Conscience: from the gypsy words "con" and "science"; the science of con. How to dupe effectively
So, I happened upon a video with Jason Ricci talking up the Suzuki Manji M-20 harp, claiming you can get overblows and overdraws on most notes with little or no tweaking.
couldn't keep still, sorry for the blur
On most harps, you can't do the over-bends without taking the thing apart and messing with the gap and arc of the reeds, embossing the slots in which the reeds vibrate, etc. Those things are little, and can be brittle. Also, if you get a reed slightly rotated it will hit the sides of its stall and life goes south. Very hard to get it back right, in most cases. I'm batting zero on that.
Jason was right. These harps do play differently. Not for players who value force over technique. They are highly responsive to just a whisper of breath, even on the highest note of the C harp. It takes very little air to get a rich, authoritative tone.
I'm not yet very good at overblows and overdraws. That is what they are called. How it works is that you change the shape where the back of your tongue hits the soft part to stop airflow. Called the H-spot, I guess because it is the part that acts if you were to say "hey" several times in rapid staccato succession. You feel it as the word is cut at the end.
What happens on a blow note is that you are choking off the normally vibrating blow reed and the draw reed then vibrates at a higher pitch. Ideally. Once you master getting the blow reed choked by changing the shape at the back of your mouth, getting the other reed to cooperate is not always so easy.
You know it when you hit it--the tone comes out bright and loud. The trick is how the air is flowing, not how hard. Too much force and you get nowhere.
These diatonic harps come in different keys, 2 reeds per hole, 10 holes and in 2 cases notes are repeated. Just how it is. Bending notes down in pitch has been in play forever. Just about any harp off the shelf is good for that. Bending notes up is a relatively new thing.
For me, the Suzuki Manji M-20 is probably the best bet for incorporating over blows and draws. Overdraw= when you bend a draw note up in pitch. You breathe in and out on harmonica--different note drawing than blowing in the same hole. Can't talk harp without it sounding kinky.
The body or comb is made of some kind of composite synthetic material. It is better than wood or plain plastic, in my book. If the reeds are as healthy as Ricci claims, then they may last awhile.
I've seen Ricci at seminars and such, and found that he gives information in a way I grasp, and he doesn't ever appear to be leaving stuff out or over complicating things. I pretty much trust his word. That's why I bought 2 harps for lots of money I don't have.
Didn't see any in minor key tuning, so I guess I can do it on the major key harps when I become fluent in the bends I'd need. I can do minors on major key harps now, but the scope is highly limited.
Manji has stainless cover plates which seem much better than the usual. They have that Marine Band thing with the edges of the reed plates forming sides of the note openings rather than the full plastic face of the Lee Oskar--which is gentler on the lips, usually. On the Manji, I don't mind the way it feels.
If you want to play fast and bend notes with ease, this is the harp. But they are pricey. Cheapest I found was just over $50. If you can not play gently and be happy, buy something else. But if you want as broad a range dynamically as I've experienced, the Manji it is.
Lee Oskars are still good. These have a certain versatility those don't. If they last like Oskar's harps, then we are on to something.
Why did I get these, and why am I posting this if I don't much feel like playing anywhere? I sure don't know. I'm not happy with my inability to create and establish a rhythm that makes me want to dance, and I don't feel what I do brings out any of the thrills I'd hope. I am strong on tone and nuance and playing clean notes. Yippy.
I should have been a physicist.
PS: they can say what they want, but what I think happens on bends like these is that slight changes in the air chamber (back of mouth/top of throat) cause a certain turbulent flow which spins in the right way to affect the reed you are working. Since you have vibrations involved, one can learn to sense and control it. You feel it.