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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Easttop T008k, Suzuki Harpmaster or Seydel session
Easttop T008k, Suzuki Harpmaster or Seydel session
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1 post
Jun 10, 2018
1:55 PM

I have a couple of Suzuki Bluesmasters in C and G. These are my first harps so have no experience with anything else.
Am looking to get an A and possibly a low F or D as I prefer the sound of the lower keys.

I can get the Harpmaster for £16 or an Easttop t008k for £12 - can anyone compare these two?

I also found an Easttop in low F but was thinking of a Seydel blues session in low D - again any opinions would be welcome.

Cheers Dan
322 posts
Jun 10, 2018
6:19 PM
Welcome to the forum. It's a great resource for all your questions, many of which have been discussed. You can look up topics by clicking on Blues Harp Forum on the left and hitting Forum search. But this question you pose I don't believe has been directly addressed, so here goes.

I have Bluesmasters, Harpmasters, Easttops, Seydel, among others. Since you already have Bluesmasters, I would go with the advice often seen on this forum, when you're starting off, try some different makes and models to see what you like. But I'll warn you, that WILL change over time!

First let's talk the shape of the harps you mentioned. The Seydel Blues Session has the same full covers as the Bluesmasters (meaning the reed plate does not extend beyond the ends of the cover plates like a "conventional" harp shape). These two and the Harpmaster have whats called a recessed comb, that is the comb is what touches your lips and not the edge of the reed plate. The Harpmaster, however, has a conventional cover plate which does not extend to the ends of the reed plate and comb.

The Easttop also is a sandwich construction meaning the reed plate extends slightly forward of the comb and your lips and tongue would contact it. (The classic Hohner Marine Band has this design)

While the recessed combs are usually more comfortable on your lips and tongue, after a while you really don't notice the difference (at least I don't).

In terms of key choice, any of these would be good in the key of A. As far as the low keys go, I'd start with Low F. I don't believe the Harpmaster or Bluesmaster is available in Low F. The Blues Session and Easttop are available in Low F but I don't have either one in that key. (I do have a Suzuki Olive in Low F and love it.) . Either would be a good choice.

When it comes to Low D, that could be trickier. Suzuki, Hohner and Seydel produce low key harps in their better models with a conical shaped lower cover plate. That's because as you get into the lower range with longer reeds, you can get something called reed rattle at the low end. This is caused by the longer reeds sometimes striking the cover plate. The conical cover gives extra room so that doesn't occur. I don't know how much of a problem that would be with the harps we've been discussing, but it's worth considering. I have a Hohner Thunderbird in low D with this design but I personally don't like the harp (or it's cost). Suzuki Manji and Seydel 1847 come with these cover plates.

In any case, I enjoy playing all of the above. I probably have more Easttops than any other and enjoy them a lot. So to reiterate, try a different shape like the Harpmaster for your A and maybe an Easttop for your Low F. If you'd rather stick with full covers for one of them, go for the Seydel in the low range and an Easttop for your A so you get to experience what sandwich construction feels like.

Hope this helps and have fun.
2 posts
Jun 11, 2018
12:18 AM
Thank you ME.HarpDoc

I've had a good read through previous posts and every time I think I've made my mind up I read something that makes me change it!

I'd like to try a sandwich style harp just to compare to a recessed plate so may end up going for an A Easttop. The bonus here is it is the least expensive so if it's not for me I've not wasted much money. If I like it I will probably try the low F too.

I was a bit concerned about the Seydel blues session in low D as it doesn't have deeper cover plates like a manji or thunderbird or 1847 so reed rattle may be an issue. I may wait for the low D and spend a bit more.
5427 posts
Jun 11, 2018
4:21 AM
The session cover plates are pretty deep anyway. I doubt it’d be a problem.
The reeds in a session or Crossover or 1847 etc Low D are not longer than an A harp but they are weighted so yeah reed rattle can be a thing but depends how loud/hard you play. And for most of the harps which come in Low tuning these days it’s been sorted.
More generally, while low d is fun I personally find it unwieldy. I can’t play the low end if any precise bends are needed. But that was true of low F when I first got one, and now I’m comfortable with that.
Boring I know, but I’d suggest working progressively through the low harps if that’s where you want to go. Start from G, and move down through F#, F, E, Eb to D
I recently got a low F# blues session. I would normally advise against the blues session in any key, but this one was $25 and at that price it seemed fair game.
The blues session is a harp I am dubious about, but if you get a good deal on a ‘fringe’ key (which won’t get a lot of work) it is maybe ok.
I’m not the most experienced harp repair person around, but I have been repairing harps for 6 years and doing it for paying customers since mid 2014, so I think safe to say I have seen a few more than most people, and I’ve been paying attention to Seydel models.
My opinion, based on that experience, is that Seydel brass reeds are not quite as reliable as their major competitors.
I do believe the company is committed to their steel reed products and those are where you will get most value.

I believe the quality of Suzuki harpmaster/bluesmaster is quite acceptable and they are better value than the Seydel brass. But of course if you’re looking for low tunings the harp master is not in the mix.
I don’t know about the easttop harps. I’ve seen extremely mixed reviews, which leads me to think quality control may be an issue. The other question though is about the people who are behind the reviews. I’ve seen negative reviews from some folk I know and respect.
Personally I’m staying with the stuff I know and love. Because I repair harps I’m driven by availability of parts and other related factors. I love the Hohner ‘handmade’ products for the ease of repair and maintenance. But Seydel steel is also repairable albeit harder to work on. And steel reeds seem to hold their tuning better, so they don’t need as much maintenance.
The Suzuki lines are also high quality and tough. They probably last longer than Hohner but the non-availability of single reeds puts them out of contention from my POV, but for people who don’t have harps repaired they may be better value than the Hohners as they are cheaper up front and last longer.

Easttop harps are so cheap maybe people can afford to treat them as disposable. Not my way of looking at the world but some folks don’t see it that way.
5428 posts
Jun 11, 2018
4:26 AM
And should keep Lee Oskar in mind. I’m not sure about price But they are renowned for longevity
323 posts
Jun 11, 2018
8:26 AM
Consider the Session. If you blow out a reed (which I did on a Hohner Big River in my beginning playing. I haven’t destroyed another Reed in 3 years!) Seydel does not have brass replacement reed plates and you would get a stainless reed plate, giving you a Sesstion Steel without the orange comb and at less cost than buying a new SS.
3 posts
Jun 12, 2018
2:35 AM
Thank you all.
@superbee good point re not going too low too soon. Am really enjoying my G at present but probably sensible to go no further than a low F just now.
Am probably going to give the Easttops a try. I wouldn't consider any instrument disposable, but I'd have less fear of damaging it learning how to gap it or learning bends. I know the bluesmasters are not high end, but I was too scared to mess with the reeds after taking the cover plates off for fear of damaging it! You wouldn't let an apprentice mechanic loose on a classic Rolls Royce ??
4 posts
Jun 25, 2018
2:54 PM
Ended up getting the Easttop in A and Low F.
First impressions are positive. Good volume for little breath and all the notes are nice and clear. Different feel to the Suzuki bluemaster as the cover plates are not full length, but not uncomfortable.
At less than half the price of the bluesmaster i'd pick the Easttop.

Last Edited by DanPa on Jun 25, 2018 2:57 PM
outdoor joe
71 posts
Jun 26, 2018
1:35 PM
Right on DanPa, be sure to post some tunes when able!

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