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Excellent customer service! My recent purchase required a couple of alterations in details and they were very responsive about it. Despite the changes in the order, the item actually arrived earlier than expected!

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Comprehensive range of harps, sent out promptly. My first point of call when looking for a new/different harp.

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Orchestral Harmonicas

Orchestral harmonicas are designed for use in ensembles and generally cover a range of tones and timbres that are outside that of standard harmonicas, especially at the low and high end. They also tend to be larger than even the biggest chromatics, and some are designed specifically for playing chords. With a selection of orchestral harmonicas, a small ensemble is able to cover a range of classical pieces that are more commonly played by traditional stringed instruments and/or woodwind and brass.

Tombo Contra Bass Harmonica
Tombo Harmonicas

Tombo Contra Bass Harmonica

£472.99
Tombo Contra Bass Harmonica - Bass harmonica with a range of 2 octaves. Each hole of the harmonica contains a single reed as large as an accordion's bass reeds to produce powerful bass sounds.... Read more
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Tombo Pocket Bass Harmonica
Tombo Harmonicas

Tombo Pocket Bass Harmonica

£104.99
Tombo pocket bass harmonica Great for beginners to play ensemble. Tombo has the history of more than 80 years since it was established in 1917, their harmonicas are produced with Japanese craftsmanship. This harmonica has great tone,  and is fairly simple to produce good quality sounds. Ten Holes/ten Tones. ( two duplicated). Tonal Range E -f (E/F#/G/A/B/C/D/F) Plastic Body. Blow only W 145 x h 59 x d 49 mm. 359 g. Includes zipup carrying case ... Read more
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Tombo Pocket Chord Harmonica
Tombo Harmonicas

Tombo Pocket Chord Harmonica

£115.99
The Tombo Pocket Chord harmonica 8 chord harmonica with brass reedplates fully recessed in a satin finished ABS comb, stainless steel cover plates, and held together by screws and nuts. The Tombo Pocket Chord is wonderful for group and ensemble players, adding that extra depth to the music. Each chord has four blow reeds and the tuning and reed adjustment is excellent. The major and minor chords are tuned in Just Intonation to give the smoothest possible chords and the 7th chords tuned as a pure major triad with a tempered seventh added. A great harmonica for the beginners to play ensemble. Tombo are known for manufacturing the Lee Oskar diatonic range, which can be found here 8 Holes Range: C ~ B7 (C/D7/Dm/E7/F/G7/Am/B7) ABS Comb Stainless Steel Cover Plates Blow only W 147 x h 37 x d 26 mm 138 g Includes zipup carrying case ... Read more
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Hohner Double Bass 58 Harmonica
Hohner Harmonicas

Hohner Double Bass 58 Harmonica

£1,199.99

Out of stock

The Hohner Double Bass 58 Orchestral harmonica is a bass with a wow-effect. As well as rhythmic accompaniment, every harmonica ensemble needs a suitable bass. With this 2-voice instrument each channel contains two reeds, tuned exactly one octave apart, giving an extremely fat sound. The lower of each pair of octave-tuned reeds is located on the inner rows of the instrument, ensuring that high and low ranges are equidistant from one another and thus enabling balanced micro-phoning. For the first time, the mouthpiece of the Bass 58 and Bass 78 models has been integrated into the body, making them remarkably airtight and ensuring matchless response and volume. This Hohner Double Bass 58 is a top of the line model and was developed in close cooperation with leading international players to create a high end professional instrument, combining unprecedented performance and ease of playability with the finest Hohner quality - a milestone in Hohner‘s legendary series of orchestral harmonicas. Optimised channel openings ensure great response even at low volume. Mouthpiece integrated into comb construction for maximum air tightness and volume. Complete stability in all climate zones thanks to modern acrylic glass body. Also known as the Hohner M965 Double Bass 29/58 / Hohner Bass 58 Entirely assembled with screws for easy maintenance.   Key specifications:  Bass 58 Tonal Range: E1-E3 (1E-e) Comb: Acrylic glass, transparent, colourless Number of hole: 29 Reeds: 58 Brass Reed Plates: 2.0mm brass Read Plate Surface: brass Cover Surface: Chrome Mouthpiece Surface: Acrylic glass Length: 21.3 cm Case/Packaging: Zip Case Included Accessories: Black straps  ... Read more
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What are the Main Types of Orchestral Harmonicas?

Orchestral harmonicas can be broadly categorised under the following headings:

Chord Harmonicas

These, as the name suggest, are designed to play chords, rather than melodies and can be used to add depth and harmonic interest to musical pieces. They are, however slightly limited in the scope of chords that they are able to produce, due to their design, so often their place in the harmonica orchestra is occupied instead by a combination of baritone and bass harmonicas.

Bass and Double Bass Harmonicas

These produce notes that are significantly lower than a standard diatonic or chromatic is able to offer, occupying the place typically reserved for the double bass in a classical orchestra.

Chromatic Bass Harmonicas

These are a relatively new type of harmonica that combine the range of a traditional bass harmonica with the slide system of a chromatic, providing access to a much greater tonal range than standard bass and double bass harps. This makes them more suitable for solo work, in addition to orchestral and ensemble pieces, than standard bass harmonicas. Currently, the only production model of chromatic bass is the Suzuki Sirius 48 Bass Chromatic, which occupies a tonal range similar to that of a cello. The only other option available is the SliderBass system from Brendan Power, which converts existing Hohner and Suzuki bass harmonicas to chromatic bass harmonicas. This system requires installation by a harp tech, so is not an off the shelf solution, however.

Baritone Harmonicas

These are generally tuned around an octave lower than a similar sized tremolo harmonica, and occupy a pitch range similar to cellos. They are often used to play contrapuntal melodies or, in multiples of more than one, to provide harmonic structure to the music.

Alto and Soprano Harmonicas

These occupy the higher end of the pitch range, with alto harps being tuned an octave lower than sopranos, which are used for the very highest notes in an ensemble.

Chromatic Harmonicas

These are often used for more complex melody lines and take the place occupied by a range of solo instruments, from piano to flute, in a traditional orchestral setting.

Are Orchestral Harmonicas Suitable for Beginners?

Many of the lower tuned orchestral harmonicas will only really be suitable for playing in ensembles, as this is where they will come alive, and they will sound a little dull when played on their own. This makes them not particularly suited to beginners, unless they are keen to play with other musicians from the very beginning of their harmonica journey. This said, tremolo harmonicas and some of the alto and soprano harps can sound great when played on their own and represent a good starting point for beginners who do not wish to play blues or rock genres.

What is the Best Orchestral Harmonica?

Orchestral harmonicas come in many shapes and sizes, so it is difficult to definitively judge whether a specific bass orchestral harmonica is better than an alto or soprano. However, these is one model that has, in historical terms, raised the profile of the instrument in an orchestral context - Hohner's Silver Concerto. Conceived by the classical harmonica player Tommy Reilly as a harmonica that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the highest quality traditional orchestral instruments, the Silver Concerto is constructed, much like the best flutes, from solid silver. Not only did its construction, resonance and craftsmanship enable the most demanding pieces of classical music to be played on it, but it also elevated the harmonica as an instrument to one with sufficient gravitas to perform in a traditional orchestral setting toe to toe with woodwind and brass sections. Prior to this, the chromatic harmonica had been seen as an inexpensive novelty item, rather than as a serious instrument. The Silver Concerto, and its price tag (currently in the region of £7,000) changed all of that! It's interesting to note that these are still built to order (although there are a small number available from stock around the world) and the price varies depending on the spot silver price at the time of ordering.

Th other harmonica that is used in an orchestral setting and is widely regarded as the finest of its kind is the Polle Concert, which is built to order, again from silver, in Norway by Georg Pollestad. This astonishingly high quality instrument incorporates a mini LCD thermometer to ensure that the player knows when it is at the optimum temperature for playing, a completely silent slide system and a two piece hollowed out silver body for lightness and perfect resonance. Tommy Reilly once described the Polle Concert as 'the Rolls Royce' of harmonicas, which is high praise indeed.

Are Orchestral Harmonicas Suitable for Playing Blues/Folk/Rock?

Standard ten hole diatonic harps tend to be the most suitable type of harmonica for blues and rock, but orchestral harmonicas have long been used on pop and rock recordings and performances to add variety and different timbres. The Beach Boys' magnum opus, Good Vibrations, for instance, features various orchestral harmonicas in its wall of sound-esque production.

How do I Become a Member of a Harmonica Ensemble or Orchestra?

Harmonica ensembles and orchestras are not particularly common, at least in the West, so the best option should you wish to become involved in one would be to contact your national harmonica association, such as Harmonica UK for those in Great Britain, and SPAH for those in the US.

Orchestral Harmonicas at The Harmonica Company

The Harmonica Company stocks a range of orchestral harmonicas from Tombo and Hohner. Suzuki orchestral harmonicas are also available on request.

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