Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Question for Harmonica Aficionados ...

Does anyone make an affordable harmonica with a wooden comb any more?

I'm not an expert player by any means -- just enthusiastic -- but I'm considering picking up a set. I've got a C Hohner Blues Band. I'm considering a full set of all seven (G/A/Bb/C/D/E/F) of those, or just maybe of the Hohner Piedmont Blues line, or their three-piece (C/D/G) Hoodoo Blues set (probably the Blues Band -- the reviews on the others are a little depressing).

All of those Hohner sets have plastic combs. Of course, they also come in at less than $25 for a set of seven harps, $10.99 for the three-piece set.

The Hohner Marine Band still comes with wood or bamboo comb, but it also runs $35 and up for each instrument. My enthusiasm for blowing and drawing on the things doesn't extend to an enthusiasm for spending that much on them. At that price, I could by myself a new guitar for what a seven-harp set would set me back (not a great guitar, but a guitar -- heck, I see they're selling a Peavey dreadnought at Wal-Mart for less than $100 these days; that's probably what I'll end up with if my Epiphone doesn't survive its trip south in a moving tote; I'm craving the Epiphone takeoff on its parent company's Gibson Hummingbird, but that's a little more than I'm in for right now).

The "high-end" harps by Lee Oskar and Suzuki and so on all seem to have plastic or metal combs as well. The obvious advantage is that they last longer, as wood combs tend to expand/contract and slowly disintegrate as they take on and lose moisture.

But I like wood. It's probably almost certainly just my imagination that a wood comb is easier to bend notes on, but imagining it is half the battle in my limited experience.

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