Blind Guy Thoughts On Two Harmonicas, what I notice

Hello all you wonderful folks. I am currently going through the B2B course. At the time of this typing I will be starting M2L11. I wanted to try something as a test. I have two harmonicas. The Fender Blues Deluxe and Hohner Special 20 in C. This is not a review, but rather what I notice as a newbie and blind dude. I was born with optic atrophy, my optic nerves did not form. The eye and brain are fine but the patch cable is not. On paper I have 20/800 or 20/1600 vision depending on the test. Now, this is what I did. I took each harmonica and wrapped it in its own cloth. I listened to my audio book while switching hands to mix up the two harmonicas. I then tried various things from what I have learned so far on each harmonica. I did this eyes closed. I tried ka, ta, taka, takata, dugga, etc on each harmonica. I then tried something no taught yet. I attempted a 3 blow draw by blocking 1 and 2. Here is what I noticed by using only feel and sound.

One harmonica took more breath to get it to sound. The other took less effort. One harmonica had more hiss, like a leaking air hose. One harmonica vibrated more in the hand. It was like it was made to tighter tolerances. One harmonica was louder than the other by using gentle breath. One harmonica made it easier to inhale ir exhale while keeping a steady volume. The Hohner Special 20 is clearly built to a higher standard. That does not mean the Fender Blues Deluxe is bad, it simply means the Hohner has more time invested in building it with higher quality control. I found it interesting that there was enough difference to notice. The difference is not just slight. The difference adds up from all the tiny details coming together to make one higher quality instrument. I am enjoying my course.


I am about as far along as you and also have two Crossover 20s, a B flat and a C. The C is about a month and and I have been fighting all afternoon to get a couple of the higher notes to play as they did out of the box. The notes that are the problem are 8-10. I take good care of the harps and always start with water and a clean mouth void of food. Hohner has a good reputation of standing behind its products and are well constructed and tight fittings. However they seem to be very temperamental as they go out of tune and are difficult to keep up. I am considering another brand to see if all high maintenance or Hohner is an exception. The Hohmers were great out of the box all the way from 1 through 10. The high end of both has the same problem in that the first six notes, both draw and blow are stil great and very easy. I am seven weeks into this endeavor and know little about addressing such issues. I find it strange both changed with the same problem arising. No leaking and mouth position is correct, reed plates are straight and get a light cleaning when the saliva or anything else causes a reed to play bad. I have slightly lower and raised reeds to no avail. I am going to get another reed set for the C and see how it goes, I am also sending the reed plates to a pro to see what is going on. When in tune and play well Hohner is great. I have tried everything nut when its one portion of the harp somethings up. I have heard Oscar is a good harmonica and may get one in a different key. I do not play anything that needs a hard blow and drink water when needed so lips are not dry. Saliva id seldom a problem and I raise my head whenever I feel it could be. I give on the draw side and will try one more set of reeds. A tool kit is also on the list but rapping is not so hard based on what I have seen on videos via U Tube. The screws are not to hard to check and neither has even been dropped or outside a controlled environment. Right now its a mystery to me but one more reed plate emplacement Ill switch. Its superposed to be fun but protestant problems like this make work out of it as I want a consistent playing harp.


One thing I do know, Mr. Luke likes his Lee Oscars. As newbie, I liked the idea that the Special 20 is a compromise. To me that means it attempts to find a balance between chords, notes, and bends…while not being perfect for any of it. As I understand it, Lee Oscar is more tuned for single notes. I could be wrong. I like the idea of balance, thus the Special 20 as a newbie. Again, just opinion. At this point, it all seems a bit coke vs. pepsi, ford vs. chevy. LOL


Right now in Texas we will take about anything wet. It was 106 when we left for a trip. Each day is little different. It was 97 in Tyler, TX last night at 10.00 P.M. I do appreciate your response and will probably tray an Oscar


@scott I couldn’t understand which harmonica was giving you problems? Crossover or Special 20? I’m guessing the SP20?



It was the Marine Band, which I don’t care much for. I am going to plastic combs only. I took a close look at the bamboo comb with a10x loop. There were saw marks that can be removed and the combs not sealed inside, which makes no sense to me. I have an Lee Osker and it is great. I am getting a Crossover 20 in C. The L O plays so easy that I can sound all ten notes by blowing into the comb without touching the harp.

I am doing as much as I can to be able to tune a harp but the mistakes will not be made on a good one. Adjusting reeds is one thing but removing material is another. I am into the single note portion of B 2 B and its very good.

You made a comment in one of the lessons about narrowing the bottom lip, which effectively blocks of the adjacent holes at it helps significantly.

I have lots to go but you put another link in my chain when you made that comment.


With respect to my problems with the first harp Hohner replaced it. I cannot comment on cause or what the black deposits on the plates were. I used a bit of acetone to see if it would cut it but no luck. It was a large deposit and the outline of the comb visible in the deposits and the 6 reed, which tells me whatever the black material is was put on after the comb was in place. I feel like Hohner emphasizes quality but the rep said foreign competition is getting tougher to compete with. We spoke for quite a while and it turns out he grew up about 10 miles from me. he was helpful and got a replacement to me asap.

Do you offer a detailed lesson on harp maintenance? I need to be able to cure the day to day maintenance as it has become apparent its essential. Most of my problems have been on the high end 8-10. I can gap reeds now and would appreciate a recommendation on what is the best tool to use for tuning. I down loaded a couple but I would like something that is specifically for the harmonica and is hand held or close as a phone app is not what I want.

On a separate and more important issue has the fire on Maui been contained? I do not pay any attention to the media but am aware of the number of people that lost their lives. Its such a beautiful island and I will never forget the drive to Hana and the black sand beaches. Linnburg’s grave is a bit further by a small church. My wife and I stayed in Lahina ( sp ? ) on our honeymoon. That was many years ago when driving around the big island was easy. So delightful. I was back about six years ago and things have changed. Money has a way of screwing up just about anything, even a portion of the drive to Hana. Its is one thing that should never be tampered with. Had a four hour layover and was told I would never make my flight if I went to the Pearl Harbor memorial, which is close to the airport. Light rail in the middle of the Pacific? MMMM

Regards and thanks for all of your help.


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