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Hohner Blues Harp MS vs Hohner Marine Band 1896

Hohner's Blues Harp and Marine Band 1896 are two similarly priced harmonicas that share many of the same features. In this guide, we'll look at the main differences and help you determine which is the best for your needs.

The first thing to note is that the Marine Band is the more venerable of the two harps (the giveaway being the '1896' in the model name). Although this doesn't mean that the Marine Band features exactly the same intonation and construction as the original pre-20th Century model, it does mean that it is closer in many respects to this harp than a more modern design such as the Blues Harp.

In practice, this means that the Marine Band is nailed together in a traditional (and fairly rudimentary) way, has a largely unsealed pearwood comb, whilst the Blues Harp has a more modern modular design that it shares with other MS harps, and has a more durable, albeit still wood, comb.

From a playing point of view the Marine Band has a slightly more traditional sound, and whilst the nailed together construction would lead you to believe it to be less airtight than the Blues Harp, the reality is that it is no more difficult to bend or overblow on than the MS Series harmonica.

The Marine Band's Achilles heel, at least for some players, is the propensity of the comb to swell over time. The amount by which it does this depends on the player and the rigorousness of their drying out routine, but it can be irritating. The Blues Harp, in comparison, has much better sealing and has the further advantage of being bolted together, making reed plate replacement a far simpler affair than with the Marine Band.

The Blues Harp's position within Hohner's MS range means that it is interoperable with parts from any of the other harmonicas in this series. Whilst this may seem novel, its appeal is ultimately quite limited.

If you're torn between the two harmonicas, it is worth determining first what type of player you are. Those who frequently blow out reeds, and use their harmonicas very regularly will be best served by the Blues Harp, and its easier maintenance and durability. Those who are more careful, and are seeking a pure vintage tone should look at the Marine Band.

Hohner Blues Harp MS
Hohner Marine Band 1896 Classic Harmonica
Harmonica NameHohner Blues Harp MSHohner Marine Band 1896 Classic Harmonica
Harmonica TypeDiatonic HarmonicaDiatonic Harmonica
Number of Holes1010
Comb MaterialWoodWood
Number of Reeds2020
Spare Reeds Available?YesYes
Musical StylesBlues, Rock, Pop, FolkBlues, Rock, Pop, Eastern, Folk
Available KeysA, B Flat, D, G, C, F, E, B, E Flat, F Sharp, D Flat, A FlatD - Harmonic Minor, E - Harmonic Minor, G - Harmonic Minor, C Harmonic Minor, B Flat - Harmonic Minor, B - Harmonic Minor, A - Harmonic Minor, A, B Flat, D, G, C, F, E, B, E Flat, F Sharp, D Flat, A Flat, A - Natural Minor, F Sharp - Harmonic Minor, E Flat - Natural Minor, D Flat - Natural Minor, G - Natural Minor, E - Natural Minor, C - Natural Minor, F Sharp - Natural Minor, F - Natural Minor, D - Natural Minor, B - Natural Minor, A Flat - Natural Minor, B Flat - Natural Minor
Price from£35.99£32.99
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