And yet another music post. Sorry 'bout that, but this kinda blew me away.
I ran across this beautiful gob-iron rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot (That thud you just heard was half my more religious readers' jaws hitting their chests.) on You Tube, and wondered how he got that sound. Some of the bends seem, well, impossible on a normal blues-harp set-up. Have a listen; it really is lovely.
Well I was right about the seemingly impossible bends, at least. Turns out the harp he's playing—the Hohner XB–40—is what's apparently known as a "power-bender" harmonica. In Hohner's case, they achieved it with valves and a harmonica which, compared to the usual Marine Band or Blues Harp, looks like a friggin' brick. It's massive. Which kinda put me off a bit, as I've played almost nothing but the standard Marine Band sized harps, and the distance between holes, size of the holes and so on is burned deep into my muscle-memory. It just doesn't seem worth retraining for a bigger harp, considering I rarely play for anyone but myself these days.
And then, when I'd just-about talked myself into getting one anyway, sometime, just for the hell of it, I found out that Hohner don't make them anymore. Bugger!
Then I found out about the Suzuki Sub 30 Ultrabend. Gadzooks! They've, somehow or other, packed a second set of reeds into the top plate, which come into play when you bend the note, and yet still managed to make the thing the exact same size as your traditional blues-harp. I won't bore you with the technical details. (This chap's got a good demo up, if you really are interested.) Sound-wise, though, I think it's even nicer than the Hohner, from a blues-player's point of view. Not having valves, it has much the same tone as the Marine Band or similar, which tends to be the harp of choice for blues, and especially for blues-rock.
And, well Gentle Reader, when a really talented player gets hold of one… just listen to this.
I want I want I want I want I want…
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