Mudcat Café message #292548 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #25110   Message #292548
Posted By: bseed(charleskratz)
06-Sep-00 - 10:13 PM
Thread Name: Help: Good Harmonica for Beginner?
Subject: RE: Help: Good Harmonica for Beginner?
Embolism: What has been said above about plastic vs wood, i.e., Big River vs Blues and Marine Band harps is very true. Plastic is far superior as a comb material, most importantly because it doesn't swell up when you wash the harmonica which you need to do regularly to keep the tones pure and loud. That being said, going a step farther, Lee Oskar harps are the best ones made. Unlike the Hohners they require no breaking in, which means that it is easy to bend notes on a brand new Oskar, but the Hohners require a lot of playing before the reeds are flexible enough to bend easily.

The Lee Oskar Major Diatonics have the same scale as equivalent Hohners, cost about the same as the Blues Harps, last forever (and then you can buy new reed plates for about 70 percent of the cost of a new harp and you're good for another eternity). In addition to the Major Diatonics, Lee Oskars are available in Melody Makers, made for playing complete melodies in cross harp style (i.e., the G MM is a C harmonica but with an A in place of the draw G (4 draw) and F# in place of all the F's. They also offer natural minor harps, one minor key in straight (blow) style, and another in cross (draw) style, i.e., Dmin in blow, Amin in draw.

Musicians Friend ( currently is selling the Major Diatonics for $18.50. The others they sell for about $22.50. I have a couple of the diatonics (C and G) and have ordered three more (D, A, and F) to replace Hohner Blues Harps, I have five of the Melody Makers (C, D, E, G, and A) and three of the harmonic minors. I use the diatonics for fiddle tunes and blues mostly and the Melody Makers for traditional and folk melodies that aren't excessively fast. The minors don't get too much use except in Irish sessions, and even then, any diatonic major harp can be played in a couple of minor keys, as well (C in A and D minor, for example).