High-end Chromatic Harmonicas

The first high-end chromatic harmonica I know of was the Silver Concerto, commissioned by the famous harmonica virtuoso Tommy Reilly in 1967. After that, Chamber Huang designed his own silver instrument, CBH 2012 in 1973 -> more info here.
Another high-end instrument to follow was the Renaissance chromatic by Douglas Tate and Bobbie Giordano in 1997.

The “Virtuoso” was one of  Bill Romel’s high end custom chromatic harmonicas. I was not able to trace back the earliest release date but it must have been in the mid 90s.
The “Virtuoso” is a custom chromatic with a polished acrylic comb, custom cover plates, mouthpiece and slide designed to accommodate whatever reeds you prefer recessed into the comb itself. Bill Romel’s Harmonica Workshop produced also other custom instruments, such as the “Romello”. These other instruments were not quite as high-end. After Romel passed away in 2009 the production stopped.

virtuosis.jpgBill Romel’s flagship instrument “Virtuoso” (12 and 14 hole).

In 2001 Antony Dannecker introduced the “Genevieve”. He manufactured only 100 of these instruments. The Genevieve harmonica was first made for the harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler. Antony Dannecker (and before his father, Willi Dannecker) was actually Larry’s harmonica repair man.
The “Genevieve” (the name is based on the Oscar-winning composition by Adler) consists of a custom-made stainless steel body and cover plates.

Intro leaflet of the Genevieve
Genevieve number 56, from my collection

Harmonica Art
The Harmonica Art company was founded in 2002 by Hong Kong’s veteran harmonica players, Johnny Chan and Tommy Leung. In their research developing high-end chromatic harmonicas materials like silver, brass and ebony wood were used.

Harmonica Art Silver Chromatic
The company was also experimenting with combining different materials. The slider button had a unique shape. Carved out lines in the mouth piece reduce friction and stickiness of the slider (similar to the concept developed by Georg Pollestad)

NC 64
In 2008 the Austrian harmonica player Franz Chmel introduced after five years of development and testing the NC 64. The full specification of the instrument can be found on his website. The NC 64 was equipped with specially manufactured stainless steel reeds. Two models with either gold or silver plated covers were produced. It was one of the first high-end 4 octave chromatic harmonicas.

NC 64 came in two colors and steel reeds

Suzuki Fabulous
At around the same time Suzuki came out with two high end chromatic harmonica models: a 12 and 16 hole silver coated brass comb instrument called “Fabulous

Suzuki Fabulous 16 and 12 hole versions

The next company to produce and sell high-end custom chromatic harmonicas comes from Japan. The company called Harmonica Workshop Cremona opened at the end of 2011. The owner, Naotaka Kishi produces not only 12 and 16 hole but also 14 hole custom instruments. Every instrument is either made out of ebony, silver or a combination of both.

Another more recent company to produce high-end chromatic harmonicas is Philharmonicas. The company was founded by Phil Sardo in 2016.
He produces a range of high- and medium-end 12 and 16 hole instruments. All come either with brass or aluminum combs. The special and unique feature of the “Psardo” harmonicas are the individual two-note reed plates set into precision pockets in the body of the comb and the tubular channel covers (similar to the molded in channels of the CBH 2012/2016 covers).

Psardo 16 hole “Gold Bar” with gold plated brass comb
The “Psardo” harmonicas come with individual two-note replaceable reed plates (left) and
tubular channel covers (right).
Newest “Psardo” model with aluminum comb

The new kid on the blog is the Hong Kong based company “Kepler“.
They are currently specializing in 14 hole chromatic harmonicas only.
Their interesting concept  is to offer different configuration options.

The standard configuration comes with a CNC Brass Covers and a Stainless Steel Comb. Upgrade options are: Titanium Comb, CNC black wood or silver cover plates and Power-Type Titanium mouthpiece.

New Kepler 14 hole chromatic

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