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Playing Chromatically

The Hohner Marine Band customized by Tim Moyer

Tested model: Marine Band in C customized by Tim Moyer.

The Marine Band is probably the most well known bluesharp. It has been played by professional players for decades. Still, it has some drawbacks, the biggest being its wood comb which can swell and hurt the lips.

Tim Moyer proposes a customized Marine Band with the original pearwood comb sealed with natural beeswax. The harmonica is assembled with brass machine screws and precisely adjusted for optimum response, projection, and dynamics. If required, Tim can provide an overblow setup with proper gapping and reed profiling.

Here are more details by Tim:

"I start by removing the covers and drilling the plates while they are still attached to the comb, to ensure that they remain properly aligned. Comb holes are overdrilled to allow the reedplates to be positioned on the comb according to the players preferences or style choices (tines flush with the plates, or slightly recessed). The combs are sanded to a flat surface where they meet the reedplates, and the front edges of the comb tines are rounded to make playing more comfortable. I also round the four external corners of the comb, and then seal the comb by dipping in filtered, unbleached beeswax. All the wax is removed from the external surfaces of the comb, so that wax will not contact the plates or the players lips, tongue or mouth. Reedplate corners are rounded to match the comb corners, and are made smooth. The front edges of the reedplates are polished to a mirror finish. All screw holes are edged to remove stray filings. Reeds are polished to remove previous tuning scratches and other imperfections. The reedslots are lightly embossed, so as not to create too bright or brassy a tone quality. Reeds are moved deeper into the slots toward the rivet end, and are arced slightly upwards to provide tip clearance for improved responsiveness. Reeds are tuned to players specifications using fine abrasives. During the tuning process reed orientation is adjusted as needed for optimal clearance, to remove any rattling or buzzing. Cover plates are drilled to match the comb, and the back flanges are peened flat to give maximum projection and optimum dynamics. Reed plates are mounted to the comb using three brass or stainless steel screws internally, and the covers are mounted using four stainless steel screws and nuts. The harmonica is meticulously tested and adjusted for optimum action before being shipped to the customer."

Pros:

  • Beautiful instrument. THE bluesharp!
  • Customized instrument. Very airtight, responsive and easy to bend.
  • The overblows are clean and can be sustained with vibrato.
  • The harp can still be played hard without choking the 4th, 5th and 6th blow.
  • Affordable.
  • Tim's service is great.

Cons:

  • It is mandatory to master the overblows to play chromatically.

Remark:

Tim also proposes to customize any bluesharp of the market.

How to play it:

The Marine Band being a regular richter harmonica, playing chromatically implies to master the overblows. See the standard richter harps chromatic playing page.

Listen to the sound samples:

Conclusion:

In our opinion these harps really make the chromatic playing reachable. The main problems inherent in the overblows are drastically reduced, allowing a good overall sound and a rather good expressivity. And these harps are so small that one can bring them anywhere!

Laurent Vigouroux



http://www.workingmansharps.com/


Planet Harmonica - 2004