Hi guys, I just took a chance and bought one of these Star Performers, key of G. What a pleasant suprise! My only experience with a Huang harp had been a Silvertone I changed some reeds, gapped and tuned for a friend of mine. The Silvertone was o.k. but to my mind not that impressive even though another guy I know refuses to buy any harp other than a Silvertone.
Anyway, back to the Star Performer. What a chunky harp. It is only slightly lighter than the alloy comb Suzuki. I had never played a harp with the 'Golden Melody' rounded shape and as I only had one G harp I thought I'd try one. The price was pretty good. On Ebay the harp was £6.98 and from the U.S.A the p&p was only £2.71 (take note other international sellers!).
What does it play like? From the box it was fair I suppose but for a plastic comb harp with 7 screws holding the plates together it seemed a little leaky. Removing the plates exposed the problem. The plate mating surfaces of the comb were a pretty coarse and uneven finish. This was soon rectified with a piece of 1200 wet and dry laid on a piece of glass (for a dead flat surface). While the harp was apart I gapped and arced the reeds, and opened up the back of the coverplates. Job done so I got the amp and gave it a try. This is a loud harp, the tuning when I checked it was spot on and although I do not like the overlap on the reed plates it is not uncompfortable to play. On the reed plates, they are the thickest I've ever seen.
So, o.k. you have to do a little work to get 100% out of these harps but compared to what has to be done to a Marine Band (I have just done 2 MB rebuilds, sealing combs and fixing reed plates with screws etc. they take forever) it is only going to take you about half an hour. For that 1/2 hour and less than £10 you end up with a pretty good harp.
If you want to give one a try go to fred-swflorida (26089) on Ebay. He also does a deal for 2 harps (you choose the keys) for £16.24 inc. p.& p. I have nothing to do with this guy but I think these forums are there to pass on a good deal to other harp players.
My other new arrival is a low F Suzuki Promaster 350v (from bluzerd on Ebay). No work needed on this, plays perfect out of the box. Eat your heart out Hohner this is how a harp should be made.
Last Edited by on Sep 22, 2008 8:49 AM
Interesting--I had a Huang once for about 30 minutes--it didn't fly very far when I threw it away. I thought "Huang" was a Mandarin word meaning a lump of excrement. I'll have to see if I can find it and work it over.
Sigh--now you've done it--now I gotta go buy a Suzuki Promaster 350v--I've been hearing so much about them, I just have to know for myself! Will you help me explain this to my wife?
My first harp 15yrs ago was a Huang silvertone and man I learned to love blues harp because of it.My pockets were thin but my focus was set. These harps are cool all rounders.Its better to harp cheap than not harp at all! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_te5-suhKs
Sep 28, 2008
Dont slam the Huang! Star Performers are the best $16 harp made. Thats the ONLY harp Norton Buffalo will play. Thats all I bought for 10 years. I still would buy em if I didnt build harps myself. Granted, embossing, arcing, etc doesnt have quite the same effect it does on a Marine Band or Golden Melody. The Star Performer has some pretty thin reeds.
haha interesting that you guys are fond of Huang. I think it's a Chinese brand and made in China? But i think we prefer Hohner and Suzuki. star performer costs 60 RMB silvertone costs 55 RMB Marine Band 190 RMB most of us agree that Silvertone has some air-leak problem. and we always but it for customizing cuz it's cheap ha.
Sep 29, 2008
Hi guys, just like to jump in to provide some information about Huang harmonica. Huang in Mandarin means yellow though Huang harmonica is named after its founder, renowned chromatic player Cham-ber Huang. He also designed harmonicas for Hohner before he founded Huang. About the harmonicas themselves, I own a star performer as well, it is a little leaky, but I agree with OP that with some proper modification it can be great. Todd Parrot on youtube has a video review of some Huang harmonicas he own: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_te5-suhKs
Oct 10, 2008
Huang harps ruined me. They bend so easily and you can make some some really sweet sounds (they're incapable of producing a harsh sound). But I got use to that harp and now when I play marine bands I just don't have the feel for them. They're a lot harder to play.
I've tried every harp mentioned on this thread except the Huangs and I'm Chinese living in Malaysia where they are easily available.
What's even more ironic is that my surname/last name/family name is Wong but in Mandarin it IS Huang. Yes, I'm yellow and my family name says YELLOW too. The creepier thing is that my name "Zhin" pronounced in Mandarin is "Tshen" which means Star.
I'm creeping myself out for sure.
The one harp brand I've ignored and never tried.
Maybe it's destiny. :)
I'm going to go pick up a Huang Star Performer today after reading all the positive input about their harps thanks to you guys.
Then maybe I can be a Huang Star Performer myself.. a hyuk a hyuk... *dodges rotten tomatoes*
Last Edited by on Oct 10, 2008 9:36 PM
Oct 11, 2008
Zhin, you're Chinese? I would have never guessed that. Have you ever played a sheng before? They have a very interesting, a very hypnotic kind of sound. I would buy one if they weren't so expensive. One sheng equals about 12 marine bands. But hopefully someday I will have one. Authentic Chinese folk and art music is awesome.
Well, because of this thread I now have a bid on Ebay on a Huang Star Performer. If I don't like it, I'll know where to come to lay the blame--I stand to lose a cool 3 bucks here, guys! I hope you ain't leading me wrong!
That's right I'm yellow and quite often not so mellow... ;p I'm 24, lived 22 years of my life in Malaysia but also 2 years in San Francisco learning art and design. I am back in Malaysia now.
I've never tried the sheng and frankly I have absolutely no interest. I grew up being tortured by my Mom with her traditional Chinese music collection... The ultimate Chinese torture is when I hear that high pitched nasal Chinese opera singing which she conveniently listens to in the car... during LONG road trips (Thank God for the discman). Yes, not only is our race advanced in the arts and music... but it truly is advanced in the art of PAIN and TORTURE! HYAH! I love her dearly though. Just not her music... I've played the 4-String Bass, Guitar, and Piano in the past. Though now, I ONLY play the harp and absolutely love it. My mom did play the zither at one time though but got bored of it.
By the way, still haven't bought me a Huang Star Performer so I can be a.. ok, I won't repeat that one.. haha... When I get one I'm gonna come back here and tell ya'll what I think of it jes fer the heck of it.
Last Edited by on Oct 11, 2008 6:24 PM
Well Oldwailer, I can't wait to see what you post if, heaven forbid, you get a Star Performer and actually find it quite playable. Nothing lost if you don't like it, the reed plates are so thick it's most probably worth more in scrap than you paid for it.
My Star Performer arrived about an hour ago--I gotta say--I'm pretty impressed! It is louder out of the box than I expected. A very hefty harp--feels like some quality in it.
Very playable--the 2 draw is flat enough to make a draw chord sound a bit bad--and the 1 blow is out of adjustment. I haven't had it apart yet--but I commonly have to fix more problems than that on 50 dollar harps--and this one was 99 cents on Ebay!
I never had one of these rounded harps before--very comfortable on the hands.
One bitch--right on the bottom plate, under where my lip goes, is stamped " made in China." It isn't really uncomfortable--but it makes the harp feel gritty and like it needs to be cleaned. Nothing like the deeply imprinted numbers on the top plate of an Oskarmeyer--which really ticks me off. . .
It seems to me that the tone is a little thin--compared to a Special 20 or Bushman--but it sure ain't bad!--I'd like to get a wheelbarrow full of these babies to fix up for the same price. . .
Pretty nice harp--all in all--it'd be nice to get one of those sets of 12 keys for about 50 bucks--just to have a set for banging around. . .
I tried looking for them and they're sold out at most local stores here in KL. :(
Funny ain't it? I saw it everywhere but didn't bother... then when I do want it... it's gone.
But man, I really want to get hands on them. Sounds like a fun harp to practice on, abuse, and carry in a pocket. :)
I'll probably buy one right at the store and test it out. Always fun doing that here in Malaysia as most store owners usually don't expect any bluesified playing... hehehe...And if I like it I'll most like buy a whole set.
Last Edited by on Oct 17, 2008 9:47 PM
I bought a bunch of Star Performers about 17 years ago and they played very nicely with a little gapping and they sounded pretty good. I kept reading how awful they were and got a little paranoid about liking these harps thinking that perhaps my choices were somewhat inadequate. At some point I stopped using them. Frank Huang sent me a Silvertone which I really disliked, it was leaky and I didn't like the shape of the covers. Last month I found some of my old Star Performers and I played them and once again I was impressed. What I eventually learned was not to listen to peoples harmonica opinions. I probably have over 150 diatonic and 25 Chromatics. Their 1248 Chromatic wasn't bad either. The construction was very good, the reeds were a little thin but they sounded ok for a $30.00 chromatic and played fairly well. They also had great windsavers on them. I have no affiliation with Huang or any other harmonica business.
Last Edited by on Apr 09, 2011 5:52 PM
i love star peformers I havent bought one in awhile,but I still have one in C that has over 2 years on it I tweaked it out a little and it plays nice for no more money that what it cost,I bought it used on ebay next to nothing. ---------- Hobostubs
Last Edited by on Apr 09, 2011 5:59 PM
I played onstage with these for a lot of years in the 80's. Marine Bands seemed to get very inconsistent around then and they and Golden Melodies seemed expensive to me at the time. The Huang's where cheap and consistently good. Thier quality seemed to go down at some point and I started using Suzuki Bluesmasters.
Both Huang's and Bluesmasters are squeally oberblowers unfortunately so I've been on a new holy grail search. Anyway - if you don't OB and are up for a little work - I would rekon they are still worth checking out. ----------
@145nE - I think Chris Reynolds has spare reeds for Huangs that he might be willing to part with. You can e-mail him at, firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire.
@Hobostubs - I have the 1248 Chromatic in C, and it isn't worth $99 in my opinion - $50 maybe. It looks really nice and professional, but is not as loud as the Hohners or other brands. I was thinking of putting mine on Ebay, but it has a buzzing valve on the 3 blow.
One thing about the Huang chromatics I have noticed is the bend-ability. For some reason, you can bend the notes way down, much further than you can with other brands. I thought it was just mine, but I've talked to other chromatic players who have noticed the same thing. Perhaps this is why Stevie Wonder uses a custom made Huang? (I know he uses Hohners too.)
As for the Star Performers and Silvertones, it really is a matter of "luck of the draw" with them. Some of them are decent out of the box and can be tweaked to play even better, but if you get a lemon, there usually isn't much you can do with them. They aren't good harps for overblows or overdraws, but they sure do have a twangy sound to them.
I saw on Madcat's site that he uses Filisko harps with either Hohner or Huang reed plates. I thought this was pretty interesting. I saw Madcat a couple of years ago at the VA Harmonicafest, and he said he liked the tone of the Silvertone, and likened it to playing a Fender Telecaster. Here's the link to Madcat's site that mentions the use of Huangs:
Also, one of the coolest little harps was the Huang Frontier Harp, which had gold anodized covers, and was one heck of a harp, especially for the price. I think they were around $2-3 in the late 90's, and played better than some of the Silvertones and Star Performers. I used to buy them and give them to kids.
Huang harmonicas will always have a special place in my heart, because my first harmonica was a Huang Silvertone Deluxe in the key of C, and I still have it. It plays like a dream - much better than the Huangs today. It was obviously made in the late 80's, because I bought it in January of 1990. Had it not been so playable and bendable, I probably would have become discouraged and would likely not be playing the harmonica today.
It really is a shame about Huang Harmonicas. They had such great potential and know how. They could have made some great harps if they'd wanted to.
Contrary to popular belief and Wikipedia, Chamber Huang did NOT design the Golden Melody. I confirmed this with Huang and with Hohner. In fact, when I visited Hohner in Richmond, they had a Golden Melody style harp in their display case from 1957, which was identical in design to today's Golden Melody, but with a 100 year anniversary plate.
Also, Huang is pronounced WONG, not WANG. Everyone always tries to correct me on this, but I'm only pronouncing it the same way that Chamber Huang himself did the times that we spoke.
Hope this helps!
Last Edited by on Apr 09, 2011 7:04 PM
I've got a pair of Huang Musettes (C/C# tremolos) that I like to play around with from time to time. The plastic tastes almost as bad as Piedmonts, but they are kind of fun. If you play tongue blocked octave they sound just like an accordion.
I bought 2 star preformers a year ago. The key's of A & D. The A harp was dead right out of the box. The 3 draw reed was missing a cornner on the live end. The D harp was great right OOTB. I did gap it some but it really kicked butt. I'm a G/M player and watched Todd's Utube vid, thought I'd give them a try. They are not as loud as my G/M's or S/P20's but for $12 I thought it was one hell of a bargan, I just wish the A harp would have been as good as the D harp. If I weren't going to gig with my harps and I didn't have a lot of extra cash I would consider a set of the star preformers. I just wish there was a place where I could test them before I bought them. I'm sure Haung would have replaced the harp but the postage would be near the cost of the harp. Mike
Hohner reeds are a tiny bit wider. I am trying to figure a way to narrow the Hohner reed just a tiny bit. It is also longer but it is not hard to cut off the end to the correct length. Any suggestions appreciated.
Last Edited by on Mar 30, 2012 1:45 PM
Reading this old thread got me a bit nostalgic for the old Huangs... I had a Star Performer back in the day... It was the third harmonica I ever owned (first was the no-name harp that came with the first "learn to play blues in 3 minutes or less" book I bought, second was a special 20 I got at the local music shop). I eventually ruined that harp in my first experiments with "customizing". It was a good little harp, especially considering that I only paid like $8 for it... It had a very leaky 2 draw that I was never able to fix back then (but am sure I could do so now).
Just checked on e-bay and saw that you can get a whole 12-key set for only $68! That's a smokin' deal... BUT, does anyone know if the general quality is the same as they were, say, 5 or 10 years ago? I wonder if the price is so low because they are now being fully rubber stamped out of that same Beijing factory that makes all the other cheap harps out there on the market these days... If so, then the deal is a little less good. If they are even a little better than most cheap harps, then it's a great deal for a full set of backup harps!
Ah. I just read that e-bay post I linked above. Those are NOS from when Chamber owned the company... I'm not going to buy them, but I hope someone on this list does! That's a SMOKIN' deal. ---------- == I S A A C ==
Man ebay allways has the deals when Im broke;-)I saw he had 10 of them at that price and only 10 bucks shipping ,that is a deal,They was about double that price a year or so ago.I like star performers but I havent had a new one in awhile,I still have one in C that wont die. ---------- Hobostubs
@gene: Sorry, brotha, you are SOL! I gave my only copy away years ago! ;) By the way, now that I think about it, that book wasn't as much of a scam as I thought it was. It only said "learn to play blues", not "learn to play blues WELL"! Lol! :)
I have a Bb silvertone that I have had for years. It stays in my fishing bucket. I bought a star performer Low F back in the 80's and it just died not long ago. ---------- Wisdom does not always come with old age. Sometimes old age arrives alone.
After reading these postings about the Star Perfomer I took the plunge and bought 2 complete sets. Ray's House of Music shipped them right away. He even included a free harp with each order. He's selling them at the unbelievable price of $68 per dozen. I have been wanting to try my hand at tuning and customizing and I now feel completely at ease, since the cost is so small. I fell in love earlier with Huang harps when I acquired a Chordet 20.Blues is a new love affair for me. By the way Ray also has a quantity of Frontier harps at $30/dozen. If you ever wanted to take the covers off to see what you can do, this is your chance.
After the recommendations in this post I ordered a Star performer in C. I have had a Silvertone in B flat for many years and always liked it, but was very dissapointed with the star performer. Leaky, tight and squeally, looks and feels like cheap chinese junk. Perhaps if I wasn't accustomed to Manjis and Lee Oskars it might not have seemed so bad, but this one was crap. ---------- Lucky Lester
I picked up a set of Star Performers and a compact chord from ray and am very happy w/ both purchases. I also just got a five pack of Manjis from RockinRon the same week. No the Huangs do not compare to the Manjis but they are servicable harps . I keep the entire 12 pack in the car and will tweak them as time allows. The chord is a different beast and I figured I'd never get another brand new one for that money so....
I have been seeing Huang harmonicas on Ebay at what looks like closeout prices and I was wondering if they are going out of business. I hope not. I've had many Huangs over the years and although they are not the best harmonicas, they are far from the worst and are the best cheap harps made.
About 2-3 years ago, I spoke with someone at Huang who advised that they may not be in production much longer, but they're still around, so I'm not sure what their plans are.
John at Coast To Coast Music deals with them directly and can probably give you more information on the current status of the company better than I can. I think he said that Frank Huang is no longer involved with the company, but I can't remember exactly.
The current ones I've played are awful, even after embossing, etc. The first one I owned, which was made some time in the 80's (because I purchased it in January of 1990), was much better than the ones today. I still have it and it's still very responsive and in tune.
When they made the Jazz Harps a few years ago, which were country tuned harps, the quality and tuning was much better and more consistent.
I'm thinking about taking down my old Huang YouTube video, because it no longer reflects my feelings about Huangs. And you wouldn't believe the hateful comments I've received (and deleted) on that video, even though I plainly said that the two harps in that video were set-up at the factory.
Last Edited by on Jun 30, 2012 11:10 PM