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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Next Harp Purchase?
Next Harp Purchase?
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65 posts
Nov 24, 2019
8:41 AM
I currently have Hohner Special 20 in C and G. I plan on playing mostly 1st position melodies for bluegrass, folk, and older country music. As I progress in my harp learning from beginner, I will probably try other styles of music. Should I try a Golden Melody, or stick with the SP20 which I really like. Any thoughts on the GM are appreciated.
Jeff B

Just enjoying the music journey.
138 posts
Nov 24, 2019
12:16 PM
My strategy was to confine myself to one type of harp. I tried a few different ones then bought a set of Manjis and top up my collection when the opportunity presents itself.

I think some folk enjoy the different types of harps and many have very diverse collections. Not me; just Manjis

I'm not recommending Manjis in particular. They took a lot of getting used to after SP20's.

I just think that consistency of harp removes one barrier to learning. So if you like the SP20 Then go with that.
Unless,of course, you enjoy the novelty of trying out new types of harp.
6316 posts
Nov 24, 2019
12:19 PM
I am very fond of the Sp20. More so all the time it seems.
Part of that is from the angle of maintenance. I think it’s the best designed harp from that angle.

The golden melody is a nice harp.
Same reeds as a special 20, but a different temperament. GMs are tuned to Equal Temperament, so they play equally badly in all positions, but you won’t notice this if you don’t play chords. In fact you’ll probably find they sound more in tune with your accompaniment.
Hvyj has mentioned this often enough for me to automatically recall every time the topic of temperament is raised. He’d rather play an instrument in tune with the band than one in tune only with itself.
It’s a fair point.

GMs have a unique shape, and from my limited experience (I only own one example and it’s an E harp, which is a key I don’t have a lot of call for) it’s a good shape.

Golden Melody players are often very dedicated to the type.
66 posts
Nov 25, 2019
8:01 AM
bubinsqueak, SuperBee, thank you for your responses. I think I'll stick with the SP20.
Jeff B

Just enjoying the music journey.
6323 posts
Nov 25, 2019
2:50 PM
Years ago I asked David Barrett whether it was better to play just one type. As I recall, he expressed general approval for the idea of consistency but he did not think it was a deal breaker by any means,

I confess I didn’t want to like the Sp20. I really wanted to find something else, and eventually I settled on the Crossover as the harp for me. I bought 4 plus a Thunderbird. They were great, but pricey.
These days I rarely play them. When I do I always think how good they are.
That decision to play Crossovers was important but after that initial purchase (C G D A, LowF) I never bought another.
I learned to mend harps because those were so expensive. That decision led me to explore custom harps to help me understand what customisers we’re doing and how much difference it makes. So now I have C G D A Bb all covered with custom harps including backups for C D A, and I’ve customized a bunch of Marine Bands and eventually Sp20s for other keys.
It also led me to do repairs and tuning and setups for others, and that allowed me access to a lot of other harps including some Harrison’s and Yonberg, other customised harps by Gordon, Graham, Bouman, Moyer, and lots of Marine Band Deluxe, Sp20s, a few Rockets, 1847s, Session Steel, various Suzuki.
And out of all that I’ve found how much I really like the Special 20. I’m always happy to mend them and to play them. I guess I’m really a Marine Band player but these days I think that’s more because I just happen to have a lot of Marine Band harps. Special 20 is not a glamorous harp but I really think they are great.
379 posts
Nov 25, 2019
5:38 PM
So if you're going to play melodies, folk and country, there was a hint in the other responses about playing chords vs. single notes. The Special 20 has a temperament to make chords sound best. If single notes, more typical for melodies, are in your future, I'd suggest a harp in Equal Temperament (ET) that will, as SB suggests, be in tune with those you're playing with. Harps like the GM and those from Seydel, Suzuki (but not the Manji),and Easttop have lots of choices in ET.

If you're going to play a lot of country, there are country tuned harps by Seydel and Suzuki (and Hohner?)

I have taken the opposite approach of early SB and bubinspeak in that I tried a lot of brands and models. I like most of them but I'm predominantly blues oriented so the Justified and Compromise temperaments suit my style.

If you like the "feel" of the Sp 20, I might suggest the Suzuki Harpmaster or the Seydel 1847 both of which are ET. Also in ET are the Suzuki Bluesmaster and Seydel Session Steel which, like the GM, are full cover harps. (I don't own a GM but I have heard concerns about the comfort when playing)

For another opinion about these choices, speak to RockkinRon's. He can guide you toward what will work best for you and he carries all these brands and models.

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