The Blues Bender PAC is a new entry level 10-hole diatonic from Hohner. PAC stands for "Patented Acoustic Covers", a reference to the cover design patented back in 1897 by Matthias Hohner and used most notably on the Hohner Marine Band. The covers are not quite so open in the back as a Marine Band, but have the characteristic vents at the ends of each cover. They are also a little deeper towards the front of the harp, which should give a bit of extra clearance for the lower draw reeds. The Blues Bender features slightly thicker reedplates than usual, attached with 9 Phillips head screws and fully recessed into a black ABS comb much like that of the Special 20. These harps are made in China, but they are finished to a much higher standard than those cheap, cheerful Chinese harps you can pick up for next to nothing at novelty stores. The tuning is extremely good, a compromise temperament rooted relative to A=444, with very consistent reed adjustment. The covers feel very comfortable in the hands, although the review sample I was sent had a couple of sharp bits on the comb (easily fixed with a craft knife). It plays very well, all the bends are easy to hit cleanly and it has a nice crisp tone and a snappy response similar to the older Huang diatonics that were so popular with players like Norton Buffalo and Madcat Ruth.
The Blues Bender is available in the keys of G, A, Bb, C, D, E and F. It comes with a hard plastic case, presented in a blister pack that has some useful information on cross harp and selecting the right key. US RRP is $25, but most dealers are selling them around $18 or so. All in all a great harp for a budding blues player.
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