Hohner MS System

At 11:29 PM 1/29/95, BassHarper@xxxxxxx wrote:
>I don't remember seeing a response to Bob Williams' question regarding the MS
>designation on Hohner diatonics, so I'll jump in there - the MS stands for
>Modular System (replacement reedplates, specifically).  From what I
>understand, the replacement reedplates are very difficult to find, either in
>the U.S., Canada, or Europe.  Forgive me, and correct me if I am wrong.
> Hopefully this will change, for the good of everyone concerned.

The Hohner MS system is more than just repalcement reed plates.

As we've all seen, Hohner list prices have risen at astronomical rates over
the years. In the 20 years I've been playing, Marine Band prices have
increased well over 400%. That's significantly higher than the rate of
inflation(except in Mexico). There are several reasons for this. One of
which is that the German mark has been much stronger than the dollar during
this time. Another is that Hohner has been manufacturing harmonicas the
same way and on the same machines that they did 100 years ago. This is a
very labor intensive manufacturing method and the unions in Germany know
how to get pay raises just like unions everywhere. This was fine(in
Hohner's eyes) until competition came along from Huang, Tombo and
Suzuki(and Yamaha for awhile). In order to compete, Hohner needed to make
some changes. Hence the Modular System.

With MS, harmonicas are manufactured on an automated assembly line and are
laser tuned(rather than hand tuned). The idea is to keep manufacturing
costs down and thus list prices down so that Hohner can remain competitive.
The MS system was touted as a way for harmonica players everywhere to
customize their instruments. All reedplates, cover plates and combs are
supposed to be interchangeable. One could put together a harmonica with
Meisterklasse reedplates, a Marine Band comb and Special 20 cover plates.
And the MS harmonicas would be held together with screws rather than those
chump(IMO) nails(BTW, chump is a very technical engineering term :-) ).

When this was announced, there was a lot of uproar, especially from Marine
Band players. So Hohner backed off on a complete switch to MS. The Big
River harmonica was the first MS harp to become available. I've been told
by the factory that eventually I won't be able to get the old style
Meisterklasse reedplates. I don't know what the current state of the MS
switchover is nor what harps Hohner plans to include or not include in MS.
I've yet to see a MS Marine Band, Meisterklasse or Golden Melody for sale
in the US(but have seen MS Special 20's). And as Danny alluded to, I've yet
to see reedplates for sale on a retail basis. Perhaps those in the
know(Winslow?, Kim?) have more info about the current state of the MS
swithover and what wiil or will not become available as MS harmonicas.


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