Band 1896

What type of harmonica would be best for my 15 year old son?

I would like to get him an intermediate one rather than a beginner one. He has never played a harmonica before but he is somewhat musically talented. It would be one that he might use in Jazz Band in H.S. With his love of music I know he would learn it fast. He is a decent piano , oboe, alto saxophone and marimba player. There are 4 different types of harmonica's and that is my trouble. I do not know which type to get him for his Birthday.

The different types of harmonica are for playing different types of music. The 10-hole diatonic that's most common is ideal for improvising the blues and is the one most commonly heard on pop recordings wailing for effect. If he'd like to be able to play along with that style then a 10-hole diatonic is the way to go. Even a really good "professional" one is under $50. Unlike his other instruments though - you need a set of 12 to play music in all keys.

The tremolo and octave (double reeds) are for playing tunes and melodies and are especially appropriate for huge chunks of world folk music. Not only are these two different types - there are different types of these as well. The German made models (such as Hohner) are tuned to a Richter/Weiner scale whereas the Asian models (such as Suzuki) are solo or scale-tuned. This just adds to your selection issues.

Then there's the chromatic. It's ideally suited for classical and jazz style playing but isn't as hot for wailing some blues. The other types are diatonic which means they are akin to a piano that has no black keys on it. The chromatic though has all of the black and white keys available.

The Richter (and related Weiner) system is ideal for folks who don't know music theory and don't really read music. There's a scale pattern that's intuitive and only includes some of the notes of a scale. The 10-hole diatonic is a good example and it's easy for most non-musicians to learn because of that intuitive scale pattern. It will drive a trained musician nuts though and is why many people who already play an instrument have a terrible time learning harmonica. The usual comment is "there are notes missing!" which is true but it's by design. Without someone who plays harmonica nearby as a guide, most trained wind musicians get frustrated with them and toss it into a drawer.

Scale-tuned and Solo-tuned though is equally frustrating for the non-musicians to learn on and you hear often "chromatic is much harder to learn" - but that is in comparison to the diatonic from the non-musician's view. People who already play an instrument will find that a chromatic (or scale tuned diatonic) is MUCH easier to learn than a Richter system harmonica. It's also more in keeping with the sorts of music (written in western notation) they already play. It's simply "blow, draw, blow, draw, blow, draw, draw, blow and you have do, re, mi, fa.... through the whole harp; throw the lever to raise the pitch a 1/2 step." Wind players "get" that real easy.

All of that explained - I'd suggest something that is scale-tuned or solo-tuned and lean toward a chromatic if it's in the budget.

* Chromatic - Hohner Super Chromonica model 270 in C [ http://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/hohner-270-super-chromonica-chromatic-harmonica/584346000814000?src=3WWRWXGB&cagpspn=pla&gclid=CPLsxsDribACFYuc7QodRgkCMg ] Best choice for jazz and classical music.

* Diatonic single reed - Hohner Marine Band model 364s in C [ http://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/hohner-marine-band-364-soloist-diatonic-harmonica ] - this is a Marine Band model that's solo tuned so that it has a full scale for the entire range. It's different than a Marine Band 1896 model but will do some of the things a 10-hole does (like bend for blues) and some things a chromatic does (like provide a full major scale for 3 octaves)

* Tremolo - Hohner Echo Celeste in C or G - [ http://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/hohner-455-echo-celeste-tremolo-harmonica ] don't let the price fool you, these are awesome solo-tuned tremolo harps. Not as good as a Suzuki Su21H but they aren't $100 either.

* Tremolo - Suzuki Su21H in C [ http://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/suzuki-su-21h-humming-tremolo-harmonica ] among the best examples of the Asian style scale-tuned tremolo harps.

* Octave - Hohner Comet 2503/32 in C [ http://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/hohner-2503-32-comet-harmonica ] a real classic. The design is pretty cool too. There's a larger model 2504/40 [ http://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/hohner-2504-40-comet-harmonica ] that adds some range. Fantastic for playing folk songs but not scale-tuned so plenty of notes are missing in the bottom.

And, if you think he'd like to go standard blues harp style to learn to wail some blues then:

* Hohner Marine Band model 1896 in C [ http://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/hohner-1896-marine-band-harmonica ] simply the top selling harmonica in the world for about 100 years and the choice of most professional blues style players for the incredible price of under $40

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MARINE BAND M HOHNER NO 1896 C
MARINE BAND M HOHNER NO 1896 C
$20.00
Marine Band Harmonica Key of G 1896 Germany M Hohner
Marine Band Harmonica Key of G 1896 Germany M Hohner
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MHohner Marine Band Harmonica 1896 made in Germany
MHohner Marine Band Harmonica 1896 made in Germany
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Vintage M Hohner Marine Band Harmonca 1896 Made in Germany in Original Box
Vintage M Hohner Marine Band Harmonca 1896 Made in Germany in Original Box
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M HOHNER HARMONICA BLUES HARP GERMANY NO 1896 KEY G W MARINE BAND CASE
M HOHNER HARMONICA BLUES HARP GERMANY NO 1896 KEY G W MARINE BAND CASE
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M Hohner Marine Band Harmonica No 1896 A440 Key of G made in Germany w Box
M Hohner Marine Band Harmonica No 1896 A440 Key of G made in Germany w Box
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Hohner 1896 Marine Band Harmonica Key of C Made in Germany w Box Excellent Cond
Hohner 1896 Marine Band Harmonica Key of C Made in Germany w Box Excellent Cond
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M Hohner Marine Band No 1896 Harmonica A440 Made in Germany vintage
M Hohner Marine Band No 1896 Harmonica A440 Made in Germany vintage
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Vintage Harmonica Hohner Marine Band Germany 1896 C
Vintage Harmonica Hohner Marine Band Germany 1896 C
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HOHNER NO 1896 MARINE BAND A440 HARMONICA IN ORIGINAL BOX
HOHNER NO 1896 MARINE BAND A440 HARMONICA IN ORIGINAL BOX
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Hohner Marine Band Harmonica No 1896 Key of C w Case Made in Germany
Hohner Marine Band Harmonica No 1896 Key of C w Case Made in Germany
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MARINE BAND M HOHNER No1896 Key of G
MARINE BAND M HOHNER No1896 Key of G
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M HOHNERS  1896 US Marine Band
M HOHNERS 1896 US Marine Band
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M Hohner Harmonica Marine Band Germany 1896
M Hohner Harmonica Marine Band Germany 1896
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Vintage M Hohner Marine Band Harmonica 1896 Made in Germany Box Instructions
Vintage M Hohner Marine Band Harmonica 1896 Made in Germany Box Instructions
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VINTAGE MARINE BAND HARMONICA MADE BY M HOHNER GERMANY NO 1896
VINTAGE MARINE BAND HARMONICA MADE BY M HOHNER GERMANY NO 1896
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VINTAGE MARINE BAND HARMONICA M HOHNER No1896 GERMANY
VINTAGE MARINE BAND HARMONICA M HOHNER No1896 GERMANY
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Vintage Marine Band Harmonica by M Hohner Germany No 1896 Key of D
Vintage Marine Band Harmonica by M Hohner Germany No 1896 Key of D
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HOHNER MARINE BAND Model 1896 Harmonica Key of C Made in Germany
HOHNER MARINE BAND Model 1896 Harmonica Key of C Made in Germany
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Vintage M Hohner A440 Marine Band Harmonica Key Of G 1896
Vintage M Hohner A440 Marine Band Harmonica Key Of G 1896
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HOHNER MARINE BAND 2 Vintage Harmonicas Key of C  G + Book No 1896
HOHNER MARINE BAND 2 Vintage Harmonicas Key of C G + Book No 1896
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HOHNER MARINE BAND No1896 Classic HARMONICA Key of C w Box
HOHNER MARINE BAND No1896 Classic HARMONICA Key of C w Box
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Vintage Handmade Harmonica Hohner Marine Band 1896 Key C A440 w Hardcase
Vintage Handmade Harmonica Hohner Marine Band 1896 Key C A440 w Hardcase
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Vintage M Hohner Marine Band Harmonica Key of C Made in Germany 1896 Model A440
Vintage M Hohner Marine Band Harmonica Key of C Made in Germany 1896 Model A440
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HONER MARINE BAND HARMONICA NO 1896 G MIB
HONER MARINE BAND HARMONICA NO 1896 G MIB
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Vintage Harmonica Hohner Marine Band 1896 Patent Pre War Rare
Vintage Harmonica Hohner Marine Band 1896 Patent Pre War Rare
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RARE VINTAGE MARINE BAND HARMONICA MADE BY M HOHNER GERMANY NO 1896
RARE VINTAGE MARINE BAND HARMONICA MADE BY M HOHNER GERMANY NO 1896
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Old Vtg G Marine Band Harmonica M Hohner 1896 A440 Made In Germany
Old Vtg G Marine Band Harmonica M Hohner 1896 A440 Made In Germany
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Vintage M Hohner Marine Band Harmonica No 1896 Model A440 Key of C Germany
Vintage M Hohner Marine Band Harmonica No 1896 Model A440 Key of C Germany
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Vintage How to Play the Marine Band No 1896 M Hohner Harmonica Manual 1971 NEW
Vintage How to Play the Marine Band No 1896 M Hohner Harmonica Manual 1971 NEW
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HOHNER MARINE BAND HARMONICA Germany 1896 Key CExcellent Instructions
HOHNER MARINE BAND HARMONICA Germany 1896 Key CExcellent Instructions
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Antique Marine Band by M Honer No 1896
Antique Marine Band by M Honer No 1896
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