Re: Chromatic harmonica

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Posted by Dr Harmonica on January 29, 2001 at 06:44:58:

In Reply to: Chromatic harmonica posted by James Liston on January 26, 2001 at 08:14:02:

: Hi,
: I am thinking about getting a chromatic harmonica, but I dont know which one to get. Any suggestions based on experience out there? I just dont want to get a cheap one only to find out that you get what you pay for. For example, the Huang is ony $55 or so, but will that last,or any good? Or should I just get hohner for $100 to $150(depending on the model)
: It is kind of an expensive purchase, especially if you have to go through a couple before you get the right one.
: Any suggestions for me?
: Thanks,
: James

Hi James,

I hope you haven't bought that Huang yet, since that would come down to a huge disappointment, eventually landing that thing in a drawer never to see it back again. The thing is far from airtight and it will give you a lot of trouble playing.

Hohner makes decent chromatics, but their price is way too high. If you consider spending $100.00 or more on a chromatic, you are buying one of the finest pieces in their collection. That price gets you either a Toots Mellow Tone or a CX-12; both exceptionally good harmonicas.

Still I should advise you to also have a look at Hering harmonicas. Their top line chromatic is a Charlie Musselwhite signature 12-holer that retails at Coast to Coast for under $80.00 and beats the Mellow Tone by a street lenght in airtightness and response. The tone is something people discuss about very often. Hering harmonicas have all thinner reeds than Hohners, making the sound brighter and the reed life a little shorter; yet if you play the harmonica wisely you won't notice any differnce, andĚ Herings have replaceable reed plates that cost only some 30 to 35 bucks.

If you want something cheaper than that, take a look at their entry model, the 5148 or 501/48. Both numbers signify the same harmonica. This 12 holer is an excellent starter harmonica. It costs around 55 dollars, roughly the same as you would pay for a Hohner 270, their standard model.
Again the Hering wins on all counts when airtightness is concerned. Also the Hohner has a wooden comb, that is much more sensitive to moist and temperature, and the Hohner mouthpiece is a lot more uncomfortable.

So if you want my advice: start with a 5148 and if you have the idea that you like playing the chromatic, take a very good look at the Charlie Musselwhite. You could of course also look at Hohner's CX-12, but a lot of people don't like the very "fat" mouthpiece that thing has. It is in any way also very airtight. The Toots Mellow Tone or the Toots Hard Bopper (same price, about $100.00) is somewhere in the middle between a 270 and a Hering if you look at airtightness. In tone and playability it is my favourite, but even I play Herings most of the time.

Hope this helps.

Happy harpin'
- featuring Thirsty, the groggy froggy

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