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Hohner Rocket Low vs Thunderbird

If you’re a fan of Hohner harmonicas and are looking for a new harp tuned below standard G, for that big, deep sound, then your choice will be between the Thunderbird and the Rocket Low. Let’s look at the main differences between these two models and help to ascertain which is the right one for your needs.

The Rocket Low and Thunderbird are quite different harps, primarily because they belong to different model ranges. The Rocket Low is part of Hohner’s Progressive Series, along with other Rocket Models, and the Special 20 and Golden Melody. All harps in this range feature ABS combs, and modern compromise tuning (with the exception of the Golden Melody, which is equal temperament).

The Thunderbird, in comparison, is part of the Marine Band range of more traditional harmonicas, all of which have wood combs and a slightly different compromise tuning to the Progressive Series harps.

Many harmonicas with wood combs experience significant swelling issues, particularly with players who generate more saliva when performing. This makes plastic combed harps like the Rocket a good choice for players concerned with durability and longevity. However, the Thunderbird has an exceptionally swell resistant bamboo comb (which it shares with the Crossover), meaning this point of difference is less relevant when comparing it with the Rocket Low. Both ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ players will have no issues with the Thunderbird swelling, and the comb is smooth and quick playing.

The recessed reed plates on the Rocket do make it slightly smoother when moving quickly around the mouthpiece, but the Thunderbird also offers a nice playing surface. The latter harp has a deeper and fuller tone and feels like a more expensive instrument (which it is).

Price wise, the Thunderbird is significantly more expensive than the Rocket, making it more of a harp for those who are really committed to low tunings, rather than one that you might buy just to experiment with. The Thunderbird also features asymmetric bottom cover plates, to minimise reed rattle in very low tunings, and, as a consequence, is available in a wider range of keys than the Rocket Low.

Ultimately, the two harp serve quite different markets: the Rocket Low is great for players who like the sound and feel of the Special 20 or Rocket and wish to move into lower tunings; the Thunderbird is the ultimate low tuning harp for those who want a traditional looking harp with a fat sound and a wide variety of keys.

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Hohner Rocket Low Harmonica
Hohner Marine Band Thunderbird Harmonica
Harmonica NameHohner Rocket Low HarmonicaHohner Marine Band Thunderbird Harmonica
Harmonica TypeDiatonic HarmonicaDiatonic Harmonica
Number of Holes1010
Comb MaterialPlasticWood
Number of Reeds2020
Spare Reeds Available?YesYes
TuningRichterRichter
Valved?NoNo
Musical StylesBlues, Rock, Pop, FolkBlues, Rock, Pop, Folk
Available KeysLow F, Low E, Low D, Low F Sharp, Low E Flat, Low CLow F, Low E, Low D, Low E Flat, Low C, Low B Flat, Low Low F, Low G, Low A
Price from£61.99£94.99
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