270 Chromatic

Which harmonica models to buy next?

Hi, I just got a Marine Band harmonica in C and have been enjoying playing it, but I want to try the sounds and feels of other harps. Which harmonica models are the best to buy next? In this regard, I am wondering which harmonica models (besides Marine Band of course) did some famous harp players use? (ie Jimmy Reed, Mick Jagger, Robert Plant)

Most "famous guys" through the history of harmonica playing have played the Hohner and particularly the Marine Band. Partly because it's always been readily available. Some played the Hohner chromatic (particularly the Super Chromonica 270)

Since harmonicas are REALLY cheap compared to the other instruments these guys look at all day and compared to the amount of money they have to spend; most have tooled around with just about anything you can find out there.

If you want to experiment though:
Lee Oskar
Suzuki (Folkmaster and Manji)
Herring (1923)
Hohner (Special 20 and Blues Harp)

Will give you a quick feel for the other maker's harps and the component differences.

A few for styles other than wailing the blues and the 'three chord trick' include:

Hohner Marine Band 364S (Solo Tuned diatonic)
Hohner Golden Melody (equal temperament)
Hohner Comet (octave harp)
Hohner Echo Harp 54/64 (double sided wet tremolo)
Suzuki Su21H (solo tuned dry tremolo)
Hohner Super Chromonica 270 (chromatic)

Unfortunately, you can't just go try lots of harmonicas like you can guitars. What we have to do then is decide what it is we don't like about the harps we have and pick based on harps that fix that issue. Or, decide about something different we'd like in a harp and pick on that.

For example: if you don't like the wooden comb of your Marine Band but you like everything else, maybe a Special 20 (plastic comb) or Blues Harp (sealed wood comb) would suit you better. If you'd like your sound a little more metalic/brighter then the Suzuki might suit you. If you'd like to have that low A available to your playing when playing a C Marine Band (so you can play tunes melodies in the bottom of the harp) then perhaps the Marine Band 364S or an Asian tremolo would suit you. If you need some unusual tuning such as F#m in harmonic minor - Lee Oskar might make you happy.

Note: these are my personal preferences and other people may well disagree. I tend to like the Hohner harps a lot. Even my $2.99 Happy Colors from Hohner is a player.

PS: some of those old-timers didn't even have a harp as "high-end" as the Marine Band. Some of those really old recordings were done on harps the level of American Ace. That said, I have a vintage American Ace and it's not the same harp that has the name these days.

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