LAST EDITED ON Jan-05-07 AT 12:41 PM (PST)
Here's some of the Yin and Yang of custom harmonicas:
They will tend to play better than stock harmonicas (not necessarily by a huge amount though). This is because they are usually more airtight. The problem is that although airtight means that they play easier, the reeds will also receive more stress which means that they will not last as long as a harmonica that doesn't play as loud.
Harmonica customizers tend to be expensive and they can take forever to complete your order.
Most of the "better known" harmonica players I know do NOT play with customized harmonicas. The reason is that good harmonica sound is 90- 95% the player and the rest is the harmonica. Frankly, we just don't care enough to spend the time and money. This is also why guys like James Cottom will do a gig and play thorugh the P.A. system. It's too much of a pain to bring an elaborate amp/mic setup when all the audience wants to do is hear "good" harmonica playing. To be fair, some of the major pros out there have deals with the manufacturers and get their harmonicas for free in exchange for their brand promotion. In their situation, they can order 30 diatonics in the key of "C" and give the crappy ones away at gigs.
After 25 years of screwing around with diatonic and chromatic modifications, my current position is to stick with good quality stock harmonicas and spend your time, money, and concern practicing and playing. But, as always, opinions are merely opinions and you should ultimately decide for yourself by trying different brands and compare them with a few customized ones.
In terms of the Marine Band Deluxe, they are generally better than the stock ones, but not all that great for the money. I just ordered 3 and found one good and the other two merely "ok".
Here's another post discussing customizing:
(Doug- Your more recent posts fit better into the Advanced and General Topics forums. You are ready to move up my friend).
Harppy New Year,
Hear Dave Play: