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 Post subject: metal or wood reeds ?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:55 pm
Posts: 6
as a complete novice i bought a cheap harmonica for about £6, made in china, but i want to buy something decent that will last, diatonic in C.

i read about these harmonica's with wood or metal reeds. what i would like to know is which would be the best harmonica for me to buy that's not made in china, diatonic in C, and metal reeds

cheers


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:55 pm
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sorry i should have said plastic reed ? i have seen a hohner big river and hohner special 20 for sale which would you recommend or if you could suggest another make ?

thanks


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:19 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:31 am
Posts: 752
You're getting a little confused.

It's not the reeds, but the comb that comes in different materials.

The comb is the bit that is sandwiched between the two reedplates and coverplates. On harps like the Hohner marine band and Blues harp it is made of wood. On others, like the special 20 and Lee Oskar it is plastic. A few harmonicas, like the Hohner Meisterklasse and the Suzuki Proharp have metal combs.

The reeds are always metal, usually brass or phosphor bronze. Recently (last few years) Seydel have made harps with stainless steel reeds.

As for comb material, it really is personal preference and relates to how you play. I know what I like, but that might not be right for you. The only advice I can give is to try a few options to find the model of harp you like. Anything over £25 by one of the major names (Seydel, Hohner, Lee Oskar, Suzuki, Bushman, Hering, Bends). The Hohner models you mention are both OK - I would suggest the Special 20 is slightly better in quality than the Big River, but that's just my opinion.

Beware of the cheaper Hohners - especially sets of harps - these are actually mass produced in China and have very little in common with the more expensive Hohner models. poorly tuned, very leaky.

A harp will not last forever, especially when you are learning. Buy one model to start with, when you need to replace it try something different. You'll soon learn what you like or dislike.

Good luck and don't be afraid to ask questions!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:42 pm
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Actually FatJim, reeds can indeed be made out of plastic. I've seen in one music shop a blue Chinese harmonica for about 4 euros that was made completely out of plastic, from the opening in the back I could notice that the reeds were plastic, too. It had no screws, everything was just glued together. I believe this to be more of a toy than an instrument, but I remember seeing later on the internet that one guy who tried some plastic Chinese harmonica said that it was surprisingly well tuned.

As for the thread starter's questions, you will know a good harmonica by it's price, they go for about 25 to 30 euros/dollars. Both Honhers you mentioned are considered good harps, I myself bought Lee Oskar for my first harp. I personally prefer plastic comb to the wooden one. As for cover plates, higher end models as a rule use stainless steel, only cheaper ones come with plastic covers. This is because metal covers give brighter sounding tones, while plastic give a bit muffled, less popular sound. But let's not forget also that musicians also preferred the brighter sound of electric guitar until Eric Clapton came and changed everything. :wink: Make sure you buy your first harmonica in the key of C. Later, if you don't get quickly bored with playing, you can get harps in other keys or maybe go for a chromatic harp.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:37 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:55 pm
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many thanks for that guys, think i got a bit confused to say the least, anyway have decided to go for the hohner big river as it's more in my price range at this moment in time.
As for the cheap one(from china) that i have at the moment (untill the new one arrives) i can't get any sound out of the last two high notes, and tried all the ways of blowing etc but have managed to play half of ''silent night''(off my own steam , without instructions of what numbers to suck and blow) using low notes and those near the middle and it don't seem to bad, but when i downloaded a sheet with which numbers to blow etc they were from the middle and high, but did not enjoy playing there version preffered to start with more deep tone.

realy looking forward to the new harp(takes some getting used to calling it a harp and not harmonica) when it arrives

cheers


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:46 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:31 am
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The middle octave is definitely a good place to start learning the layout of the harp as there is a complete major scale octave without the need for any bending notes. I know the bottom holes sound lush, but at your stage of learning, having that complete octave on holes 4-7 is where you should focus for learning simple melodies. The bottom 3 holes really come to life with bending and 2nd position. My advice though is don't run before you can walk. Take the time to learn those first position songs first.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:55 pm
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thanks for that sound advice, much appreciated. Bought a book and DVD this morning only cost £5 for both ''SIMPLY HARMONICA'' by Steve Williams, so hope it may help a little. I hear a lot spoken about bending notes, but have no idea what it's supposed to sound like so hopefully the DVD may show me, but i suppose bending notes is more for the person who has played the harp for a while ?

cheers


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