Re: [Harp-L] help me choose the right chromatic harmonica !

Here are the properties of a chromatic harmonica (in descending order of importance) that would influence my selection:

1. Price. I would not pay thousands of dollars for any harmonica. I would pay $100 to $400 for a good one and then possibly spend more on improvements. The main shortcomings of a $140 Hohner 270 (leaky slide and wooden comb with nailed-on reedplates) can be rectified by spending about that much more to have a tech modify the slide and install a plastic comb.

2. Slide leakage. IMO, the amount of leakage through the slide will affect the player's satisfaction more than any other property. I posit that the main feature that set the Renaissance apart was its precisely-machined and low-leakage slide. Its SS comb with screw fastenings was stable and convenient to service. Otherwise, it was a very pretty Hohner 270. Chromatic bendability and slide leakage are inversely related. The Hohner CX12 has low slide leakage and is worth your consideration for that reason.

3. Reed material, not for imperceptible differences of tone but for resistance to fatigue. Right now, the $340 Seydel Saxony is the only chromatic with stainless steel reeds. IMO, this is a tremendous advantage. One fatigued reed makes a harmonica unplayable. The reed must be replaced. Although technicians do this routinely, most players find it very difficult...first to obtain the replacement and then to install it.

4. Comb material, not for imperceptible differences of tone but for stability. Wood that swells, shrinks, warps, splits, and peels is to be avoided. The use of nails to fasten the reedplates is a horror that makes wood even less desirable. I much prefer metal or plastic with screw fastenings.

5. Independent part removal. Covers and reedplates that are screwed to the comb are preferable to those that are screwed to their opposing mates. With the former, you can remove one cover or one reedplate and the instrument stays together without exposing the "other" reedplate to damage. With the latter, if you remove one reedplate, then the whole instrument becomes a basket case.

The accessibility of the CX12 is, IMO, over-rated. Although the cover comes off easily, that exposes both reedplates. You must extract twelve screws to remove a reedplate...then the other reedplate comes loose also.

6. Availability of repair parts. Hohner is to be applauded for making individual reeds available. Seydel makes them available in sets...not as good but still economical if you can save a set of reedplates several times. I don't know about Suzuki.

7. Valves. I don't think that the type of valves should play an important part in your procurement decision. Most factory-installed valves work fairly well most of the time. For the few that don't, most players can learn to replace them with different materials and wax the reedplate under them. A more detailed discussion of replacement valves is beyond the scope of this email.

No harp is perfect in all categories. Even if you diasgree with my priorities, the above should serve as a useful checklist of things to think about before buying.

Happy chromatic harpin',


----- Original Message ----- From: "NiKo Ba" <helloiamnikos@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, August 23, 2009 4:22 AM
Subject: [Harp-L] help me choose the right chromatic harmonica !

Hi ! i am looking for a new chromatic harmonica so i though of checking you opinion .

i have a hohner chromonica 260 which is a ten hole but i would like to buy a 12 hole one .

what are you suggesting . Are any chromatic harmonicas which bend easier or it still my mouth technique ?

would it be difficult to change for me because of the mouthpiece i ve got used to ? or should i just buy hohner chromonica 270 ?

are any chromatic harmonica with softer slide button ?

why are some HOHNER CX-12's so expensive ? do they provide more ?

i ll be glad to hear your opinions

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