I’ve been on a big harmonica kick lately.  A couple of years ago I happened upon an old Hohner Marine Band with a star in the circle on the back cover.  The ends of the covers were bent in and there were some funky graphics on the box.  After a bit of searching I came across this website: Pat Missin Prewar Hohner Marine Band Changes.  Take a minute to educate yourself on vintage Hohners.  While the star on the back is a cool piece of history that is long gone, the real deal on these old harps is the type of brass used for the reeds that is no longer available.

I’m having a bit of trouble finding some solid info on the specific brass alloy used for the reed plates.  The basic understanding is that this type of brass was used for the reeds and reed plates until around the 50s.  It was only made in a couple of factories world wide and eventually became not economical to make.  Harmonicas only used a very small percentage of brass and the other consumers of raw brass went to a cheaper form.  The prewar brass is thinner but more sturdy allowing for easier manipulation but also lasts longer.  I could easily tell a difference when I got my first prewar Hohner in the way the reed plates reacted under hard and soft playing.

I’m currently building my collection (I’ve got about 12 now?  I’m hoping to have around 30 of different keys and conditions).  I want to make a fancy display for them and show them off at guitar shows.  They may sell, they may not but I don’t care.  I think they are really neat pieces of history and undervalued.  You can’t get that kind of brass now anywhere.  Your only chance is finding a good condition Marine Band or Old Standby.  Plus, the boxes are very aesthetically pleasing and would look nice on your desk next to your vintage Gibson J-45.  At least they look nice next to mine.

“Mouse Ear” Marine Band

This article has 2 comments

  1. Romain Reply

    Hi,

    Very interesting, thank you for the topic about pre war Marine Band.

    I would be interested if you still have some tips to find where I could buy some of these.

    Best regards,

    Romain

    • John Shults Reply

      Hi Romain! Thanks for dropping a not about these cool vintage harmonicas. I’m not currently selling any but will let you know if I do! Cheers!

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