Hohner Brand

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Harmonica Question: Which Key To Buy For a Beginner?

looking to buy a harmonica for a fathers day gift. Which key should I buy? Wooden or plastic (we are in a really dry climate if that matters.) Also, what line, blues band, marine band etc? And why?
I'm thinking I'll go with hohner brand. Any help appreciated :)

Go with a C harmonica only because most tutorials you'll find are for C harmonica. If you also buy a book to go with it then make sure the book is for the key you've bought.

Hohner is a good brand to start with. They've been around a long time, the quality standards are good, and they're the example almost all of the others have followed.

Wood or plastic is more a matter of taste than anything else. Plastic does have an advantage that it can tolerate wet playing and most beginners play a bit wet. Wood has the advantage of sound (tone quality) and tradition. Most beginners won't be able to tell the difference between the sound of wood and plastic.

As for models - you get lots of choices:

The standard line includes the Blues Band, American Ace, Official Scout, GLH (Great Little Harp), Old Standby, Pocket Pal... these are where a lot of people over the ages have started out and they're more than fine for a beginner harp. They aren't for experienced players except as something to toss in the tackle box/backpack/glove compartment. Most only come in C and they're cheap. As cheap as $5.99 for a Blues Band at Cracker Barrel. Their disadvantage is that they aren't made to last forever and a serious player will blow one out quickly. For learning and deciding what you like, they're fine. These are all usually under about $12 no matter where you find one.

The Marine Band line includes the Marine Band (1896) and several specialized models. The 1896 is the best selling 10-hole diatonic in the world and in history. It's what set the stage for "blues harp" playing in the USA. It's big advantage is sound, durability, and tradition. It's big disadvantage is the wooden comb (swells when wet) and the nailed construction (nails can come loose). The Special 20 is in this line and is a Marine Band with a plastic comb. Expect these to be $30-50

The "Hohner Brand" line includes several specialty harps including the Golden Melody. The Golden Melody is an outstanding harp for people who will be playing tunes (folk, gospel, etc...) instead of vamping the blues. It's a very nice sounding harp and the only model with equal temperament tuning that makes playing with other sorts of instruments in melody lines sound a lot better. Expect these to be mid $30's to $40ish.

The MS line includes the Blues Harp (not to be confused with the Blues Band) and the Big River among several other models. These have an advantage of interchangeable parts such as the reed plates and are easier to replace parts on if you're the type to customize a harp. Blues Harp is wood combed, Big River is plastic. Big River is $20ish, Blues Harp is $35ish.

My recommendation to all beginners is a Blues Band in C because it's cheap and it works. With the expectation that a new harp will be in the wish list within about 2 months or the harmonica will be living in a drawer unplayed. It's just a decent place to start without risking an investment in a good harp.

Then (unless the player has some reason to want something in particular such as the MS system to customize his harps or a Golden Melody because he likes melody playing more than blues or a tremolo/octave because he'd like to explore that sound or a chromatic because he wants to play classical jazz) I suggest either of the Marine Band harps (1896 or Special 20).

Alternatively, if you don't mind investing $30ish to start then the Special 20 in C is a pretty good place to start out and saves buying a new harp as soon. http://folk-instruments.musiciansfriend.com/product/Hohner-560-Special-20-Harmonica?sku=584354

For some real exploration, you could get him a Blues Band ($6) and a Echo Celeste ($16) [ http://folk-instruments.musiciansfriend.com/product/Hohner-455-Echo-Celeste-Tremolo-Harmonica?sku=421091 ] and he could explore both 10-hole diatonic and solo-tuned tremolo. Chromatics are also solo-tuned so the Celeste is a cheap way to start out there.

Now, if dad is already a harp player then the better deal would be a gift certificate for someplace like musician's friend. You never want to buy an instrument for a musician unless you've been given some specific interest because musicians all have particular tastes in what they want.

Discover Hohner Brand On eBay Below:

BRAND NEW HOHNER F CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED CROSSHARP
BRAND NEW HOHNER F CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED CROSSHARP
$63.83
Hohner Blues Harp C Harmonica 10 Hole 20 Reed 532 20 M533017 Brand New
Hohner Blues Harp C Harmonica 10 Hole 20 Reed 532 20 M533017 Brand New
$35.29
BRAND NEW HOHNER F LOW CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED
BRAND NEW HOHNER F LOW CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED
$70.98
HOHNER MARINE BAND G HARMONICA HARP 14 HOLE 28 REED 365 28 BRAND NEW
HOHNER MARINE BAND G HARMONICA HARP 14 HOLE 28 REED 365 28 BRAND NEW
$64.53
BRAND NEW HOHNER ECHO C HARMONICA HARP 2409 40 20 DOUBLE HOLE 40 REED
BRAND NEW HOHNER ECHO C HARMONICA HARP 2409 40 20 DOUBLE HOLE 40 REED
$86.05
Hohner Zippered Harmonica Case Original Brand New
Hohner Zippered Harmonica Case Original Brand New
$10.17
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP B FLAT HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP B FLAT HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
$35.83
BRAND NEW HOHNER PRO 20 A PRO HARP 562 20 HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED
BRAND NEW HOHNER PRO 20 A PRO HARP 562 20 HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED
$39.06
HOHNER HARPONETTE REISSUE 1930S HARMONICA HARP BRAND NEW COLLECTORS ITEM
HOHNER HARPONETTE REISSUE 1930S HARMONICA HARP BRAND NEW COLLECTORS ITEM
$142.75
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP E HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP E HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
$35.28
HOHNER SBS STEVE BAKER SMITH C HARMONICA 14 HOLE 28 REED HARP BRAND NEW
HOHNER SBS STEVE BAKER SMITH C HARMONICA 14 HOLE 28 REED HARP BRAND NEW
$85.40
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP Db D FLAT HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP Db D FLAT HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
$35.32
BRAND NEW HOHNER A CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED CROSSHARP
BRAND NEW HOHNER A CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED CROSSHARP
$64.55
BRAND NEW HOHNER ECHO C HARMONICA HARP 2309 32 20 DOUBLE HOLE 32 REED TREMOLO
BRAND NEW HOHNER ECHO C HARMONICA HARP 2309 32 20 DOUBLE HOLE 32 REED TREMOLO
$63.81
BRAND NEW HOHNER MARINE BAND 10 HOLES HARMONICA HARP KEY OF Ab 1896AB
BRAND NEW HOHNER MARINE BAND 10 HOLES HARMONICA HARP KEY OF Ab 1896AB
$39.45
Brand NEW Hohner Blues Bender Key of C Harmonica BBBX C
Brand NEW Hohner Blues Bender Key of C Harmonica BBBX C
$30.99
Hohner Case of Special 20s Harmonica 5 Pack Brand New FREE SHIPPING
Hohner Case of Special 20s Harmonica 5 Pack Brand New FREE SHIPPING
$149.90
BRAND NEW HOHNER MARINE BAND 10 HOLES HARMONICA HARP KEY OF D 1896
BRAND NEW HOHNER MARINE BAND 10 HOLES HARMONICA HARP KEY OF D 1896
$39.45
Brand New Hohner Silver Star Key Of F Harmonica Beginner Blues Folk Harp
Brand New Hohner Silver Star Key Of F Harmonica Beginner Blues Folk Harp
$13.62
HOHNER HARPONETTE REISSUE 1930S HARMONICA HARP BRAND NEW COLLECTORS ITEM
HOHNER HARPONETTE REISSUE 1930S HARMONICA HARP BRAND NEW COLLECTORS ITEM
$85.00
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP G HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP G HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
$35.28
HOHNER MARINE BAND G HARMONICA HARP 14 HOLE 28 REED 365 28 BRAND NEW
HOHNER MARINE BAND G HARMONICA HARP 14 HOLE 28 REED 365 28 BRAND NEW
$53.77
Brand New HOHNER MARINE BAND F HARMONICA HARP 10 HOLE DELUXE 2005 20
Brand New HOHNER MARINE BAND F HARMONICA HARP 10 HOLE DELUXE 2005 20
$53.77
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP D HARMONIC MINOR HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20 D
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP D HARMONIC MINOR HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20 D
$35.84
HOHNER MARINE BAND D CROSSOVER HARP HARMONICA MB2009 BRAND NEW CROSS OVER
HOHNER MARINE BAND D CROSSOVER HARP HARMONICA MB2009 BRAND NEW CROSS OVER
$67.42
BRAND NEW HOHNER MEISTERKLASSE D HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 580 20 HARP
BRAND NEW HOHNER MEISTERKLASSE D HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 580 20 HARP
$96.81
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP F HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP F HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
$35.60
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP B HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP B HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
$35.83
BRAND NEW HOHNER PRO 20 G PRO HARP 562 20 HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED
BRAND NEW HOHNER PRO 20 G PRO HARP 562 20 HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED
$39.06
BRAND NEW HOHNER A CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED CROSSHARP
BRAND NEW HOHNER A CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED CROSSHARP
$64.53
BRAND NEW HOHNER A CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED
BRAND NEW HOHNER A CROSS HARP HARMONICA 565 20 10 HOLE 20 REED
$71.70
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP B FLAT HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
BRAND NEW HOHNER BLUES HARP B FLAT HARMONICA 10 HOLE 20 REED 532 20
$35.83


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