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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Lucky 13 vs Kongsheng Solist
Lucky 13 vs Kongsheng Solist
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Caitlin P
2 posts
Sep 08, 2019
2:20 AM
Anyone here have experience with the two of these harps?

I'm shopping for a Bb harp to try Adams stuff, and I've never tried those two. I've got special 20s and blues harps, suzuki bluesmasters and promasters, and a stray Easttop in keys C, A and G. Don't have a Bb yet

The bass of the Lucky 13 sounds fun as hell. But Youtube is on fire talking about how the Kongsheng is the bees knees. I don't want to buy both atm, so I have to pick one.
6154 posts
Sep 08, 2019
4:11 AM
Might not be much help but fwiw some rambling thoughts.
I haven’t played a lucky 13, but I have played other harps with similar tuning layouts.
I have played the kongsheng Solist. Not a Bb but an A and a C.

My Kongsheng harps are undeniably very good harps.

If I needed a Bb, personally I would not bother with the Lucky 13. That is because I know I wouldn’t have much use for the low octave.

My low harps just don’t get used. By the time I get to Low D it’s really no longer happening. And Lo Eb and Lo E are usually quite Lo NellE too.
Even my Lo F only breathes occasionally, sometimes months between use.

Other people seem to have lots of fun with low-tuned harps and if that’s you, or if you think it may be you then there’s probably not really much to lose going with the Lucky 13.

I bought 2 Solist from curiosity. As you observed, the reviews have been very complimentary.

My experience is testament to the truth of the reviews. I’ve never found a better factory-built harp.

If you bought a Solist and a Lucky 13 I expect you’d find the Solist much better for playability.

The Lucky 13 I understand is a decent quality unit but I doubt it’s at the level of the Solist.

I’ve seen a few grumbles about the L13 and never any rave reviews. I have seen positive reviews, but never anything like the reports for the Solist.

So really, depends what you see your self doing. If you want to try a really hi level standard harp you won’t do better than Kongsheng Solist unless you go custom. If you want to explore more adventurous angles, the Lucky 13 might be more fun for you
Caitlin P
3 posts
Sep 08, 2019
10:31 AM
Thanks, Superbee. I think I'll go with the Kongsheng and later just get an actual low-tuned harp separately. You're right that other than the novelty, I've never really heard anyone rave about a Lucky 13.
372 posts
Sep 11, 2019
6:33 PM
I haven’t played a Konsheng yet but I’d go with Bee’s advice. I will rave about the Lucky 13 though. I have an L 13 in D and F. I don’t use the D much but the F is my go to F harp. Adding the low octave to the improv without switching harps makes the choice easier in the middle of a song of the higher F is too high.
Caitlin P
4 posts
Sep 12, 2019
11:25 PM
I got the kongsheng this afternoon, and I'm blown away. I might get a Lucky 13 later, but wow I'm glad I went with the Kongsheng. I've never held a harp this beautiful and the responsiveness is just off the charts. Out of the box it was as good as any harp I've ever gapped. And it's my Bb to do Adam's stuff, so I'm really going to enjoy that.

I joked on the discord that it was so responsive I bet the wind could play it. Then I held it up to a fan a few feet away.. and the fan did indeed play it. Crazy.

I completely get why the internet is going bananas over these things.

Last Edited by Caitlin P on Sep 12, 2019 11:30 PM
6165 posts
Sep 13, 2019
8:31 PM
That is great news, Caitlin!
They do play with very little wind. The flip side to that is that they seem to be a bit less tolerant of forceful playing.

My reservations about Kongsheng are mainly that it’s still early days for some of these models, which means we don’t really know about longevity. I’ve seen a few complaints about reed failures but it’s hard to conclude anything from a few individual reports. If people play hard and open gaps to accommodate their more forceful play, i don’t really know if they are stressing reeds through clumsy adjustment practice or hard blowing.
Or maybe the reeds are milled in a way that might mean they are prone to early failure. Or maybe ‘who knows’. They might be completely fine. I see plenty reports of people having problems with Hohner reeds. I mean, I make a little pocket money by repairing (mainly) Hohner harps. Then again, there are a LOT of Hohner harps around, so part of that is probably just statistical likelihood.
Likewise, I’m sure there are a few people lurking about keen to tear down the reputation of any business which is making waves.

I did measure the thickness of reedplates and found the Kongsheng are around 8% thicker than a Marine Band. This would make them a little louder and perhaps slightly more prone to breaking from hard play than a Marine Band, all else being equal.

In danger of drifting completely OT, so will stop here, but my thought with Kongsheng is to be conscious of the breath force and they should last very well.
Caitlin P
5 posts
Sep 14, 2019
10:37 PM
Now I'm curious. Why does a thicker reed plate increase the likelyhood of a reed breaking? Does the thickness of the slot influence how far air will move the reed each way?
6170 posts
Sep 15, 2019
2:04 AM
Yeah, I expect that is more or less it. The reed will swing wider, the air pressure through the slot will be higher...something like that.
If Mind The Gap was here, he would be able to tell you precisely what’s going on with that I expect. All I really know is that thicker reed plates make for loud, easy playing harps (if they are built properly, with attention to flatness and good airtightness where it counts), but if played carelessly re breath force they will break reeds more readily than a harp with thinner reedplates.
This has often been observed in double reedplate harps, which are sought after for the positive qualities. Usually people only make doubles in the lower keys, because they want them to be louder.

Thicker reedplates are good, but if you tend to play forcefully it’s easy to go too far

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