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Suzuki Manji vs Hohner Special 20

Hohner and Suzuki are both well-known harmonica manufacturers with longstanding reputations for the quality and playability of their instruments. The Manji and Special 20 occupy slightly different price points, but their fundamental appeal is to the same sorts of musicians – namely those interested in blues or folk harmonica. Let's take a look at the differences and determine which one is right for you.

The Special 20 was the world's first harmonica with recessed reed plates and a plastic comb, and is still exceptionally popular with experienced players and beginners alike. The Manji is a newer harp from Suzuki, having been created in 2009 in honour of the company's founder, Mr Manji Suzuki.

Both harps have a fairly traditional design, with stamped cover plates, but the Manji has a composite comb in place of the ABS one on the Special 20. This is designed to give the feel and tone of wood, but without any of the swelling and roughness issues associated with that material. It also uses Suzuki's signature phosphor bronze reeds, whereas the Hohner sticks with traditional brass. One other major point of difference is the tuning: the Special 20 utilises a modern compromise tuning, not dissimilar to many of Hohner's other diatonics, whilst the Manji uses equal temperament, which prioritises the purity of single notes over chords, and is typical of many Japanese made harmonicas.

From a playing point of view, the Manji feels more substantial, and slightly more airtight. Bends are easy on both harps, but for those who wish to venture into advanced techniques, such as overblowing, the Manji feels like the more suitable harp out of the box. This is not surprising, however, given the price difference, with the Manji being nearly double the price of the Special 20.

Ultimately, both are great harmonicas and can be used for a wide range of styles and genres. For the more advanced player, the Manji does offer a few advantages, though, and is one of the best harps on the market for those wishing to experiment with new techniques, but without the need for significant amounts of fettling first.

Suzuki Manji Harmonica (Richter and Natural Minor Tunings)
Hohner Special 20 Harmonica
Harmonica NameSuzuki Manji Harmonica (Richter and Natural Minor Tunings)Hohner Special 20 Harmonica
Harmonica TypeDiatonic HarmonicaDiatonic Harmonica
Number of Holes1010
Comb MaterialCompositePlastic
Number of Reeds2020
Spare Reeds Available?YesYes
Musical StylesBlues, Rock, Pop, FolkBlues, Rock, Pop, Folk
Available KeysA, B Flat, D, Low F, G, C, F, E, B, E Flat, G High, F Sharp, D Flat, A Flat, A - Natural Minor, C - Natural Minor, D - 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£63.99£33.99
View details & BuyView details & Buy
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