Hi, I recently got inspired to order a manji. It is not my first one, 4-5 years ago I ordered one in C and one in D, but I never liked them too much. They were difficult to play. Especially the D was difficult to bend at the 4 draw, which I found strange because I had already played harmonica for about 5 years and could bend easily.
Now I am even more experienced in playing the harmonica, but I still feel the manji is difficult to navigate. However I really like it. I have one in Bb now, the C and D harp were given a way to a friend years ago. If I focus my breath right it becomes easier to play and I suspect that what makes the harp appear difficult to play is rather the harp requiering a better breathing technique from my part, revealing bad breathing habits I have maintained through the years.
Does anyone here have similiar experiences with the manji? It is an astonishing harmonica in regards of tone, I can really feel the vibrations in my skull and I want to work with this harmonica to make it work.
I asked my spouse to listen for the difference in a SP20 and a Manji when I did bent the 2 hole draw with a vibrato, she said the manji gave her shivers down her neck!
I tend to think of the Manji as the harp that the Marine Band would be if it had been allowed to evolve rather than sticking to a hundred year old formula.
The Manji and MB target the same general market of good, relatively affordable working harps in an old-school style.They are classic, tin sandwich/boxcar designs. The Manji modernized the things that needed to be modernized. Specifically, Suzuki gave it a composite comb making it impervious to moisture and they assemble it with bolts to make maintenance easy.
Until recently, where I live, the Manji was more of the "premium" harp. I've hear that, in Japan, it was regarded as direct competition to the Marine Band. Three years ago, it was about $15.00 more expensive than a Marine Band. But the market here changed and the Manji is now about $15.00 cheaper. It's a tremendous value.
My main observation based on fairly limited Manji playing (I have a lot of harps so the Manji only gets limited play) is that it's a harp that needs to be played rather loudly. It's not that responsive if you are too gentle and try to play at a low volume. That's one reason that I don't use it too much for practice...it tends to attract attention when played loudly and I'm usually not looking for an audience .
I like your rendition of the manji being what the MB could have been. There is something iconic about a wooden combed harmonica and with Suzuki's composite comb it's also a safe choice. I always had problems with my blues harps swelling up back in my first ignorant years of playing harmonica. Haven't had the same problem with the MB's though, but I understand the wood is just as capable of swelling?
Here in Norway the Manjis are sold at a fairly modest price of 429 Kr. That's roughly about 40£ and with shipping it's 50£. The alternative is to buy SP20 for 30£ or MB for 35£ locally.. The extra 15 £ is without doubt worth it!
In my humble and new player opinion, I think the Suzuki Olive's, are the easiest to play and best sounding harmonicas out there...I have a C, G and A, and now, I only play them, and my Golden Melodies...Marine Band's occasionally.
I have been eyeballing the olives for a while, I have had both the firebreath and the promasters in the past and from what I understand they are in the same alley? Nice harmonicas, but for blues and rock I like the open back of the manjis better. I have found an olive in Ab at sale for only 33£. Might just order once Money is back.