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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Koch Richter tuned Chromatic
Koch Richter tuned Chromatic
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8 posts
Oct 09, 2023
3:02 PM
Picked up this Koch chromatic that is in amazing condition and appears to be made in the 30's
I was surprised to find that it is Richter tuned !

Can play 2nd position just like a diatonic plus get some 1/2 steps with the slide

Anybody else come across something like this

It is very cool

Last Edited by Slickone on Oct 09, 2023 2:51 PM
3703 posts
Oct 10, 2023
8:33 AM
Those have been out of production since 2014 and they have always been tuned that way and also, unlike most chromatics, they're also tuned to 7 limit just intonation whereas most chromatics are tuned to equal temperament. Little Walter uses one on one of his classic tunes, Oh Baby. Below is Little Walter using that chromatic, which was tuned to the key of C, playing it in the key of Ab, with the slide pressed in:

Barbeque Bob Maglinte
Boston, MA
CD available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbmaglinte

Last Edited by barbequebob on Oct 10, 2023 8:45 AM
9 posts
Oct 10, 2023
11:07 AM
I am enjoying its versatility and going to look for one in C also ( the one I have is in G)
65 posts
Oct 14, 2023
8:22 PM
There are a lot of untapped possibilities with that harmonica.

I suggest you Google Mitch Weiss. Great guy, great harmonica player and always willing to share information on his approach to the harmonica.
3138 posts
Oct 15, 2023
6:30 AM
Mitch likes the 10 hole chromatic in Standard tuning, but he adds a note on hole 3–don’t remember which note he alters, but it a button note.
156 posts
Oct 16, 2023
11:25 AM
I have a Koch 10-hole chromatic in the key of C that I was told by a reliable source was brought to the United States after World War II. It plays remarkably well. I don't know when it was made. Does anyone know how it's age can be identified, or anything else about it?

The Koch was given to me by Pete DuPre, a US soldier in WW II. Pete's brother was also a soldier in WW II and gave several harmonicas, including the Koch, to Pete after he returned from Germany several years after the end of the war.

Pete died several years ago at the age of 99. He played harmonica his whole life and became well known in the harmonica world (mostly from YouTube) in his 90s for playing at veterans events and sports events. He never played the chromatic, always an echo harmonica. I was honored to play at his funeral.

Last Edited by Tom585 on Oct 16, 2023 11:26 AM
1798 posts
Oct 23, 2023
10:57 AM
Hohner acquired Koch around 1930, and redesigned the 980 model to conform with Hohner's own 10-hole 260 chromatic - you sometimes see photos of the pre-Hohner Koch 980 and it looks very different.

The 980 has always been tuned like a diatonic, as were Hohner's 260 models for several years, though there are overlapping periods when you could bet them in three different configurations: diatonic tuned, solo tuned starting on middle C, and starting on E above middle C.

Aside from the pre-Hohner Koch models, I don't know of any distinguishing marks that changed over the years on the 980. Even the paper box remained the same well into the 1960s. For awhile in the 1980s Hohner marketed a valved version as the Slide harp, with a wraparound plastic pouch similar to the ones used for XB-40 and the Steve Baker Special.
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Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on Oct 23, 2023 10:46 AM
1799 posts
Oct 23, 2023
10:59 AM
@barbecuebob - the 980 went out of production in 2013, not 2014. I was told about this in the fall of 2013 in Germany by a Hohner employee. The Autovalve, the 14-hole #365 and the 14-hole SBS built on the 365 frame were all discontinued that year.
Harmonica lessons with one of the world's foremost experts
Check out my blog and other goodies at winslowyerxa.com
Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition with tons of new stuff
7094 posts
Oct 25, 2023
8:45 PM
BTW, Hohner may still have parts for those discontinued models. I have some 260s and the Koch 980. I ordered a new wooden body for one of the 260s and they sent me the equivalent part for the Koch. When I wrote to them they sent me the correct part. This was some years after they stopped selling the complete harps, maybe 2018 or even later.
7095 posts
Oct 25, 2023
9:23 PM
Another BTW; another great blues record which features the Standard tuned 10 hole chromatic, played in Ab, is Sonny Boy (Miller) Williamson’s “Dissatisfied”.

Martin Lang is a good person to talk to about them.
The Koch has no valves. The body has fins dividing the chambers in an effort to make them a little more air-efficient. I think a half-valved 260 is a good option if you want to get double reed bends.
67 posts
Nov 03, 2023
4:30 PM
Mitch adds the missing A and Bb in the bottom octave so the only missing note is the F#. I have a couple of Koch retuned this way. It’s a very nice layout…I should put more time into it.
429 posts
Nov 05, 2023
8:04 AM
This thread caused me to take a look at a chromatic that a friend gave me (it was his father's I think). I had not really looked at it because I'm not much of a chromatic or third position guy.
First thing, I see it's a 10-hole; then I pick it up and it's Richter tuned!! How cool.
Brown box, cover plate says "The 'Chromonica'" (just chromnica in quotes on the cover. The box cover has gold print; CHROMONICA is curved (smile-like) with green beams coming out from "the." M.Hohner is in green print to the right with small beams coming out from top and bottom. Inside box top has a blue and gold diamond-shaped (flattened) graphic with 5 arches and a female dancer. Inside bottom of box has label with M.Hohner in profile on left with red, white and blue vertical strips behind him. Some text is on right ending with boldface "(M.Hohner) M.Hohner,Inc., N,Y., Successors." (definitely looks like a comma after the N)
Ah, no 5 draw, no 10 draw - I can usually fix this on a diatonic -- not sure if it will be easy on a chrom.

Edit: center of bottom cover plate has six-pointed star between the hands.
Latest award on bottom cover plate is 1937 Grand Prix Paris.

Last Edited by TetonJohn on Nov 05, 2023 8:54 AM
3139 posts
Nov 18, 2023
9:57 PM
One of these just showed up for repair—looks to be the same vintage.
The slide, back plate and cage are brass—what year did they stop doing that and go to the nickel plating?
Big ass crack in the comb . . .
298 posts
Nov 24, 2023
10:04 PM
I picked one up very reasonably 10 years ago. In great cosmetic condition and pristine box. It didn’t play as well as desired so I got an Extreme PowerComb from Brendan Powers and had some work done in addition to replacing the comb. I haven’t used it much and after hearing what Mitch Weiss does with a similar harp may never play mine in public. I’m used to playing diatonic, so there’s some learning involved to get the most out of it. It’s fun to play.

Last Edited by BnT on Nov 24, 2023 10:17 PM
26 posts
Apr 13, 2024
5:03 PM
Check out the new JDR Trochilus harmonica! It is a valveless 10-hole with a button, offering a number of color coded configurations including:

- Richter Tuned (they call it Blues tuning) in color blue comb (1/2 step up with the button)
- Paddy Richter - Red Comb
- Solo Tuning - Yellow Comb (valveless chromatic)

I have the Richter tuned and am impressed with the quality and air tightness. It's like the old Hohner Koch (a Richter diatonic with a button when pressed brings you up a half-step that is referred to here), but not stiff and leaky like the Koch was. It bends like a regular diatonic with the added advantage of pressing the button and getting a 1/2 step up.

Brendan Powers is considering creating Gasket Valves for this harp. I use his Gasket valve system on all my diatonics and they are excellent.

I know that the JDR Trochilus Richter tuned (like the Koch) gives me many of the notes already (with the button 1/2 step up), so why need the half-valved options? Why the redundancy? Well, it's the expressive note bending offered by half-valving that I love, and having more options for notes with the Richter tuned Trochilus button would be a great combination.


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