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Playing Chromatically

The Hohner Marine Band and Special 20 fusioned by Harponline

European price: 62 euros, overblow setup 82 euros on http://www.harponline.de/

 

Tested model: Hybrid in A and C (overblow setup)

The best bang for your bucks!

Harponline is German store directed by Michael Timler, a major actor of the harmonica industry. Michael is a musician who created Harponline following his encounter with Classical Harp Player Franz Chmel as they both thought there was definitely something to do regarding harmonica maintenance. Harponline was the first (and probably still the only one) store to provide individual reeds and valves for all Hohner harps.

After a time at Seydel as a sales manager, Michael came back to Harponline and pushed its original concept further, proposing additional options like "Fine Tuning", "Overblow Setup", "Smooth Edges" "Harponline quality checked" (see
http://www.harponline.de/ for details) and semi-customised harps, which provide an excellent quality level for a moderate price. This strategy, plus Michael's dedication to customers satisfaction definitely ranks Harponline among the top Harp Web Stores.

Probably Harponline' best original idea is to create an hybrid of Special 20 (covers) and Marine Band (reedplates), with an extremely well designed translucid comb. The harp is really beautiful, the finition is excellent. Its rounded edges and it small size (slightly smaller than a Special 20 comb) make it extremely pleasant to hold. The front grid is smooth, which eases the Tongue Blocking. As all the Harponline harps there is a strong focus on maintenance and the reedplates are screwed to the comb. Plus the small tool delivered with the harp to screw/unscrew is quite handy for reed gapping!

The first run reveals a surprisingly airtight instrument, similar to many customised harps (obviously the harp benefits from its very flat comb). As a result the harp answers to the smallest blow, the sound is powerful and malleable (special mention to the first three holes), the bends are clean and the overblows are easy to obtain and to sustain at low volume. The natural notes can still be attacked quite hard.

 

All in all, the Hybrid is a great harp, totally at ease with both traditional and chromatic playing. A must have...

Pros:

  • Beautiful instrument. Excellent finition. Fits well in the hand
  • Very airtight, responsive and easy to bend.
  • The overblows are clean and can be sustained with vibrato.
  • The harp can still be played hard without choking the 4th, 5th and 6th blow.
  • Measures to many Customised Harmonicas!
  • Very Moderate Price

Cons:

  • None

How to play it:

The Marine Band being a regular richter harmonica, playing chromatically implies to master the overblows. See the standard richter harps chromatic playing page.

Conclusion:

In our opinion these harps really make the chromatic playing reachable. The main problems inherent in the overblows are drastically reduced, allowing a good overall sound and a good expressivity. And these harps are so small that one can bring them anywhere!

Laurent Vigouroux

 


http://www.harponline.de/

 


Planet Harmonica - 2008