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modern Blues Harp: soak or not?

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GUEST,MichaelAnthony 07 Aug 01 - 05:57 PM
pavane 07 Aug 01 - 06:06 PM
MichaelAnthony 07 Aug 01 - 11:20 PM
Bsondahl 08 Aug 01 - 01:20 AM
Bob Bolton 08 Aug 01 - 01:37 AM
Steve Parkes 08 Aug 01 - 12:16 PM
GUEST 08 Aug 01 - 12:22 PM
Lonesome EJ 08 Aug 01 - 12:37 PM
Les from Hull 08 Aug 01 - 04:13 PM
CraigS 08 Aug 01 - 08:32 PM
GUEST,Lightnin' Harp 27 Jan 11 - 08:56 AM
meself 27 Jan 11 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 27 Jan 11 - 08:10 PM
Harmonicatunes 28 Jan 11 - 01:08 AM
acegardener 28 Jan 11 - 01:39 AM
Steve Shaw 28 Jan 11 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Bluesman James 28 Jan 11 - 12:18 PM
PHJim 29 Jan 11 - 04:17 AM
GUEST,Harmonic miner 02 Feb 11 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,Kurzpiano88 06 Feb 11 - 02:20 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Feb 11 - 06:40 PM
PHJim 21 Feb 11 - 06:02 PM
harmonic miner 22 Feb 11 - 12:07 PM
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Subject: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: GUEST,MichaelAnthony
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 05:57 PM

I just bought a Blue Harp harmonica, was wanting a marine band but all they had were Blues Harps. What's your opinion on soaking them? I did it years ago and sometimes the wood would swell too much.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: pavane
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 06:06 PM

I used to soak the wooden ones, but there doesn't seem much point with plastic - it doesn't swell to seal the gaps. Yes, it did swell too much! And sanding it down would break the wood.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: MichaelAnthony
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 11:20 PM

The one I have is an "MS" -- I think it's got wood and not plastic. Gonna soak it in water...


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: Bsondahl
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 01:20 AM

The main problem with soaking is the wood parts stick out and can be rough on the tongue, assuming you are using your tongue to restrict the number of notes you are playing. Also it seems that soaking will reduce the life of the reeds, by getting crud stuck in them. Brad


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 01:37 AM

G'day Michael,

With modern, plastic-bodied, vampers there is nothing that is damaged by soaking - and much too gain, because you can wash the crud off them - often all it needs to fix a slightly flat reed. I rinse under reasonably warm water, if available, running as strong a stream as I can manage from an ordinary tap. Once I am happy that I have cleaned the instrument, I cool it down with cold water, shake and tap it as dry as possible and run up and down the scale to check and clear all reeds.

If there is still a flat note after effective washing (usually hole 7 blow with dance music ... or hole 3 draw with blues) - it is probably starting to crack and is a writeoff ... a new plate or a new instrument is needed.

After years of playing wooden-bodied vampers in a dance band in the '70s - ending every night with four bleeding holes in my face from wooden frames swollen out and scratching my mouth and lips - I welcomed the first plastic body Hohners (Special 20s) as a gift from Heaven!

The older Special 20s did have dodgy plating, so the outer plates tended to rust if you left them wet, but that seems to have improved in latter years.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 12:16 PM

Do they still trap the whiskers of your moustache?

Steve


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 12:22 PM

What do you recommend for the Hohner HotMetals, that have metal parts?


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 12:37 PM

Actually, I've never heard of soaking except as a means to free a stuck reed. What does it accomplish?


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 04:13 PM

Blues players used to soak their gob irons to get a better sound and more volume, I suppose by the wood swelling and tightening up. I used to play Echo Super Vampers soaked and the sound change was quite marked. I seem to have got out of the habit since I changed to Lee Oskars. And I now play more straight harp than cross harp. The only way that you'll really know is to run one under the tap (faucet?) and play it wet. It won't hurt it.

Les


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: CraigS
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 08:32 PM

Soaking only makes the wood stick out and do your lips a whole heap of no good. Don't do it! Marine bands are better than plastic or wood vampers because the metal finish makes the holes wider, so you can get more flexibility from the metal finished hole. Soak that and you get rust spots that cut your tongue to ribbons. If you want to sound clean, run the plastic-body harps under the tap, then blow to loosen the gunge, then run them under the tap again. Me I like the wood bodies, because they're easier to tighten up the reeds if you bend a reed out of shape. But soaking - that does nothing but give you a mess that costs you money!


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: GUEST,Lightnin' Harp
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 08:56 AM

Hohner Blues Harps are already broken in when you buy them so you don't have to break them in, or soak them. soaking Marine Band harps is all very well, but you can only use them once, then they're screwed, & at £25 a piece, is it worth it. Spend some time, break it in. LH.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: meself
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 12:13 PM

If you do soak the wooden-combed harps, you can always take a razor-sharp edge and cut off the wooden bits that protrude when the wood swells. I never had a problem with that.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 08:10 PM

Ya ever gotten splinters in your tongue?

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

I have...and it sure seems like an STD 36 hours later.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: Harmonicatunes
Date: 28 Jan 11 - 01:08 AM

I've played for 30 years and don't recommend soaking harmonicas.

Guitar players don't immerse their instruments in water. Harmonicas likewise, I think.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: acegardener
Date: 28 Jan 11 - 01:39 AM

Whiskey breath works a treat it even makes the harp play tunes you don't know.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 28 Jan 11 - 05:10 AM

You can get Marine Bands that feel a bit leaky and it's tempting to soak them, but you can't control which way all those little partitions are going to swell and shrink back and you end up doing more harm than good. I hate to say it, but you have plenty of alternative choices of harmonica these days, at similar prices to those pesky MBs, which are generally more comfortable and less leaky (and screwed, not nailed together, so easier to look after). Soaking harps with plastic combs is totally pointless. The modern Hohner Blues Harps (with MS stamped on their covers) use a different type of wood that is far less prone to swelling, so soaking those is pointless as well. MB Deluxe models (dearer) have sealed wooden combs which also resist swelling. Soaking pointless again. There's no final consensus as to which comb material is better for sound but no serious study so far has found any significant differences. Go for plastic! More durable, more comfortable in the mouth and much easier to clean.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: GUEST,Bluesman James
Date: 28 Jan 11 - 12:18 PM

soaking eventually ruins the harps and lessens their lifespan.
If you are really into bending I recommend Honer Golden Melody: they bend and over-blow easily The only problem is the curved edges make racks difficult
If you are really serious, check out the Joe Fislisko custom harps.
He has a diverse set of customers ranging from Howard Levy to John Hammond Jr.
http://customharmonicas.com/joe-filisko/


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: PHJim
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 04:17 AM

Marine Bands (These were the very same harp as the British Echo Vampers) and Blues Harps both have wooden combs. Cross hrp players in the sixties used to soak their harps to make bending easier. Hohner brought out the Blues Harp, which was supposed to need no soaking. The modern plastic and metal (very expensive) combs don`t need soaking.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: GUEST,Harmonic miner
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 06:45 AM

Listen to steve shaw. He knows his stuff. And hohner simply say never soak a harmonica.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: GUEST,Kurzpiano88
Date: 06 Feb 11 - 02:20 PM

I always used to soak my harps in water. It did cause the wood to swell, but I really loved the dirty sound that came from soaking them, but they wore out faster. I didn't car because that was back when you could get a Blues Harp for about $7 - $8 dollars. A friend told me that I should have soaked then in a glass of Vodka..works the same bu doesn't ruin the reeds. He carried a small flask of vodka with him to the gigs and used the same over and over...adding a little each time the level got low. A lot cheaper than buying a glass at the bar.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Feb 11 - 06:40 PM

Just to be clear, there are two Hohner harps that carry the name "Blues Harp." The older model, long-discontinued, had a comb made from the same wood as that used in Marine Bands, and the comb would swell if you soaked it. You can easily recognise these harps as they are nailed, not screwed, together, and they don't have "MS" (modular system) stamped on the cover plate. The modern Blues Harp has a comb made from wood which will swell hardly at all. The harp is screwed together and has MS stamped on it. The parts of these modern harps are totally interchangeable with any other harp with MS stamped on it.

If you soak a Marine Band or an old-style blues harp the swelling will have an unpredictable effect on the shape of the comb partitions and may loosen the nails that hold the plates to the comb. Soaking won't ruin the reeds as such but may hasten corrosion of the rivets that hold the reeds to the plates and of the inside of the cover plates. I know what the traditionalists say about Marine Bands but my advice, for what it's worth, is to just avoid these outmoded harps with their crude construction. There are plenty of better alternatives around these days. After a long night's playing I wash out all my diatonic harps under a stream of tepid water and shake/tap them out vigorously, then leave them out to dry overnight. This prevents that horrible crud from building up in the mouthpiece holes and keeps the reeds sounding bright and responsive. The brief wetting doesn't seem to affect the harps adversely in any way, even the wood-combed ones.


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: PHJim
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 06:02 PM

If all "MS" harps have the same reed plates, why is there such a difference in price between the Big River MS harps and the Special 20 MS harps? What other differences are there?


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Subject: RE: modern Blues Harp: soak or not?
From: harmonic miner
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 12:07 PM

"...Vodka..works the same but doesn't ruin the reeds."

Water may damage the reeds over time but, if you are a human being you can't play a harmonica without getting water on them anyway from your mouth. The same water does distort wood-bodied harps whether from your own breathing or from dunking. So I too have moved to Special 20 and will not replace my 2 existing woodies when they wear out.

Big River reed plate edges project beyond the edge of the plastic body. Special 20 plastic bodies are different, and the reed plate is not expose to the players lips. They seem more airtight too. And unfortunatley Big Rivers are the same (high) price in my local shop!


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