Hohner Musikinstrumente GmbH & Co. KG is a company specialising in the manufacture of musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

s. Founded in 1857 by Matthias Hohner (1833–1902), Hohner is identified especially with harmonica
The harmonica, also called harp, French harp, blues harp, and mouth organ, is a free reed wind instrument used primarily in blues and American folk music, jazz, country, and rock and roll. It is played by blowing air into it or drawing air out by placing lips over individual holes or multiple holes...

s and accordion
The accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone family, sometimes referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist....

s. The Hohner company has invented and produced many different styles, and most of the harmonicas used by professionals. The company also makes kazoo
The kazoo is a wind instrument which adds a "buzzing" timbral quality to a player's voice when the player vocalizes into it. The kazoo is a type of mirliton, which is a membranophone, a device which modifies the sound of a person's voice by way of a vibrating membrane."Kazoo" was the name given by...

s, recorder flutes
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

, melodica
The melodica, also known as the "blow-organ" or "key-flute", is a free-reed instrument similar to the melodeon and harmonica. It has a musical keyboard on top, and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece that fits into a hole in the side of the instrument. Pressing a key opens a hole,...

s, banjo
In the 1830s Sweeney became the first white man to play the banjo on stage. His version of the instrument replaced the gourd with a drum-like sound box and included four full-length strings alongside a short fifth-string. There is no proof, however, that Sweeney invented either innovation. This new...

s, guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

s, bass guitar
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

s and ukulele
The ukulele, ; from ; it is a subset of the guitar family of instruments, generally with four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings....

s (under the brand name Lanikai), along with its one million harmonicas a year.

During the 1940s and 1990s, the company also manufactured various electric/electronic keyboards. Especially in the 1960s and 1990s, they manufactured a range of innovative and popular electromechanical keyboard instruments
Electric piano
An electric piano is an electric musical instrument.Electric pianos produce sounds mechanically and the sounds are turned into electrical signals by pickups. Unlike a synthesizer, the electric piano is not an electronic instrument, but electro-mechanical. The earliest electric pianos were invented...

; the Cembalet, Pianet
thumb|Hohner Pianet TThe Pianet was a series of electric pianos built by the Hohner company of Trossingen, West Germany from the 1960s to the 1970s. The designer of the early Pianet models was Ernst Zacharias, basing the mechanism closely on a 1920s design by Lloyd Loar...

, Basset, Guitaret
The Guitaret is an electric lamellophone made by Hohner and invented by Ernst Zacharias, in 1963. Zacharias also invented similar instruments like the Pianet, Cembalet and the Clavinet....

, and Clavinet
A Clavinet is an electrically amplified keyboard instrument manufactured by the Hohner company. It is essentially an electronically amplified clavichord, analogous to an electric guitar. Its distinctive bright staccato sound has appeared particularly in funk, disco, rock, and reggae songs.Various...

. In the 1980s, several Casio synths were sold under the Hohner brand - for example, the Casio HT-3000/Hohner KS61midi and the VZ-1/HS2).

The roots of the Hohner firm are in Trossingen
Trossingen is a town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated in a region called Baar, between the Swabian Alb and the Black Forest. Stuttgart is about an hour away, Lake Constance about half an hour, and the source of the river Danube can be reached in about twenty minutes by car.Trossingen...

, (South Germany
Southern Germany
The term Southern Germany is used to describe a region in the south of Germany. There is no specific boundary to the region, but it usually includes all of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, and the southern part of Hesse...



Matthias Hohner, who was originally a clockmaker, started making harmonicas (by hand) in 1857 with his wife and a single employee. 650 were made in the first year.
Hohner harmonicas quickly became popular and during Matthias' lifetime he built the largest harmonica factory in the world.
During the American Civil War Matthias Hohner gave harmonicas to family members in the United States who in turn gave them to the fighting soldiers.

In the 1920s Hohner began manufacturing chromatic harmonicas that can be played in any key.

In the mid-1950s Hohner began producing electric guitars.

In 1964 Hohner released The Beatles Harmonica Kit which was sold in a blister package, much like most Hohner harmonicas nowadays, retailed for $2.95, and help what Hohner calls "bring about a new popularity upsurge of the Hohner harmonica on both sides of the Atlantic.".
In the 1970s Hohner began manufacturing acoustic guitars, and re-producing electric guitars.

Matthias Karl Hohner, son of Dipl.-Ing. Matthias Hohner and a direct descendent in fourth generation and name barrier of the founder Matthias Hohner (*12 December 1833 - + 12 December 1902) was one of the last members of the Hohner dynasty involved in managing the family business between 1968 and 1986. His son Matthias Francisco Hohner belonged to the first generation of direct descedents who did not enter into the family business. Many direct descedents of the founder are still active as members of the “Deutsches Harmonika Museum” and the “Hohnerschefamilienverein”.

150th Anniversary and beyond

For Hohner's 150th Anniversary in 2007 Hohner began manufacturing Limited Edition Diatonic harmonicas. The harmonicas are in Chrome, Gold, and Standard Edition.

Hohner has announced they will be producing Special 20, Blues Harp, Marine Band, and Big River harmonicas in Pro Packs which have three harmonicas keyed in C, G, and A, and retailed at a cheaper price, are to be released sometime in May.

Marine Band

The Marine Band has been Hohner's most popular model of harmonica for generations. Made in Germany on a wood comb, most blues and rock artists play a Marine Band. Several noted users are Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

, John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

, Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen , nicknamed "The Boss," is an American singer-songwriter who records and tours with the E Street Band...

, and Neil Young
Neil Young
Neil Percival Young, OC, OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation...

. There are various subdivisions of the marine band.


The Special 20 was introduced in the mid 1970s. It has the same reeds as a Marine Band, but it has a plastic comb instead of a wooden comb, and rounded edges. It was the first harmonica to have a plastic comb, which not only made the instrument more airtight, but also eliminated the swelling wood combs go through as they moisten from use. Made in Germany, this model quickly became the preferred choice of many rock and blues players. Now, most harmonicas being manufactured from all companies are based upon the Special 20. Its most noted user is John Popper
John Popper
John Popper is an American musician and songwriter.He is most famous for his role as frontman of rock band Blues Traveler performing harmonica, guitar and vocals...

, who appears on the blister.

The Marine Band Deluxe has all the features of the original Marine Band with tighter construction and a new cover design which creates a greater volume.http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?7

The Marine Band Crossover also features the same reeds, but is made on a bamboo comb that is water repellent.http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?1840

The Marine Band 364 has twelve holes and is available is keys C, G, and D only.http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?1572

The Marine Band 365 has fourteen holes and is available in keys C and G only.http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?1573

The Marine Band Soloist is the same as a twelve hole chromatic harmonica without a button. Available in key of C.http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?28

The Marine Band Octave has two rows of reeds tuned an octave apart.http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?31

The modular system

Hohner introduced an interchangeably parted harmonica series in the 1990s known as the Modular System, usually abbreviated MS. Over the years, several harps have been added to this system.

The Blues Harp has been around since the early 1970s. Until the 1990s, it was functionally identical to the Marine Band, the only differences being the cover plates and the varnish on the front of the wood comb. The harmonica's profile was thinner as well. At one point, Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash
John R. "Johnny" Cash was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century...

 promoted the Blues Harp. In the 1990s, Hohner made the Blues Harp part of its Modular System (MS) line. This new Blues Harp lost its uniqueness and is interchangeable with the other models in the MS line.

The Pro Harp features greblon coated cover plates with a matte black finish and a plastic comb. Since its inception, it has become a very popular model among rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...


The Cross Harp is a nearly identical model to the Pro Harp with the exception of a wood comb and slightly thicker original reed plates.

The Big River Harp was introduced as a less expensive alternative to the Blues Harp. It is favored among beginner harmonicists, although many experienced players also prefer the Big River. It features a plastic comb and bare metal cover plates.

The Blue Midnight was released in 2011 with a limit to the key of C, also on the less expensive side of the market. It features stainless steel cover plates with a wider back gap for enhanced volume while playing. The unique feature of this harp is the comb, which is made out of transluscent blue plastic. The comb allows for brighter tone than the black combed models. It also has a special "Chicago tuning." It is also now available in other keys.

The Meisterklasse is a high end harmonica on the Modular System, featuring chrome plated cover plates, an aluminum comb, and nickel plated reeds.

Other diatonic harmonica models

The Old Standby is another model beloved by generations of harmonica players. Up until the 1990s, this model was a quality instrument made in Germany on a wood comb. Where the Marine Band was the choice of blues players, many Country players such as Charlie McCoy
Charlie McCoy
Charles "Charlie" Ray McCoy is an American musician noted for his harmonica playing. In his career, McCoy has backed several notable musicians including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Tom Astor, Elvis Presley and Ween. He has also recorded thirty-seven studio albums, including fourteen for Monument Records...

 preferred the Old Standby. In the 1990s, Hohner began manufacturing this model in China on a plastic comb with a significant decrease in quality. Among harmonica fans the downgrade remains unpopular.

Golden Melody, designed by Frank and Cham-Ber Huang, has a curved shape. This German made, plastic comb model has a slightly different tuning than other diatonic harmonicas, making the Golden Melody better suited for playing single note melodies and solos. It is recognized as the harmonica of choice to virtuoso Howard Levy
Howard Levy
Howard Levy is a Grammy Award–winning, American harmonicist, pianist, composer, and producer....


The American Ace has been a popular choice as a beginner's harmonica for decades. Originally made in Ireland on a wood comb, this model is currently being made in China on a plastic comb.

The Pocket Pal is a recent addition to the Hohner standard line of harmonicas. It is somewhat unique because it is slightly shorter in length than most harmonicas, leading to its namesake of being pocket handy. It is Chinese made, which is unfavorable to most harmonica players, but the Pocket Pal has caught on as an inexpensive, yet quality harp.

38C, also known as the Mini Harp, is Hohner's least expensive model. With four holes, the 38C plays a single octave in the key of C. Like other budget harmonicas, the 38C is manufactured in China with a plastic comb.

Other harmonica types

In addition to diatonic harmonicas Hohner also produces other types such as "chromatic" and "Tremolo".


The Chromonica contains forty reeds and plays 2½ full chromatic octaves.

There is also a Super Chromonica which contains forty-eight reeds and spans three octaves.


On tremolo harmonicas each channel has two reeds for each note, i.e. one pair for blown notes and another pair for drawn ones, each pair tuned slightly apart from one another to produce a tremolo sound.

The most popular models are either single-sided or double-sided Echo harps, but the single-sided ones can be combined into quadruple or sextuple 'corncob' setups, with a different key on each row.

Artist series harmonicas

Hohner has several harmonicas designed by several famous harmonica players.

Larry Adler

Famous Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 harmonica player Larry Adler
Larry Adler
Lawrence "Larry" Cecil Adler was an American musician, widely acknowledged as one of the world's most skilled harmonica players. Composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Malcolm Arnold, Darius Milhaud and Arthur Benjamin composed works for him...

 has his own harmonica series, which are chromatic with either 12 or 16 holes.

Toots Thielemans

Another noted jazz player, Toots Thielemans
Toots Thielemans
Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans , known as Toots Thielemans, is a Belgian jazz musician well known for his guitar and harmonica playing as well as his whistling. Thielemans is credited as one of the greatest harmonica players of the 20th century...

, also has a chromatic harmonica line with two types being Mellow Tone(for classical
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 material) and Hard Bopper(for contemporary material).

Steven Tyler

Aerosmith is an American rock band, sometimes referred to as "The Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many...

's lead man Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler is an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the frontman and lead singer of the Boston-based rock band Aerosmith, in which he also plays the harmonica, and occasional piano and percussion. He is known as the "Demon of Screamin'", due to his high screams...

 has two types of diatonic harmonica(s). An Artist Series and a Signature Series with the latter being more expensive.

Bob Dylan

Legendary folk
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

 musician Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

 also has a Signature Series diatonic harmonica as well as a Collection which features seven harmonicas.

External links

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