Chromatic harmonica history – last words

First Hohner Chromatic harmonica and the DM48 midi controller harmonica invented a little more than 100 years apart

This is the end of my chromatic harmonica history journey. Of course, history keeps writing itself. I am sure some new and exciting chromatic harmonicas will show up on the market. There is a lot of development going on in Asia, especially in China. Some time ago, I purchased a very nice book of beautiful Chinese harmonica illustrations: “Chinese Made Harmonica Illustrations (中国口琴图谱)“, by Zong Xiaohua.
One harmonica in particular got my attention. The description is only in Chinese. The inventor Jia-Yi He wrote to me:
“this invention combines two chromatic harmonicas into one: a C and D chromatic, to solve trill and legato problems of the chromatic harmonicas. The harmonica has a double control system. Holding down the whole-tone handle with the left hand will free the right hand to make trills with the semi-tone top slider.  Holding down the semitone handle with the left hand will free the right hand to make whole tone trills with the bottom slider. “
I could not find out if an actual prototype exists or the harmonica was ever manufactured. It looks like an exciting idea, though.

Double control system chromtic harmonica, invented by Jia-Yi He

Some of the newer manufactures like Easttop or Kongsheng have newly developed chromatic harmonicas in their lineup. I am especially thrilled about the new Kongsheng chromatic model “Lyra”. Its design looks unique.;topic=17479.0;attach=13961;image
New Kongsheng “Lyra”, released in the second half of 2019

There is of course Hohner with its own sizable R&D department. They recently revamped their Super 64 chromatic harmonica line with a new design and VarioSpring system (first introduced with the release of the ACE-48).

I am also looking forward to seeing more inventions coming out of the Seydel lab. Recently, they announced a new Seydel Magnet-System (based on Jim Antaki’s Turboslide harmonica). The description explains: you slide the magnetic sliders towards the tip-end of the reed the magnetic field slows down the reed’s oscillation resulting in a pitched-down tone. It can be re-tuned for a semitone down.

The new Seydel 1847 All Minor diatonic harmonica has that magnet system incorporated. I see potential to use it in chromatic harmonicas as well, e.g. changing the base tuning or adjusting reeds that are out of tune.
-> See update on the new Symphony 48 with magnetic slider system

Let’s not forget Suzuki. They also have contributed with some amazing harmonicas like the  SCT-128 tremolo chromatic and just recently the new S-48B Bass Chromatic.

Lastly, I hope you enjoyed this blog and got some useful information out of it. It was a pleasure doing this research and sharing my findings with you.
Some of you might wonder why one or the other harmonica was not mentioned in my blog. One example would be the Hohner Harmonetta. I decided against it since the instrument does not fall under the category “slide chromatic”.
If you have another opinion on that or you feel I am really missing out on an important instrument, there is an option to leave a reply or comment at the bottom of each page. Actually,  any comment in form of additional info, suggestions or other kinds of statements would be highly appreciated!
It would be great if these articles can initiate all sorts or interesting discussions. For any specific question, please don’t hesitate to contact me via the web form.

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More chromatic harmonica topics to read:
I recently created a new blog “Comprehensive guide to the Corner (or Tongue) switching technique“. You are invited to check it out.

2 thoughts on “Chromatic harmonica history – last words

  1. Hi Manfred,

    Thanks for this excellent website – a great range of innovative chromatics, and beautifully presented.

    I’d like to humbly offer some of my own-design chromatics for a page of their own on your site, in particular my DoubleChrom and OctaChrom Selectable models. Here are the relevant webpages for info, videos and photos:

    Both these instruments, as well as related ones like the X-Reed Chromatic and Quartertone Chromatic, do things no other existing chromatics can achieve, in terms of new note and expression possibilities.

    They are custom models, made using CAD design and 3d printing in my home workshop, but their capabilities point the way to future factory production models for high-level players.

    Over to you!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brendan

      nice to see you back here! BTW, Mark not Manfred. 🙂
      Actually, I have been already mentioning two of your excellent inventions in those articles:

      Twin Harmonica:

      Slide Bass:

      I have been thinking about writing an article about your AsiaBend chromatic because it is very unique.

      When I am done I will run it by you. There, I am happy to make references to your above mentioned inventions as well.

      Let me know what you think.

      Keep distance. 😉



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