Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Old Harps
Old Harps
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1337 posts
Nov 27, 2018
11:53 AM
Outside of old Marine Band harps, what are some other brands and models that are desirable for modification and/or restoration? I've got a bunch of old harmonicas that I want to get rid of, but I want to know what I am doing.

Thank you in advance.

Last Edited by atty1chgo on Nov 27, 2018 11:53 AM
2758 posts
Nov 27, 2018
12:22 PM
Occasionally I've made a deal with a rebuilder. All my dead harps- he could use at least some as replacement reeds and maybe screws etc.-in trade for a rebuilt/custom harp or two depending on how much of my stuff he could use. If they are sitting around getting dusty anyway it made sense to me to get them gone and if I could get a harp or two back that's even better.

If you were inclined you could learn the basics of reed swapping and retuning etc. I am not interested since I have no space and time to pursue it. Part of my history is as an industrial sewing machine rebuilder some 35 years ago, so I have some aptitude for small assemblies and such, but my eye and ear are not what they once were and I don't have a budget for some of the esoteric tools needed to really get deep into it.

I swapped everything from MB and Blues Harps to SP 20 and even Big River mostly. Some may have not had any real value. These days I use a lot of Manji among others and have not sought out anyone who wanted to trade plates with one bad reed for anything. It's been easier to chunk the old plates.

Marine Band seems to be a solid leader for customizers to get deep into. Some guys are working other harps and the US Suzuki warranty guy can replace Manji reeds easily.

Depending on what kind of harps you have you might want to consider getting them repaired.
Music and travel destroy prejudice.




Last Edited by jbone on Nov 27, 2018 12:24 PM
1383 posts
Nov 27, 2018
4:21 PM
When you get right down to it, harmonicas a re really pretty simple instruments. You have a comb, two reed plates and two covers. There are way more interchangeable parts on harps than you might think. Certainly within the same brand, but even from one brand to the next. For example, the Hohner Marine Band, Golden Melody and Special 20 all use the same reeds. You can pull a reed off a Special 20 reed plate and use it on either a Marine Band or a Golden Melody – or vice versa. The number of combinations of combs, covers and reed plates that fit together is almost endless. If the screw holes are not quite in the right spot you can drill new holes. If a cover is too long or wide, you can grind or sand it down to size. Same thing with combs. If you are willing to be creative you can fashion all sorts of Frankenstein harps and make stuff that works. You are really only limited by your imagination.

Tom Halchak
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Thievin' Heathen
1087 posts
Nov 30, 2018
8:27 PM
Among my favorite harps are a couple that I put together using pre-MS Meisterclause (sp?) reed plates that HohnerShop was closeout ebaying a few years ago. Limited keys, I think I got an A, D & F but they fit MB combs.
3284 posts
Dec 05, 2018
6:42 PM
the only old harps I will buy via ebay or otherwise.....are marine bands......nuff said
1394 posts
Dec 10, 2018
4:36 AM
Don't forget Old Standbys George.
Tom Halchak
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Blue Moon Harmonicas
2596 posts
Dec 10, 2018
10:00 AM
I used to buy old 365 harps for the real estate--but now that Brendan has the Lucky 13 in a variety of flavors, I will be less likely to do that.
Those are Marine Bands! And not as popular as the 1896.
I always tell folks who want to learn to work on their harmonicas, "Practice on your Hohners!"
2597 posts
Dec 10, 2018
10:08 AM
Hey, thanks to jbone for the shout out.

Not only is it fairly easy for me to replace dead reeds in Suzuki harps, I have the reed stock.

But unless you have a reed to put into a harp, no point in investing your time and money.

I recently had an interaction with a potential customer, and he asked if it was cheaper to have me replace a reed or just buy new reed plates.

I told him he should replace the reed plates and save the old ones for when he (or someone else) wanted a donor reed.

I told him, "You will only want to replace a single reed yourself if you are dirt poor, or a professional harmonica player--or both!"

I laughed and laughed . . .
2598 posts
Dec 10, 2018
10:11 AM
@floridatrader One of the cool parts of my job is getting a chance to work on these old Power Frankenstein harps. Bren has done some cool hacks . . .
10015 posts
Dec 10, 2018
10:47 AM
Gnarly, I'm off again on again playing with a project involving 365s! (Stuck at the moment because I need a 14 hole chromatic run on a blow plate. I know I am going to end up needing to cut up a couple plates to make it feasible.)

atty, I'm partial to pre-MS Blues Harps.

I have one Huang harmonica that has the most comfortable covers of any harp I've ever owned, but it's second hand and the reeds are a mess. Unplayable. (They also have a really terrible design for their crush bar. All I can think is maybe someone had a patent on the good ideas so they were stuck with that one- although it does allow them to use a flat comb so they don't need built on struts like a Sp20 or LO. So maybe that was their thinking.

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