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Marine Band MS
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Kevin K Wise
1 post
Feb 28, 2024
7:49 PM
I recently bought a brand new Marine Band G from Germany. It's an older model and seems a bit bulkier. It also has MS engraved on it which none of my other nine do....any info?
SuperBee
7102 posts
Feb 28, 2024
9:15 PM
Ha, I mentioned this in my post on the Hohner Juke harmonica thread a day or two ago.
I don’t know the exact year Hohner introduced the MS range of harps but part of the plan was to get rid of the Marine Band 1896 (aka ‘Classic’) and replace it with an MS edition. This didn’t just apply to the Marine Band. They also made MS Special 20, Pro Harp and Blues Harp.
Apparently when they did user acceptance testing for the Marine Band, it was not well-accepted especially in the United States. I believe the MS Marine Band never made it to market in the US. I’m not sure about the Special 20.
There were some MS Marine Bands and Special 20s sold in the Rest of the World (ROTW) though. I know I purchased a MS Special 20 in the early mid 90s, probably ‘94. It was a really terrible harp to play. I still have it. Mark Prados (RIP, MP) did some work on it for me and it’s ok now.
The MS Marine Band didn’t last too long either. I am in Australia and I know they were sold here but I have only ever seen 2 examples.
The cover plate design intended for the MS Marine Band was used for a brand new Hohner MS model; the Big River. The Big River uses an ABS comb though, so is different in that way from the MS Marine Band. I reckon they sound much the same though.
Kevin K Wise
2 posts
Feb 29, 2024
2:44 AM
This MS has a really big sound. Two draw whole step bend is a bit harder to wrangle but it does seem like a decent harp. Combs double lacquered. Thank you for your info.
barbequebob
3708 posts
Feb 29, 2024
10:19 AM
I was one of those players who tested the prototype of the MS Marine Band and it was damned close to unanimous that all of us who tried it absolutely HATED IT, and several very prominent pros that had endorsement deals with Hohner wrote tons of stinging letters to them including threatening to ditch their endorsement deals with them and so the MS Marine Band never got issued here in the US. The early editions of the entire MS series in general wasn't done well, but beginning in 1996, Hohner began doing complete overhauls of their entire line of products (which took decades to finally get things right) and on just the entire MS series alone, the stuff made after 1995 were far better playing instruments as a whole.

The MS Marine Band combs are the exact same combs that were used on the MS Blues Harp model and they used a wood called doussie from Africa, and the reason that they chose it was because they didn't have a production line method for sealing combs and thus that wood was chosen because it was more resistant to swelling than the pearwood combs used in the non MS stuff, but under the right conditions, those combs still could swell.

It's only in the last five or so years that Hohner finally fully sealed all of their combs right out from the factory, something they resisted doing for many decades until the Hering 1923 Vintage Harp came out in 2003 with their combs fully sealed from the factory.

After the bad reception Hohner received in the US for the MS Marine Band, they never issued a prototype or issued the MS Special 20 at all here in the US.

If anyone wants to see what an MS Marine Band is like, you can either get the MS Blues Harp model and replace the cover plates with the Big River model coverplates or use a Big River harp and switch the plastic comb from that model to the one being used on the MS Blues Harp model.
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Sincerely,
Barbeque Bob Maglinte
Boston, MA
http://www.barbequebob.com
CD available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbmaglinte
florida-trader
1585 posts
Mar 04, 2024
5:28 AM
I echo most of what barbquebob had to say. I don't know about whether the MS Marine Band was ever released in the U.S. or not. I'll take his word for it. In my travels I have managed to accumulate at least one MS Marine Band, one MS Special 20 and one MS Special 20. I could post photos if you guys want me to.

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Tom Halchak
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Blue Moon Harmonicas
nacoran
10435 posts
Mar 06, 2024
12:45 PM
That would be cool Tom. :)

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SuperBee
7109 posts
Mar 21, 2024
4:48 AM
I’ve just had a MS Special 20 land on my bench this week. I think I’m not gonna repair it. It must be close to 30 years old.
I sent one away to Mark (RIP) in Hawaii to be repaired once. It came back with a new (used) reed plate. Mark said those rivets were too hard to deal with. I learned what he meant when I tried to get original MS rivets out. I just ruined the reed plate. The original MS rivets have a comparatively massive shop head. They are stuck in really tight.
It’s so long since I’ve seen one of these, I can’t be certain but I think I remember Hohner changed the reed dimensions of the MS harps at some point, so it’s likely I don’t even have a suitable reed. Hohner don’t supply individual reeds for MS harps, only pairs of reedplates.
So I think it’s the end of the road for this MS Sp20 unless I follow Mark’s example and use an entire reed plate. Ahh, I’ll hunt through the boneyard. Maybe I have one with some life left in it.
barbequebob
3711 posts
Mar 21, 2024
10:32 AM
The first few years of the entire MS series, from my own experience with them, was that they didn't play all that well and a big part of it was the fact that they used short slot reeds no matter what the key was, which is what many Asian harp makers always used to use until the introduction of the Suzuki Manji, which used long slot reeds, and because the reeds are set much farther away from the player, and when you combined those two factors, bending notes on them for even the most skilled players was a challenge.

In 1995, they began using long slot reeds for some harps, medium slot for some, and short slot for the very high pitched models, and that's when they began to play noticeably better.

The reed plates for the Blues Harp, Pro Harp, and Big River model will fit in with either the MS Marine BAnd or MS Special 20 because those reed plates are exactly the same. However, if you want to upgrade any of the MS harps, you can order a set of reed plates for the MS Cross Harp model, which uses a slightly thicker reed plate, or maybe the more expensive MS Meisterklasse reed plates.

Most customizers that I've ever been in contact with have never particularly liked working on the MS series stuff at all.
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Sincerely,
Barbeque Bob Maglinte
Boston, MA
http://www.barbequebob.com
CD available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbmaglinte
SuperBee
7110 posts
Mar 21, 2024
5:29 PM
Thanks BBQ Bob. Yeah these days they use 2 templates for high vs lower key harps, much like the Marine band but the difference is less marked. On a marine band key C the 6 slot is the same dimensions as the 4 slot of a key Db, whereas on the MS I’m pretty sure the move is only one slot apart ie the 5 slot on C is same as 4 slot Db. I made a chart of all this stuff and shared it here at some point but it’s a while ago and I have been on a break from harp work; just starting to get back into it.
I’m not sure how much work Neil Graham is doing these days; he was one of the original Filisko approved Hohner endorsed customisers, and his top of the line product was based on MS Meisterklasse reed plates on a custom comb. I don’t remember which covers he used but they were from the MS range. Maybe Blues Harp covers. I had one here with a busted reed once because the owner had used up their one free repair and didn’t want to pay $80 for Neil to fix it. I remember I had the devil of a time making a reed fit.
But yeah, Neil is the only guy I know who really favoured them. I know Tom Halchak offered a ‘Rob Paparozzi’ special Big River with brass comb a while ago but I think that was a short term deal.


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