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Author Topic: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.  (Read 12286 times)

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Offline simonjandrews

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What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« on: May 04, 2006, 10:53:15 AM »
What type of harps did the lates and greats use when they played. e g little walter and sonny b williamson.
    Also i have hearda rumor that some people soak their harp in water, how does this affect the sound.is there anything i can do to improve thre sound of my marine band.cheers.

Soper

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2006, 11:54:41 AM »
Most of the old-timers played Marine Bands-- that was what was available.  I used to play Marine Bands exclusively and, yes, I soaked.  Soaking makes them louder, easier to bend notes, and swells the wood, which makes them not so leaky.  Soaking also shortens the lifetime of the harp and makes it next to impossible to play if you don't soak the harp before you play it.  Note that soaking only works on wood comb harps.

Personally, I've quit playing Hohner harps.  Their quality control has gone to hell in the last 10 years, and their reeds don't last for squat.  If you want a wooden comb harp, I highly recommend the Hering 1923-- they seal the comb, which means they don't leak like Marine Bands.  If you wanna spend the bread, also look at Suzuki Promasters.  They have aluminum combs, which means a bit brighter of a tone than Marine Bands, but the reed plates last forever, and the harps come with replaceable reed plates and are easy to work on.

Cheers,
Dennis

Orb Mellon

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2006, 07:27:06 PM »
Like was already noted, the old timers all pretty much played marine bands, which incidentally are not the same as current marine bands. Sometime in the 80s, marine bands started being tuned in a slightly brighter tuning. Check with the experts for details.

My very high recommendation is bushman delta frosts. They are really amazing harps. They are not wood combed but they play easy, sound great and are reasoanbly durable

Offline WestbankAl

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2010, 11:48:09 PM »
There is a photo of Rice Miller (Sonny Boy 2) playing an Old Standby. He also used the big 364 and 365 Marine Bands-12 and 14 hole harps.

Offline Richard

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2010, 12:50:24 PM »
Keep going weenies, this one has not been aired before. I'm no harpist and know damn all about the subject so it's very interesting stuff  :)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2010, 12:51:29 PM by Richard »
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2010, 02:24:18 PM »
Why bother tryin' to play the harp anymore when I can call up Joe Bellulovitch and he'll come do it for me much better than I could? Nevertheless in the years before I knew Joe and his predecessor in my sometime musical adventires Sailor Bob Schmidt, I played in a rack and even occasionally behind other people. I started like everyone else with Marine Bands which seemed to have about a six month life span back in the sixties if you soaked 'em, then again they only cost $6,50. One day however I stumbled across what was then a Navy Band Harp (now Golden Melody) which has a red plastic comb, a streamline easy to cradle but hard to put in a rack shape and was virtually indestructible. It also sounded GREAT! I highly recommend these harps even though it takes a little more sucking power to get them moving.
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Offline Mike Billo

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2010, 10:02:44 AM »

     Harp construction and materials have changed a lot over the years, beginning with Hohner opening a factory in Hicksville NY.
     
    The Marine Band, which was once the "industry standard", is now, way overpriced and not a very good Harp.

    I've found that *some* of the Suzukis sound quite good, but others don't. They seem to have a problem with uniform quality control.

    I've settled on Hohner Big River Harps (They still have brass reeds and are still made in Germany) Special 20's and Golden Melodys.

  I keep a few Old Standbys around as an "at home practice" Harp, but wouldn't perform with them.

Offline WestbankAl

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2010, 10:48:22 AM »
I think most of the greats probably played Marine Bands as well, but it's hard to say. They probably used whatever was available, especially pre-war. Certainly brands like Pohl and Hotz made quality harps back then.
Regarding the Navy Band/Golden Melody/Delta Frost:
The Kratt company was making harps with bronze reeds and plastic combs starting around 1950. The best one IMHO was the Kris Kratt Super Philmonet, quite possibly the best mass produced harp ever made. They also produced a "Navy Band" model, distributed by John Luellen & Co., which may be why Hohner had to change the name of their plastic comb harp to "Golden Melody". Country harp greats Wayne Raney and Lonnie Glossen played and endorsed Kratt Harmonicas. Of course, they also hustled them on their radio shows.

Offline BlueInGreen

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2010, 05:12:11 AM »
For pure tonal quality in the earliest recorded prewar players, my favorite is Noah Lewis, particularly on his second position playing. It would be nice to know for sure what he used, but I assume it was Marine Band. Just listen to his plaintive tone:


I've been into playing prewar style harp for a while now. To get the most authentic prewar sound for my own playing, I use mostly Marine Bands. I haad several Hering 1923 but the Marine Bands seem to last much better. The Hering's have an issue with reed fatigue IMO. They go flat very easily. I also use Seydel 1847 harps customized by Ben Bouman of Holland. These use a compromise tuning so they work well for single notes and chording, and they play like butter for me. They also have stainless steel reeds. I've had two for years and they have yet to have any tuning issues or reeds go bad. They give a brighter sound to my prewar playing.

One of the original questions on this thread was, "Can anything be done to improve the sound of my Marine Bands?". I personally love the sound of the stock Marine Band harps. I think it is more a matter of developing playing technique and skill to make them sound as good as possible.

This is something of mine that is probably closest I come to Noah Lewis sound. Played on a stock Marine Band:
http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7534389

« Last Edit: May 27, 2010, 05:25:30 AM by BlueInGreen »

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2010, 07:24:03 AM »
I haven't a clue about playing mouth harp myself, but that last post mentions a couple of my favourite players. Noah Lewis is, for me, the best pre-war, i.e. unamplified exponent. Ben Bouman is an astonishingly talented harmonica man. I've seen him several times here in the south of England with the Marble Tones. The band claims to have broken up, but fortunately for us they keep reforming to do a mini-tour of SE England each year.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline BlueInGreen

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2010, 09:33:41 AM »
Hi Parlor Picker, that's great that you've seen Ben. I met Ben online through the harmonicajam.com site. He's a great guy. When I went to San Francisco on business a few years ago, he was there with the Marble Tones touring the Bay area. I saw them play a great show just a 2 minute walk from my hotel. Ben gave me a prototype of his first customized 1847 harps at that show. I still have it and it works great!

Here's a recording collaboration I did with Ben years ago. He's on the harp and I'm on vocals:
http://soundclick.com/share?songid=5772957
« Last Edit: May 27, 2010, 09:36:09 AM by BlueInGreen »

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2010, 01:49:57 AM »
Yes, Ben is a true master of his instrument and has this great ability to play fantastically well whilst simultaneously leaping all over the place, jumping up and down and interacting with the audience.

As part of their act, the Marble Tones some times take off on a walkabout and the pictures below show them having arrived behind the bar, but still playing.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline chaoszen

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2012, 12:23:48 AM »
Little Walter played a variety of Harps. Even a Chromatic. Back Track. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
 Blues With a Feeling. Song key: A, D Harp, 2nd position.
Boom, Boom Out Go The Lights Song key: E, A Harp, 2nd position.
 Can't Hold Out Much Longer. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
 I Hate To See You Go. Song key: G, C Harp, 2nd position.
 Juke. Song key: E, A Harp, 2nd position.
 Just Your Fool. Song key: A, D Harp, 2nd position.
 Mean Old World. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
My Babe. Song key: F, Bb Harp, 2nd position.
You're So Fine. Song key: E, A Harp, 2nd position.
 

Offline chaoszen

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2012, 12:26:10 AM »
Little Walter is my hero and teacher. Been perfecting my Harp since I was 10. And still can't match Little Walter. Although I'm getting close..

Offline blueshome

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2012, 08:29:35 AM »
Noah Lewis is the blues.........

 


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