Lee Oskar versus Special 20

Hi Luke. Im a 64 year old retiree from Newcastle Australia. I have always loved listening to the blues and always make a special trip to the local blues venue when i visit a new city in my travels overseas and the blues harp is the instrument that i love to hear the most. So much sound from that tiny little instrument. I have recently taken to playing the harmonica (9 months) and am really enjoying it, having completed your Beginner to Boss and one of JP’s Blues courses. One experience i would like to share with you is recently i bought a couple of Lee Oskar blues harps as the local music shop did not have any Special 20’s of the keys i wanted in stock and i know you are a fan of the Lee Oskars, so i thought, what the heck! Well let me tell ya, i thought all 3 that i bought were broken, i couldn’t play them!, i was going to return them but i thought, that can’t be right, it must be me, so i persevered and finally after about a week i could hit the right notes. Question: Does the Lee Oskar have to be broken in or is it just a matter of it being slightly different than the Special 20 and its getting my muscle memory around it? Anyway had a lot of fun “Breaking it In”
Stay Safe!

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Hi @fallonsteve291,

Although I have heard that (at least some) harps should be “broken in” (“eingefahren”) before they are used for note bending/overblowing, my belief is that what you have described is almost entirely adjusting your “muscle memory” to the minute differences between the different brands (or even different key harps of the same brand). :point_left:

Also responsible is the following: I find it necessary (actually fairly often!) to open up the harp and adjust the reeds (especially the gaps, but also shape from the rivet end to the free end) before a new harp plays almost as easily as one of my “old favorites”. :face_with_monocle:

Usually the rivet end of the reed is letting too much air slip past when you are bending notes – air that is then not being used to move the reed. This makes the instrument much less efficient. Correct adjustment permits not only easier bends but also improves volume without requiring more effort from the player. This is also important for players with physical challenges (such as @AstridHandbikebee63 who is in a wheelchair, or others with pulmonary ailments) that reduce the amount/velocity of air that they can inhale and/or exhale. :dash:

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Was du schreibst @Slim, kann ich nur bestätigen!
Mir hat das Öffnen der Harps und das Umsetzen deiner Tipps sehr geholfen und das Spielen funktioniert leichter ohne Luftprobleme. Neue Töne und Techniken lassen sich auch leichter umsetzen.
Beste Grüße Astrid

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Ich bin sehr froh, das zu lesen @AstridHandbikebee63 !! :partying_face: Herzliche Glückwünsche !!

I’m so glad to hear that @AstridHandbikebee63 !! :partying_face: Congratulations !!

Es ist wirklich kein Hexenwerk, aber der Prozess der Harp-Optimierung ist nicht allgemein bekannt. :anguished: Glücklicherweise hast Du einen hervorragenden Hintergrund, um die notwendigen Schritte durchzuführen – leider nicht alle anderen. Und ich kann den Prozess nicht gerade am besten beschreiben – aber ich versuche es. :slightly_smiling_face:

It is really not rocket science, but the process of doing harp optimisations is not generally well known. :anguished: Fortunately you have an excellent background to carry out the necessary steps – unfortunately, not everyone else does. And I am not exactly the best at describing the process – but I try. :slightly_smiling_face:

Regards,
– Slim

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@Slim, als ich die Probleme mit meiner G Harp vor kurzem geschildert hatte, hast du mir wirklich hervorragend beschrieben, was zu tun ist.
Ich hatte direkt im Anschluss auf Google nochmals gesucht. Nun mit den richtigen Suchwörter und direkt hatte ich eine Seite, wo all dasselbe beschrieben war, plus klasse Fotos.
Allerdings habe ich anstatt Zahnstocher einen halben Holzschaschlik - Spieß genommen, da er für mich mehr Gefühl lässt. Das Ganze mit ganz viel Zeit und Geduld. Jetzt ginge das schneller für die Zukunft. Töne stimmen und alles ist gut.
Für mich gehört auch das zum Harmonika lernen. Ich will immer wissen, wie was funktioniert und aufgebaut ist.
Herzliche Grüße Astrid

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Hanging out with you and @Slim may get me to actually open up a harmonica again for the first time in 11 years!

You guys make it sound fun and easy. First step, I’d heave to get a pair of reading glasses that are like twice as strong as my regulars.

I think I’d have to get myself a whole little area where it was really well let, and get all the tools and what not. Maybe I’m getting close to going down this road.

And tips / encouragement greatly appreciated.

Astrid - what is your background that makes the task seem less daunting to you?

Aloha,
Luke

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That’s interesting! Yeah, I think it’s just muscle memory / getting used to the new harp. I’ve heard things about “breaking it in” but then I’ve also heard that those are just urban legends.

Glad they ended up working out ok in the end. What keys did you buy?

Aloha,
Luke

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You might be familiar with this guy. He does a series of video downloads on every aspect of repairing and then customising and optimising harmonicas, and it seems good value too. I am thinking of buying his collection, as I like tinkering

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If you end up getting that, please make a new post and share with us how you like it!! Looks cool!

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Hi Luke. I got a D,E and F. What has driven me to ask the question is that I seem to have “broken” the D in because I constantly play that key, haven’t got around to playing the E and F that much, but they feel like they need some work. I was also watching YouTube and came across a dude that was saying the same thing, ie that he could not play them at first. He was also putting it down to muscle memory and he was an accomplished player.
Besides this minor issue, I’m find myself picking up the Lee Oscar now more than the Special 20 and finf it easier to bend notes with.

Harp on!

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Hi Slim
Thanks for your reply. Im sure its a matter of a bad tradesman blaming his tool. Are saying that you tinker with your harps when you buy a new one?
I’m not sure that I would be confident in adjusting one as I have taken my original one apart due to a funny sounding 3 draw and ended up breaking the reed blade, as you would know they are extremely flimsy.

Thanks
.

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Hi @fallonsteve291

Yes those reeds are delicate and you need to practice on a cheap harp before diving into work on a more expensive one !! :point_left:

And yes, I do work on most of my new harps to get them to play the way that I wish them to play. I never do any mods, however, before I at least test the new harp and give it a chance to show me what it can do. :laughing:

Just yesterday I obtained new reed plates (with reeds installed, PowerBender tuning, key of C) for a Seydel Session Steel harp and look at that: it played perfectly “out of the box” after installing them on my older comb. :kissing_closed_eyes: If only all of my new harps were like that it would save me lots of time and effort !! But that’s just the way it is … :roll_eyes:

Regards,
– Slim

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Hallo @Luke, warum traue ich mich daran?
Ich habe vor meinem Unfall den Berufsabschluss in Elektrotechnik / Elektronik gemacht. Dabei das Verständnis und die Handhabung für Technik und Feinmechanik gelernt. So kann ich schnell die Theorie in die Praxis umsetzen. Trotzdem weiß ich, wo meine Grenzen sind. Wenn ich mir nicht ganz sicher bin, frage ich die Menschen, die es wissen. Bei meiner G Harp wusste ich grob, was zu tun ist. Dank @Slim habe ich mich endgültig getraut.
Beste Grüße Astrid

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Hi HorseDoctor
Thats a nice find! I’ll check that out, could be worth the money
Thanks

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I thought it was a lot of value for a small investment, and if you’re going to play the harp for a lifetime, it’ll pay itself back over and over. Having said that, I haven’t yet bought it, but my life is a bit hectic right now. But I will.

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Is there a translator because I’m interested in this topic? :grinning:

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Hallo @robertchartrand2104, Google Translater. :slightly_smiling_face:

translate.google.com

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