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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Service old harps or buy a new set
Service old harps or buy a new set
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srussell
44 posts
Jan 26, 2021
9:21 PM
I have close to a full set of Suzuki manjis that I played pretty heavily for a few years, but I haven’t played much in the last two and am looking to pick them up again. Should I A.) just play and not worry about them being out of tune - I’m just playing on my own. B.) get them all serviced and play on. C.) start getting a new set of harps.

Related - I have never loved the manjis - I feel like I have to fight them too much. Like I could consistently get a good sound and they were easy to work on, but just not really a joy to play. I have a crossover but hate the tuning and found it was too sharp when playing with others. I wanted to try the MB deluxe. I also am not a fan of the unfinished comb of the original MB, but I like the way they play.

Thoughts?
BnT
263 posts
Jan 26, 2021
10:33 PM
As someone who has played lots of different harps over 50+ years, I'd say you should contact "Gnarly" (Gary Lehmann) on this site. He's the US tech for Suzuki. Ship him your Manjis, let him retune to "compromise just" like he does for me and I think you'll be happy with both the tone and playability. Having exclusively played Hohner, Seydel, and then Bends previously, I really like Manji's the best. His retune/tune-up is a lot less expensive than a new set of some other harp too.
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BnT
www.BluesWithAFeelin.com
jbone
3308 posts
Jan 27, 2021
6:57 AM
BnT is spot on re Gnarly's work. He's taken care of several harps for me. I originally liked Manji a lot but to me it seems they have suffered supply and demand production speed up. Not as much care is taken as once was to tune them well.
I liked the replaceable reed plates until they began to sound harsher to me. So a pro retune would be a better option and one I am considering. Currently I use several other harps in my kit and actually I'm sort of in neutral for unrelated reasons.
Gnarly gets my vote of confidence.
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HarveyHarp
802 posts
Jan 27, 2021
8:15 AM
On every harmonica Forum the same question is asked. Buy New, or fix. The Answer is simple. If you like the harp you have, or used to like the harp you have, then by all means you should pick a good Harp Tech and have it fixed. If not, then buy something new.
I had a couple of very good harmonica players spend a couple of days with me a few weeks ago, and back when I used to trade 6 bad for one custom, I fixed him up with a couple of HarveyHarps. That was about 10 years ago. So, he brought me about 50 Marine Bands to trade. Initially, I turned him down, because it got to the point that all my trade in were real old vintage, or absolute junk. However once I looked at all his stuff, the were modern Marine Bands, so I did the deal.
So, with so many players facing the fix vs repair decision, I have decided to make good harps out of these. I am going to clean, replace any broken reeds, sand, round sharp edges, chamfer the comb tips, and triple seal the already sealed comb, correct the reed profiles (AKA curvature) accurately tune all reeds, set the offsets (gaps) so that all the holes play evenly, replace the nails with stainless steel screws, open the cover plates, and brace them so that they do not crush easily. Basically I am going to build the equivalent to a Marine Band Deluxe, Only stronger and set up properly. I plan to call these a Harvey Deluxe. I have already built 15 of these, and I plan on selling them as soon a I build a few more. My question is this. I have about 2 hours in each of these, so what would you be willing to pay for one. Keep in mind that a new Marine Band Deluxe is about $65.
If I am not supposed to post this here, I apologize.
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HarveyHarp
srussell
45 posts
Jan 27, 2021
8:42 AM
Harvey - the ones I have are okay - I liked them they played okay, but didn’t love them. So it’s kind of a toss up, I absolutely hate replacing perfectly good harps and maybe I just get a small set in my favorite keys to try and get these fixed too - can you really have too many harps?

As to your question - I’m not sure. I’ve never been able to afford custom harps. Nor have I been of a skill level where I thought my harp was holding me back - rather my technique and skill have been the things that need to improve.

For me personally a Marine Band Deluxe or a crossover is a bit of a stretch financially - and probably the max of what I would spend per harp. Although if they were close it would definitely be a debate and I might consider 2 of yours versus 3 of theirs.

Mind you I currently have 13 keys - although I try not to play anything over a D if I can avoid it.
srussell
46 posts
Jan 27, 2021
8:44 AM
Also Gnarly worked on my harps originally - a couple had issues that needed sorted under service and was phenomenal. So he was definitely who I was planning to have service them.
HarveyHarp
803 posts
Jan 27, 2021
8:48 AM
Gary, Gnarly, is always a good choice.
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HarveyHarp
florida-trader
1527 posts
Jan 27, 2021
10:42 AM
How well a harp plays out of the box is often not a good measure of whether or not it is a good brand/model or individual harp. Manjis are great harps. The fact that you don't love them the way they are now, does not mean once you have a competent harp tech work on them that you won't. My bet is that you will. I can promise you that you won't have to fight them any more. Every issue that you mentioned can easily be addressed by someone who knows that he is doing.

In my opinion, when choosing a harp tech to work with, it is a good idea to choose one who regularly works with your particular model and is more likely to have spare parts. Gnarly is your guy for Suzukis. He has the knowledge, the skill and the availability of spare parts to fix your harps. Just my two cents.
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Tom Halchak
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Gnarly
2956 posts
Jan 29, 2021
8:26 AM
Oh wow, my ears are burning!
Still getting things together from a recent move (Tom Halchak can relate) but open for business.
I AM the Suzuki warranty guy but also do out of warranty, and other brands, happy to help
Gnarly
2957 posts
Jan 29, 2021
8:27 AM
I am pretty fond of compromise tuning (and Just) just so you know.
dougharps
2230 posts
Jan 29, 2021
9:18 AM
Gnarly (Gary) is good at his work. Also, I believe that he has the tools needed to replace the welded reeds on Manjis. I can replace Hohner riveted reeds on my harps if I must, but not on my Manjis.

Luckily, the one Manji reed I thought needed replacement turned out to not need replacement. Gary checked it out and got it working again at a SPAH years back. If I ever find that one of my Manjis needs serious work, Gary Lehmann is who I will contact first.

Gary, since you have moved from San Diego you should probably update your info on the forum.
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Doug S.
Gnarly
2958 posts
Jan 29, 2021
7:16 PM
Good call Doug!
Doug is like the brother I never had.


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