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Fender Blues Deville Harmonica, Key of C
- Key of C
- Designed to sound as good as the Fender brand name would suggest
- Its richer tone and pitch is made possible with a molded PVC comb and precision phosphor bronze reeds
- Traditional shape and black satin covers will make your harmonica look as good as it sounds
- Includes vented hard plastic case
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The Fender Blues Deville harmonica is designed to sound as good as the Fender brand name would suggest. Its richer tone and pitch is made possible with a molded PVC comb and precision phosphor bronze reeds. Traditional shape and black satin covers will make your harmonica look as good as it sounds. Reed plates are also replaceable. Includes vented hard plastic case.
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After I bought this one, I purchased a SEYDEL Blues Session Standard Harmonica C It is somewhat awkward to play because it is wider, but the tone is good, and my lips are far less irritated. I've mostly just been playing that one, and the Bushman Delta Frost C - Key of C.
(Edit 9/18/16. The Bushman Delta Frost didn't turn out to be so good after all. Blew several reeds while playing without force or high volume. Bummer. Bought a Suzuki Manji here on Amazon for a bit under $40.. if the price is higher here, look somewhere else.. the Manji is great, and my favorite harp now. I still play the Seydel sometimes for variety).
I would still be playing a Special 20, except somehow I'm allergic to the plastic Hohner uses in their harps. I had the same problem with a Golden Melody. The Special 20 is a far better harp than the Delta Frost in my opinion, but neither the plastic in the DF, nor the plastic in the Seydel comb bother me.
You can read my original review if you like. I wrote it when I liked the Fender Harp better than I do now.
I purchased one of these in A some months ago. I love that one, I rated it 5 stars, and wrote a review about it here on Amazon. Since I like that one so much, I decided to buy a Blues DeVille in C.
Some things I should mention about Blues DeVilles in general before I get into my experience ordering and playing a Blues DeVille in C:
1. Prices on this site change. Sometimes Amazon sells this harp via Amazon Prime, sometimes not. Sometimes the price is $29.99 and shipping is free (even when not sold by Amazon Prime). Usually the price on here is reasonable, but a few weeks ago, this harmonica was selling for $39.99 + $4.99 shipping. Which is crazy. You can usually find this harmonica somewhere online for $29.99 and free shipping if you look. Sometimes Amazon changes sellers of this item each month, or even each week. I'm guessing eventually Amazon will sell this one through a different vendor at the usual $29.99 and free shipping price. Buying through Amazon Prime is best because making a return is easy. Returns and refunds from other vendors selling this item here on Amazon may or may not go well.
2. Even with the Blues DeVille I bought in A, the reed plates are sharp on the ends. It didn't take me long to adjust my playing so that this is not a problem. However, this is worth keeping in mind when deciding what harp to buy. Fender needs to work on this.. round off the reed plates a little at the edges, file them down better, etc. You'll find these same sharp edges on a Hohner Blues Harp. I'll be comparing this harmonica to the BH in a bit.
3. The Fender BD is noticeably heavier than most harmonicas. This doesn't bother me.. makes the harp feel more durable. Some folks don't like the extra weight though.
4. This harmonica is a little wider and thicker than some Hohners, like the Marine Band. It is also wider and thicker than Lee Oscar harmonicas. This one is somewhat comparable in size to the Hohner Blues Harp.
5. This harmonica has the dirtiest sound out of all the harps I've tried that have plastic combs. And this is a good thing. The tone is somewhat similar to a Hohner Blues Harp (which has a wood comb), but I think this one sounds better. When I want a cleaner tone, I play a Hohner Special 20 ($35).
6. Unlike most plastic comb harps, such as the Lee Oskar, Hohner Special 20, Bushman Delta Frost, Seydel Blues Session Standard and Blues Session Steel, this one has reed plates that stick out further than the comb.. like how the reed plates stick out on Hohner Blues Harps, Big River Harps, and Marine Band (like the Blues Harp, the Marine Band models have wood combs, or bamboo, in the case of the Hohner Marine Band Crossover). Because of the comb not sticking out further than the reed plates, I've found it a tiny bit tougher at first to play single notes on this one than on harmonicas with protruding plastic combs (combs that stick out past the reed plate). If you've been playing a Special 20, Lee Oskar, or Bushman Delta Frost for a long time, the BD will take some getting used to.
7. Like on the Marine Band and Hohner Rocket harps (Rocket has a plastic comb, and is an upgraded, more expensive model of the Special 20. Rocket is $52, Special 20 is $34 usually), this harmonica has side vents. Side-vented harps seem louder to me, and the BD is plenty loud. The side vents on this one are narrower than on Marine Band Models. I don't know about the side vents on the Rocket, because I haven't yet played one. I like my Special 20, and don't feel the need to get a Rocket, although I am a bit curious about it.
The Rocket is marketed as a loud harp. I don't know how it compares to the BD in volume. Some harps are quieter than this one. The Seydel Blues Session models and the Special 20 and Blues Harp do not have side vents, and are quieter than the Blues DeVille.
8. Unlike Hohner, Lee Oskar, and some other harmonicas, the BD has phosphor bronze reeds, not brass. These reeds supposedly last longer than brass reeds. As far as I can tell, the tone is different because of the reeds. Or it could be the reed material in combination with Fender's design, or just Fender's design, I don't know. But, BD's sound different from any other harp I've played.
9. The Blues DeVille cover plates have a matte finish, which is a bit rough. I'm not crazy about how this finish feels. My lips slide just a bit less easily along these cover plates. The matte finish is a little less smooth than the usual stainless steel (or whatever metal) that most cover plates are made of. The matte finish is not a deal breaker, but it does bother me a bit once in awhile (and sometimes the matte finish bothers me more than a bit). It might be a deal breaker for some folks.
It is good to lick one's lips before playing so that the harp slides smoother along the mouth. This tip helps, regardless of what harp one is playing, but is especially useful when playing a harp with a matte finish.
10. There is a Fender model that looks similar to this, but is, in fact, quite different. That one is a joint effort between Fender and Lee Oskar. It is a Lee Oskar harmonica with Blues DeVille Style cover plates. It is tuned slightly differently than Lee Oskars. It costs more than the Blues DeVille. Since I don't like Lee Oskar harmonicas I'll not be buying the BD/Lee Oskar hybrid.
11. There is a cheaper Fender model, called the Blues Deluxe. It has brass reeds and the usual stainless steel cover plates. I have not played it, but have read it is not very good.
12. I've ordered 4 of these so far. 3 of the 4 came with cases that would not open properly. The harmonicas (with the exception of one) were good enough that I kept them and tossed the cases, since the cases were not recyclable. If you want a case in which one of these will fit, here is an option: Hohner Zippered Harmonica Case. I have one of these and might be buying more. If you want a simple leather sleeve, for roughly the same price as the Hohner case, including shipping, you can get one from Seydel. I have a couple of these which I sometimes use to hold the Fenders. You'll likely have to buy the Seydel leather sleeve from the Seydel website. I'd say the Hohner case is a better value. I used the Seydel sleeves because they came with my Seydels, and I wasn't playing those harmonicas much.
Ok then.. next, I will describe my ordering experience and playing experience with this instrument. After that, I will compare the BD to other harmonicas I have owned, and then, some final thoughts..
Here is what happened when I ordered a Fender Blues DeVille in C..
I received one in C a little while back. The #10 hole draw note was noticeably flat. I played the same note on two other harmonicas. Those sounded identical to each other, and in tune. Yep, the note on the Blues DeVille was certainly flat.
The other problem I had with this purchase was the case. It was almost impossible to open. So, I sent the harp back and got a refund. I then ordered another one in C, figuring I'd not get two that were bad. What are the odds, right?
Well.. the second harp in C is better than the first one. No notes that are flat. The case, however, is even harder to open than the case that came with the previous harp. Since the case is defective, I'm going to toss it. I can put the harp in a different case. Hohner and Seydel sell zipper cases, maybe I'll buy one of those. Right now I'm keeping the BD in a Seydel leather sleeve, until I take apart my Seydel in G and figure out what is wrong with it.
Next.. My opinion of the Blues DeVille compared to some other harps:
Overall, I'd say I prefer this harmonica to all the Hohners I've owned, with the exception of the Special 20 ($35). I like the BD better than the Marine Band Crossover ($56) Blues Harp ($35) and Big River Harp ($30).
Marine Band Crossover: Well-made, bamboo comb is carved so that it is comfortable to play. But for me, this harp is so small I can't hold it comfortably.. I have large hands and very long fingers. Also, as far as I know, the reeds in the Crossover are standard Hohner reeds (please correct me if I'm wrong).. same ones that are in other Hohner harps. Each model of Hohner Harp sounds a bit different from the others. But, because of the reeds being the same, you can pay less money and get comparable Hohner tone from a cheaper model.
I like the BD better because I can hold it comfortably, and costs much less.
Blues Harp: Like the BD, the reed plates are sharp on the ends. Unlike the BD, the reed plates on the BH feel uncomfortable, the wood comb of the BH comb feels very uncomfortable while tongue-blocking, and the BH is not airtight.. takes a lot more air to play this one. I am not at all fond of the Blues Harp.
Big River Harp: Comparable in price to BD. Plastic comb with plates stick out like on the BD, but I don't remember them being as sharp on the edges. Unlike the the BD, the BRH I own is not airtight, and is harder to play. Tone of BRH.. pretty good.
Special 20: Very different from the BD. Comb that sticks out further than the reed plates. Cleaner tone. Almost as airtight. Cover plates on SP20 are nice and smooth. I tend to play the Special 20 a bit more than the BD, but like to have both for variety of tone and feel. I mainly play the SP20 more often because I have tinnitus (ringing in ears). Since the SP20 is quieter, it doesn't bother my ears as much. Also, I find the smooth cover plates on the SP20 to be easier on my lips than the matte finish cover plates of the BD. I have found the comb of the SP20 to be a bit more comfortable while tongue blocking than the comb on the BD. But I still like the BD a lot.
Lee Oskar Major Diatonic: Similar in build to Hohner Special 20, but narrower and with cover plates that are less smooth, due to the deep engraving on the cover plates, especially the top cover plate. Sound, in my opinion, not as good as Special 20, and as good as the BD. Many harmonica players love Lee Oskars, but I do not.
Bushman Delta Frost: similar in build and cost to Special 20 and Lee Oskar, but DF, like the BD, has phosphor bronze reeds. I think the DF is decent. Compared to the BD.. tough call. but I like the tone of the BD better, and like how the comb in the back does not stick out too far. The DF costs $37 (made in USA), but does not come with a case nor a leather sleeve. You'll have to find something to carry it in. Hohner and Seydel sell cases on their sites, and you can also get harmonica cases on Etsy and eBay. I use a Hohner zipper case. The DF fits in it just fine.
Seydel Blues Session Steel: Thicker, wider, longer than any other harp I've played. Feels awkward because of its size. The BSS is too large to fit into a harmoinca rack for hands free playing. Well made, very full and unique tone. The BSS has stainless steel reeds, which might even last longer than phosphor bronze. Costs $60.No case included, just a leather sleeve. You can buy a case from the Seydel USA website. I like the feel and tone of BD better, and certainly like the price better.
Edit 4/16/16.. as I wrote at the beginning of the review, I later purchased a Seydel Blues Session Standard, which is pretty much the same as the steel version, except the Standard has brass reeds. This one is a tiny bit more comfortable to play than the steel version, and costs a lot less. This model is my favorite harp, overall.
Some final thoughts..
Because of the quality control issues, I'd suggest not buying a set of these, but buy each individually. You might end up with a set in which 2 or three are defective, and you'll have to send the whole set back.
Some harmonicas are made in 12 keys. So far, this model is made in 8 keys.
While playing, this harp resonates (vibrates, I guess I could say) in such a way that it feels cooler in the hand than any harp I've played. A minor thing perhaps, but I like this feature.
I don't want to tell folks not to order one of these. If you get one in C (or any other key) that is well-made and functioning properly, you'll have a great harmonica, especially for the price.
I wouldn't necessarily say buy one of these instead of a Special 20. I'd say buy one of each, in the same key, and decide which one you like best. It might be a tough decision.I sometimes drive myself a bit crazy when I'm heading out of the house, and only want to take one harp with me in my pocket. It can be hard to choose between this one and the SP20.
The reason I've deducted one star is because of the first harp in C being defective, and cases for both the first and second harp being defective. The second Blues DeVille in C, were I to rate it without considering the case, would get five stars.
I'd suggest buying from Amazon, as long as the price is the same or not much higher than on other websites. The reason I suggest this is because I've returned two harps, the first Blues DeVille I bought, and a Suzuki Bluesmaster, and the return process was very easy. If you get a defective harp, no worries.