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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > FYI: Hohner Orchester Vereins-Harmonika
FYI: Hohner Orchester Vereins-Harmonika
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581 posts
Aug 31, 2009
2:57 PM
Besides some rusty Blues Harps and Big River there are two harmonica models that you find a lot of on the old, used harp market here in germany (and the german speaking area). These are the

- "Hohner Piccolo" and the
- "Hohner Orchester Vereins-Harmonika"

whereas, to my knowledge the first one is still in production, I'm quite sure that the second is not and so I bought a couple of them.

"Orchester Vereins-Harmonika" translated means something like "Club Band Harmonica". It has one feature, that I hadn't seen before. The comb is unsealed, however a strip of metal shields the wood from the moisture.

Besides the fact that it comes with nails, the dimensions of the harp and the design of the lower coverplate are very similar (the same?) as the marine band. The shape of the coverplates are different to the marine band though, they are flatter and less rounded and there are no vents on the sides.

I replaced the nails with screws and sealed the comb of the harp on the pictures below. Cleaned it a little, but didn't play it yet, so I can't say anything about the sound.

Did any of you ever hear of that harp/own it/played it?

What are the old harps that you find used (on ebay, fleemarket, etc.) locally. I know that the Marine Band is quite common in the US, I haven't seen one here in Germany though. How about you guys in Britain? France, South America, Malaysia...

This one is another of the same model (also C) (from 50s or 60s), still with nails, and also otherwise untouched.

My "collection".

germanharpist, harpfriends on Youtube

Last Edited by on Sep 01, 2009 5:55 PM
139 posts
Aug 31, 2009
11:49 PM
I've been wondering about them. I see them alot on ebay. are they tuned the same as MB's? Let me know how they play.
306 posts
Sep 01, 2009
1:52 PM
Yeah GH I have one of these as well...bought it off ebay.co.uk. Its very similar to the "Song Band Vamper" which also has a metal covering around the comb. I also have a couple of these which I again bought from the UK ebay site and they still play beautifully. I haven't done anything to them except clean them. Got a couple of Cs and a G. They were pretty cheap when I bought them a couple of years ago but I've seen a few advertised recently where people want about £25 (about 32 euros?).

The Song band Vampers are all pre-war (Star on the back) but the Orchester Vereins-Harmonika doesn't.

I also have about 20 Super Vampers which were the European Version of the MB until the 70s. These come up now and again on ebay and most of the ones I've got have been in good condition with a few clunkers. The best one I have is a pre-war C edition which I think plays better than a modern MB. I've been trying to collect all the keys of these ones and I'm still looking for an Ab and Db. I actually found a Bb one on the US ebay site!
They come in blue cases but I found a couple of the cases are actually red underneath. It seems like Hohner re-labelled them with exactly the same information but in a different colour .

I also have a smaller collection of "Echo Vampers" which were again the European version of the MB 364s
with "Bell Metal Reeds" These don't seem to come up as much on ebay.

Have you seen any of these type in Germany?

You did a nice job on that harp by the way. The wood comb looks like its made of mahogany...really nice colour.


Last Edited by on Sep 01, 2009 1:56 PM
586 posts
Sep 01, 2009
6:09 PM
I didn't know, but the two harps that I took pictures of are both actually prewar (if I had known I wouldn't have butchered the one...).

Another fact I had forgotten, I think that the holes in the reed plates are at the same place as the Marine Band. Also, I thought about it: the metal strip, besides maybe shielding off the moisture it probably also keeps the tines from warping too much..

What about the Vamper, how much does it resemble the marine band? Do you have pictures by any chance?

Could it be that the vereins orchester is simply the german version of the marine band. (god... hear my prayers :)

@Bluezdud: I found a thread about it on a german forum. And as always with harp: one said they played good, the other one said they play like crap. I'll be able to tell you once I've got that ultrasonic cleaner (they're all juk ... :-& ).

my YT channel. Also check out (and feel free to contribute) to the mbh-forum YT channel -> harpfriends.

Last Edited by on Sep 01, 2009 6:17 PM
308 posts
Sep 02, 2009
2:49 AM
GH..here's a link to an article about the Super Vamper from Pat Missins site. It's exactly the same as a MB except for the design on the top cover.


166 posts
Sep 02, 2009
1:37 PM
I post this link I found on flicker whenever I anyone talks about old harps. Sorry if it gets repetitive, but I love these harp pics.


Oooo... check this out too...


Last Edited by on Sep 02, 2009 2:07 PM
146 posts
Oct 29, 2010
1:09 PM
I have an old harp somewhere,slips my mind,but the key is Hb. Is H a note in Europe?
1408 posts
Oct 29, 2010
1:20 PM
The Piccolo model was also known in the US as the Vest Pocket Harp and I've got two of those and in keys of High G and High A (the only model that this tuning was ever available in), but the high A hasn't been available in at least a decade or more.

The Orchester models used to be around in the US fairly frequently until the late 80's and most of them were all tuned to minor keys (the key marking was still in 1st position like all other diatonics) and I believe they were all in natural minor and just tuned minor.

Once in a great while, you'll see the original Marine Band Soloist (not the 364S they have now, which is a really lousy playing replacement for it) and also its companion model known as the School Band, which was also available in the key of G. Both of these are solo tuned (like a chromatic).

Even rarer is a model called the Navy Band, which was, if memory serves me correct, the first plastic combed harmonica ever made by Hohner and the precursor of the Golden Melody.

The Echo Vamper, which I have but the 10 hole version, is the exact same thing as the Marine Band before Hohner decided to sell it in Europe around the early 70's, and pprior to that, the Marine Band was only sold in the USA, but again, they're the same harmonica, just different cover plate engraving on the top cover plate.
Barbeque Bob Maglinte
Boston, MA
CD available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbmaglinte
944 posts
Oct 29, 2010
2:03 PM
-i have two ochester vereins harps-(an Am and Em) i bought around 1980.

they are tuned to a harmonic minor(forget about playing blues on them) and are kind of fun for playing 1st position stuff. i like to mess with prokofiev's suite for leutenant kije- but that piece changes keys about 4 times.---------
hibachi cook for the yakuza
doctor of semiotics
superhero emeritus

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