I play harmonica in The Sunny Day Blues blues band, so get through quite a few harps, I always use Lee Oskar's or Hohner Special 20's. Over the years I have tried many different and more expensive makes and models including those with stainless steel reeds, valved, wooden combs etc. and I've been dissapointed with the performance compared to the above two models. My choice or recommendations are always one of the above. They are both loud, good tone, and fast response, and I find both these models, notes are easier to bend. I would recommend either of them, both for beginners or professional players. They are in my opinion the best value for money. Replacement reed plates are readily available for Lee Oskar's so are a little more economical, although, in the key of A, the special 20 tends to last a little longer before fatigue.
I am very biased because my first real harmonica was a Special 20 and that is what I have been playing all my life. For the price I think this is the best value on the market for a good, basic harmonica for standard use. I am more of a singer/songwriter, not a harmonica expert but I have tried quite a few other brands and models of harmonicas and keep going back to the Special 20?s. Why? Well they are very comfortable and easy to play and they usually last a long time (with almost daily use) although I have had a few lemons and I have blown out a few reeds but that is to be expected. I usually use this harmonica in the Dunlop harmonica holder (it only works with the standard shaped harps) while playing guitar or for recording stuff in my home studio. I would recommend this product to beginner and intermediate players and for anyone who wants a great all-purpose instrument. You really can?t get a better harmonica for the price. One thing to be aware of is that the Special 20?s are available in several different tunings There is a country tuning and a low tuning. The low tuning is just like the standard tuning but lower. I have one of these and I love it as well. The country tuning is a bit different and is made to play in 2nd position so the notes are a bit different. So do your research before buying.
This is my 3rd Special 20. These are great harmonicas. The price is a little daunting but you get what you pay for. I've bought a few $10-$15 harps that sound good at first but then lose their power quickly. These harmonicas hold their powerful sound for a really long time. My D harp is quite old and still plays better than my new Hot Metal. It's quite easy to bend notes and play with sounds on these harps. Highly recommended.
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