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Hohner Marine Band vs Special 20

Hohner's Marine Band 1896 and Special 20 are stalwarts of the German manufacturer's harmonica range, and whilst they share a few features, they are quite different in both their sound and construction.

The main similarities are the reed material - brass - and the general design, which is relatively traditional on both harmonicas. Underneath the skin, though, they are quite different instruments.

The Marine Band is one of the few harmonicas available new today that is still held together with nails. Whilst this may please traditionalists, it makes maintenance and reed plate replacement a fiddly affair. The Special 20, in comparison, uses screws to attach the reed plates to the comb, and bolts to attach the cover plates to the body of the harmonica.

The Special 20 also features a recessed ABS comb, which means that it has zero issues with swelling and is very kind to the lips and beard, as metal edges of the reed plates are hidden. The Marine Band, in comparison has a pearwood comb with rather rudimentary sealing and, with certain players will swell and become uncomfortable to play.

If this sounds like a resounding victory for the Special 20, we should first consider an important factor - tone - before declaring a clear winner. For many harmonica players, the pearwood comb and slightly more traditional feel of the Marine Band allows them to overlook some of its problems. There is no doubt that it has a slightly warmer tone than harmonicas with plastic combs, and many will like the fact that it is fundamentally the same harmonica as was player by many of the blues harp heroes of the 20th Century.

Ultimately, hard players who gig regularly and need volume and durability will be best served by the Special 20. Those looking for a more vintage tone, and who are prepared to properly care for their harp should look to the Marine Band.

vs
Hohner Marine Band 1896 Classic
Hohner Special 20 Harmonica
Harmonica NameHohner Marine Band 1896 ClassicHohner Special 20 Harmonica
Harmonica TypeDiatonic HarmonicaDiatonic Harmonica
Number of Holes1010
Comb MaterialWoodPlastic
Number of Reeds2020
Spare Reeds Available?YesYes
TuningRichterRichter
Valved?NoNo
Musical StylesBlues, Rock, Pop, Eastern, FolkBlues, Rock, Pop, Folk
Available KeysD - 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 MinorA, B Flat, D, G, C, F, E, B, E Flat, G High, F Sharp, D Flat, A Flat
Price from£32.99£33.99
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