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One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor - Eugene Swampman Goldsmith, instructions for making a blues recording

Author Topic: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.  (Read 12275 times)

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Offline Westside

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2012, 07:18:50 PM »
Within the last couple of years Hohners quality has gotten a lot better again.  If you want a more airtight Marine band that won't swell, I would suggest the Marine Band Deluxe or the Marine Band Crossover.  Most of the pros that I know are currently playing Special 20s, Melody Makers, Crossovers, or the Suzuki Manji. Also, if you want to sound like Little Walter, Big Walter, or Sonny Boy, then tongue blocking is a must!

Offline frailer24

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2012, 01:17:11 PM »
Do not remember who, but I believe at least one artist used chromatics back in the day?
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline dj

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2012, 04:15:03 PM »
I'm not sure what you mean by "back in the day".  Off the top of my head,  I can't think of anyone playing chromatic pre-war, but Little Walter certainly played one in the 50s.  The first verse of Flying Saucer (March, 1956) is an example.

Offline frailer24

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2012, 09:37:21 PM »
Little Walter, that's who I was thinking of. I was speaking of 20's to 60's era.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

bayrum78

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2013, 07:54:34 AM »
This thread has been dormant for a while, but thought it worth sharing that since Hering Vintage 1923's are getting really hard to come by (I  think  the company went belly up a couple years ago), if you want a just tuned  harmonica to achieve the prewar sound,  give the Hohner Blue Midnight a try. I really like them. The chording sounds great and the two I bought from Sam Ash are responsive, the reeds easily bend, and they don't rattle like lungs with whooping cough. They are significantly cheaper than the MB Crossover's ($70 vs. $30) and since don't think I'll ever need overblows, I'm going to crossover to the blue midnight. I can't yet comment on durability since I bought my first two this week but so far, so good. Like the 1923, they are a little thicker than the MB, but unlike the Hering, doesn't make you gape like an anaconda with unhinged jaws in order to consume a large goat. Another difference  from the Hering 1923, is the look.  The 1923 looks like it sounds,  but  the BM looks like it traveled back in time to warn mankind how ugly the future will be. Actually,  I secretly like the translucent blue comb and inexplicably, like holding it up in the sunlight and looking through it (pretty dumb, I know).  I really do despise the look of the cover plate even though it is smooth on your lips like a woman's leg just after being chemically shaven with Nair.  I'll also add that unlike the hering, it doesn't taste like being downwind from Chernobyl, although honestly, I kind of like the metallic, industrial aftertaste. But then again, I think WD-40 ought to be marketed as a hair conditioner (no wonder my hair is falling out).   Perhaps one day I'll experiment with pimping my diatonic ride and retrofit the hering with the blue comb. I'll call this anchronistic and fishy looking sea monster  "Old Bluefin".

Offline frankie

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2013, 08:25:42 AM »
nice review. you and o'muck been drinking outta the same well, or what? :)

Offline sustaireblues

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2013, 11:41:48 AM »
Put a smile on my mug!

Offline Westside

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2013, 12:48:10 PM »
If price is an issue when choosing a harp and you like a plastic comb, I would save up a few extra bucks and pick up a Special 20.  The Blue Midnight is of Hohner's MS series and is very leaky. I guess if you like harps from the MS series then the Blue Midnight might suffice, but for a few bucks more the Special 20 is quite an upgrade.  The Special 20s are more airtight and generally gapped better out of the box. 
« Last Edit: April 27, 2013, 03:49:25 PM by Westside Ryan »

bayrum78

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2013, 07:19:27 PM »
Mostly agreed Westside, but my main reason for recommending the  BM's ( that sounds gross) is for the JI-7 tuning.  The chording is a little smoother sounding and the tuning is closer/identical to the prewar tuning. I agree they aren't quite as airtight as either the CO or the S20 but still, I wouldn't classify them as leaky. If you want a leaky piece of junk blow on a Bluesband. the only sound you will get from one arises from either a coughing fit or the thud of your head hitting the floor after becoming excessively lightheaded endeavoring  in vain to sustain a tone for more than half a millisecond.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2013, 07:45:15 AM »
This isn't for those in the know who are posting some interesting stuff here, more for the clueless like me who are following along with interest. When bayrum78 referred to JI-7 tuned harps, I googled and came up with this page of information:

http://www.patmissin.com/tunings/tunings.html

Offline unezrider

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2013, 07:31:44 PM »
hello friend,
thanks for the link, uncle bud. i wasn't aware of those things either.

for what it's worth, i just bought a hohner marine band 1896, & comparing it tonally to my hering vintage 1923, (both in the same key) the differences are negligible. the hering weighs a bit more, which makes it feel a bit more sturdy. but i'm not sure that that means anything. & i found they both play with the same amount of ease, as well.

i turned up this, too, which may be of some interest.
http://www.patmissin.com/ffaq/q38.html
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

bayrum78

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2013, 08:25:26 PM »
Hearing the differences between harmonica tunings can be quite subtle, particularly when a compromise tuning  is close to either  Just intonation or equal temperament.  Here is a link with an example that illustrates a noticeable difference  between  equal temperament tuning and just intonation. There is also an example of the more subtle difference between a compromise tuning that leans towards JI tuning such as the current tuning of the 1896 Marine Band and JI. http://www.patmissin.com/tunings/tun9.html

Keep in mind that there are many compromise tunings - not only between manufacturers but sometimes even between the models of a given manufacturer.  Here is a an excellent web site that explains harmonica tuning better than I can and actually charts the microtonal differences between models of harmonicas in cents (100th of a semitone) http://www.angelfire.com/music/harmonica/hohnertuningsbyepping.html

Here is a site that explains the fundamental an d historical problem of harmonizing a given note between between keys (the frequency of the pitch actually changes!).  Basically, JI preserves the harmonic integrity whereas compromise and ET do not. http://www.justonic.com/history.htm

Again, if you want to match to the original prewar harmonica tunes you HAVE to play a JI model of harmonica. I am of course assuming most, if not all prewar players  were  playing a Marine band 1896  or other JI tuned harmonicas. It would be interesting to research rival harmonica companies and the tunings they used. If other non JI tunings were commonly available then, It might be be worthwhile to listen for hallmark tuning sounds to potentially identify non JI pre-war diatonic harmonicas. With practice, an expert might even  be able to identify a  manufacturer/ model being played ( assuming the tuning was unique to  a model or manufacturer) and prove it based on the unique "fingerprint" or cent layout.  Admittedly making these extremely subtle tonal distinctions would require a discerning ear but hey, it's not like weenie members aren't up to the challenge!
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 08:29:52 PM by bayrum78 »

Offline frailer24

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #27 on: May 07, 2013, 01:48:44 AM »
If I had the extra time, I would do just that. My old Johnson harps are at least 2/3 sharp of the key indicated.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #28 on: May 07, 2013, 06:22:08 AM »
This thread inspired me to attempt a 7-limit JI retuning one of my Lee Oskar's. I'll report back on my results.

bayrum78

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Re: What type of harps did the lates and greats use.
« Reply #29 on: May 07, 2013, 09:10:18 PM »
You brave soul! Altough I don't have the exact cents comparison between an ET Lee Oskar and JI-7, I know it is far afield and a serious undertaking. Outof sheer laziness. were I to undertake such a task, Iwould start with compromise tuned harmonica  to minimize the tuning. And belive me until realizing the Blue Midnight had rplaced teh Hering 1923 as the only JI model on the market, I was scheming on how to retune sonce it seemd inevitable. Can you share your methodology? Isit hard to do and are you using a chromatic tuuner? 

 


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