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declining durability

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joe p
Jan 01, 2012 10:14 PM GMT

I have been playin harp for 25 yeARS,,WORE OUT MAY OF THEM...I used to count on about 10 hard playing sessons out of a marine band type of diatonic;;not to mention many practice sessions before a reed went flat....The cover plates used to be very discolored before one went.....Now, no matter what brand I buy, thEY don't last AT ALL....HOHNER, HERING, OSCAR..dOESNT MATTER, THEY ALL STINK AS far as durability is concerned. Todays harps are made to play easy, and the brass is bad.....ANY MODELS OUT THERE THAT OFFER A MORE DURABLE REED??...KAZZOO

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Comments (10)

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Jan 02, 2012 3:37 AM GMT
Mondo Replied:

Wow. I'd certainly be interested in hearing input from other players on this!

Jan 02, 2012 6:27 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

well according to info i've seen over the past few years there is good news and bad news. the bad news is, the bell brass once used for reeds is no longer available so a different recipe- and quality- brass has been used for a long time now.

good news is, there are replacement reeds and reed plates out there for a lot of different harps.

only other choice is to buy up every vintage marine band you find and do the frankenstein, mix and match reeds and keep complete harps alive with scavenged reeds. BUT there are plenty of guys out there doing that right now.

for durability i have found suzuki's manji model to be a pretty dang sturdy harp. yes i have flatted a reed or 2. yes they do cost a few bucks, but yes they do offer reed plates for them. check out Rockin' Ron's.

Jan 03, 2012 6:38 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Joe, your real problem, unfortunately, clearly lies far more with your playing technqiue and it's far too obvious that you're using waaaaaaaaay too much breath force and you need to cut it back by at a minimum of 50-80%. Many of the newer harps uses tighter reed slot tolerances (the distance between the edges of the reed and the edge of the slot wall that the reed vibrates in), which means the tighter the tolerance, the lessof theneed to use hard breath force to do anything, and that's a thing the average player is reluctant to admit to and their single biggest problem. If you spent $150 on a custom, you'd blow them out faster because those have slot tolerances even tighter and so, again, your real problem is in your playing technique more than anything else and not the harmonicas and until you get your breath force under control immediately, this will continue to happen no matter what and that's the cold, hard, brutal truth.

Jan 03, 2012 11:40 PM GMT
walterharp Replied:

the sydel 1847 and blues session have stainless steel reeds that are somewhat more durable, and replacable plates

10 gigs plus many practice sessions does not put you way out of line as far as breath force, but as bob says, not much more control and those harps will last almost forever

Jan 04, 2012 3:52 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

With real good breath control, harps with brass reeds (and I'm basing this on gigging 10-15 nights per month), the minimum they should last is 6 months to a year, and with stainless steel, a minimum of 2 years. If you're getting anything less than that, you're clearly using too much breath force, and on top of that, you're also far too often bending to the floor of the bend, and that makes the stress problem you create by playing too hard 100 times worse, and you cause microscopic cracks in the reed metal AKA stress fractures, and once that happens, the reed is toast.

Of all the harps with brass reeds, LO's have the longest durability track record and many pro players who use them get at least 5 years or more, sometimes 10-15 years out of them. Most players who use the stainless steel stuff are still using the ones they bought when Seydel first put them out in 2007, including some players who think of themselves as very hard players.

Like it or not, the bottom line is breath force. If you tend to play too hard and bend all the way to the floor of the bend all the time, and when you use harps that have tighter slot tolerances (many of them now have that, some tighter than others) and/or a thicker reed plate (not to be confused with thicker reeds), you'll always have the blowout problem regardless of who makes them and your track record clearly shows that. If you play amplified, it's not necessary to play so hard and you can let the rig do the heavy lifting, which is why Little Walter often preferred amplified harp because he didn't have to play anywhere near as hard and could do more things that way.

Jan 07, 2012 12:38 AM GMT
joe p Replied:

Thanks guys for the comebacks...I do play for acoustic tone and bear down pretty good...With the combo of the weaker brass and the new tolerances, my problem has been identified. I have been cutting back on the air the last few years and playing more melodic,,but I guess not enough. Stainless steel, here I come!!! joe

Jan 07, 2012 1:26 AM GMT
joe p Replied:

Well i just checked out the price;;think i will go back to the trombone..

Jan 08, 2012 3:58 AM GMT
Mondo Replied:

Interesting conclusion, Joe. A good trombone starts ~$1,000 and goes up from there! That's a lot of harmonicas. Just snooping around eBay I found several steel Sedels, includinga set of 5 1847s with casefor $539.95

Don't give up, Bro!

Jan 08, 2012 4:19 PM GMT
Mondo Replied:

Interesting conclusion, Joe. A good trombone starts ~$1,000 and goes up from there! That's a lot of harmonicas. Just snooping around eBay I found several steel Sedels, includinga set of 5 1847s with casefor $539.95

Don't give up, Bro!

Jan 08, 2012 5:52 PM GMT
Winslow Replied:

Harps overall are manufactured to a higher standard of playability than in the past.

If this is happening across all brands and models, then the common denominator is you and your playing style.Maybe you're playing with too much breath force for the reeds. That's a personal choice, but it means you're going to chew up harps fast.

Have you tried the stainless steel reed modesl from Seydel? Players who use them are reporting superior durability. I have a couple of them and they do play nicely.

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