Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mission Chicago 32-20 Amp Acquisition

I recently acquired a used Mission Chicago 32-20 from a forum member on Adam Gussow's Modern Blues Harmonica forum.  I only had a short period of time to mess with it inside the house.  The advertising on the Mission Amps web site is 100% spot on. 

"This is not a bedroom amp!"

It was similar to trying to play a Fender Bassman in the house.  It was way too loud.  I had to turn the bass down a bit and flip the Deep switch to the off position to get this video.  In the video, I was sitting way too close to the amp to avoid feedback.  It's a very toneful little box with quite a few options that alter the tone which I don't think came across in the video.

After messing with it a bit at home, I decided to take it to Aki Kumar's blues jam.  It held it's own quite nicely.  I wish I had been able to get more video, but the battery on my camera suffered a premature death.  I dont believe that it was as loud as Aki's Sonny Jr 410, but it was pretty darn close.  As far as the tone, no one was complaining.  It was fantastic.

It's pretty feedback resistant in fixed bias.  I look forward to playing again.  Possibly as soon as tonight or Monday night.

So far, it's a keeper.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mark's Harmonica Tune-Up

As many harmonica players know, the instrument starts to wear out the first time that it is placed in your mouth.  If you stick with the instrument, eventually they wear out and one or more reeds will go flat.  Back in the day, when a harmonica cost five or six dollars, a player could afford to toss them out.  Turn the clock ahead twenty five years.  The same harmonica which used to cost five bucks, now costs thirty five dollars or more. They are far too expensive to throw away when one reed goes flat.  Which means that they go into a box and gather dust until you figure out how to fix them or get someone else to do the job.  

Recently, I learned of Mark's Harmonica Tune-Up.  For the low price of $10 per reed, Mark will replace a bad reed in a variety of Hohner models including:
  • Golden Melody,
  • Special 20, 
  • Marine Band 1896, 
  • Marine Band Deluxe and 
  • Marine Band Crossover
He will open the back covers on request for no additional charge on Special 20 and Marine Band models.

Mark's Harmonica Tune-Up is also one of the rare businesses that will work on the
Modular Systems Hohner harmonicas including: 
  • Big River,
  • Blue Midnight,
  • Blues Harp,
  • Cross Harp,
  • Pro Harp and, 
  • Meisterklasse.
I had a box of about twenty harmonicas with broken reeds.  I went through the pile and eliminated harmonicas that seemed unrepairable.  I stopped by the post office and picked up a small flat rate Priority Mail box.  Seven MS harps fit very nicely in the box.  Shipping the box cost less than $6.  I shipped a postal money order covering the repairs and return postage along with the harmonicas to Mark.  

Mark sent me e-mail keeping me informed of the progress of the repairs.  A couple of weeks later, I received a similar box with seven repaired harmonicas.  Not only did he replace the defective reeds, he tuned up the harmonicas.  They all played great.  I was a very happy customer.  For less than $80, I got seven harmonicas that are better than the harmonicas that were shipped out of the Hohner factory.  With the recent price increase in MS reed plates to $47, this makes a great deal of economic sense. 

You can reach Mark's Harmonica Tune-Up by e-mail at  You can also reach him via Facebook @ Mark Prados.