Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > German harmonica makers
German harmonica makers
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Tom585
110 posts
Jan 07, 2020
10:12 AM
Germany is the major player in the invention, development and manufacturing of harmonicas and Hohner and Seydel are major harmonica companies today. Are there other German harmonica makers in business today?
Sarge
764 posts
Jan 08, 2020
3:48 AM
When I was a teenager I would sometimes buy a harmonica made by FR Holtz, which I think was a German made harp,cost less than a Hohner, but I don't know if they are still in operation.
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Tom585
111 posts
Jan 08, 2020
7:44 AM
Thanks, Sarge. I see a lot of new harmonica companies in other parts of the world but I don't know if there are other German companies these days beyond Hohner and Seydel.

I ask for a class I teach.
barbequebob
3630 posts
Jan 08, 2020
9:04 AM
Most of the German and Austrian harp companies were bought out by Hohner prior to WWII. If anyone has seen harmonicas under the Weltmeister name, which is an accordion manufacturer, they were all made by Seydel.
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Tom585
112 posts
Jan 08, 2020
11:40 AM
Thanks, Bob. I see that Weltmeister is in the same town as Seydel - Klingenthal. I don't see harmonicas on their website.
nacoran
10216 posts
Jan 08, 2020
12:40 PM
Hohner bought up the ones that were in Western Germany. The ones in Eastern Germany were consolidated too, and then when the Iron Curtain fell Seydel rose out of that.

Seydel has a history page on their site.

https://www.seydel1847.de/epages/Seydel1847.sf/?ObjectPath=/Shops/Seydel/Categories/About_us/Geschichte

Huang was started by Cham-Ber Huang in China, who was the top developer for Hohner prior to that. I think Hering has a similar history, and of course Hohner has done a lot of manufacturing in China and some of the factories seem to be launching their own lines now.

There is a company in the Czech Republic that does accordion reeds. There briefly were two companies in Brazil (Hering, which had some problems but is starting to do exports again, and Bends which went bankrupt.)

So the state of the industry is something like this-
-Hohner, Seydel (Germany)
-Suzuki, Tombo (Japan)
-Hering (Brazil)
-Kongsheng, Huang, Easttop (China... with a couple of them manufacturing cheaper brands as well)
-Bushman (stamped who knows where and put together in the U.S., at various times they had Suzuki and Seydel parts)
-DaBell (South Korea, although they have to be doing something with Kongsheng because their covers, stamping aside are identical)
-Yonberg (France, but using Seydel reeds, although they had an abortive attempt to make their own)

I've heard rumors of a Vietnamese company but don't know anything about them. Historically there have been Indian, Polish, Swedish?, Italian? and probably others. The last company to make them from the ground up in the U.S. was Harrison. Before there there was Kratt and Magnus (all plastic harmonicas!).

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
SuperBee
6420 posts
Jan 08, 2020
2:16 PM
I have some Weltmeister chromatics. Probably from the 90s. I expect they were cheap. They look cheap on the inside.

But they are Seydel anyway.

I don’t know any other German manufacturers outside Hohner and Seydel. Some of the companies bought by Hohner did continue to produce goods using the original trade name. The one which springs to mind is Koch, but there were others. I think Fr. Hotz was also in this boat.
There’s another I’ve seen too. Pohl I think was part of the name. I’ve seen these with different locations and the Hohner name mentioned on some and not others.

I expect Hohner would have gobbled up Seydel too if the Russians hadn’t separated their part of Germany from the British, French, American parts.
barbequebob
3631 posts
Jan 09, 2020
10:28 AM
I believe that Bushmans are now being made by Kongsheng and they've redone their Delta Frost line and they now also sell Kingsheng products.

There was another German or Austrian company that once made harmonicas called Hugo Rauner.

Some Hohner products were being made in factories in the Czech Republic as well as in Ireland.
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Sincerely,
Barbeque Bob Maglinte
Boston, MA
http://www.barbequebob.com
CD available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbmaglinte
shanester
585 posts
Jan 09, 2020
12:36 PM
A friend just popped in today and gave me a pair of old harmonicas. One is a Hohner Sportsman which I think is a tremelo and the other is a 10 hole chromatic by C.H. Meinel-Schlossmeinel.

Anyone heard of those?
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Shane,

"The Possum Whisperer"

Last Edited by shanester on Jan 09, 2020 4:59 PM
WinslowYerxa
1661 posts
Jan 09, 2020
2:57 PM
Hotz was one of the German companies bought up by Hohner and used as a nameplate for their lower priced (and lower quality) lines for awhile; same goes for Weiss.

For those interested, the book Harmonica Makers of Germany and Austria, by Martin Haeffner (curator of the Deutsches Harmonikamuseum) and Lars Lindenmueller, goes into a lot of of detail on the history of harmonica manufacturing in those nations.

https://www.akkordeonfreund.de/Harmonica-Makers-of-Germany-and-Austria_1

Rauner became part of a short-lived consortium that included Seydel and Boehm that tried to stand up to the dominance of Hohner in the 1920s.
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Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on Jan 09, 2020 2:58 PM
SuperBee
6424 posts
Jan 09, 2020
3:19 PM
Thank you for that link, Winslow. I’m trying to obtain an English language print of that book and it appears to be available. Now trying to sort out whether they’ll ship to me. Australia was left off the list but it may be unintentional.

EDIT: Have sorted out the book order. I’m very pleased as I was looking for this recently but had been unable to find an English language print.

Last Edited by SuperBee on Jan 11, 2020 2:09 PM
nacoran
10217 posts
Jan 09, 2020
5:32 PM
Forgot Swan out of China.

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
Tom585
113 posts
Jan 09, 2020
8:53 PM
The Seydel website says that more than 100 harmonica manufacturers grew in the Klingenthal, Germany area. I presume that is over many years. That is an amazing number in such a small area.
Blind Melon
114 posts
Jan 10, 2020
10:32 AM
I have a question.

If Seydel has been around since the early 1800's, as long or longer than Hohner, then why is it every noted Blues harmonica player from the beginning up through the 70's or 80's all played a Hohner?

I am referring to the A-List harp players (Little Walter, Big Walter, both Sonny Boys, etc.).

I am not talking about the likes of Charlie Musselwhite and James Cotton, who later on in their careers started playing Seydels, which may or may not had to do with getting all the free harps they want.

It seems like you would have seen the old-school players with something other than Hohners.

FWIW, I only play Hohner harps, mostly SP20.

Last Edited by Blind Melon on Jan 10, 2020 10:40 AM
groyster1
3510 posts
Jan 10, 2020
11:08 AM
think it was probably availability of hohners and seydels not being sold in stores......those greats from the past played marine bands and rice miller played old standby....
DanP
440 posts
Jan 10, 2020
11:22 AM
Did Seydel export to the USA before World War II ? I see lots of pre-war Hohners but pre-war Seydels must be rare in this country.

Last Edited by DanP on Jan 10, 2020 11:23 AM
SuperBee
6425 posts
Jan 10, 2020
11:34 AM
Pre war, Seydel were exporting to Australia but I think Hohner got into the US market early ish and had it tied up.
Post war, Seydel was behind the iron curtain and nothing was coming out of there. I don’t know about the rest of the world but we didn’t see exports from east Germany until the very early 80s.
I’m afraid I still associate Seydel with those products I saw in the early 80s. It’s very strange but I catch myself doing it whenever I’m working on a Seydel product. I can encounter a poorly finished Hohner product and I just get on with fixing it but every time I encounter a Seydel reed with a burr, or a slot which isn’t cleanly cut, a reedplate with a razor sharp burr, a reed with a twist or a dip which can’t be straightened, or a malformed screw, my mind heads down a ranting path of complaining about East German junk. I have to stop and bring it back but it takes a conscious effort.
I was a teenager when we started seeing this stuff from east Germany and I don’t even remember specifics apart from one MZ motorcycle, but I obviously formed a strong impression.
I don’t even know if this is true but an Alfa Romeo owner told me his 80s Alfa was made of Eastern European steel which is why it was so rust-prone. When he told me, I just happily absorbed the story as obviously true. I’m so prejudiced against them in this way and I’m only seeing it clearly right now.
DanP
441 posts
Jan 10, 2020
2:25 PM
Thanks, SuperBee. Speaking of the Iron Curtain, one of the few products from a communist country we saw here in America during the Cold War days was the Yugo car from Yugoslavia. It was junk and still the butt of jokes here.
DanP
442 posts
Jan 10, 2020
9:13 PM
SuperBee, I've read that the Great Depression effected Seydel badly and the company was kept afloat partially during that period by selling boomerang harmonicas to Australia. Do you or anybody here know if that is a prewar Seydel boomerang harmonica on the cover of Charlie Musselwhite's album Ace of Harps?
SuperBee
6427 posts
Jan 10, 2020
10:56 PM
I'm not sure if that one is a genuine prewar or not. They did release a replica at some time in fairly recent past.
Just did some checking and i now believe that Charlie's is likely a genuine vintage model. The reissue was 21st century and Ace Of Harps was released in 1990.

Yes, Albert's Music used to sell Seydel in Australia under their own trading names. There were a few models, including the Boomerang.

the harmonica was one of the popular instruments for schools at the time. My mother was in a harmonica band at school in the 30s. My dad was a few years older and he was allocated a fife when he started school in the 20s. We do see a few Seydel items turn up on ebay, but very few hohner diatonics of that era. plenty of Hohner chromatics though
nacoran
10218 posts
Jan 10, 2020
11:17 PM
I was reading on Vermona today. They were another one of the companies that got sucked up into the East Germany conglomerate.

"Goldon (Toy piano)
Weltmeister (accordions, electronic organs and electric pianos)
Regent (amplifiers and speakers)
Vermona (electronic organs and pianos)
Bandmaster (triolas, harmonicas and melodicas)"

F.A. Rauner was part of it too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VEB_Klingenthaler_Harmonikawerke

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
SuperBee
6428 posts
Jan 11, 2020
1:38 AM
i think these things i have are Vermona Weltmeister Chromatic Harmonicas.

http://www.slidemeister.com/forums/index.php?topic=3684.0

i have so many of them i must be able to make 1 playable unit. They are held together with (i believe they're called) drift pins. thats probably why i haven't fully investigated the possibility. need to investigate the process of getting those apart without causing damage.

Last Edited by SuperBee on Jan 11, 2020 2:02 AM
Thievin' Heathen
1190 posts
Jan 14, 2020
6:16 AM
For some reason I want to say that Bandmasters were East Side Seydels. Anyway, the one in my collection looks like it was made with washing machine parts.


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