I played the harmonica about 36 years ago, I bought a Marine Band, some Blues Harps, and finally a Koch Chromatic.
I stopped playing regularly after I took up other instruments. I still play, but not in bands anymore. Currently I'm looking for an additional voice for some recording I want to do, and am thinking about harmonicas. I like the accordion sound, and I like the bagpipe sound, but it's not practical for me to purchase and learn either of those two!
I must say, I'm drawn to the Hohner 263 because all the notes are right there. Although you can't do chords, that's not a huge drawback in this age of multitracking. And the blow/draw feature looks like a good way to keep from fainting. I'm intrigued, but the reviews I've read, people are experiencing the finish coming off or broken reeds. How do they hold up?
Another interesting one is the Hohner Highlander, a double echo harp with D major on one side and A mixolodian on the other (my stringed instruments are all tuned in D, so that would be my natural key. As I experiment, I find myself alternating between Bm and Em, and D). However, it's diatonic so I assume there would be missing notes.
Another idea would be a regular chromatic like a Hohner 270 in D, or A. But as I understand it, if I play in Bm with those, I would end up drawing to start off, which seems awkward. Perhaps G would be a better key if I play in Bm a lot. But you see why I like the idea of the 263, blow or draw at your convenience.
I also like the idea of the octave harps, although that might get old. And the same effect could be reproduced with 2 passes of the 263.
Also I read lots of comments denigrating Hohner's quality, not the sound, but the durability. Any other recommendations?
Thanks in advance,
1. Hohner #263 Chromatica glissando slideless chromatic harmonica: The finish (wood stain) may peel off or flake on older models, but, on new models of the 263, the finish will last a long time.
The older, vintage models have had at least 25 years of use/storage, and the finish is subject to the environment of the harmonica. I own a pre-1937 vintage Chromatica #263 that has endured 75 years of use, neglect, storage and re-use, and has held up exceptionally well. No peeling, cracked comb, or flaking. The sound is great, every reed plays well.
The Chromatica series of slideless chromatics have other positive features: since they have no slide mechanism and no valves, the major problems of a standard valved, slide chromatic have been eliminated. Maintenance is needed far less often on a slideless, valveless chromatica than on a slide chromatic.
The Chromaticas are not perfect. Learning to play one after an experience of playing a 10-hole diatonic or slide chromatic is difficult, unless you have excellent audio discrimination ("good ears"). The Chromatica glissando harps have a different reed placement system than the more popular harmonicas. If you like the idea of a slideless, valveless chromatic harmonica, go for it. But, put in the proper amount of practice time to be successful at it.
2. Hohner Highlander: It's designed to be played in Scottish and Irish folk music styles, but may be used for other music styles, such as American blues music and rock, gospel and ethnic styles. It's a Richter system diatonic harp, which opens it to the option of bending notes.
3. Hohner #270 slide chromatic valved harmonica: playing a scale starting on an inhale on "do," is usually difficult at first, but, with practice, it will be easier, just like learning the scales on another musical instrument, except that the wind instruments are generally exhale only.
4. Octave harps: Octave tuned harmonicas have vertically-stacked reeds that are tuned an octave apart. When played together, the two reeds sound in a stronger, fuller sound, not available on the Hohner #263, where the two vertically stacked reeds are not playable as octaves: one reed is exhale, the other reed of the pair is an inhale reed of the same pitch.
John, I appreciate the detailed response. I have spent a little more time on the internet, especially Coast2Coast Music. I've seen a lot that interests me, like the Seydels with harmonic minor or natural minor scales.
But I'm still thinking about the 263 as being the most versatile for recording. What I meant by using the 263 as an octave instrument was to play a passage twice, one high and one low, and mix together for an octave effect. Or tremolo effect, just do two identical takes and mix them.
I'm going to experiment a little more with my Koch and see how it sounds. But harmonica is a great metallic sound which goes well with my banjo, a difficult sound to mix with.
Welcome to the club, enjoy the many experiences that you can have playing this wonderful Instrument, When you have a chance come on in to the chat room, for a live experience, where you can play your harmonica and receive feedback from otherplayers and you may hang around and just listenin on the conversations and tips being given, we will teach you athe fundementals of your playing techniques, and how the instrument will produce you with some great sounding music.
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