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DaiSep 09, 2009 10:47 AM GMT
I've been taking a look at the Hohner MS harps and one thing struck me as odd, why is the big River cheaper than a Cross Harp or Blues Harp? The only difference that I can see is the cover plates, same comb same reeds and reed plate. Why the big difference in price and surely a wooden comb doesn't cost that much extra (blues harp). Maybe there are other differences that I'm not aware of, I'm sure some one here will put me straight on this if there are.
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The reed plates are exactly the same for the following MS models: Big River, Blues Harp, Pro Harp, and the discontinued MS version of the Marine Band that was only issued in Europe. The plates on the Cross Harp, and Meisteklasse, the now discontinued models Martin and Tiffany, uses a reed plate that is thicker (DO NOT confuse thicker reed plates with thicker reeds because that's completely different).
The Big River was basically set up as a more budget friendly instrument with better quality than their cheapo Chinese made budget lines, and if you substitute the wood comb for the plastic one, and change the engraving on the top cover plate, it's the same thing as the discontinued MS Marine Band.
The wood comb used in this series, made of an African wood called Doussie, was a harder wood that would resist swelling and they went that way because they didn't want to seal the combs, which would cost more money on the production lines.
The MS Marine Band was never issued in the US after the prototypes were sent out and I was one who got to play it, and almost unanimously, every player who played it, hated it with a passion, and many big name players threatened to discontinue their endorsement deals with them, and more than a few of them wrote extremely scathing letters about them and so they never issued them here and many pros in Europe detested them so much that they often bought their non-MS MB's here in the USA.
Interesting what you are saying about the MS Big River and discontinued MS Marine Band, But what,s the difference between Big River, Pro-harp and Blues Harp (apart from the Blues harp has a wooden comb) in reed plate and reeds is it tuning or no difference they all use the same reed plates and reeds?
If no difference why do people seem down on Big River compared to Pro Harps?And why the price difference between the two?
What I'm trying to get at is why is there such a price difference in two harps that are basically the same harp with different cover plates which is cosmetic and cost no more to produce by Honher.
The tuning is exactly the same. Pricing is more for marketing than anything else. Some players seem to think they are leaky, largely because of the side vent holes, which is what the Marine Bands have, but that isn't a leak at all, but what the vent holes do is make it play louder and spread the sound around at a wider angle, maing it more sensitive to how you hold it, and as a paer, you get to hear more of the instrument's real sound.
The cover plates is nothing cosmetic at all and cover plates do play a role in overall sound of the instrument. The coating on the covers of the Pro Harps is also an additonal production line cost and trust me, no manufacturer of any product us ever gonna be so benevolent to absorb all of the extra costs of anything being added to the production line costs.
I've told you what the differences are in terms of what they consist of, but you 've yet to take into account the production line costs., and that's basic Business 101 here.
Like you say down to marketing. For the life of me I can't see that the black paint of the Pro Harp would cost more than a Dollar in prodution cost as appossed to plating costs. The rest is just plain profit for Hohner, and we wonder why harps are getting more expensive.
As far as sound goes I've never had these to compare so I can't say. Had a Blues Harp many years ago and didn't like it because of the wooden comb issues.
The coating is placed on the cover plates to avoid nickel allergies, as Hohner had been until recently, plating their covers using nickel, and people do have allergies to them, and so the materials needed and process for the production line is going to be more expensive.
The wood combs problem you have is from playing with a wet mouth a lot and also the combs weren't sealed. Sealed wooden combs are new. The cost of many newer harps in the top of the line are for things like tighter slot tolerances, which is very different, and things have to be set up differently.
What does this mean? Your theory that everything is entirely all profitis only partiallytrue at best if you were to take a hard look at what the real production line processes are for these models because you're over gerneralizing things far too much. You may be talking more in ideals than reality. Some models, I do agree with you, but there's a lot I don't agree with you on based on the reality what's actually involved in the process.
BTW, I do not work for, nor do I have endorsement deals with any manufacturer, customizer, wholesaler, or retailer.
Considering the cost of Big River is £16 and Pro Harp is £24 from Harminica Direct and the fact that two thirds of the above harps constuction is the same I fail to see where there is £8 of extra value from one harp to another. The cost of R&D has long been recovered and all cover plates are stamped out and it's not in the cost of the die either. Consider Hering they make a harp with a black cover plate for people who have allergies but it's the same price as the nickel harp (4p difference).
hering blues and black blues.
It would seem that hohner are either subsidising the Big River or ripping us off on the price of Pro harp and Blues Harp.
As a compromise to not "getting ripped off," do what I do and just play Big Rivers. Then you don't have to worry about it.
I thought that Hohner recently went to stainless covers, which negates the allergy issue. But I could justbemaking that up.
Bob is correct, nickel allergies are extremely common.
My only complaint about the BRs are that the edges are rough and sharp. When I get new ones I take needle files and 1000 grit sand paper to clean them up.
I don't see how they could be ripping anyone off. They make the product, they set the profit margin as high as the market will take. They have to pay the bills, keep their talent, and put some money in the bank. They (IMO) make a great product that they could charge more for.
Personally I do not like theaestheticsof the MS series except the BRs.
I can't stand the BRs, I think the body is bigger and clunkier. For me they just don't feel as comfortable as special 20's. I used to play pro harps but found they are a little bigger than S20s or marine bands. I guess it's a personal preference , but I'd pay more for the more comfortable better sounding harp. Unfortunatley, I can't afford a Spiers or another custom harp.
I have 7 BR, 4 Pro Harps, 1 Meisterclasse and 3 "mutant" MS (1 with BR plastic bodyand Blues Harp covers and 2 with Blues Harp wodden bodies and BR Covers). Here are my thoughts what could make the price diference
BR are usually leaky out of the boxand Ihave to adjust gap. Ther was no needto adjust gap on new Pro harps so far.
A few years ago I've bought 5 BR and on 2 harpsedges of reedplates were rough and sharp as Joel H mentioned in his post. I wrote to Hohner andsent them original bill. They sent me free spare MS reedplates without boxes (in a nylon bags). On the paper that came with spare reedplates it was written country of origin China.
I play Big River harps. I don't have problems with them leaking. I don't have any with sharp edges. I must have twenty of them now. They aren't super air tight in comparison with a harmonica like a Bushman Delta Frost or a Marine Band Deluxe, but they don't cost as much as either of them. They don't choke out, if you use too much breath force, so it's forgiving of poor technique.
The plastic combed harps have an extra screw holding the reedplates to the comb than the Blues Harp. I believe the Big Rivers use a thinner reedplate than the reedplate in the Pro Harp or Meisterklasse.
I've never had any issues with the Big River harps. I can play them and they are inexpensive. Some of them, I have had for years. If they do go bad and the cover plates arent all messed up, I replace the reedplates.
The comb Hohner uses on the MS series is made of unsealed doussie, which they went to because they didn't want to do the right thing and seal the comb and I'd replace that comb with a fully sealed beeswax maple comb from Mark Lavoie http://www.middlebury.net/lavoie and it is a vastly superior comb for about $18.00 apiece and allows the use of up to 5 reed plate screws wheras the one Hohner uses only allows two and the Hohner combs are very brittle.
The covers of the Pro Harps are Greblon coated, which is a coating for kitchenutensils. I used to play Pro Harps (MS and the older non-MS) and I happen to think that the coating darkens the tone a little. Some knowledgeable people tell me that I'm crazy to believe that, but some others agree with me about that. IMHO, MS harps have poor compression. They are simply not very air tight.