. maj.)
Suzuki Bluesmaster
Seydel Blues Session

I already have a Special 20 (bought it from my local music store and paid way-too-high list price for it). As you can see, I'm shooting for the ~$30US price range. Basically, I want to get a feel for each of these models, see which ones I liked. I was afraid to buy a whole set and then not like them.

I know this is a purely subjective topic, but I'd like to know what you folks out there think. Any suggestions for my shopping list or comments are welcome. I'm willing to go a little higher in price, but would like to stick to medium-level out-of-the-box quality.


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Comments (15)

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Feb 02, 2009 10:40 PM GMT
jawbone s Replied:

Hey sg - you will probably find that the Bushman and the Suzuki Bluesmaster will be very similar other than the cover plate. I like the feel of the full cover plate on the Bluesmaster,but am still trying to get used to it. I don't like the L.O. much and itdoes notlike my moustache at all. Don't be in a hurry, Just buy a couple at a time and get the feel for them.

Feb 03, 2009 2:18 AM GMT
Dan M Replied:

I bought a few different brands in the course of my arriving at my choice. Blues harp - Decent.Golden Melody (nice) Lee Oskar - do not like sound and numbers engraved too deep but it plays wellSeydel - NiceSuzuki Bluesmaster - ok -Promaster - OK. My choices - Love the Delta Frost and also the Special 20 to a lesser extent, and the Golden melody. Try the Delta Frost. My opinion.

Feb 03, 2009 2:30 AM GMT
DukeofEarl Replied:

I've always liked Special 20s because they are easy on the lips. Good thing for a beginner. Anyway, the only other harp on the list I'd buy for myself would be the Seydel as it's a great harp.

Feb 15, 2009 12:50 AM GMT
sgsax Replied:

Just wanted to follow up on my purchase. At the suggestion of someone here (I forget who, sorry), I went with a Suzuki Promaster instead of a Bluesmaster. I just got my order in today and here are my initial observations. I found the LO and Bushman very easy to blow and the most comfortable for me to play initially. I really like the feel or the covers on the Seydel Blues and the weight of the Suzuki, however I find both of these harder for me to play initially. I'm a bit surprised about the Seydel, I expected it to be much closer to the Bushman, but it's really very different. The Suzuki is also disappointing, since I paid more for it and am having the most trouble with it.

This is just my initial reaction. I'll spend more time with all of them before I give them a final judgement.

Feb 15, 2009 9:17 PM GMT
John P Replied:

The holes on the Suzukis are a little smaller and slightly closer together than the Hohners, LOs and Seydels which takes some getting used to. There is an adjustment period required in order to get used to playing them.

I love my Suzuki Hammonds and Firebreaths. I have a set of Promasters, too, but i don't like them as well as the more expensive Hammonds and Firebreaths. But all have excellent compression.

One model of Bushman is made by Seydel and the other is made by Suzuki. Bushman does not manufacture its own instruments.

Feb 16, 2009 3:16 AM GMT
sgsax Replied:

My second day with these harps went better than the first. For now, I'm assuming that any problems are my own and not the harps. The Promaster does seem to take more air, and I noticed the narrower holes, so I think I just need to work with it for a while to get used to it. I definitely like the covers and the overall weight of the harp. I think the Seydel Blues likewise just needs more attention before passing judgment.

Feb 16, 2009 3:18 AM GMT
Zack P Replied:

sg, what keys did you get? The ones not Bushman may be your fault, as they cannot take hard blowing. Don't take it personally, we all have done it, and since your a sax man, it's okay if you blow hard!!!

Feb 16, 2009 3:20 PM GMT
sgsax Replied:

I got the DF in D, LO in C, Suzuki Pro in C, and Seydel Blues in F. The LO was supposed to be an A, but they shipped the wrong one. I decided to keep it anyway, but it means I still need an A now. I also want a low F now, since I didn't realize just how high the high F would be. Others on my wishlist to try are an MB, a GM, Seydel 1847, and Hering 1923. Eventually, a custom, but there are so many to choose from, I have no idea where to go first. Damn, this is like an addiction. Need to save my money for another sax mic and wireless setup right now, so I may not be getting any new harps for a while.

Feb 16, 2009 8:02 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Many beginning players (98% of them to be exact) will have a problem of using too much breath and this is really true also of people who started out playing horns as they're used to needing more breath force, wheras with harmonicas, you need much less of it and that's an old habit that's gonna take some serious time woodshedding to finally get that down.

If you play any harp as hard as a horn, trust me, you'll blow them out very fast, and with custom harps, because the reed slot tolerances are far tighter than stock harps, even faster. Best thing to do is follow this idea and that's play just loud enough that you don't wake up a baby that's sleeping in the next room.

With the bold type I'm using, it ain't shouting, but putting important emphasis on a point, so don't freak out on me.

Feb 16, 2009 8:04 PM GMT
John P Replied:


I don't play sax, but I played with a sax player a few times who had a Samson Airline wireless mic. Coolest thing I've ever seen. Little clip on mic with a built in transmitter (no belt pack). The wireless receiver plugged into the board was about the size of a cigarette pack, with a little "V" shapped antenna on it (smaller than fingers of your hand forming a victory symbol) and used AC power. The whole rig (mic and receiver) could almost fit in the palm of your hand. And it sounded GREAT. FWIW.

Feb 16, 2009 8:23 PM GMT
sgsax Replied:

Bob, thanks for the tips. "Reversing" my breathing mindset has been my biggest initial hurdle in picking up harp. I'm used to taking a big breath before starting to play on sax. You can't do that when playing in 2nd position on harp. :) The too much air problem I first ran into when I got my G harp. I told my sensei that I thought it was defective because the low reeds were buzzing really badly. He told me to stop blowing so danged hard becuase I was making the reeds hit the covers. I've been working on it, but perhaps I need to use even more control than I thought. I appreciate the advice. No freaking out here. :)

Feb 16, 2009 8:27 PM GMT
sgsax Replied:

John, I already have an AT Pro 35 mic and really like it. I need another one for my bari sax so I don't have to switch in the middle of a gig. The wireless is so I can go out and dance with the ladies while I play. :) I'm looking at an ATW 2110, but am open to suggestions. The Samson setup looks nice, but I'd like to get something I can use for harp, too.

Feb 16, 2009 11:27 PM GMT
Zack P Replied:

Well, Sg, the problem I see is the fact that you have an F, C, and A. They all will respond differently. In reality, only the same key will be a GOOD comparison. But, keep it up!!!

Feb 17, 2009 12:42 AM GMT
Mfalcol Replied:

Gowith the Bushman. They are consistantlytight rigtht out of the box andhold up better than others that I have played in that price range.

Feb 17, 2009 3:57 AM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

sgsax keep posting your progress including the harps you get. Im a newbie myself and I have The Special 20 seems to be my fav, and a bunch or LO in different keys... The LO are not bad, they seem to have a hi pitch to them...

I have posted here, or somewere a list of harps I have and in what keys.....since you play the sax you have a bit of a head start on me ,,,, ok a big head start...


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