- Key of C
- Made in Germany
- 10 Hole Diatonic
- Reeds: 20
- Reedplates: Brass; 0.9 mm;
- Comb: Pearwood
- Length: approx. 10.0 cm
Is the Hohner Marine Band Any Good?
Verdict – The Hohner Marine Band 1896 is the classic harmonica played by old Blues greats like Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Litter Walter. If you’re looking to emulate that old “woody” tone authentically at any cost, then look no further! Just bear in mind that you’ll have to sacrifice the comfort that other modern alternatives can provide. 4.2/5 Stars Total.
That said, the Special 20 uses the Marine Band technology and we prefer the Hohner Special 20 because the plastic comb on the Special 20 doesn’t swell over time.
Bendability – Both the draw bends and the blow bends on this harmonica were very easy to execute and control with precision. If you’re looking at an outdated forum, you might see people complaining about Marine Bands not bending well out of the box. Not the case today. I pulled out this Marine Band 1896, and the thing bends like a champ! 5/5 Stars.
Comfort – Comfort is the one area where the Marine Band 1896 does not fare well against the competition. In fact, one of the main reasons that Hohner developed their Special 20 and Crossover model harmonicas was to address the comfort issue. The Marine Band’s double-lacquered Pear wood comb is tough on the lips, especially if you play it for a long time. It felt to me like the edges of the reed plates were also adding to the discomfort. To top it all off, the corners are pretty pointy, so holding it for long periods of time could be uncomfortable. 2/5 Stars.
Tone – The tone of this harmonica is supreme. The brass reeds and wood comb give it that beautiful “woody” tone that, in my opinion, just can’t be beat. Of course, the tradeoff is comfort, but for tone, the Marine Band 1896 easily gets 5/5 Stars.
Responsiveness – From hole 1 to hole 10, the Marine Band is not sluggish anywhere. It responds quickly to blows and draws alike, just as you would hope it would. Very responsive. 5/5 Stars.
Looks – This harmonica is absolutely beautiful to look at. The wood comb sandwiched by the visible edges of the brass reed plates, topped with the stainless steel cover plates is a winning combination. The only reason I doc it one star is that I wish it had better key labels. The only key label is a difficult-to-read engraving on the cover plate, virtually impossible to see in a dark club. 4/5 Stars
Durability/Fixability – the double-lacquered Pear wood comb could over time become susceptible to swelling, cracking, or splintering. The cover plates are attached with nails instead of screws which could make fixing/tuning this harmonica difficult.
From the Manufacturer
This attractive and robust instrument is a quality staple for beginners and a sure performer for seasoned veterans. An original Hohner harmonica at an affordable price!
This is the quintessential blues harmonica from the Chicago Blues Era. It’s a total classic.
Lacks in comfort.