recommendation for casual player

first, a bit about myself…

  1. i started playing harmonica probably 11-12 years ago, sometime around my sophomore year of college.

  2. i started because i wanted to learn to play the harmonica part from “piano man” and i kinda got hooked.

  3. i don’t play often. I REPEAT: I DON’T PLAY OFTEN, haha. this is important for the rest of this thread. i’m mostly a singer, and when i play in bands, my harmonica playing is something that i bring out to punch up some songs or give us a wider range of what we can cover. i’m not out playing the bars every weekend, and even when i do play, i don’t play on every song. at best, i would say i’ll have a harmonica out of it’s case something like once or twice a month on average. suffice it to say, durability is not my primary concern.

  4. i’ve tried several harps over the years, but i LOVE a marine band. i could never figure out what i was doing wrong in terms of bending, then i picked up a marine band and bending a note was as easy as falling off a log. so overall i’m a hohner man, but i’m no loyalist to the brand.

all that said…

i’m looking for a harmonica package that will meet the needs stated above–i need good bending (this is job 1 for sure), several keys, and a quality product that will hold up for awhile. again, with the frequency and amount of time i spend playing, they just need to take use, not abuse. i’ve looked at the hohner special 20 and blues bender packages, but there’s a part of me that fears straying from the safety of my marine bands. does anyone have any thoughts on these models that i’ve mentioned, or could recommend something else in a similar price range? (for reference: 5 packs on musician’s friend are roughly $80 for the blues benders and $125 for the special 20s.) thanks in advance!

This is the reply I made to another member inquiring which harp to buy…

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Re: C blues scale
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2013, 07:37:13 AM »
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Both of these are good harps, played and sworn by many Pros. The Marine Band I have owned and played. Its drawbacks (In my opinion) are: 1- the plates are exposed and cut my lips since I was learning and playing a lot and was probably using too much lip pressure in the beginning. 2- the wood comb was not sealed enough on mine which caused the teeth of the comb to swell and protrude. This became like a cheese grater on my lips and tongue. 3- the reed plates are nailed to the comb which leaked a lot of air. This is a common complaint for this harp from what I have read on several forums.
The Blues Harp I have neither owned or played. From reading about this harp it seems they do a better job of sealing the wood comb. It still has exposed reed plates which they say you will get use to in time. But for me, I’d rather not deal with cut lips at all.
My preference is the Hohner Special 20. The comb is plastic which does not swell and is very easy to clean. The reed plates are recessed into the plastic comb and the plates at attached with screws that pass through the comb and pull the plates together creating a good seal. The Special 20 will do everything you ask of it into the advanced techniques down the line and is easy on the wallet.

[quote=“dane82, post:1, topic:3553”]
first, a bit about myself…

  1. i started playing harmonica probably 11-12 years ago, sometime around my sophomore year of college.

  2. i started because i wanted to learn to play the harmonica part from “piano man” and i kinda got hooked.

  3. i don’t play often. I REPEAT: I DON’T PLAY OFTEN, haha. this is important for the rest of this thread. i’m mostly a singer, and when i play in bands, my harmonica playing is something that i bring out to punch up some songs or give us a wider range of what we can cover. i’m not out playing the bars every weekend, and even when i do play, i don’t play on every song. at best, i would say i’ll have a harmonica out of it’s case something like once or twice a month on average. suffice it to say, durability is not my primary concern.

  4. i’ve tried several harps over the years, but i LOVE a marine band. i could never figure out what i was doing wrong in terms of bending, then i picked up a marine band and bending a note was as easy as falling off a log. so overall i’m a hohner man, but i’m no loyalist to the brand.

all that said…

i’m looking for a harmonica package that will meet the needs stated above–i need good bending (this is job 1 for sure), several keys, and a quality product that will hold up for awhile. again, with the frequency and amount of time i spend playing, they just need to take use, not abuse. i’ve looked at the hohner special 20 and blues bender packages, but there’s a part of me that fears straying from the safety of my marine bands. does anyone have any thoughts on these models that i’ve mentioned, or could recommend something else in a similar price range? (for reference: 5 packs on musician’s friend are roughly $80 for the blues benders and $125 for the special 20s.) thanks in advance!
[/quote] Yes the special 20 is my recommendation as well for any harp player new or pro. Bends great and is very reliable. I like the marine band as well but only if I have it custom built.