#1–Hohner Blues harp. For me this is the gold standard of harmonicas. AND the reason to use wood bodied harps. Not only is the Blues Harp loud and durable but it’s the only harp I have come across that actually gets the job done in every occasion-electric or acoustic.
I’ve used many different mics paired with many different amps and the Blues Harp always fits the bill. It always screams loud and always responds the way a harp should; quickly and solidly. I found the BH during my early harpin’ days when it was important to me to find these so-called “modular harps“. When I first began playing harp I would play so hard that I would routinely break a reed and suck it into my throat. The guys in the band would mock me because many times, during a solo, I would have to stop the tune and spit out the loose harp reed like a fishbone, effectively rendering a twenty to thirty dollar harp dead. Neither good nor cheap–but then along came “modular harps” like the Lee Oskar and the Hohner Blues Harp to save us all!
With the promise of replaceable reeds Now it was possible to spend a few extra bucks per harmonica and never buy a new harp again, just replace the reed plate and keep on suckin’ and blowin’ till the end of time. Lee Oskar harps became popular -in no small part- to the fact that they had replaceable reeds, which made them appear less expensive. If you blow out a reed, it was finally possible to replace the reed plate instead of the entire harp, sweet right?…you’d think so…
BUT here’s the trick–over time and tunes played I learned more about breath control and amplifier savvy, and with that came longer harp life. With Longer harp life came less of a need for “modular harps” but by then I began to realize the true power of the Hohner Blues Harp.
#2 –Bushman Delta Frost. A few years ago, on a whim I tried a Bushman Delta Frost and was pleasantly shocked! I’m not a huge fan of plastic body harps–mostly because I think they kinda feel like toys and (at least for me) don’t have that particular cut that wood harps do. Either electric or acoustic, a wood harp just has that sassy rasp that I can’t get with plastic, even the beloved Hohner Special 20 falls short for me. UNTIL…tah-dah…enter the Delta Frost.
Playing wise, the Delta Frost has a really, and I mean REALLY smooth fretboard, which equals fast action. The harmonica itself feels far more substantial that other plastic body models. the seal between fretboard and faceplate is very tight, which gives the Delta Frost some really nice volume, balance and great draw. Bushman harps are competitively priced, and made in America, so go try one!
#3- Hohner Marine Band. It’s a classic, it’s been around for one hundred and fifty years and everybody has played one. The Marine Band is an icon in American music. It’s classic lines and small wood body are unmistakable, but beyond all of that is the play of the marine Band. Make no mistake–the MB is a rough ride. No fancy screws or deluxe seals here, instead this harp sports the classic tiny nails. Play a Marine Band enough and things will start to get a little sloppy, but that’s where the magic begins. A properly broken-in Hohner Marine Band has a specific and completely unique buzz all of its own. When playing a Marine Band one can’t help but conjure up thoughts of the classic bluesmen like Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter because that tone is timeless.