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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Is it Harder to play on bigger holes?
Is it Harder to play on bigger holes?
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2 posts
Jan 01, 2019
3:09 AM
I read that the seydel session steel have a little larger holes than my special 20. Is it harder to play for a beginner on bigger holes? Or how do it works.
5721 posts
Jan 01, 2019
3:57 AM
It’s no more difficult just slightly different calibration. Centre to centre, its 0.5mm further from one chamber to the next on a seydel compared to sp20. So that makes the entire 5mm longer from hole 1 to hole 10
412 posts
Jan 01, 2019
7:40 AM
I’d been playing SP20s since beginning. A few years ago I thought to try a session steel. It’s a good harp, but took some...not a lot...of getting used to. I could have easily managed it, but didn’t see advantages in performance, sound, quality that warranted a whole sale switch. Wouldn’t hurt to try it, tho, before investing in one brand. It might suit.
Phil Pennington
413 posts
Jan 01, 2019
12:52 PM
btw, I sold the session steel on the for sale or trade page and got some of my investment back. It was worth the try.

Phil Pennington
Glass Harp Full
190 posts
Jan 01, 2019
10:35 PM
When I was learning how to get single notes I found it easier to use a harp with larger holes. The Suzuki Bluesmaster and Harpmaster are my preferred harps.

I find I have to adjust when I go back and forth between these harps and ones with smaller holes, like most of the Hohner line, but it’s not a big issue.

I actually prefer the Hohner tone though. The Hohner Rocket has larger holes but is more expensive then the Bluesmaster and Harpmaster. The Blues Bender is a cheaper option with larger holes but the quality isn’t as good.

So yeah, try a few harps and see what suits you.
Soft Power and the Worldwide Promotion of Chinese Language Learning: The Confucius Institute Project

Last Edited by Glass Harp Full on Jan 01, 2019 10:36 PM
5724 posts
Jan 01, 2019
11:27 PM
some measurements

Hole width (Thousandths of an inch):
Seydel Session 0.168"
Seydel Solist Pro 0.168"
Hohner Rocket 0.174"
Hohner Marine Band" 0.163"
Hohner Special 20 0.155"

Tine width:
Seydel Session 0.148"
Seydel Solist Pro 0.139"
Hohner Rocket 0.123"
Hohner Marine Band" 0.136"
Hohner Special 20 0.138"

direct comparison of Sp20 to session: session holes 13 thou wider, tines 10 thou wider.

Last Edited by SuperBee on Jan 01, 2019 11:30 PM
Glass Harp Full
191 posts
Jan 02, 2019
8:38 PM
The actual differences are indeed very small so maybe it’s all in my head, but it did feel easier for me and it’s become a preference.

I’d be interested to hear what others think. Do things like hole size really make a difference or is it all a matter of perception?
Soft Power and the Worldwide Promotion of Chinese Language Learning: The Confucius Institute Project
5729 posts
Jan 02, 2019
9:16 PM
I recall feeling the difference a few years ago when I’d move from one type to another. It wasn’t a big deal but the difference was a bit disconcerting especially if there was a’leap’.
222 posts
Jan 03, 2019
2:52 AM
Good question, I understand the theory that a harp with larger holes spaced further apart might actually be easier to learn on. But you still have to learn to isolate single holes and move from hole to hole… The differences here are so slight that most folks just get comfortable with whatever harp they play.

I regularly switch between: Special 20, Session, Manji, Pro Master, Marine Band, Lucky 13, Lee Oskar, Golden Melody… Differences in hole size (shape and gap) are noticeable but I wouldn’t say harder or easier.

I love my Session Steels but for a starter harp I would choose the Special 20. The Special 20 is thinner in the mouth, that combined with its protruding comb promotes a nice deep and comfortable position. It’s also a little more compact and easier to cup.

My top two picks for beginner harps are the Special 20 and the Lee Oskar.

Lee Oskars do have slightly larger holes, if that matters. They are economical, very durable and easy to repair because replacement reed plates are available and affordable. They are comfortable and easy to play. I’ve found most of them take a little more breath than a common Special 20 but that can actually be good for most beginners because it buffers their tendency to be abusive with air. Lee Oskar harps are labeled with 1st and 2nd position which can be helpful.

Good luck Dennis and enjoy your Special 20

It's about time I got around to this.
250 posts
Jan 03, 2019
4:35 AM
There was a time when I worried about the different spacings between brands and would make sure all my harps for a set were the same.That lasted for a year or two.
These days I play a variety of harps again and do not notice the differences anymore. Mostly I try to play dead center on the holes and can't really feel differences.
I may have benefited from the time all the harps I played were the same and then over time just got used to playing any version as long as it played nicely.

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