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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Harp purchase help
Harp purchase help
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87 posts
Oct 31, 2018
10:57 AM
Recently, I purchased 3 harps. A Blues harp, Marine Band Deluxe and Golden Melody.

These are to be left in standard tuning and just gapped for overblows.

I've also just took to playing amplified, which has highlighted certain differences. (BH vs MBD)

Unamplified I'd have suggested the difference in tone was say 10% but amplified the difference is in line with the price difference, around 30%.

The MBD has such a great tone across the notes. Deep lows and sweet highs and much more volume. Whereas, the BH is all mids, very even across the notes. Not a bad sound, but not as rich.

Like the BH, I'm not that rich either. I can afford 3xBH for the price of 2xMBD, and still get change from £100.

Here's my problem. I seem to prefer playing the BH over the MBD, but prefer hearing the MBD over the BH. (For me it's like comparing a Telecaster to a 335. Neither are bad, just different.)

I only need an A and a Bb but could also make use of either a G or another D

A third option, is 3 x MB1896 but I've gotten used to screws now instead of nails.

What do I do?
5632 posts
Oct 31, 2018
12:22 PM
I played BH for about 10 years. I found them very comfortable. Haven’t used one for around 5 years now.
I got into Crossover but they were a bit exxy.
The thing which killed off the bh for me was when I found I could not purchase individual reeds for them.

They have non-vented covers which makes them sound relatively muted but for amplified playing non vented is usually preferred as it is easier to seal up the harp and mic to get particular sounds. People with fairly large hands or those with rudimentary technique may find this not such a big deal. Not sure which I am, but I suspect I’m the latter.
Besides which, you can always seal up the vents in a Marine Band with duct tape or similar

Bottom line is I’m a Marine Band user (also like Sp20 and Rocket)
But I’m also a repairer. Nails don’t bother me and I’ve converted a few nailed Marine Band to custom combs and bolted construction.
I can replace broken reeds and they’re easy to obtain for Marine Band. For bh you can get replacement Reedplates but that’s too inefficient for my liking.
I also do not like the comb in bh. But they are fine in general use, just easy to break when you take them apart
90 posts
Nov 03, 2018
6:14 AM
I think part of the problem is that I don't know what is "my tone". Plus, having amplifier and fx pedal choices is compounding it. If it was a guitar, I'd know what various combinations of pickup, fx and amp sound like. But harps are a mystery to me at the moment.) The problem is I can't afford to keep ecperimenting and don't want a collection of harps where ever one is a different make/model.

The BH has a usable tone, but the MBD is just a better starting point.

I just physically seem to prefer the BH to play.
344 posts
Nov 27, 2018
5:34 PM
Hi Gerry
Don’t know if you’ve made a decision yet. I’ve never played a blues harp, in part because a lot of folks have voiced their displeasure. I have a couple MBD and love the tone. I find the tone in the MBD Only slightly different from some Special 20’s I have (but to be fair, I’ve got custom combs on them). If I were in you spot, I’d get a MBD in A, which you’ll use a lot, and a Bb in SP20, which you’ll probably not use as much but sounds great.
91 posts
Nov 28, 2018
9:10 AM
I got the BH in A but also bought a Hohner 360 and a set of Bb 1.05 plates.
The 360 was really weedy. I swapped the plates and the thin gauge covers with an old MS Special 20 thick set.

The result?

The clear acrylic comb doesn't have the lip of the Proharp or Big River. So it's exactly the same dimensions as a BH.

The sound is equally as rich as the MBD just with a shade less volume.

I gather these 1.05 plates were controversial around these parts and I don't know how much each component is adding to the overall sound. But if I replace any other MS plates, I think I'll go the 1.05 route as I'm impressed so far.

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