What difference do the combs make?

What is the difference between wood, plastic, and metal combs? What are the pros and cons?

All I can say Ace is your going to have some knowledge about harmonica when your done
studying this topic :wink:

I’m not sure just kind of waiting to here some of the responses like you ??? (besides cleaning and maintenance
on a plastic would be easier I believe than a wood comb).

Great topic ;D

Harp on!!

Forgive me before I say it, but I think a guy named ACE asking about a COMB is too much.
Just joking ACE. I used your combs all through high school though.
I’m glad you started this thread. There’s a lot I want to know here too.
Lead on MacBrothers.


I can’t tell you why but I can tell you the results of using different things to make the combs. I make Native American style flutes and I can tell you that different woods produce different sounds when all other things are equal. Softer woods produce a softer lower sound than the hard woods or plastic. I found that if you use a very soft wood such as cedar and then lacquer the inside you’ve lost the softness of the wood and that flute will sound much different than from the flute without interior hardening. Plastic adds an entirely different sounding flute and much more responsive and louder. I would assume the same results with harmonica combs.


@Yo Bob - Love the Ace Comb reference…good thing the lad’s name wasn’t Acme - ooh the possibilities there! hahahahaha

@ Yo Ace - Good question. It all boils down to preference. But there are differences. Yet rather than I explain through it all - Here’s our good friend Pat Missin to lend a hand and shed some light on the subject:


For myself, and because it sounds to be an interesting project - I’m going to invest in a handful of wooden combs for my various harps and see how they play from there:


According to the site, they’re upgrading their sealing processes. So it’s going to take a while to get the combs and do my customizations. Will keep you posted though!

Keep on Harpin’!

OK, this is a good thread.
I saw a tutorial about sealing wooden combs with some sort of varnish (?).
Is this a good idea in your opinions?
Hey Barry, I make native flutes sometime. I’ll have to get with you somewhere around these pages to talk. Do you make plains style flutes or woodlands flutes?
Do you always use “tree” wood, or do you ever use river cane or bark?
I’m sorry for getting off topic guys. PM me if you don’t mind, Barry. I’d love to hear about your “stuff.”


Bob, I sent you a PM, let me know if you recieved it.


Hey BB!

I saw a tutorial about sealing wooden combs with some sort of varnish (?).

{Was this about the same time you read about Murad?! hehehehe! Sorry, insider joke for our regulars here! Anywho…}

Well, I certainly wouldn’t use anything ‘varnish’! :stuck_out_tongue:

Imagine all the chemicals and toxins in them! :o

All natural beeswax has been used since whoever the first customizer was - Probably lost to posterity in the annuls of harmonica history, yo! :-\

Oh Special Note: Don’t anybody ever concern themselves about going ‘off topic’ and/or ‘drifting’ in any thread anywhere…It’s bound to happen. It is what it is. It makes for great discussions and good camaraderie here. It’s all good! :slight_smile:


Keep on Practicin’!

Keep on Harpin’!

Keep on Jammin’!

Yeah, the toxic effect of any sealer is what bothered me when I read that article.
Also, I figured the wood comb was finished to pretty close tolerance.
If I do find an old Chromonica I can afford, I think I’d be afraid to try anything except maybe the beeswax. That’s pretty good for wood actually. I seal flutes with it sometimes.
Watch that mouth SPD! You might hurt my tender little feelings. Hehehehehe
I mean Muahahahahahaha!
Thanks for the words.


To bald players combs make no difference at all.



Watch that mouth SPD! You might hurt my tender little feelings.

Okay Mr Bob Bugleboy, Sir! I can read between the lines and take a hint.

You really say that, but actually mean this:

Joe Dolce - Shaddap you face 1981

Oh StreetPD, I’d never say that to you. I enjoy being around people who aren’t afraid to have fun. Now SHADDUP!!! Not really! Keep it up. It’s fun.
BTW I gave my Dad a comb once, and he was obviously impressed. He told me he’d never part with it. Well I reckon not on his head. I guess he didn’t know the comb went with the wax paper wrapper. It was a do-it-yo’self kazoo kit.
Come on STP, whatcha got ta say?


Yo, Bendin’ Bob {BB for short}

I gave my Dad a comb once, and he was obviously impressed. He told me he'd never part with it.

What no rim shot?! Ba-dum-bum! ;D

Never had a kazoo in my life! So I wouldn’t know beyond that, sorry! :stuck_out_tongue:

However though, our dad took what we called ‘whirly-gigs’ off the trees…

And he demonstrated that by placing one between the thumbs and cupped hands - With just the right amount of air pressure, you could make them whistle! :o

That was pretty cool! :slight_smile:

Sure, peeps can do the same with certain types of leaves - But still ain’t as fun as doing them with those whirly-gigs! Whadyaknow, whadyasay?! :smiley:

Rock on, yo! 8)

SPD, warm memories stay with us forever, don’t they?
Did you make sailboats from pine bark, a stick, and a piece of paper?
I didn’t do the whirlygig, but I did the leaves. I’m going to have to try one of those.
Thanks for renewing memories.
I’ll have to wait til I’m much better to try Bendin Bob on for fit.
Maybe Hickuppin Hank? Or Sloppy Joe? Maybe Limpin Lombardo? Hippie Harper?


Thanks for the comments, BB! :slight_smile:

And um, BugleBoy is just fine - It fits the BB great!! ;D

And er uh um I’m so relieved that the name suggestion thingee came from the drawing end of the harp and not the other end…Know what I mean? A-hem! See what you’ve started?!! :o


Rock on, yo!

Watch out now!
I’ll hang on to the safe BB name! :-[
Catch you on the flip side.


Hey, I resemble that remark ;D ;D

Not sure if it’s to do with the wood but i prefer metal comb to wood.

I have a custom hohner blues which has a wood comb and a suzuki promaster, metal comb, I’ll take the suzuki any day :wink:

Hey Hotrod, I too have several ProMasters and the Manji from Suzuki plus my old favorites the Special 20 and many wood combed harps as well. I favor the harps with hard surfaces such as the plastic and metal combs. I find they play more responsive especially in the 7 through 10 blow holes and the 3 draw in them is better then wood. I don’t know if some of this is not due to the differences in the reeds as well. The Suzuki valved harps are really responsive in ALL holes!


OK Barry, since you mentioned differences in reeds, a fellow I met the other day (I invited him in with us here) showed me his Seydel. He said it had stainless reeds. I didn’t hear the harp,
but won’t this make the harp sound brighter? I’m just asking because I’m such a newbie, remember. Be gentle with me. :smiley:
By the way, Barry, I didn’t get the pictures uplaoded to email like I said, but I’m going to try to do it tomorrow.
As little as I do, I still just can’t seem to find time to get it done. I’d procrastinate, but I’d really prefer to put everything further off than tomorrow. 8)