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Barbeque Bob MAug 21, 2009 6:34 PM GMT
I've recently ordered a Bends Juke diatonic in the key of A, and in about a few weeks (give or take), I'll give my personal take, but remember, like anything else, what may be OK for one could be crap for someone else, so don't take my word as an ultimate authority or final word.
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who makes it bob?
Bends is an entirely new company owned by a Brazillian harp player that was started in 2005 and in now way, shape, or form, are they connected with Hering. I've just recieved it and it's way too early to say anything about it just yet other than the cases they come in are quite unique, being soft shell, plush lined (like a horn case), and closed with a zipper with a long chain so that you can wear it around your neck like a necklace or use it like a ridiculously huge key chain that only an office building superintendant would love.
Anyway, here's their site: http://www.bendsharmonicas.com.
If they play as good as they look then Im sold. O had never heard of this company before, I look forward to hearing how it plays.
I was doing a little research on these harps and found this:
I still look forward to hearing what you think Bob.
I read that too. He knows his stuff. I'm not going to be posting it for a few more weeks because the first thing you want to wait for is initial "love fest" with a new product after you see both good and bad of anything, and it's much more fair.
I see why so many people trust your opinion Bob. I cant tell you how many new toys and jobs I have loved for the first 2 weeks and then hated.
I found some YT videos.
Joe, probably looking at the end of next week realistically. However, I'm not gonna put out any early word until I've finished it.
You big tease!!!! ;-)
Well, finally after a couple of months of playing the Bends Juke, here are my thoughts on this harmonica. At first glance, this is their version of the Marine Band (no surprise because it is still the standard every diatonic has been judged by for the last100 years). The covers and rivets are made of stainless steel, with wide openings in the back covers, side vents, a wood comb made of Ike tabaco (hope I spelled it right) that is FULLY sealed, making this model, along with the Seydel 1847 Classic and the Marine Band Crossover the only stock diatonics to come with a fully sealed wood comb, which usually you'd only be getting from a customizer. (I know you're gonna say what about the Marine Band Deluxe, Hering 1923 Vintage Harp, Hering Master Blues and the Hering Delta Blues models, but they're PARTIALLY sealed, that is, only around the outer edges that you see when the harp is fully assembled, so the possibility of swelling still exists if played in a high altitude or dry climate area with those harps).
The reeds are long slot reeds using Phosphor Bronze rather than the usual brass materials or stainless steel, and phosper bronze has a naturally darker tone that has been used on Asian made short slot harps like many Suzuki models and the Bushman Delta Frost, giving the impression of almost being a long slot reed, tho not quite. The slot tolerances area bittighter than the present dayMarine Band and everything is held togeher with screws. With this reed material along with the long slot reeds, it gives the instrument a decidedly darker, mellower tone than what you hear from many harmonicas, and I believe they're using this same thing with their chromatics as well, so it will seem less "aggressive" in how it plays.
The reed plate thickness is 1.07mm, which ties it forthe 2nd thickest reed plate thickness along wit three Hering models, the Hering Blues, Hering Golden blues, and Hering Black Blues. Tho not as thick as the Hering 1923 Vintage Harp, Delta Blues, or Hohner Blues Bender, one needs to remember that because of the thicker plate, anyone who tends to use too much breath force in their playing, especially in the notebending process (which unfortunately, this is far too often true with a helluva lot of players, many aren't gonna want to admit it), the risk of blowout increases.
The gap setting is on the high side, and out of the box, it's not oveblow friendly unless you're wioling to do the necessary regapping to make that happen, but as with Hering, when you put the reed plates back together, be careful because if it is not placed back together just right, you will hear a horrible sqeal if you bend with a lot of breath force all the way down to the floor of the bend, something a HUGE amount of players are often guilty of doing.
The harp comes out of the factory tuned to 19 Limit Just Intonation, which should please the more traditonally oritented blues players and some old timey players (unless you're positively anal for the more classic 7 Limit Just Intonation).
Everything other than the rivets are all held together with screws. The case is a plush lined, soft shell case that is closed up with a zipper and comes with a chain that you wear it like a necklace if you'd like (that's a bit different), and when in your pocket, it should jab you in the leg or anywhere else because there are no sharp edges here.
Many of Pat Missin's observations on his review of this harp I tend to agree with. Overall, it is a very good instrument. If you're looking into sheer volume, tho, you'd probably want to get either the Seydel 1847 or the new Suzuki Manji, which have slot tolerances much tighter than this one, but overall, again, this is a pretty good instrument.
how does this one stack up cost-wise bob?
i appreciate you taking the time to do a detailed review of the harp. i guess my only other question is, do you like the harp?
Price wise, it's roughly $45-48 US, depending on your source. It really is a good instrument, tho like any stock harp, it will never come close to a good custom harp. It also is another good choice, as we now have so many more good choices than ever before. Will it suit everyone? C'mon, be real, because no one single instrument will ever please everyone because of the genres of music, technique employed, etc., and that's the reality. The only thing that'll please anyone is either one you took the time to tweak yourself or paid a customizer for, and no harp will ever make up for bad playing technique regardless of how well they're made, and I'm not being wishy-washy here, but being completely honest here.
Trust me, everything suffers compared to a custom. They're really good instruments overall. Most of the way I'm coming from is more of the traditional blues player's standpoint, and the fact it comes in just intonaton (19 limit to be exact)helps a lot because unlike 30 years ago, most of what's out is largely in equal tuning and most of the pros I know who come from a similar playing style aren't too keen on equal tuning.
I surely haven't said I'm hating it because that would frankly be a lie. It's a good instrument. I'd still buy a custom before I'd buy anything else, but these guys offer something pretty good here, considering it's a stock instrument. Joe, you're reading far more into it than what I've actually said.
The Manji is tuned to a comprimise tuning, which Suzuki hasn't sent the setup chart to me as yet, but from listening to it, it is a cross between the two comprimise tunings that Hohner uses, and is close to 19LJI, with a little bit of a touchup (I haven't checked it against the tuner as yet, but to my ears, this is what it sounds like).
Nearly all of Suzuki's diatonics with the exception of the Manji (comprimise tuning) and the just tuned version of the Fabulous (which is tuned to 7LJI) are all tuned to equal temperament, and you'll clearly hear the difference when you start playing chords and double stops.
It was a very smart move by Suzuki to go the comprimise route because that tuning is more acceptable to a far wider variety of playing styles and music genres, wheras both ET and JI will have detractors as well as supporters, and with the majority of their diatonics being tuned to ET, they've never gone over very well with the vast majority of players who come from a more tradtional blues or old timey music background, and with this tuning as well as using long slot reeds, it's gonna bust down some big marketing doors for them like in a way they've never been able to do before.
For the traditonal blues players, if they come out with a version of this with a fully sealed wood comb (preferably made of either peachwood, pearwood, or maple) and it comes tuned in either 7LJI or 19LJI as stock, they'll be putting a real dent in the sales of the MB. Hering did that when they introduced the 1923 Vintage Harp, and then two years kater, they finally came out with the MB Deluxe, which is essentially a MB with screws and a partially sealed comb.
Would I buy another Bends? I might because its sound characteristics using phosphor bronze long slot reeds with 19LJI give it adistinctively differentsound.
For thetraditonal blues player, the best new stock diatonics outside of the Hohner stuff right now, IMO, are the Suzuki Manji, Seydel 1847, and the Bends Juke. Of these three, if you also play OB's but still don't like ET, the Manji is THE most OB friendly even without tweaking the gap settings.
On the Manji, if you don't mind doing the tuning from comprimise to ET yourself, it's still a great harp for the OB's. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if somewhere down the line they may consider having both and ET and JI versions of this model, if it takes off like I think it will.
I have a Bends Croma, picked it at SPAH in August. I usually play SP20s, I realy like the Croma, it has a similarly warm tone for me, and the reeds are superbly tuned and set up otb, some embossed, nicely shaped. A fine harp!!