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From: t.e.d~tt.net
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 15:34:08 +0000
Subject: Harp Review: Huang Musette 24 Tremolo Tuned

Description:

The Huang Musette 24 (Model 133) is a 24-hole 48-reed
Tremolo-Tuned harp. It is available in the keys of C and
G, although Huang also offers a twin-pack (Model 133X)
that includes the C and C# keys. They are Solo Tuned.
Made in China. The street price is $9 to $15, and $18-
$25 for the Twin-Pack. The review is based on four new
harps and one Twin-Pack.

Initial Impressions:

This harp comes in a colorful paper box, a bit thin and
a little weak at the hinge. They do not last very long
before splitting or separating. On the other hand, the
Twin-Pack harps come in a nice sturdy padded box that
you could stand on. The harp itself looks attractive in
an angular elegant style with a bright and even chrome
finish and “etched look” engravings.

Two harps had seriously misaligned covers and plates.
One harp rattled. One had two missing notes. All had
several reeds with out-of-norm gapping. Three had
significant leaking, one badly. One reed plate had a
corner ground (?) leaving an edge sharp enough to cut a
thumb. The reed chambers have very thin walls and
dividers which are really rough on the lips. The “bite”
of this harp is thin compared to European or Hering
tremolos, similar to a straight diatonic. The design of
the covers provides little tactile reference when doing
blends. According to Huang, this design was arrived at
to facilitate playing the Musette in the chromatic mode,
where two harps are stacked in the hands. This may be
true, but in the case of the single model, a different
cover design is in order. The tone is pleasing but a bit
thin, with good volume. The 1 Blow hole has a coupling
opening in the dividers, so you can’t do blends or solas
on this hole. The covers are not mustache friendly.

On The Bench:

The tin covers are 0.013” thick, about medium weight. It
does not take much squeezing force to cause thumb
indentations. The reed plates are a Yellow Brass, 0.038
inch thick. Fifteen plate screws sandwich the comb. The
plastic comb is thicker at the rear, the front of the
comb is 0.307 inch, the back is 0. 363 inch. Some
variations between the combs seemed to be caused by
their release from the mold during manufacture. Even
though the plates sit at a front-to-back angle to each
other, there is no relief machined for the screw heads,
which therefore only make contact with the plates in a
small area.

There were very many curled and twisted reeds, also many
reeds had curved lateral profiles. There were several
rivets loose enough so that the reeds could be easily
shifted. One harp (the rattling one) had plate screws
inserted but not tightened, so they were just rattling
in their holes.

All harps showed evidence of “personal” reed tuning
technique. One bad method was to grind only half the
width of a reed. Some reeds were ground to less than
half their thickness. Only one plate showed evidence of
fine tuning, all the others had a single swipe mark on
their reeds. A sign of tuning expertise? One thing all
had in common was that the grinding chaff was left on
the reed. It doesn’t take much playing time before this
comes loose, altering the tuning as well as the player,
in the case of draw notes.

After the Break-In:

With a bit of work on the mating surfaces between the
plates and comb (It is quite sensitive to plate screw
tightness – not to little, not to much), the harps were
made reasonably air tight, with some leakage caused by
gaps between the covers and plates. The reed tuning was
varied, some harps were close, some had reeds off by
more than 10 cents. The Musette is Equal Tuned, centered
around 440 on the upper plate, and 446-448 on the lower
plate. Reed response was average, and sensitive to reed
curls. The tone was nice, but typical for Oriental
tremolos weak in harmonic content. The beat note was
average.

Final rating (on a five star scale):

Out of the box: One star for the single model, one and a
half stars for the Twin-Pack.
The performance of the Huang Musette 24 is adequate for
its price class, but Quality Control problems resulted
in a low overall rating. The Twin-Pack has a decent box,
and application specific covers, so it gets a slightly
better score.

After Setup: One and a half stars, Two stars for the
Twin-Pack.
It takes some work to get the Musette 24 up to par.
Considering the time involved, or expense if you are
paying someone to do it, purchasing an upscale tremolo
seems a better alternative.

Ted