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Playing Chromatically

The Marine Band DeLuxe

US Price: $52.95 (on http://www.harpdepot.com), European Price: 36.95 € (on http://www.harp-online.com),

Tested model: out of the box (apart from a small retuning of the 1rst hole) harp in the key of C.

Hohner strikes back. The new Marine Band DeLuxe Hohner answers to the Hering Vintage 1923, which has been introduced recently by Hering as a competitor to the legendary Marine Band.

Personnally, I think that the idea of producing an enhanced Marine Band while keeping the old one in the product line is a very good idea. It allows to really improve the quality and the maintenability of the harp (at a higher cost by the way) without disapointing the players who only swear by this good ol' tin biscuit.

So what are the differences? Hohner's goal was obviously to apply some modifications generally done by customizers on the standard Marine Band.

First the harmonica's comb is rounded in order to provide a more a better touch. Sadly, the reedplates only have the angle cut, not rounded. This is a shame as the result would have been far better had the reedplates also been rounded.

Then, the parts of the wooden comb in contact with the air and the lips are sealed. It is aimed at preventing major swelling and warping while allowing the wood to swell a little bit, making contact between plates and body, which improves the airtightness of the harp. This has been one of the most wanted modifications for the Marine Band as swelling combs have hurt generations of harp players lips (not a problem I've ever personnally had by the way).

Another modification generally done by customizers, the reedplate is screwed instead of being nailed to the comb. This is a major enhancement as this allows easy dismantling and maintenance.

Finally, the fold at the back is completely put on for better projection.

This represents a rather important set of differences but the most important change is in my opinion that the tolerances and the gapping are different. The DeLuxe is far more airtight than the standard Marine Band harps I own. The difference in playability is huge. Bends are easy to obtain, overblows in 4, 5 and 6 come out of the box. Really a pleasure to play.

Hohner has increased its level of quality with this harp and announces that it is applying the same standard to its full line of products. This is definitely a good news and we hope to see the result of this policy in the next months.

Pros:

  • Small, beautiful instrument.
  • Very airtight, responsive and easy to bend and overblow. Clearly above most of the factory harps.
  • Very loud and good sound.

Cons:

  • The new cover engraving is not especially attractive (a pure matter of taste of course).
  • A bit expensive but this is worth the money in my opinion.

How to play it:

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

Laurent Vigouroux



Contact: http://www.hohnerusa.com


Planet Harmonica - 2006