The quandary is if I should I go full tilt Manji. I root in MB's, particularly Crossovers -if I can close my eyes and actually click the last step (submit) to Rockin Ron's. My SP20's with Blue Moon combs have been really tasty because I'm playing a lot of stuff that lends itself to the juicy curvy sound that SP20's allow (me). I play in a swamp funk thing and too and SP20's don't quite appreciate the brutality. I added 2 Manji's about 6 months ago (D & F) and have been on the fence about them. Many of you are familiar with them so my experience is, I expect, similar. They have begun to yield. They're working, better. I do enough bench work to "optimize". The flip side is that switching between Manji's and SP20's/Crossovers is beginning to become less effective. I'm going to buy some more Manji's today. I'll say thanks here to that Mooncat guy. Other than going to his shows I haven't given him any money so maybe the Suzuki people will appreciate this clear example of his work translating to sales. I will say the jury is still out on Manjis but I'm leaning.
I play all that you have listed, including also the MBD, customized MBs, and Olives. I have some Seydel 1847s and SSs that are gig worthy, too. Here and there I occasionally still use older version Delta Frosts, a couple Bluesmasters, and a couple Lee Oskars in less used keys, but as second string harps at gigs or for practice or fooling around.
For gigs, I find that the SP20s and flat combed Marine Band series (MBDs, Crossovers, and modded MBs) are really expressive. In a lower volume setting I tend to go with them. If played hard, they fail more easily.
When it gets loud on stage I like to switch to Manji's and Olives. Even though the 2 and 3 draw bends seem a little stiffer on Manjis and Olives, they respond well to a harder attack and handle mild abuse without failing. Sometimes I may use some Seydels with steel reeds, especially my Low F.
So far I like the Easttops pretty much, and may start using them for gigs (I use Big River covers). Presently I use them here and there as impulse moves me, but not as my 1st string gig harps.
We have access to a lot of good harps these days! Still, for gigs I would go with the better Hohners for expressive playing on a quieter stage, and Manjis as good harps that are durable and expressive with a harder attack. This wasn't a usage pattern I planned, this is what I find myself playing at gigs of the many choices available in my set.
If you are regularly playing louder amplified music on stage, Manjis are a good choice. ----------
JR seemed to really push the "1 Harp" thing with his point being that it is easier to master technique etc. that way. I didn't mind switching before I started with some Manji's but with them the difference is apparent. I don't know yet if it's a big deal. I'm playing out a whole lot these days so I suspect I'll find out. I didn't mention the Easttop but I did get two of those recently. I think they're decent. My only issue, which I don't recall seeing elsewhere, is the curve of the covers. It feels steep to my lips and effects my embouchure - a little. I'll have to dig in the giant harp pit for some Big River covers.
Last Edited by Littoral on Jul 13, 2017 12:22 PM
Thanks Litterol. I too have trouble shifting between makes and models. I still do it sometimes in the studio to force myself to play differently or for ET vs. Just/comprimised but in general I am of the mindset that eliminating any variables is a good idea so we can forget about that stuff and concentrate on the music. ---------- www.mooncat.org
Hey Littoral, I am that "Suzuki people", in fact, I am the cameraman on that first video (and play guitar off camera--also lots of kibbitzing). I am not a sales guy, but I do all the repairs, so I have more to do if we sell more Manjis. I am in the same boat, most of my kit was comprised of SP20s (in TurboLids) which I am in the process of replacing with Manjis, since they fit nicely in my Tsunami harp mike.
Regarding Easttops with Big River covers, the only needed adjustment is to slightly bend the support tabs in the back of the covers in a little toward the front so they are on the reed plates when assembled. Easttops are not as deep front to back as are Big Rivers.
I wouldn't contradict Jason on his idea about one kind of harp, thought each key of any given brand will play differently, too. Jason has my utmost respect as a player and teacher. My own preferences are not for really loud amplified harp with effects, but I love his work, amplified and acoustic with JJ Appleton. Jason plays really good acoustic harp!
I suspect he is right about how if I were using all Manjis, all the time, I would no longer notice the harder attack and would automatically use them expressively without intentionally adjusting my playing to the differences.
Still, I have a huge investment in the other good harps previously purchased (setting aside my more recent exploration of Easttops) and I am not planning to discard them for consistency's sake. I use Manjis and all the other harps that play really well for gigs.
At gigs I switch brands of harps depending on the stage volume, the songs, humidity, my mood, phase of the moon, etc.
My gig kit has 42 diatonics and some keyed chromatics. Several diatonics are low keys, and a couple high Gs, but the rest are mainly redundant keys of different brands of well playing harps. I have at least 2 or 3 of each of 12 keys, of course. I do have some specially tuned diatonics, but don't take them to every gig in my kit.
With the Easttops I haven't decided yet how I will utilize them.
Edit: I took so long writing the above with interruptions here that Jason and Gnarly posted! Aside from Easttops, all my latest harp purchases have been Manjis or Olives, except for low D SS plates. ----------
Last Edited by dougharps on Jul 13, 2017 1:33 PM
Hello friends. New to the website here. I, too, am a Manji fan. While my crossover is the most responsive of my harps, and thus probably best for soloing blues, I find that I like the sound of my Manji most, especially at the low end; it has a beautiful growl to it. Thus, for accompaniment with my guitar or banjo with the neck holder, I find myself gravitating towards my Manji most, with my Olives a close second.
I just snapped up a great deal on a 7 set of (in new condition barely used) Manjis incl case plus a Low F. Eight harps for $180 Aussie ($US139). I'm mainly a sp20 player but couldn't resist this deal. Looking forward to trying these guys out.
Having played a ton of different harps over the last 50 years (predominantly Hohner but more recently 2-3 yrs with Seydels), i've enjoyed the changeover to Manji's the past 4 years. They're great product straight out of the box but even better after Gnarly retunes them for me. I did get a couple Easttop. - Lucky 13's recently. They're a'ight but tuned a little sharp and not especially comfortable. They're in Db and F#, so clearly for limited situations. ---------- BnT
Manji has been my go to harp pretty much since they came out. I do use other harps, a custom MB, a stock MB, other Suzukis, Eastop, but the harps that get most play and that I replace plates on, is Manji. Maybe not perfect across the board- sometimes you want very soft and sweet and Manji does have a sort of raspy growl- but in the situations I am in a lot- acoustic street playing- they are excellent. And they do quiet down pretty well for small amp use and even p.a. stuff here and there. I've tried a lot of harps in 45 years. I was disgusted with the search when Manji came out, and they were right on time. Eastops are fairly good but I did manage to blow out a low reed on the model with the metal comb recently. It stood up pretty well for most of a year and I did record a couple of hard driving originals on it. But ultimately the reed pretty much broke off. Which I have never seen on a Manji. The 2 008s I have are doing ok at this point. But a replacement reed plate option and the no warp comb of the Manji, along with that superior acoustic volume- wins the day for me.
Added 3 Manji's, A, C G. I already had 2, a D and an F. Those being higher harps might explain why I'm liking these a little more. They are not doubt great harps but I do need to work on them. Tuning on them is excellent -compromise. I'm pretty sure my next harps will also be Manji's.
dougharps, I think we have the same box of harps. I appreciate your suggestion on the Big River covers. I haven't hunted one down yet but I will.
Last Edited by Littoral on Jul 17, 2017 7:50 AM
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