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Suzuki Manji

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HarpMan Freeman
Oct 19, 2009 2:13 AM GMT

It is one thing to say a harmonica plays better,
and it's another thing to say a harmonica sounds better to the listener and/or audience.

I have a request from those who just got a Manji?
Could you make a YouTube video where:

1) You play a short, maybe 30 secs, playing the Manji|

2) Then play the same lic playing your normally used harmonica.

3) Then Repeat one or two more time back and forth with various licks or styles of play.

The reason why I ask is, some in my family does not prefer the sound of Manji.


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Comments (45)

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Oct 19, 2009 9:20 AM GMT
Kingley Replied:

From what I gather the Manji is tuned to a kind of compromise tuning but is far closer to equal tuning than JI.

Therefore the chords will sound a little rougher. If most of your harps are tuned closer to JI that's probably why some of your family aren't so keen on the sound of the Manji.

Oct 19, 2009 12:55 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Kingley has that correct and when ET or even comprimise tunings are played with a lot of breath force while playing chords, they can really sound harsh. The one I have, I've already first retuned to 19LJI, and then 7LJI.

Oct 19, 2009 8:16 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

When I played the Manji for my family, I didn't use much chords, but rather mostly note to note playing with somerhythm chords every now and then.

They said the Manji had "Ringing" sound to it that they didn't care for. They said it wasn't bad, it was a difference which in comparison didn't sound as good. They did say it was louder.

Now the rest of the story....
I was comparing it to a LO which of course is ET.

Oct 19, 2009 9:17 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

The Manji, followed by the Seydel 1847, and Marine Band Crossover have the tightest slot tolerances of all stock harps in that order, and that alone makes those harps play much louder than the vast majority of stock harps. The Manji and Seydel are very close and the tigher the slot tolerance, the more air stays in theharp for a greater period of time and so the sound will ring more, and that means it's time to ramp back the amount of breath force needed. The Manji and another Suzuki model, the Fabulous, are the only Asian made harps using long slot reeds, giving it a bigger, fatter sound with tons more punch to it and so that means you need to make adjustments in the way you play them. The only harps that have even more of that ringing, punchy sound are gonna be custom harps, where you will need far less breath force to play them than these three that I've mentioned. BTW, wheneveer you increase the volume of the harmonica, you will also get a corresponding increase in brightness.

For traditional blues players, the long slot reeds have, as I said, a bigger, fatter sound with tons more aggressive punch to it that the traditonal players much prefer and this is the first Asian harp to even try to attempt that and that's huge and makes it IMO, the only real alternative to the classic sound of German made harps, which have almost always used long slot reeds.

For oveerblow players, the long slot reeds make the overblows a helluva lot more stable.

Yep, it means you need to take more time to woodshed with these harps and get use to ramping back your attack.

LO's have largely been tuned to ET, but the very first two years, they came in two veersions. One, that they;re still making, which is in ET, and another in which they called it harmony tuning, which was essentially something close to 19LJI, but 99% of store owners (and also as well as a lot of harp players) didn't have a clue what that all meant (which still sounds like the majority of music stores to this day) and rather than stock so many different tunings and risk losing huge money on stocking their entire original catolgue, the majorty of stores just carried ET.

Trust me, if you think these Manji's, the 1847's and the Crossovers are loud, customs are much louder than those and will need even less breath force to play them than those three. Unforunately, many harp players won't listen and then you can bet on them whining that they blew out fast and those are the last people to ever want to accept the real blame for harp blowout, which islargely cioming as a result oftheir playing technique.

Oct 21, 2009 12:54 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:


Would you mind making a YouTube as described above?

Oct 21, 2009 6:22 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Joe, Seydels are gapped lower than most out of the box harps and when the gap is set lower, if you tend to play hard a lot, they will choke quicker, but this is a more ideal gap setting for those who do overblows or if the harp has a thicker reed plate (NEVER confuse that with thicker reeds, which is someting ENTIRELY different) and those harps have a plate thickness of 1.01mm, wheras most stock harps have a thickness of 0.90mm, MS Meisterklase/Cross harp plates are 1.05mm, Hering Blues/Black Blues/Golden Blues and Bends Juke are 1.07mm, and Hering 1923 Vintage Harp/Delta Blues and Hohner blues Bender are 1.20mm.

Customs are not set up for the masses, as they're set up for the individual player to their playing style rather than when you buy one out of the box, which is aimed at the masses and not just you in parrticular.

Harpman, i've already retuned mine to 7LJI, and I am not set up for doing a video. However, like I said, when you have a harp with tighter slot tolerances, the amount of breath force being used REALLY comes into play, along with how you're able to manipulate the inside shape of your mouth, etc., just like with a custom harp. I really urge you to back off on the breath force you're using and then play it and you'll notice a significant differance.

Like the MB/BR/1923 Vintage Harp/Blues Bender, what also makes the harp louder and brighter are the side vents. Too many people think they hear an air leak with these, which is totally incorrct, as what they'e hearing is much more of the harp's real sound as the audience hears it, and the sound is spread out at a wider angle, and it makes it much more sensitive as to how you hold the instrument.

The Manji is a blend of several designs:

  • side vents from MB/BR/1923 Vintage Harp/Blues Bender
  • arched cover design of the MB
  • stainless steel reeds of the Seydel 1847
  • a body somewhere between the size of the Hohner MS series and the Seydel 1847
  • the way cover plate screws are placed on custom harps from the Filisko gild of customizers and/or anyone trained by Joe Filisko
  • the wider opening in the back like the pre-WWII MB's

Now that you Seydels are gapped lower, you either readjust the gaps yourself (and since the reeds are stainless steel, it takes more patience to do because stainless steel is a CONSIDERABLY stronger metal than brass is), or learn to play with less breath force. Since I don't play real hard breath force 24/7, I haven't had that problem at all. This is very important to consider, and 80% of players will never do that at all.

Oct 21, 2009 8:16 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

Ok, I'll give up on the YouTube request. :)

I am going to try the 7LJI, it sounds like a good way to go.

Oct 21, 2009 9:25 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

The sound of chords played in that tuning are nice and smooth and if you're gonna play that old timey Americana stuff where chords are a big part of it, or you're gonna be playing a more traditional blues (pre-1985), or even older country music, that's the tuning the works well, and for traditonal blues players, that's the tuning most preferred and all of the LW, big Walter, both Sonny Boys, pre-85 Junior Wells, pre-75 sonny Terry, pre-85 Cotton, and all the Paul Butterfield recordings are all using as the vast majority of diatonics were all tuned that way back then.

Like I said, with any harp using tighter slot tolerances like the Manji and/or a thicker reed plate, playing with less breath force becomes more important. When you play really hard on an ET tuned harp, everything tends to sound even harsher and ditto with comprimised tunings, tho a lot less, and even JI tuned harps when played too hard can as well, but when chords are played, it won't be anywhere near as harsh as ET tuning would be when played with too much breath force.

The drawback to 7LJI, is that if you play past 3rd position, you may have a very flat root note, which you don't want, and let's say take the key of C and play it in F, that root note (being 5 & 9 draw) is gonna be tuned 29-31 cents flat. If you intend to play more positions than the first three, a more versatile JI is 19LJI, which has those same two holes I mentioned tuned 3 cents sharp.

Also remember that harmonica reeds give off considerably more harmonic overtones than any other insstrument outside of a piano, but the vast majority of them are odd numbered overtones, which, especially when played too hard, can sound extremely harsh to the human ear much like the way solid state amps pushed into distortion did for decades until GK came up with the idea of putting in an output transformer in them like a tube amp, which reversed that.

The only two stock harps being made today tuned to 7LJI at this moment are the Hering 1923 Vintage Harp (which is a big reson why that's what Rod Piazza plays them exclusively now, and he says, "they're in tune," which is based on the way the MB's used to be tuned prior to 1985), and the just tuned version of the Suzuki Fabuious.

Pat Missin has sound files on his site comparing the differences in the sound of the diatonic (key of C harp being used) between ET tuning and both 7LJI as well as 19LJI, so you can use it as a sound reference. He's one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about harmonicas and his site will take a few readings to get thru it with all the info that's there.

Oct 21, 2009 11:06 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

I'm more of a note to note player then I am a chord player.

I use chords as "seasoning" by not as the main course.

Before I even knew how much stuff was on the web, I use to practice to Lee OskarVinyl albums.

Then I played in Church doing melody and fill in stuff but in 2nd position.

So maybe I should stick to ET?

Oct 22, 2009 12:50 PM GMT
John P Replied:

Personally, i prefer ET which is why i haven't ordered a Manji or a Harrison. I'm also mostly a single note player and i play in multiple positions. I can't stand the way certain notes are deliberately tuned flat in compromise tuning and JI. I sound so much more in tune with the rest of the band playing ET. No flat notes!

Oct 22, 2009 12:57 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

John, do you do any retuning or readjusting of gaps, etc. on your harps? On the harp-L forum, there is a guy who plays Irish music on special 20's who always retunes his to ET. I do play more single notes than chords or double stops, but I just don't care for the harshness of the ET tuned chord on major chords, tho they're OK on a minor chord. That beating is not a true shimmer but in reality, more like dissonance. However, one does has to pick their own poison and with every choice one makes, there is ALWAYS gonna be some sort of a tradeoff that you have to live with.

Even with ET not having flat notes, you still have to take in consideration that based on breath force, how you manipulate the inside shape of your mouth, etc., that you may be unknowingly flattening or sharpening notes, just like a singer does, which means microtones come into play here.

Again, whatever choice you make, there is always gonna be a tradeoff you're gonna have to live with whether you like it or not, and this is not a diss of any sort, but the reality of what's happening here.

Oct 22, 2009 8:52 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

It would take much to ET tune a Manji would it?

Oct 22, 2009 9:08 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

There are tons of videos showing you how to do tuning as well as so many books and websites with info. On any chromatic tuner, 0 cents is ET. On the Manji, like the Seydel 1847, the reeds are made of stainless steel, which is a considerably stronger metal than brass is and it will take more time to do any tuning or gapping on that particular metal, but it can be done, and you gotta be patient and not do anything in a hurry.

Before you start doing it on the Manji, get a cheapo harp to practice with first or if you have a harp that's better quality like a Sp20 and practice with it first to get used to doing it. Again, brass is a considerably softer metal than stainless steel is and so anything getting done on stainless steel is going take more time and requires more patience.

Look at it this way, many players like certain things about some harps and dislike some from others and some would like to combine things. I know of plenty of people who don't care for the stock ET tuning of most Suzuki and L) harps, but like the way they play and take the initiative and retune them and there are plenty of players who like the Hering 1923 Vintage harp but don't like 7LJI tuning and retune it to ET. Howard Levy for years liked the GM's for their overblow capability but hated how bright its sound was and what he did to alleviate it was to place a layer of masking tape on the undrside of the cover plates (the side that faces the reed plates).

What does this all mean? One size fits all is never gonna really be the right way to look at anything and more people should learn how to do the tweaking themselves and learn more about how their instruments work and stop waiting for something on a silver platter thinking of perfection because, truth be told, nothing will ever be perfect for everybody and manufacturers have to go for the widest possible appeal knowing that certain market segments are not gonna be pleased, like it or not, and unless you're willing to learn how to do it yourself, the only way you get your so called "perfection" is to spend the money on a custom instrument, which is tailored to you and you ONLY, as out of the box products are marketed to the masses regardless of individual needs.

Oct 23, 2009 12:24 AM GMT
John P Replied:

Bob, I do gap my harps, but I don't tune them.

Although i don't play anywhere near as hard as i used to, I suspect that I do ordinarily employ breath pressure of sufficient force that it flattens the pitch somewhat when i play. (I set my gaps relatively high so my harps will respond consistently to the slurs and warbles i play for effect, while still giving me accurate response when i play clean.)

As I've said before, I hear what you and others call "beating" on the chords of an ET tune d harp as more of a shimmer, especially if I'm playing amplified (as as I almost always do). But I don't have the best ear for pitch, and that may be why I hear it as more of a shimmer than dissonance. And I don't play a lot of chords anyway (although I do play split interval double stops quite a bit).

BUT, to my ear, the way the flat notes sound on a compromise (or JI) tuned harp is VERY unmusical and out of tune which really annoys me. But, as you say, we each pick our own poison.

Btw, 3M Nexcare First Aid Tape (a/k/a Micropore) on the inside of the coverplates will also mellow out bright tone on a GM and the raspiness you can get from a custom GM with narrowed down tolerances. And Micropore may stay put better than masking tape. But if you say this on Harp-l there are those who will very vehemently disagree! Why do think GMs sound so bright anyway?

Oct 23, 2009 1:09 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

John, on most harps, gapping them higher than the standard gap used out of the factoryis usually the kind of setting needed for a really hard player, but if you mainly use a Suzuki, they're set at a lower gap setting than most Hohners are set but not as low as Seydels are.

I understand your arguement that you believe anything that's not tuned ET is unmusicial but there are a large, just about equal amount of players who would say that about JI or comprimise tunings as well.

Joe, give yourself a chance by trying it for yourself in baby steps at a time, but either buy a real cheapo harp made in China or some of your older, well worn almost to the blow out point to practice on. Using old worn harps was how I learned and through trial and error, reading, etc.. I wish the videos like Joe Spiers and some other players and customizers have out now were available when I started out over 30 years ago, so you actually have much more of an advantage than I had back then when much of this info was often a well kept secret.

John, I agree with you on Harp-L and too often anything in regards to anything that is NOT gear related often have ridiculously irrational responses that border on flat out bullying and that's turned off a lot of peple, including a knowledgeable guy like Pat Missin, who I might contact and see if he might want to join up here.

GM's are brighter more because of their larger body, but to my ears, it is so slight, I really don't get bothered by very much. Anything that will make a harp player louder, be it larger body, more open back, tighter slot tolerances, you name it, there will always be a corresponding increase in brightness as well and that is a trade off and here's where playing technique, breathing and relaxation technique REALLY comes into play.

I've tried that method using masking tape as well as that tape you mentioned todo that same thing on the Big Rivers, and it does cut down brightness to a degree, but too many layers can interfere with reed clearance when it's being played and the idea of breathing in the crap from the tape doesn't exactly excite me.

The Seydel 1847 is less bright than the Manji because while both use stainless steel cover plates, the Seydel's are considerably thicker and heavier, which does darken the sound a bit, but also makes it less prone to getting crushed by a player who grips their harps too hard.

Some of us hearcertain things better than others and that is a proven fact. Even BB King has said in terviews he often hears highs better than lows.

Oct 23, 2009 8:39 PM GMT
John P Replied:

Bob, I don't open all the gaps on my harps. I only adjust gaps when i don't like the way a particular reed is responding. Then, I ussually raise gaps a liitle when I adjust them. And. yes, except for some custom GMs, I play Suzukis pretty much exclusively.

If I'm slurring and distorting for effect (for example, bending a draw note and playing the unbent draw reed at the same time) and then I want to take the distorted bend right out to the blow note without releasing the bend, sometimes i have to raise the gaps a little so the reeds don't "freeze"--not always, only sometimes, and then only on certain reeds. Most harps I don't have to gap at all. Occasionally I find a high end reed (usually a draw reed) is tempermental or a liitle tight, so I will open the gap just a liitle. But not always, and certainly not accross the board.

Someone told me out of the box GMs are tuned to 443. Suzukis are tuned to 442, and I have my custom harps tuned to pure ET at 442.

I don't play many chords. If i did, I might like JI or compromise tuning better than i do. But for my style of play, I think I sound so much better and more in tune playing ET.

I'm not a handyman type and i don't like to tinker. Also, I do not have a refined ear for pitch. So, for me, attempting to tune harps would be more adventure than i need or want in my life.

Do you think opening the rear covers brightens the tone? The covers of my custom GMs are opened in back, and they are certainly brighter than my Suzuki Hammonds, but there may be other reasons for that as well.

Oct 24, 2009 3:47 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

i got a manji in A yesterday. it's real early to tell what the ins andf outs are but one thing is certain, or 2:

this thing is LOUD

it plays very easy all up and down the comb.

i do want to put it through some more paces but i have a feeling i have a new harp obsession.

Oct 24, 2009 3:38 PM GMT
John P Replied:

One of the reasons I like my Suzuki harps so much is than the tone and response s so even across all the registers.

Oct 24, 2009 4:25 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

John, with many Hohner harps, regardless of the model, it's not surprising to see harps tuned from D upwards at A443, and in the 80's, I came across a few D's tuned to A446. Most Hohners tend to be tuned to A442-A443, and soexpect a certain amount of variation. The Hering Golden Blues comes out of the factory set at A445. In fact, the vast majority of harps on the market are tuned to A442, which makes sense because in most people's real playing breath, if it was tuned to real A440, they'd often play closer in real playing breath to A437-A438, which would be REALLY flat.

Opening the rear of the covers not onlly brightens the tone, it also makes harps play much louder because there is far less impeding the airflow and once airflow hits anything, like the way the MB flaps on the back covers have been for the last 25 years,a big part ofthe airflow dies and the harp loses sometimes very substaintial amounts of volume. Opening the back is a one of the very first things you'll get from custiomizers.

When I got 4 pre-WWII MB's back in 1983, one of the first things I noticed was how wide open the backs were compared to the way the new ones were in 1983, and that those pre-WWII's were both louder, brighter, and fatter sounding. I actually experiemented putting pre-WWII covers on the newer MB's and noticed how much louder they played instantly (tho still not as loud as the pre-WWII's did), and when I was tweaking all of my MB's before I put them into gig use, opening up the back were one of the very first things that I used to do along with a tip from Frank Huang (who was then a harp tech for Hohner) to get a tack hammer and place a nailset on the rivet, and gently but firmly tap down on the rivet to make sure the reed would seat flat flush on the reed plate, which was also a big problem with Hohner harps back then.

Having the side vents on the covers also does that same thing too and that was the purpose for having them there when the MB's first came out in 1896, and too many people think that's an airleak, which is totally wrong, as they're hearing much more of the harp's real sound as the audience hears it.

The Suzuki Hammond, like some other models they're making, as well as the Bushman DF's, and the Bends Juke, uses a different brass formulation called phosphor bronze, which has a natrally darker tone than most brass being used (dark enough to fool some people to think a short slot reed isa long slot reed) and even with a wideopen back, it's still darker and mellower, and harps tuned to ET tuning that use that formulation I don't mind playing at all because that material, to my ears, offsets a lot of the harshness associated with that tuning when playing chords. The DF's have a more enclosed back which further darkens the tone (thomay lose a bit of volume in the process) makes it one of the few ET tuned I harps I actually enjoy playing. Jason Ricci, on an online chat, mentioned that he preferred the more closed back, and on an ET tuned harp, I agree with him in that respect 100%.

Jawbone, now that you play a much louder instrument, you'll need some woodshedding time to get used to using even less breath force and develop a considerably more focused attack when you play. I can guarantee you that a custom harp plays considerably louder than that does, and so this probably the closest thing you'r e gonna come as to how a custom harp plays.

If they decide to make both a JI tuned version as well asn ET tuned version with more lowere tuned harps like low Eb, they will really put a hige dent in the marketplace, and for most traditonal blues players, Suzuki has never been on their radar screen because of the ET tuning, but if they do those two setups, they'll finalluy make the big dent in the US market, especially among the traditional blues players.

Oct 24, 2009 7:12 PM GMT
John P Replied:

Bob, Interesting about the open backs. I like the tone of my G custon GM, but I put micropore inside the covers of my C because it sounded too bright and a little raspy. If i get a higher key custom, maybe I'll specify unopened covers and see if that will darken the tone.

Btw, I've got a Suzuki Fabulous in C and it's pretty bright (but not raspy). I can darken the tone with breath technique, but it takes a lot of effort. But you're right about the customs (and i suspect the Manji as well)--lightening up on breath force makes the tone more focused and a little darker.

Btw, putting Micropore inside the covers of the Fabulous dulled the tone a little, but did not sound very good. But i do like the way it took the edge off the tone of the C custom GM.

You know, generally speaking, to my ear, the tone of Suzukis is generally more focused, and the tone of Hohners is generally more open. More open means more overtones which means more treble, so that may be why there's some rasp when tolerances are tightened as they are on customs. i don't know--what do you think?

Btw, I said i like my gaps relatively high because the first custom i got was supposedly set with "medium" gaps to facilitate overblows, but I don't OB anyway and i found the reeds very sticky and temperamental until I opened the gaps and then everything was fine. But i don't find it necessary to open all the gaps across the board on my out of the box Hammonds or the set of Firebreaths I carry as spares, and i didn't have to adjust any of the reeds on the Fabulous. I specified higher gaps on the second custom i got and they were fine, although i did open a couple of them just a smidgeon. Big difference in tonal qualities with varying breath pressure on the customs--and yes, it's definitely better to lighten up!

Oct 24, 2009 11:18 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

Check out the post from Modern Blues Harmonica for "Sorin"

He posted a YouTube of his review and took some pictures of a few reeds.

To me, it makes me wonder if the Manji he got wasn't handled or used before. The reeds on my Manji where not scratched up nor marked up like Sorin's is.

Oct 25, 2009 12:07 AM GMT
John P Replied:

The reeds don't look like the reeds on any Suzuki I've ever seen. (and i've got 13 Hammonds, 10 Firebreaths, 10 Promasters, a Pureharp and a Fabulous). On 2 separate occasions, a new Suzuki i bought had a bad reed. i called Suzuki customer service and their customer service guy, Os Leguisimo, was very accommodating and took care of the problems with no hassle at all. He takes a little while to call back, but the service is very prompt once you do get to talk to him.

On a scale of 1 to 10 Suzuki customer service rates a 12 (at least). Someone should pass this along to Sorin (I don't belong to the MBH forum).

Oct 25, 2009 12:11 AM GMT
John P Replied:

Hey Bob, I forgot to mention that one of the nice things about Micropore is that you can get it soaking wet (for example, when you rinse out a harp to clean it) and it says put. i don't think masking tape responds as favorably to moisture.

Oct 25, 2009 1:20 AM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

John P

I posted your comments about Suzuki Customer Service on MBH.

Oct 25, 2009 2:16 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

"Jawbone, now that you play a much louder instrument, you'll need some woodshedding time to get used to using even less breath force and develop a considerably more focused attack when you play. I can guarantee you that a custom harp plays considerably louder than that does, and so this probably the closest thing you'r e gonna come as to how a custom harp plays."

i am very aware of this bob, and a complication has already arisen: this is one of about 14 harps in my case, so the dilemma will be to REMEMBER what harp i have and play this one more gently. also as regards volume through an amp, i'll need to keep my mic volume cut back some when i play this harp.

i did have a couple of customs about 8 years ago built by richard sleigh. at the time i had no amp of my own- stay out of pawn shops when yopu're broke- and would just get carried away on a jam stage through the p.a. one of those harps walked away one night, the other i lost track of a few years ago. i am considering a custom when i'm flush again but my budget is pretty much shot for a while.

Oct 25, 2009 4:05 AM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

The word from Chris Michalek on MBH is Os Leguisimo is no longer with suzuki, which happen about a week ago.

Oct 26, 2009 1:15 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

The reeds on the Manji are different in two ways:

  • instead of being made of brass (or in the case of the Firebreath, Promasters, Fabulous, the Hammonds, and the Bushman Delta Frost, which they manufacture, those reeds use phosphor bronze, which is a type of brass, but different), the Manji uses stainless steel reeds like the Seydel 1847 does.
  • Like the Fabulous, the Manji is using long slot reeds, which is very unusual for any Asian made harp because most every other Asian made harp uses a short slot reed, which actually emphasizes the upper harmonic overtone more than the long slot does, but when coupled with phosphor bronze, that takes the brightness down quite noticeably.

The attack with the long slot reed is genrerally more wide open than the short slot, and the tone is generally going to be bigger. Two things about the Manji I would'velike to have seen done was on the lower key harps, instead of a large counterweight the drop the pitch, I'd much rather see a longer reed, which tends to deepen the tone more and is more stable. The other thing would be to borrow from the Seydel 1847, the use of a considerably thicker stainless steel cover plate, which both darkens the tone a bit more and is also less suceptible to getting crushed by a player who grips their harps with too much of a stranglehold force AKA gripping too hard, which is soething Suzuki warns about on their little leaflet that comes with all of their harps, and also I'd have the back of the covers opened even wider like the Seydel.

John, I'ved messed with the Micropore tape, and customizers used to use this for making a gasket for the covers, but none of them do this anymore because the stuff from the tape tends to seep into the harps and it's something no one wants to be breathing in, so there's both good and bad with that stuff.

BTW, John, when you get a chance, put a stock GM cover plate as a substitute on your custom GM's and you should easily hear a difference.

Oct 27, 2009 4:15 AM GMT
John P Replied:

Bob, Yeah, i've heard about the disadvantages of using Micropore for gasketing. BUT, as a damper inside the covers, i think it works pretty well because it STAYS PUT even after getting wet and it doesn't tend to disintegrate under the covers like it does if slots are cut in it so it can be used as a gasket. And if it gets dirty (as it eventually will) it's really easy to peel of and replace. Better as a damper than masking tape, I think.

Oct 27, 2009 4:17 AM GMT
John P Replied:

Hey Bob, i forgot to ask, do Lee Oskars have long or short slot reeds?

Oct 27, 2009 1:09 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

John, as far as the Micropore for dampening, there is verylittle difference between that and masking tape, but the sticky stuff from either one eventually wears out and micropore is more easily prone to collect dirt than masking tape is (unless you get the cheap stuff). As I said, no one uses that for gasketing anymore for the reasons I've stated.

Lee Oskars are manufactured by Tombo of Japan, and like all harmonicas made in Asia (with the exception of only two models made by Suzuki, the Fabulous and the Manji), and they all use short slot reeds, which tends to favor the upper harmonic overtones big time. Short slot reeds (unless the reed material is phosphor bronze, which has a naturally darker tone), when played hard tends to sound extremely shrill and the ET tuning brings it out even more so, especially on higher pitched harps. the Hohners from 185-1994 used a harder brass with shorter slot reeds cut really thin and they definitely sounded really shrill when compared to long slot reeds with a softer brass that was used on pre-WWII MB's.

BTW, the Lee Oskar design is basically similar to the original design of a Tombo instrument called the Major boy, which was at one time only available on the west coast and tho the parts were interchangeable, the big differences were that the LO's used a much tighter slsot tolerance, softer brass, and in the tuning process, unlike Hohner did for almost 100 years, they all were tuned parrellel to the length of the reed rather tan diagnolly across the reed as Hohner often did. This has nothing to do with JI or ET tuning, but the method involved. Altho tuning is faster when done diagnolly across the reed, it's so easy to cause deep gouges and using this method frequently weakens the structure of the reed metal that it wasn't a surprise that when a reed broke, it usually did at that spot that was filed across the reed. Doing it parellel to the length of the reed takes longer, but it is more accurate and avoids the stress problems and reeds last a lot longer this way.

Oct 27, 2009 7:12 PM GMT
BP Replied:

Just to clarify something, Barbeque Bob: the Manji reeds are Phosphor Bronze, not stainless steel. Not sure where you got that from, but the publicity is clear:

Brendan Power

Oct 27, 2009 7:45 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Thanks for the correction and somehow it got online that it was stainless steel (by who, I can't remember).

Oct 27, 2009 7:46 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Os is now working for Seydel Harmonicas, as was announced today by Rupert Oysler.

Oct 27, 2009 9:12 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Brendan, seeing that link was very helpful. I still haven't heard back from them what is the forumulation (AKA the actual cents chart) for the comprimise tuning yet, which would be helpful. Are there any plans for them to be available in either 7LJI or 19LJI as well as ET tunings and also if they will be made available in lower pitched keys from Low C and upward, especially (for me anyway) Low Eb? I think it would really sell big for a wider number of playing genre/markets.

I can also see why this harmonica is not in price range of the Seydel 1847, as phosphor bronze is likely a much less expensive metal than stainless steel would be.

I can now safely say that this is NOT a harmonica for a newbie because if you don't get breath control down FIRST, with the extremely tight slot tolerances, in the hands of a poorly skilled player who uses too much breath force, this could be blown out quite easily, and if this had a thicker reed plate, even more so.

Oct 28, 2009 5:25 AM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

Question for Brendan...

Modern Blues Harmonic Forum had a discussion onPhosphor Bronze that appears to me to be a bitexaggerated in some of their assumptions.

They are discussing if this allow is Toxic or not. Several Windinstruments are made from this allow and have been for years.

Could you visit the link below and then share your thoughts on the matter with us?


Oct 28, 2009 7:36 PM GMT
walterharp Replied:

Here is a material saftey data sheet for phosphor bronze. Essentially all the worry is related to the components that are in all bronze (copper and tin). Basically, you should not breathe the dust,,%20c511,%20c519%20etc..pdf

Mar 10, 2011 7:02 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

I have half valved my Manji.

At SPAH, Brendan Powers ( PT Gazell ( gave a workshop on half valving. So I gave it a try and I'm enjoying the results. I'm not an overblower, so half valving allows me to access those hidden notes using blow bends on the lower holes 1-6 and draw bends on 7-10.

On Hoots harmonica blog, PT shares about half valving:

Mar 14, 2011 8:50 AM GMT
Mondo Replied:

HarpMan Freeman, why would you do that to a Manji? I thought the Manji and Crossharp were already both easier to bend than other harps. I would think that this kind of mod was unnecessary.

Mar 15, 2011 6:18 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

Barbeque Bob

My manji is with regular brass reed, not stainless steel unfortunately. I really love stainless steel as it's usually in tune.

Apr 26, 2011 3:27 AM GMT
thomas s Replied:

hey, I'm new here and only been playing a short while, so if someone has the time could you explain what 7LJI is or the nomenclature encompasing this discussion is about. A referal to some text explaining this would suffice as I'm guessing it could be lenghty.

ANY help would be greatly appreciated. I've always wanted to learn harp and a injury forced me away from my bass but, im having fun and actually have learned a little LW so far. I read stuff like this and realize how little I really know so, anything you can point me to will be a big help.

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