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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:54 pm 
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Hello, I have two marine bands A and C, and in the A i have the common problem of swelling comb.
I have noticed that after the first ( big ) swellings every time i play now it swells so little that it doesn't bother me at all.
I leave in Greece and shipping "salad bowl finish" or "watco butcher oil" is restricted via air mail (at least the sites i've searched send only in USA or generally America). So becouse i don't want to experiment with beewax or other "dangerous" solutions i thought doing something else: Take apart the comb and put it in non-salt water, let it swell and then let it dry. Do this 2 or 3 times. Then put it back to the harmonica. Do you think it is a good idea? Will it afterwards be less swelling when i will play?
I didn't like the solution of simply playing for a few minutes the first times just to let it swell and then do it the next day. Becouse i noticed that when the comb swells ON the harmonica it "bends" the reedplates and probably damages them. Also the comb "bends" too, making some holes bigger and other smaller. That's why i thought of the above solution.
Do you think it will work? Has anyone tried it before?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:53 pm 
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Howdy Saav!

Well beeswax isn't a 'dangerous' solution. Before the use of harmless salad bowl/butchers block finish, it was virtually the only solution to do prior to playing those old MBs.

At this point in time, now that the combs have expanded -- Although they will dry out when placed in the sun or warm place, still, they will never be the same. {For those who have never played these old MBs, just imagine running your mouth across a saw blade, and that's what these combs turn into! Ouch! :( }

And yes, your observation that the swelling combs also affect the shape of the reed plates is correct. Another Ouch!

As far as using salt water? Well wouldn't that get into and corrode the reeds too?! Am just saying from my side of the ocean...

And still others may suggest that if the harps are not too old and you got them from somebody local where you can exchange/return them for new...well, that's about all you can do now besides upgrading to a Spec20 or better harp.

Good luck!

Keep On Harpin'!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:52 pm 
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hi SPD (i made your name shorter :wink: )
About the salty water maybe you read it fast. I say "non-salt" water :) . Non-salt just to prevent the comb from keeping moisture.
Well, your answer is clear! You had told me also before, in a discussion we had, but since i see that my A marine band now passes to a state that almost doesn't swell and is playable i find it nice if this happens with the other harps that i may buy. I just want it to happen with the combs out of the harp, so that it happens evenly to all the combs front ends, and without affecting the reedplates.
I think i will try beewax. But with beewax the thing is that i haven't found something that i know that is "non-toxic"..


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:01 pm 
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Soaking the comb in water is what used to be done by the old time players. It will stop your comb swelling, but you might find the tines (teeth) of the comb stick out and make the harp uncomfortable to play.

You will also find that the moisture is not retained in the comb. The wood is very porous and, especially in a hot country like Greece, will dry quickly. As it dries, the wood is at risk of warping and cracking which will decrease the playability of the harmonica.

I don't play Marine Bands much at all, but I have restored a couple of old harps using Mineral Oil and beeswax respectively

Beeswax can be dangerous as it has a relatively low flashpoint and can cause serious burns. If you buy genuine, yellow beeswax it is natural and totally non toxic. If you heat it very gently, preferably in a bain-marie double boiler arrangement you'll be safer. I find beeswax treated combs feel strangely spongey and I'm not a big fan. It's a lot of work to remove the excess wax too.

The Salad Bowl Finish / Watco Butcher Block treatment is, I believe, something akin to a varnish. When many US players talk about butcher block, they are actually referring to mineral oil.

I think Mineral Oil is probably the safest - no heat involved and totally non toxic (although if consumed it has a laxative effect :shock: ). In the UK it is also known as liquid paraffin or paraffin oil (not paraffin though, which is highly flamable :D ) I just dunk the comb in and leave for a few hours. Mineral oil is used in many cosmetics. Baby Oil is basically mineral oil with added perfumes.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:11 pm 
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"...all you can do now besides upgrading to a Spec20 or better harp"

A lot of people would disagree that this is an..."upgrade".

For a start, they are about the same price, give or take a few pennies.

Now dont get me wrong, I am a big fan of the SP20, and I love playing mine, but I also love Marine Bands, and they play and sound like nothing else.

Thats why a lot of player still use them, despite them having a design out of the arc.

If you want to keep that wood comb tone but dont want to "go plastic" then I would suggest either stripping the MB and sealing the comb, or...if you want to "stay Hohner", buy either a MB Deluxe, or a Blues Harp.

Both are good.

I have all of these harps, and i like them a lot, but I have to say that a Seydel Blues Soloist is a much better proposition if you want to "keep traditional".

You will also notice a MASSIVE difference in playability, bending, volume, and tone, if you go with a Seydel.

They are KILLER harps! :evil:


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:12 pm 
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My apologies for mis-reading the post.

Back in the day, I tried sealing my old MB by dunking it in water. Having no guides to go by, well, needless to say I didn't do a good job of it.

Sure, others were more successful, as it was a general practice to do. Jon Gindick even tells of soaking his harps in gin or vodka. Guess if you messed it up that way, at least you could take out consolation with a bottle of the spirits! Hehehe!

As FJ notes, yes, beeswax must be slowly heated/melted as it is volatile at higher heat. And can be dangerous if not attended to. Yet it was used by old hands at one time.

The mineral oil sealing process sounds good. Greece is the land of oils, so I'm sure you shouldn't have any problems finding something suitable there.

Here is a clip by Dave Payne who uses butcher's block, but I'm sure the method would be the same and suffice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiE33zn51FM

Good luck!

Keep On Harpin'!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:27 pm 
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Howdy UK Chap!

Well considering that many newbies have replaced their ol MBs with something less such as Hohner Pals, Scouts, and other cheaper inferior and soon-to-become problematic harps -- By those comparisons of either downgrading or going side-ways as it were, then although the MB is priced within a few $$s of it, still a Spec20 would be considered an upgrade.

It's still a Hohner, and it is notably one of the most maintenance free OOBs harps for beginners and others alike.

I do agree with your other selection of harps as well. But do caution that if anyone gets a Hohner Blues Harp, that it is the one that is part of the MS series. Hohner puts their name and the word Blues on a lot of cheap harps too; so one has to be aware of what they are getting before they get it.

And yes, Seydels are top of the line and excellent harps in anybody's collection. Well worth the investments as one progresses along their harmonica universe journey!

Smiles!

"Have Harp, Will Travel!" 8)


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:38 pm 
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Yes, sorry I should have made that clearer. :oops:

When I was referring to a "blues harp", I mean't the Hohner MS Blues Harp made in Trossingen in Germany, not the "blues bender" and some of the other "Hohner International" harps made in China.

Harps are so cheap now that anyone can afford to buy a good professional instrument for £20-£30 ($30-$40), I wonder why anyone bothers with those cheap Chinese harps.

In comparison to other instruments, they are the most accessible by miles, in terms of getting a pro quality instrument.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:21 pm 
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Hi, i sealed my C marine band comb with pure beeswax. It was really easy (used the ben-marrie technic) and it left no excessing wax at the edges. I soaked it once, then after an hour once more and after 3 hours i reassembled the harp. I didn't want it to completely dry, just to make another "seal" between the comb and the plates. The color has been a bit darker. I didn't sand the comb, it already seemed "sandy" enough and also like the combs teeth with corners- not round. Now i wait until the night to try it :D .
As for why i don't try another harp as an experience that's a bit odd. From the first time i saw the marine band and played i didn't like to change it with something else. And before bying it i had already read about the swelling problems but couldn't resist. The sound is much superior than my hohner blues harp, even i'm unexperienced i can hear clearly the difference. It's size is small and i don't need to open my mouth like a lion to do a good draw. Also i like the small holes and big distance between them, of the wooden marine band comb, as it seems easier to make a clear note. These are some of the reasons i am "obssesed" with the marine bands. An i hate the plastic combs.
Of course i'm totally unexperienced and all these opinions are just "by sight". So maybe i have misunderstood many things.. that's why i always ask for advice :D


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:44 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:24 pm
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I attached some images!
The darker comb harp is the sealed.


Attachments:
test5.JPG
test5.JPG [ 216.29 KiB | Viewed 3502 times ]
good5.jpg
good5.jpg [ 247.32 KiB | Viewed 3502 times ]
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:17 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:45 am
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Do those MASSIVE bolts make a lot of difference?

:shock:


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:18 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:24 pm
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Fortunately no. I have tested them and the mouth doesn't touch them. Of course they are ugly but i was bored finding shorter. Maybe i will replace them in the future..


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:25 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:45 am
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Ive got a Marine Band in G which my daughter bought me for Christmas last year which has got swollen comb already, so I think i will have a go at waterproofing/sealing that.

Why don't Hohner do it before they sell the things???

If they can do it to the Blues Harp, then i'm sure they could do it to the MB as well, and save us players a lot of hassle.

Strange.

....and while there at it...recess the reed plates and buff the edges over so they aren't sharp any more!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:01 pm 
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Maybe they want to keep the marine bands as more customizable as they can. I think 90% of the experienced players who buy them they customize them.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:39 am 
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Does anyone know if using ( cooling and remelting ) the beeswax many times makes it useless? And if yes, how many times can i use it? Does it show signs that it gets "exhausted" on time? I talk about pure beeswax..


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