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Hohner 1896 Question
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6 posts
May 11, 2020
6:34 AM
Hi I just received my first Hohner 1896 Marine Band! However I have a question: the cover plates are not flush with the comb there is a slight lip there. Is that normal? It seems it’s harder to play than that Easttop that has cover plates that were flush.
Thank you
6624 posts
May 11, 2020
3:43 PM
Yes, it’s normal. The edge of the cover located in a slot, or groove if you like, on the reedplate.
I haven’t seen the Easttop, but I’ve built Special 20s on solid combs and made the covers flush with the edge of the reedplates; there’s no slot for the covers on a sp20 reedplate.
I’ve not noticed any impact on playability though.
One thing occurs to me. I did not start playing Marine Bands until after I’d switched over to full time tongue blocking and once I started tongue blocking I played with lips somewhat more relaxed than before.
When I was pursing I had very strong lips and now if I want to lip the harp I really have to practice a bit to get the hang of it and in fact Im sure I do it a bit differently to how I originally did it.
Basically, you’re lips should be soft enough to easily get around that shape and seal it off so you’re not even really conscious it’s there.
Of that’s how it seems to me.
7 posts
May 12, 2020
4:40 AM
Thanks. As a beginner player. I now have to get used to another way my lips meet to comb. Now I have to learn all over again. Why wouldn’t they make that flush? I was so excited to get it! Now when I shop for a harmonica I will be checking out if there is a lip there or is it flush. Thanks for the response
6625 posts
May 12, 2020
5:26 PM
I’m just looking at a picture of an Easttop T008k and it is the same as a Marine Band in this regard.
2 thoughts occur:

Which model Easttop do you have?

When you say ‘cover plates’ do you mean ‘reedplates’?

The comb should be flush with the reedplates.

Photos might help.
8 posts
May 13, 2020
5:46 AM
It’s the front cover plate is not flush with the comb. I was sent two by mistake and they are both like this but one is actually worse than the other. It was an Easttop Blue

So I’m re learning to play. There is a you tube of a guy called donut I think, he reviews and says that lip will cut his lip. He said the deluxe is flush but not the 1896...
6626 posts
May 13, 2020
7:18 AM
Yeah, I’m not trying to be obtuse, but I don’t know what you mean by ‘front cover plate’. A harp has 2 cover plates, top and bottom.
And 2 reedplates, which are blow and draw in this case.
The comb will generally be flush with the reedplates but on the majority of traditional construction harps the leading edge of the covers sits in a groove on the reedplate, which leaves a small ledge. The Marine Band is the design which has been heavily copied and you’ll find the Seydel 1847, Suzuki Manji, and Easttop T008K for instance all follow this pattern.
The Marine Band Deluxe is the same as the Marine Band 1896 in this way, as is the Crossover.
If the edge of the reedplate/s is sharp, it’s easy to smooth down with some sandpaper. The brass is very easy to work.
6627 posts
May 13, 2020
7:22 AM
I can’t find anyone called donut who reviews harps, nor can I find an Easttop model named “blue”
2 posts
May 13, 2020
7:56 AM
I only find three (3) YouTube reviews of the Easttop brand (none named donut):

Ben's Harp Club
Jake Knows Harmonica
9 posts
May 13, 2020
9:24 AM
Here it is : https://youtu.be/rKOQMrpANk0


Last Edited by RKing1865 on May 13, 2020 9:31 AM
3 posts
May 13, 2020
1:22 PM

I am stumped as to what harmonica you are talking about.
In your original post, you said "Easttop", but I followed your link to a video of Tim Douthit touting the Kongsheng Bluebird harmonica.
"Easttop" and "Kongsheng" are as different as Ford and Chevy.
10 posts
May 14, 2020
4:15 AM
I was using an Easttop Blue. Got a Hohner 1896 cuz everyone said that is the best. I think maybe I just got two that were made bad. But like the guy in the video said it feels like it’s going to cut your tounge and I have to change the way my lips meet the comb because of nothing being flush. 3 days of practice with it and It’s a struggle. Thanks for all the reply’s !! I’ll look into all those.
6632 posts
May 14, 2020
11:37 PM
Get some reasonably fine grit paper and rub that edge off so it’s not so ‘sharp’.
Honestly, brass is very easy to work. There is no reason to put up with it causing discomfort.
Tim Douthit could do the same.

I still don’t know which harmonica you’re comparing it to. I can’t find anything called ‘Blue’ made by Easttop.

The Kongsheng Bluebird which Tim Douthit is plugging, has a lip same as the Marine Band but maybe it’s been rounded off a bit.

I expect the main reason he doesn’t notice it though is down to the shape of the covers.

Anyway if you rub the squareness off the edge of the reedplates it will be a fair bit nicer I reckon.

And that thing about ‘soft’ lips is still important. I mean ‘relaxed’.

Also, a special 20 or a lee Oskar or a Seydel session or a kongsheng Amazing 20 or a Suzuki harpmaster might be worth a try, with recessed reedplates and the plastic comb which forms a kind of mouthpiece.

I dunno if Easttop make something like that but I’d be surprised if not.
385 posts
May 17, 2020
2:41 PM
Amazon has an Easttop “Free Blues” diatonic harp with blue cover plates. Maybe that’s what RKing is referring to. It has recessed comb/reed plates more like a special 20.

Last Edited by ME.HarpDoc on May 17, 2020 2:49 PM
386 posts
May 17, 2020
3:06 PM
As for the difference, the MB is a “sandwich” construction with the cover plates sitting in a groove in the reed plates, like SB described. So they’re not built wrong but they can irritate lips if the reed plates are sharp, which is common in MB. Those of us who have been playing a while get used to it and/or smooth them down. Many of the Easttops are made this way as well, although pre smoothed. I think RKing May have received one of the recessed models. As far as the MB being the “best”, that’s a matter of ongoing opinion. I have some MB 1896, modified with screws and custom comb as well as some Standard MB Deluxe and I like them a lot. But I’ve also got some Sp20’s, a couple of Rocket Amps, some Suzuki Manjis, harpmasters, Bluesmaster, olives and Hammonds I like. I’ve also got a couple of Seydels. My favorites are the Hohners because of tone, not the style of cover plates But when I first started playing (about 6 yrs ago) I did favor the recessed comb models for the very reasons you’re asking.
29 posts
May 18, 2020
7:18 AM
SuperBee I believe this is the video OP is referring to
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKOQMrpANk0 Tim reviews harps and relative gear (not bad reviews).

I believe OP is refering to this harp:

Last Edited by Dai on May 18, 2020 7:27 AM
6634 posts
May 18, 2020
2:45 PM
Hi, Dai, yes that is the video I watched where Tim plugs the bluebird and talks about his fear the marine band will cut him.

I considered the Easttop T008K, as per your reference, fairly early on but Ruled it out because, as can be clearly seen in the photo your URL goes to, it has the very same protruding reedplate as a Marine Band.

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