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24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted

30 May 03 - 05:55 AM (#961732)

I am interested to know if it is possible to obtain relatively inexpensive diatonic harmonicas, preferably 24 hole, ie 3 octave, or at least with as many holes as possible.

I already have two such 24 hole models, one in the key of C and one in D. The former is a Chinese made "Hero" and the latter by the famous Hohner; however I have to say that I much prefer the former as the latter has several rather sticky reeds in among some of the lower notes. One's lips also seem to glide faster along the Chinese model for some reason.

I would be particularly interested in ones in the keys of G, A, E, B, C#, and F# if available. I live in the UK but would be prepared to order from the USA, etc, if the carriage costs were not too excessive.

As to prices, I am talking roughly about in the range of £10-£20 Sterling ($16-$32).

Any help anyone could give me would be much appreciated; even second hand would be considered.

30 May 03 - 06:10 AM (#961738)
From: Larkin

I can offer you an 18 hole golf course!

30 May 03 - 08:54 AM (#961814)
From: Dead Horse

Rosin yer lips, mate. It helps!

30 May 03 - 09:43 AM (#961840)
From: GUEST,fenman

Yes I have a Hero tremelo in C which is a nice and easy blow, but I find the Hohner Weekender as easy and a little crisper though it's shorter.
If seriously looking, try Ebay which is very heavy with new and used harmonicas at some really good prices, problem is you dont get to blow before you buy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

30 May 03 - 09:57 AM (#961854)
From: Dave the Gnome

There are a number of online music shops (Hobgoblin, The Music Room etc.) Certainly worth a try. I also spotted a coupel of dedicated Harminica sites but not really being an expert I am not sure what to recommend.

Do a google search of Harmonicas for sale in the UK and see where it leads:-)


Dave the Gnome

11 Dec 06 - 01:12 PM (#1906519)

3 and a half years after originally starting the thread (and also finding that several sellers of musical instruments failed to reply to my queries by E-mail or letter), I finally got what I wanted from the Really Useful Music Company in Co. Durham, England (which I actually came across via E-bay). After getting a 24 hole "Swan" Tremolo Harmonica in the Key of "G" (probably the most useful Key to play in, at least I find that is what the largest fraction of tunes at local informal music sessions are played in) from them for less than £10 Sterling, I recently got a box of 12 Swan Tremolo Harmonicas in each of the 12 keys from C to B (including sharps) for about £60 Sterling (£65.98 including postage) which works out at about £5 Sterling each.

The harps are Chinese made and come in a sturdy black box a bit like a thin briefcase with a handle, and also have a cloth to wipe them with. The tone is quite good although (and this seems to happen a lot with cheaper harmonicas, even Hohner) several of them have minor faults on 1 or 2 of the lower notes on the lowest of the 3 octaves, ie the reeds do not sound as loud as the others, make a slight buzzing sound or may perhaps be slightly out of tune (although with tremolo harmonicas, the 2 reeds (above and below) are tuned deliberately a little out from each other to produce the tremolo effect. The tuning is I believe called Eastern or Asian tuning (which is what I was used to so didn't have to learn a new system); this is different from the Richter tuning on blues harps, etc.

For the level I play at this doesn't matter too much especially at the price. If I was a professional of course I would be spending a lot more. As I already had a C, D, A & G harmonica this means that I now have spare ones for each of these, useful as eventually a harmonica may give up the ghost (this happened a few weeks ago with my Chinese Hero Tremolo Harmonica in the Key of C, due not to failure of reeds but to one of the partitions surrounding the reeds becoming loose; it would be a pity to throw it out as I actually prefer the flatter shape at the mouth end but I can't see how I could fix it - any ideas?).

The details are as below. Service is fairly quick and I found them helpful on the phone.


Really Useful Music Co. (R.U.M.C) | PO Box 30 | Imex Center | Station Lane | Birtley | Chester - le - Street | Co. Durham | DH3 1QT | United Kingdom   
T. (+ 44) 0 191 410 8080 | F.   


Living in Northern Ireland I have no connection with the company except as a satisfied customer. They also do stringed and wind instruments and various accessories, etc.

Sorry I can't do blue clickies (but you can easily paste the above into your web browser or E-mail program).

I thought that the above might be of interest to budding harmonica players on a limited budget.

11 Dec 06 - 07:18 PM (#1906914)
From: Bob Bolton

G'day GUEST (... presumably the BUTTERFLY of the original posting ...?),

I missed the short run of this thread back in 2003... Maybe I was off on holidays! I presume that when you refer to "24 hole harmonicas" you mean the ones that have 24 holes laterally and a dividing comb vertically ... so that I always think of them as "48 hole harmonicas". I first encountered these around 1965, here in Sydney Australia, when Chinese "Hero" brand models appeared in the local Woolworths store (in the key of C only!) for 6/- (six shillings = 60¢ in Australia ... 30p in UK).

The "called Eastern or Asian tuning" was, apparently, introduced by Hohner when they had a harmonica factory in China, before WW2. The Chinese preference for straight melody ... and disinterest in "Western harmonies" drove the replacement of the Richter tunings repeated 'dominant' - to give the dominant / dominant 7th chord on the draw - with the formerly missing relative minor note ... shifted one place left!

The machinery left behind started the "Hero" band off post WW2, but they have expanded facilities since. It's interesting to hear that they can supply a set in all major keys. I quite like belting out a rich tremolo on these models ... occasionally - but I really like the octave-tuned ("Organ-tuning") models such as Hohner's magnificent, double-sided, "Comet", which I have in a handy G/C tuning. Unfortunately, the last time I saw one for sale (about 4 or 5 years back!) it was Aus$180!

I must do some web-searching for someone closer to this side of the world that handles something like the "Swan" tremolo harmonica set you obtained ... and wishing that they might do a few sets in "Organ" tuning!

There was a recent thread from a Catter asking about cleaning up an old Hohner "Comet" double-sided tremolo ... that had been tarted up with a liberal dose of "Old Spice" aftershave to cover the 'musty' smell of a badly stored instrument. The poster got a plethora of useless comment and 'advice' from posters who mostly had no idea of any sort of harmonica other than "blues harps" and chromatics!

BTW: I seem to remeber seeing an old tremolo (probably 20/40 holes ... and either Japanese or Chinese origins) actually branded "BUTTERFLY" ... was that the origin of the earlier Mud-name?



11 Dec 06 - 07:27 PM (#1906924)
From: Mr Happy


Thanks a lot for that link.

I too have been searching years for them in other keys, having had only a number in C only.

12 Dec 06 - 03:58 PM (#1907688)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted

Yes, I suppose one could argue that they are actually 48 hole harmonicas, although the sellers/manufacturers call them 24 hole ones. I think there are also 36 (or 72 if you prefer) hole harmonicas. Strangely I would have thought that Western Music was more melody oriented!

I imagine as China is closer to Australia than the UK, if these Chinese Swan harmonicas are sold in the UK there will also be a dealer or importer to Australasis. I actually first heard of this brand when looking for harmonicas on E-bay; in fact there was a set of the same 12 Swan Tremolo harps being auctioned at substantially less than the normal price. I made a couple of bids which were accepted but due to a mysterious technical glitch (for some reason E-bay would not accept my password although it had earlier) I was outbid near the end and couldn't do anything about it. However it was thus that I heard about RUMC and have ended up buying the set anyway although I did have to pay more. If you want "Organ tuned" harmonicas you may be able to get one via E-bay.

The thread was indeed started by me several years ago posting as "BUTTERFLY" but this was nothing to do with the brand of harmonica (I chose it because I have an interest in Butterflies, but perhaps should have chosen something else, as it has led some people to assume I was female instead of male!).

12 Dec 06 - 10:11 PM (#1907999)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: Bob Bolton

G'day again "The GUEST who was called BUTTERFLY",

Thanks for passing on the contacts you have made. I had a quick google round the www and found a number of interesting sites - including one that seemed to have similar sets of organ / octave tuned harmonicas ("octave" is the better word to search) ... but I haven't been able to get the search result URL to open ... even though the last examples in the "Cache" were as recent as early December 2006.

I'll try again, when I have a chance.

I didn't find any Australian dealers ... generally I find it simplest (& cheapest) to buy direct from American dealers / sites. Service is generally good, prices low (often, in other areas, such as books, less than half the cost of UK sites!) I did buy a complete 12 major keys set of vamper harmonicas (10-hole / 20 reed vampers) ... all in a reinforced, fitted, cloth case and it came in under Aust$100 ... about Aust$8.00 per harmonica. That was an American site ... but they don't advertise and sets of tremolo harmonicas, let alone octave ones!



12 Dec 06 - 10:41 PM (#1908014)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: Bob Bolton

G'day yet again "The GUEST who was BUTTERFLY",

I missed replying to your remark: "I would have thought that Western Music was more melody oriented!". I think that the Chinese had reached an "orchestral" approach to constructing large group music long before the Western world "invented" it. They claim to have been using the 'tempered scale' millennia before us.

The Richter tuning gives best treatment to two of the original 'Gregorian" modes ... the one that became our standard "major" scale ... plus Gregorian mode #1: the Dorian, which is what you get when you start and finish on the draw hole #4. That mode remains popular in areas of old (ie, 'dark & gloomy') Catholicism - particulary northern Europe (where the mouthorgans came from) and Ireland.



30 Jan 07 - 10:36 PM (#1953106)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: Bob Bolton

G'day even yet again "The GUEST who was BUTTERFLY",

Last weekend I went down to the Illawarra Folk Festival at Bulli, south of Sydney. Mitch of Oz Whistles had (as well a vast array of whistles = from AU$6.50 'Clarke' Megs ... to AU$650.00 hand-crafted (65,00)-penny whistles) one example of a Chinese "24-hole" (I still maintain there are 48 holes!) harmonica, branded Huang, in Organ (Octave) tuning. Unfortunately there was only the one ... and it was in the key of C major.

I don't know if Cham Ber Huang has prevailed on the Chinese harmonica plant to do the model in any other keys ... but "Huang" branded harmonicas are, generally, of better design / style / intent than the run of the mill models.



31 Jan 07 - 07:12 AM (#1953347)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: bubblyrat

I use a 21 hole Japanese " TOMBO " brand. Other models vary between 16 & 30 holes, & I am afraid they are not cheap----mine cost 67 pounds !! But the octaves are "full" ,so you can play the same tunes that you could on a tin-whistle. Also,being Japanese,they are extremely well made,& have a lovely tone.At that price,you probably won"t want a box-full of "em, so I guess one in the key of G should suffice for most pub-type "sessions ". But if other keys are your bag, well,my Tombo (it"s called a "Band" model) is available in 12 major,12 minor, & 12 natural minor keys.And they don"t fall apart after a month !! I bought mine from " The Music Room" in Oxford . Tombo"s website is    ----Go for it !!!

31 Jan 07 - 07:34 AM (#1953372)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: skipy

What about fastening 2 12 holes one together with black tape?

31 Jan 07 - 04:19 PM (#1953864)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: Alec

I also use a 24 hole chinese, a product of the deeply implausible sounding Hsing Hai company.
It is a very cheap instrument & yet has a more pleasing tone than some Hohners & some Yamahas.
As to how many keys they are available in I do not know, but they are not uncommon in gift shops new age shops Flea Markets etc.
Worth looking out for.

26 Apr 09 - 05:06 PM (#2619245)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted

I have just bought a 24 hole Tower Chinese chomatic harmonica

02 Feb 10 - 05:08 PM (#2828486)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: GUEST,nunu

I have just ordered a 24 hole Tower Chinese chomatic harmonica
i owned a similar harmonica but it was spoiled.... waiting for the new one!

02 Feb 10 - 06:50 PM (#2828581)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: olddude

Dang, there was an estate sale here it town and they had 4 of them German made ... I had no interest, I could have got them nearly free
wish I knew

24 May 10 - 09:40 PM (#2913592)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: GUEST,rosalindnie

Please check out this link for 24 Hole Harmonicas

25 May 10 - 05:53 AM (#2913802)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: bubblyrat

I believe that there was also Lee Key boat builder in China ? Anyway, I try to avoid Chinese harmonicas,as I would always be afraid of ingesting a detached reed on the "suck". I have had a lot of experience in the camping / outdoor field (no pun intended), and I long ago discovered that the words "Quality" and "Control" seem to be missing from the Chinese language. I expect that their Nukes work OK,though ??

25 May 10 - 05:53 AM (#2913803)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: Mr Happy

Doesn't say what key its in

25 May 10 - 09:59 AM (#2913921)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: Les from Hull

They are in C (only), and they are excellent to play. The Chinese have centuries of experience in making free-reed instruments. The late Will Atkinson (of the Shepherds) used to play his solos on one. It was his favourite and suited his playing style perfectly.

13 Jun 10 - 05:56 PM (#2927035)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: Tootler

I was searching the Internet for something else the other day and I came across the Hohner Celeste. According to the info on one site: The Celeste harmonica is the latest in the range of Hohner tremolos, it has twenty four double reeds mounted on a plastic comb, comes in a wide range of tuning options, and is tuned in complete octaves.

It's reasonably priced and appears to be available in all 12 keys.

09 Dec 10 - 04:48 PM (#3049922)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted

Someone already gave the best answer for 24 hole tremolo harmonicas. RUMC in England had a set of 12 tremolo harmonicas (one each key) in a box. They are now about 86lbs British Sterling or about $122 USD plus a fee to convert about 6 or 7 dollars from USD to BPS. These peopel may also be found on Ebay. Super people and you can pay with paypal. The harmonicas are SWAN INCONCEIVABAL models and they are unbelievable professional quality instruments. Vented covers plastic combs and good strong brass reeds. Tuning is precise and the resonance is to dye for... I've been playing tremolo harmonicas for a few years now... about 50 and these are really unbelievable... I hope that you find them a treat to play...


09 Dec 10 - 08:14 PM (#3050046)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: Steve Shaw

With tremolo harmonicas you absolutely get what you pay for. Hohner Echos are good but they do have delicate wood combs and are perversely tuned at the low end. Go for Suzukis or Tombos every time. Don't say I didn't tell you. There's no such thing as a free Chinese lunch.

25 Dec 10 - 02:17 AM (#3061003)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: GUEST,Guest

I was just given by my grandfather, a 24 hole (or 48 hole if you like) Tower Harmonica. Knowing nothing of Harmonica's, i decided i would accept the offer and see if i could play something. I love the sound this makes, and i think its fun to just fiddle around with notes on it.

02 Apr 11 - 01:41 AM (#3126722)
Subject: RE: 24 Hole Harmonicas Wanted
From: GUEST,Razor

Swan makes several grades of harmonicas one can buy a set in the UK and now in the USA at a very reasonable price. The ones that are the best are the SW24-12T set or the SW24-6 which is the same as in the set with the brass reeds. THe SW24H are the high performance bronze reeds but are not as good as the brass reeds of the INCONCEIVABLE models. The price is about (actually less than) $10.00 per harmonica from the UK and in the US a bit more and you have to wait for the non-high performance models. The covers are vented, top and bottom and they are very resonant and response is quick. Tuning is very good and in a year of playing they have held up very well. The high performance bronze reeds are gaped too open and very hard to play as well as when you gap them closer they are still hard to play and take excessive air. Response of the 1st 5 holes is poor at best. Gap these reed any closer and they will not sound....

China produces both Suzuki and Hohner reeds and harmonicas.... so China really does have some good harmonicas. I just haven't played some of the other manufacturers instruments to gauge the quality.