What’s a good Brand to buy after Lee Oskar?

Hello all,

First of all, I am a beginner player. I finished Luke’s Beginner to Boss course and feel more comfortable around the harmonica. I’m working through the materials to fully internalize the techniques and songs, and am working through JP’s Blues course. So while I was going through Luke’s course, I bought 4 Lee Oskar harmonicas. I absolutely love them. However, I’m curious and want to explore more options. I’m very interested in improving tone without sacrificing the ease of play with the LO. Not that the LO has any issue with the tone, I’m just curious how it would feel to play something else. Any thoughts? I was scoping out the Seydel and the Hohner Crossover. At my level, should I splurge on these?

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The Seydel models with brass reeds are very similar in tone and ease of playing to the Hohner Special 20 or the Lee Oskar harps. The Seydel models with stainless steel reeds are definitely different in both tone (which also varies according to the material used for the comb: plastic, wood or metal) and ease of play (I find that they require a little more effort than the brass reed harps, but that is not a real problem – and it is even better if you are a “hard” player who uses a lot of power in blowing and drawing because the stainless steel reeds last much longer than brass reeds).

I only have one Hohner Crossover and I think I bought a “Friday” model because the comb was poorly made and the reeds were a disaster. I have worked and worked on the gaps and reed shapes but am still not satisfied. Pobably my bad luck, but I personally will not buy another one (because they are not cheap).

The Hohner Marine Band Deluxe, on the other hand, is very nice! If you decide to try one, they are usually less expensive than the Crossover, but be sure to get the model with Deluxe in the name.

Something completely different to consider is a Suzuki BluesMaster (brass reeds, not expensive, nice tone and easy to play) or a Suzuki ProMaster (more expensive, very nice tone, very easy to play and the reeds are a type that I would describe as “between” brass and stainless steel).

Regards,

– Slim

You mentioned getting a bad harp… do you know how common that is?.. I started with a lee oskar… It was perfect… I’ve since bought a crossover and seydell sessions… Since then I’ve blown out the 2 draw in all 3 of them… Ive purchased new reeds for the lee oskar but it seems the 2 draw is bad… I purchased 2 new lee oskar (from Amazon) and the 2 draw isn’t right. I strongly believe it’s not me cause my wife’s 2 draw sounds fine. Wondering if I should purchase one from a music store. Any info is greatly appreciated.

I have no idea how often “bad” harps are sold – but I imagine that the frequency is inversely proportional to the price. :point_left:

Was your Seydel Session harp a Session Steel, which has the stainless steel reeds and costs more or was it the Session Blues model which has brass reeds? I’m just guessing, of course, but I bet it was a Session Blues model because the stailnless steel reeds are very strong and long-lived.

Just because a reed sounds good or bad is no sure indication about the quality of the reed. In fact, I would estimate that 90% or more of the “bad” sounding reeds actually go back to problems with the reed gap and reed shape, not the reed material being of low quality. These are things that you can learn to correct yourself and can not only result in great sounding harps that are much easier to play, but also save you gobs of money. :money_mouth_face:

If you are still a novice harp player then the blown out reeds you have experienced sound more to me like a problem with your playing style (much too strong with your draws in order to “force” a poorly gapped reed to play as you would like it to play). Remember: it should be possible, with proper technique (tongue position, jaw and harp position) to bend and even overblow at low volume (assuming also that the reed gaps and reed profiles/shapes are correct). If you try to force bends by using more power in your playing (i.e. playing louder) then you are inviting early reed failures. :rage:

Regards,

– Slim

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I’ve had a few Crossovers, and they’ve sounded and felt great, though they have gone out of tune over time. They have a beautiful bright tone. If that’s appealing, and money is no object, go for it!

Besides Lee Oskars, my other favorites are Hohner Special 20’s and Golden Melodies, though neither of those are likely to be inspiring for tone.

If you’re really wanting that old-time Blues tone, I’m with @slim, you can’t beat a Hohner Marine Band! I’ve never played the Deluxe, only the 1896, but if the Deluxe is any more comfy, it’d be worth any extra cost!!!

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It sounds like you have the same problem I used to have, playing WAY TOO HARD! LOL. I used to go through harps so fast because I was just using way too much force.

I agree with everything @slim says in his post.

If you wanna keep playing with the amount of force that you are used to, consider looking into stainless steel reed harps like the Seydel 1847 Silver. I think you’ll find that they can withstand more abuse.

Hope that helps!

Rock on,
Luke

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It is a Seydell Sessions Steel. And yes I agree I play way to hard… it’s taken me 4 harmonicas to figure that out (and the wife telling me Everytime we play…lol). I told my self I won’t play hard anymore if I can just get a good working harmonica… between the reed replacements and 2 other lee oskar harmonicas from Amazon they just don’t sound right… I guess I’ll keep returning them for new ones… I did get a 4 year protection plan for it this time… lol. It just really bugs me trying to play with a harp that’s missing a note. Sure I could slide over a note… newayz. Thank you gentlemen for your feed back. It’s greatly appreciated!!

@Luke and @Slim Thanks for the recs. What are your thoughts on the swelling. I hesitate to get anything without a plastic comb because I do not want to get something that will swell because I wash my harmonica in warm water once every few days. How resistant to swelling are the Marine Bands?

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So… I found a great deal on Amazon for the Marine Band 1896. I went to the local music store on a whim and asked them whether to price match, and they happily did it. I’ve been playing this for a few days, and I absolutely love it. I thought the Lee Oskars were easy to bend… these are even better from a bending standpoint. I also see what you mean about the comfort level. The tone is definitely different. I like it. @Slim I may get the Deluxe for the next key. Thanks guys.

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Hi @qnhoang81,

Glad to hear about your 1896 !! The Marine Band Deluxe probably will not give you much difference in tone or playability – but it is much easier to disassemble for cleaning, tuning, reed adjustments etc. because it has the easy-to-remove covers that are affixed to the comb by screws and bolts rather than by little metal pins as on the 1896. Also, the covers on the Deluxe are a bit more open at the back for a somewhat better sound projection towards your audience or microphone.

As far as swelling of the comb is concerned: Hohner seals their wood combs quite well, so that should not be much (if any) of a problem – just do not soak the comb for extended periods. When I clean/disinfect my wood comb harps I disassemble them by removing the covers, then removing the reed plates from the comb and placing the metal parts (covers and reed plates) into an ultrasonic cleaning device (like those used for jewelry). For the comb, I use a tooth brush to remove any deposits and then spray the comb with a disinfectant spray, and then after a short wait I wipe it dry (if it is not already dry).

Regards,

– Slim

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Nice!! That’s the original blues tone right there. The combs are constructed of double-lacquered pear wood, so they’re not gonna start swelling any time soon.

You’ve made a great investment.

Rock on,
Luke

Oh ok, thanks for explaining the difference between the 1896 and the Deluxe. I was wondering about that.

Wow, Slim your harmonicas are so lucky they get treated so well. I need to be more like you.

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Only regarding harp cleaning – your harp playing skills far overshine mine! :dizzy_face: :sunglasses:

Regards,

– Slim

Aw, man…thanks for your kind words, Slim!

I appreciate you.

Rock on my friend,
Luke

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