Review of Hohner Piedmont Blues Harps
I saw recently that www.Coast2CoastMusic.com had a nice looking pack of Hohner harps for sale for under $20 including a handy harp case. I am always looking for the perfect harp case, although I don’t think that I’ll ever beat my craftsman canvas roll-up socket set carrier.
The kit came with a nice, heavy duty canvas bag with molded compartments for seven harps. It has a strong looking zipper and a small square of Velcro. My big River Harps fit nicely into the case.
Piedmont Blues harps are extremely light. The covers are light plastic and the combs are even lighter.
The first one that I tried seemed OK. The sound was thin and not very loud. I had no trouble bending and I started out by thinking that I might keep these in the car to practice with. So much for the key of C. The next harp had a dead reed on the three blow. The next harp had a broken sounding reed on the two draw that dropped immediately down and made it hard to not bend it. Every harp after the first one had some problem, major or minor, that prevented me from using them.
Most of the reed problems were probably from not being gapped well. I contemplated opening up the harps (they are bolted together ala Big Rivers, rather than nailed or screwed.) I could have re-gapped all of the harps and they might have been playable for a while. But, why bother?
The harps are worth about $1 or so each and the case is worth $10 or more. I rinsed out the harps with hot water and put them out to dry. I’ll keep them in my kit and give them away to little kids or noisy drunks.
The harp case is very cool. The only thing wrong with it is that it has a little ribbon to hold the back upright. This ribbon is trifle too short and the case flops closed when you try to leave it open. A pair of scissors will fix that guy. I don’t like that it has “Piedmont Blues” silk screened on the top. I don’t want any harp players thinking that I actually use these harps. However, I do love the style of Piedmont Blues (like Cephas and Wiggins).
My advice is, if you have $20 plus shipping, and you need a cool 7 harp case - go for it. If you have kids or frequently give away harps, the price seems about right. If you enjoy gapping harps, these might be middling useful harps with a good going over. The reeds are much lighter than the German reeds, but you might use these as a source of spare reeds. I don’t know if they can made to fit on more expensive combs.
I'm hoping that John Watts at Coast2Coast will find a bunch of the cases and sell them for $10-$15. That would be a deal!