I assume I don't have to explain who Rod Piazza is? Good. This is a extremely striking looking 10-hole diatonic. As the name suggests this harp has bronze covers, bronze reedplates and bronze reeds, with typical sandwich-style construction on a wood comb. The covers have minimal engraving and no hole numbers at all, with vents at the end of each cover much like a certain venerable harmonica much loved by blues players over the decades. The standard thickness reedplates are secured with five screws. The comb is sealed is heavily lacquered along the outside edges and this combined with the nicely rounded corners to the chamber partitions prevent the cheese grater effect whilst tongue blocking. The lack of sharp corners and edges over the instrument as a whole also make it very comfortable in the hands and mouth. My review sample is in the key of C and uses Hering's medium slot length reeds on standard thickness reedplates. Not surprisingly, the tuning is the traditional 7-limit Just Intonation scheme which gives very rich and full sounding chords. The tuning is very consistent, but rather sharp overall - rooted around A=446Hz. This would suit harder players, as would the reed adjustment,with the gaps being set a little wider than on other Hering diatonics, particularly on the lower draw reeds. Currently available in the popular blues keys of G, A, C and D and comes in a nice hard shell case with form fitting lining. This is would be a great harp for the traditional blues player and I'm sure Rod Piazza is proud to have his name on a harp that looks and sounds so good.
Another signature diatonic, this one is designed to the specs of Grammy award winner Peter Madcat Ruth, a long time Hering endorsee. With similar dimensions to their Hering Blues, Black Blues and Golden Blues models, this harp has reedplates fully recessed into a clear impact resistant polymer comb. The covers are gold finished brass with Madcat's logo and signature embossed into the upper cover. This harp uses the same bronze reeds as the Rod Piazza model, although in they are affixed to a standard brass reedplate 0.9mm thick. My review sample is in the key of C and uses medium slot reeds, although I suspect that lower keys might use long slot reeds. The tuning is Madcat's preferred compromise temperament, somewhat closer to equal temperament than JI, based around A=443/444Hz. Reed adjustment is good, with the gaps being substantially lower than the Rod Piazza model. Overall response is excellent and this harp would perhaps suit a more eclectic playing style rather than hard core traditional blues harp. Comes in one of those great hard shell cases and is available in all 12 keys standard keys.
Although Hering are known for more or less traditional harmonica designs, this model is just a little different - a diatonic with a mouthpiece. Although not the first diatonic to be made with a mouthpiece, this is the only one currently on the market. Looking a little like a scaled down chromatic with the button missing, the RK-20 is a sandwich-style harmonica with a 5mm (3/16") thick brass mouthpiece screwed to the front of it. It comes in two versions: the RK-201 has gold finished covers and mouthpiece, while the RK-202 has black finished covers and a chromed mouthpiece. On both models the covers are made of stainless steel and cover the full length of the body. The mouthpiece has round holes which, on the sample I have, are a little uneven in height, although I didn't find that at all noticeable once the harp was in my mouth. In fact, the harp was extremely comfortable to play and I imagine that those players who favour a very deep embouchure will especially love this harmonica. There are a few other features that set it apart from other diatonics too. The hardwood comb is at 7.6mm (3/16") substantially thicker than most, giving the reed somewhat larger chambers in which to vibrate. I was a little concerned that this might cause a frequency pulling effect in the upper octave that would adversely affect the response of the higher reeds. Thankfully, this does not seem to be the case. Reed response was good across the full range of the harp and despite the widely accepted notion that having the reeds set further away from the player's mouth is detrimental to the production of overblows, I found that all the overblows were quite easy to hit on this instrument right out of the box with no adjustment. The reedplate is slightly thicker than standard at 1.07mm and uses medium slot reeds. Tuning is traditional Just Intonation rooted around A=443HZ, although there was a little inconsistency on the one I have for review. Aside from that, my only real criticism of the RK-20 is that it is currently only available in the key of C. I was hoping that if you really wanted one in another key, you could simply take some reedplates from the Hering Blues or similar harps and mount them on the comb of the RK-20. This will work, but you would need to re-drill the holes in the RK-20s comb for them to fit, so it's not a job for the ham-fisted! Once again, this harp comes in one of those lovely hard shell cases. In fact, it seems that Hering have upgraded the cases for most of their harmonicas.
For more details of what's new at Hering, please visit their web site: www.heringharmonicas.com.br
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