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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Low Pitched Harps 'Unresponsive'?
Low Pitched Harps 'Unresponsive'?
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174 posts
Feb 08, 2018
6:14 PM
Well any of you guys that play or have played low pitched harps please chime in here with your thoughts. I bought a low Eb Manji and, while i like it, it really is unresponsive around the 4 or 5 blow area. 4b in particular is weak. Anyway i embossed it, gapped it some, but though it helped it still disappoints at those two places. For instance on low pitched harps they don't seem to respond to playing fast single notes. The weighted reeds definitely seem slow to react compared to a more standard key. They are brilliant for train chugging and rhythm and overall i really like it but i've heard others say similar about the real low keys.
5250 posts
Feb 09, 2018
1:53 AM
I dunno man, that sounds like a fault rather than an inherent low-tuned-harp characteristic
Yes, they are relatively slower to respond but shouldn’t be standing out in the 4-5 area.
I’m not a big user of Lo tuned harps though. I have a loF tbird which sees some action and a loF 1847 I’ve made Country-tuned, and I learned a lot with it but haven’t used it for about 4 years now.
Anyway loF isn’t very low.
LoEb is starting to be quite low. I have an 1896 mb in LoEb and I’ve done quite a bit of work on it, Reedplate sanding, all the usual reed work, custom comb, light embossing. Probably need to work on ensuring the Reedplates are flat.
Anyway with all that work I still can’t really get the 1 draw bend in a useable way. I can get it down to E but it’s more like a exercise in physical development than a musical experience.
I have a loD big river. Just forget it. I dunno how to play anything with out bends. I probably should learn.
Big river is much of a harp to start with in my book so I don’t expect much, and wasn’t disappointed.
I’m sure it’s just mainly my lack of ability. I don’t have the patience to learn to bend these.
Oh I also have a Seydel Lo C 12 hole solist. But it’s a weird 3rd position tuning and I don’t use much. If you really want to know, look up a video by Paul Lamb called Summertyne. He is using the very same harp. Mine is half valved on the 2 lowest holes. Plays pretty good but I don’t play anything in D minor. Maybe I could try ‘I just wanna make love to you’ with it. Currently I’m using a chromatic on that, I guess the 12 hole Seydel could work but I don’t think it would sound like the 270.
Also have a MB365 LowC. Again, I just don’t use it. Thought I might learn bye bye bird but not really my thing right now.
So practically I probably don’t know much about Lo harps except I’ve found them kind of frustrating and mysterious and outside my immediate area of interest.
289 posts
Feb 09, 2018
1:50 PM
I've got a Low F Suzuki Olive which I'd describe as very responsive, including 4b, 5b. I've got a Low D Thunderbird which I find overall less responsive at 4b,5b but in general I find it more "airy" than the Olive, even after flat sanding the draw plate and comb.

I've found I prefer my Lucky 13s in D and F as I find them more versatile unless I want to go really low for chugging.
103 posts
Feb 10, 2018
5:55 AM
Before reading your post I thought the complaint would be for the 1 or 2 hole, from the harps i have it's the 4 and 5 holes that should be easier to play, and I find that true for all mine, Manji's LowF down to LowD, Seydel's Low Bb and Low A and a few lucky 13s.

If my Low Eb is typical of what Suzuki is putting out then I would say you have a bad harp, cause mine plays about the same as a G.

You might want to repost this on the main forum, and put Manji in the title, the suzuki repairman in the US hangs out there and could give a better answer.
175 posts
Feb 10, 2018
9:08 AM
Thanks guys. I did a bit more work on it and have improved it. However the bottom 4 blow holes are pretty airy. Don't know if it's typical of low pitch harps. I think it is.
314 posts
Mar 17, 2018
5:49 AM
Not sure if this will help but.... I have a bunch of low harps, including essentially an entire set of lows by Joe Spiers, plus a couple of unmodified Thunderbirds.

The Spiers Lows I have are double plated, except the E, Eb and F which are all single plate, and one or more of those may have originally been different pitch harps that Joe retuned.

All the Spiers Low harps are, as you would imagine, fantastically responsive and efficient. That said, they ARE low harps, so they do play somewhat differently than the higher pitched harps - as the reeds get longer everything gets progressively slower to some extent - but I don’t think anyone would play even my Low A Spiers (below standard A), and say “man, that harp is unresponsive”, but it is a very different experience than playing your standard A harp. And the sound is to die for.

OTH, several of the non-modified Thunderbirds I’ve had were a bit leaky/airy and significantly less responsive - rather dissapointing, and perhaps that’s the experience you’re having. In fairness some of the Thunderbirds I’ve bought were excellent right out of the box and really didn’t warrant the expense of custom work.

I guess my point is that if you don’t play much Low harp it might be difficult to sort out the differences between the standard low harp idiosyncrasies of slower response and different bending technique, verses unresponsiveness due to less than ideal manufacturing and set-up. IMO, the best way to find out is to buy a good custom low harp and then you’ll know.

Last Edited by LSB on Mar 20, 2018 6:37 AM
99 posts
Mar 20, 2018
1:16 PM
Are you sure it is not your technique issue?

Last Edited by Frankie on Mar 20, 2018 1:19 PM

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