Shop Harmonicas by Brand

Sign up for exclusive offers and discounts, latest product releases & great deals.

Hohner Special 20 vs Suzuki Bluesmaster

Hohner's Special 20 and Suzuki's Bluesmaster have long been two of our top recommendations for beginner and experienced players alike. They both feature ABS combs, an ergonomic design and are keenly priced. However, there are some differences between the two models - read on to see which best suits your needs.

The most obvious distinction between the Bluesmaster and Special 20 is the reed material: Hohner sticks with traditional brass, whilst Suzuki opts for phosphor bronze. The latter is purported to have greater longevity and a brighter sound. Whilst the difference in tone is slightly noticeable, longevity, over the years we have sold these models, is fairly similar for both. I would note, however, that, in my experience, Suzuki harps have the lowest number of warranty issues of any of the major brands.

Perhaps a more obvious point of difference is the intonation. Like many Japanese harps, the Bluesmaster features equal temperament, whilst the Special 20 uses one of Hohner's many compromise tunings.

We won't discuss the complexities behind intonation here (if you wish to read more about this topic, I have produced an in depth article about why intonation matters), but we can look at the differences in practice, as demonstrated by these two harps. Compromised tunings tend to produce purer sounding chords (as the thirds and fifths are pitched closer to pure thirds and fifths), but this is at the expense of the purity of individual intervals across the harmonica. Equal temperament splits the octave evenly, which provides consistent intervals for melodies at the expense of the purity of the chords.

In reality, on the harmonica, these differences are fairly minor, and many players would be hard pressed to tell the difference in a blind test. However, some harpists who regularly use the chords at the lower end of the harmonica will find that they are better served by the Special 20. Conversely, if you play mainly melody lines, the Bluesmaster may be the better choice.

Price wise, the Bluesmaster has always been a little less expensive than the Special 20, but recent changes to the Suzuki price list, primarily as a results of a strong Yen, mean that the difference is now minimal.

Hohner Special 20 Harmonica
Suzuki Bluesmaster Harmonica
Harmonica NameHohner Special 20 HarmonicaSuzuki Bluesmaster Harmonica
Harmonica TypeDiatonic HarmonicaDiatonic Harmonica
Number of Holes1010
Comb MaterialPlasticPlastic
Number of Reeds2020
Spare Reeds Available?YesYes
Musical StylesBlues, Rock, Pop, FolkBlues, Rock, Pop, Folk
Available KeysA, B Flat, D, G, C, F, E, B, E Flat, G High, F Sharp, D Flat, A FlatA, B Flat, D, G, C, F, E, B, E Flat, F Sharp, D Flat, A Flat
Price from£33.99£27.99
View details & BuyView details & Buy
Save 5% today
Sign up and save!



Save 5% on your first order by signing up.

No thanks, I'll pay full price

Save 5% on your first order by using code:


Please wait...

Chat via WhatsApp Chat via WhatsApp now