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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Solid comb special 20
Solid comb special 20
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5291 posts
Feb 27, 2018
2:42 AM
Andrew Zajac makes solid, sandwich style combs for sp20s
I like the Sp20 covers and the 6 screw Reedplates are good to work with.
I built an E harp with one of AZ combs and I really like it. I have another Sp20 on a bamboo comb and that’s also very nice for me.
The only drag is there’s no slot for the cover but I set them up almost flush and just sand the square corner off the long front edge of the Reedplates.
You get a harp similar to a marine band but a mm or 2 deeper and a mm or 2 shorter, with non-vented covers and 6 bolts holding the plates on the comb. I open the back of the covers. They could use a prop to hold them open.
I think I like these better than marine band deluxe but it may be just the novelty factor.
118 posts
Feb 27, 2018
7:35 AM
I haven't put any Zajac combs on SP20s yet, though I have on Manji's and Lucky 13s.
I have a couple of simi-custom session steels that came with Zajac combs, I think they look better with the new combs than stock, as i really don't care for the bright orange plastic Seydel uses.
My SP20s I was thinking about changing them out with Blue Moon combs.
I pulled one of the Sessions apart and noticed it was a little harder to get back together without the slot, not a big deal though, I'm guessing the SP20s are the same.
Does this happen to everyone who knows how to play a harmonica and use a screwdriver, or is there just some special screw loose?
5298 posts
Feb 28, 2018
12:50 PM
Im not quite sure what you mean, I’m sorry.
It’s a bit fiddly to assemble these harps on sandwich combs because the location lugs are not present and the Reedplates aren’t designed to match up with covers in that way but that’s how it is.
I’m not sure that’s what you are meaning though.
121 posts
Feb 28, 2018
4:09 PM
maybe a bad joke I was talking about the loose screw in my head that gets me tinkering with perfectly good harps.
The SP20s have an advantage over the Session covers I think because they sit flatter on the reed plate

I was thinking about getting an aluminum comb for one of my SP20s, but I'm debating if I want to spend the money.

Since I have only changed out combs on harps that were good OTB, I really want to see what kind of difference would be made on problem harp.
5300 posts
Feb 28, 2018
4:33 PM
Oh, I see. Right!
A lot of people do get the affliction I think, but in many it is quickly overcome.
I got over the combs for combs sake thing fairly quickly and these days just get the occasional flare-up.

On topic of fitting your not-so-good Sp20 with a metal comb:
If you’re hoping it will make the harp better, I expect you’ll be disappointed. The stock Sp20 comb is very consistent and I really can’t say I’ve ever found a Sp20 in which the comb has been the major fault.
If the problem with the harp is down to the comb, of course it’s more likely a new comb without that problem might help.

Far more likely is bad gapping and/or reed shape. If you’ve already addressed that, then comb might be the next step, but before spending the dough on an expensive comb, try swapping the Reedplates onto a different Sp20 comb, and try the comb from the problem harp with some Reedplates from an ok harp. That will soon tell you if the problem is with the comb or the reedplates.

As a repairer, I love the Sp20 for its simplicity and ease of adjustment and repair.5b4a5e
123 posts
Feb 28, 2018
5:20 PM
I know your right, but I too get those occasional flare ups, think I'll spend the money on a new harp instead.
5301 posts
Feb 28, 2018
6:13 PM
I just thought of a couple other things which should be mentioned re poorly-performing harps. I always think of maybe someone reading these threads later:
A bowed Reedplate is probably more common and problematic than a bad comb, in a new harp. Of course, it’s kinda of the same problem in a way, just a question of the degree of influence each factor might have.
I’m talking about front-to-back bowing mainly. If that happens to coincide with a non-flat comb in a bad way it could be significant. It’s more of a pill to correct than a badly shaped reed, but generally is able to be improved.

The other thing which sometimes happens is that a burr on one of the reed plate screw holes prevents the plates from sitting flush.
There are a number of possible variations on this problem, including the simple matter of over tight screws which distort Reedplates, screws not doing up fully due to poor thread-matching. I’ve even known harps to be assembled the wrong way around (not from the factory). Those were very leaky!
Always worth inspecting the comb for flashing or foreign matter, likewise the Reedplates for burrs and ridges. Also check slots for burrs, misaligned reeds.
36 posts
Mar 15, 2018
2:35 PM
FlBl, what improvements did you notice with the zajac comb on the Manji?
I'm thinking of trying one and looking to justify the cost.
Future location of my really cool signature.
138 posts
Mar 15, 2018
3:48 PM
eetechTom, while the Zajac combs are very high quality I cant say I noticed much of a change with the sound or tone. After taking 5 Manji's apart and changing the combs my conclusion is that the stock Manji comb is an equal to a comb from a customizer, so unless you know you have a bad comb, the only real difference is color. Now I did replace some Lucky 13s with Zajac comb and they were a bit more air tight, and I think the sound was warmer.

I think it all depends on the quality of the harp and comb that you start with.

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