Hohner "Chimes" 1924-1936

Hello all,

This is my first post on the forum. I have recently inherited my great-grandfather’s Hohner Chimes harmonica (in the key of C and G). I know nothing about this harp/harmonica’s in general and was looking for a little insight. It is in beautiful condition and I am really keen on learning to play. I can’t find much general info online about it though :/. Is it didactic or chromatic or tremolo or octave? Is it better for blues or rock or what? Do you blow/draw in both the top and corresponding bottom holes simultaneously or do different songs warrent differnet blowing/drawing of just the top/just the bottom hole. While it has 12 holes across, it seems like 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, 9/10, 11/12 holes are the same; ie. I believe it makes 6 sounds, not 12 but I could be mistaken. Again, I know absolutely nothing about this harp and can barely find any info about it online. Anything you have to offer would be great!

Thanks,
Henry

I believe that you have a tremolo harmonica in two keys (one on each side). It was made during during a great time in harmonica history. By 1925 the manufacturing process was pretty solid. Harmonica designs had been pretty well refined. Reed production was very consistant and the metal formulation was phenomenal in my humble opinion. Harmonicas from this time period are my favorites in terms of tone. On your harp each note has two reeds tuned slightly out of pitch with eachother in order to create the “tremolo” effect. It is best suited for 1st position (key of song =key of harmonica with number 4 hole blow being that note) “straight” playing. Although there are no rules that say you can’t play blues or rock with it (thankfully). Be gentle with that old honey of a harp. If you want to draw bend and wail on some blues and rock then I suggest you get yourself a regular 10 hole 20 reed diatonic harmonica. Ie: hohner special 20, marine band, or golden melody. If you want to try one and don’t want to spend so much consider a suzuki folkmaster or a huang star performer they are both pretty decent and cost about half as much. Hope this helps

Thanks for the info! Most places I have looked say that the lower notes should be to the left. However, if I hold the harp so all the lettering is readable to me, including the large “C” or “G” at the bottom right corner, the higher notes are to the left? Should I be playing it this way?

You are holding it upside down. The lower register notes should be on the left as you hold the harp. The furthest left hole being no.1 (top is blow- bottom is inhale or suck) . Usually the no. 4 hole when blown will produce the root note of the harmonicas key. Example: if the harmonica that you’re playing is is the key of C then the no. 4 hole when blown will produce a C note. Your harmonica has two keys C and G - so one side has a C root note at the no. 4 blow and flip around the other side produces a G root note at the no. 4 blow. I have read some accounts of harmonica players who as children started to play with the harp backwards and never corrected their error and became accomplished players in spite of the fact that they learned to play an upside down harmonica. It is definitely the exception rather than the norm however. Here is a very valuable tip for keeping that sweet harp clean. - don’t play after eating or drinking anything other than water, the cleaner your mouth is the ccleaner your harp will stay. It is not a bad idea to hold the harp in your hands to warm it before playing, as it will help to reduce condensation from building up inside. Continue holding the harp in your hands for a couple a minutes after playing to further reduce condensation and gently tap in your palm or on your thigh after playing to knock any droplets of spit or condensation out. Enjoy

Great info mojo jojo! This answers a lot of questions. However, being totally new to the harmonica, I still have more :): Are you saying the top holes are all blow holes and the bottom holes are all draw holes? Can you not draw top holes/blow bottom holes on my harp? Or, were you just referring to hole number one being a top-blow, bottom-draw?

Also, I cannot seem to find a chart labeling what holes produce what notes. To my very untrained ear, I think that the notes are in pairs? 1,2 are the same & 3,4 are the same, etc. If this is not the case please let me know; if you could “map out” what holes produce what sound (like is easily found on almost all other harps on the internet…just not mine) that would be great.

Ok. there isan upper row of holes and a lower row of holes. You should notice that the 1st holes (top and bottom) to the far left produce the same note but slightly out of pitch with each other which is what creates the tremolo effect. The arrangement of notes is usually something like this starting with hole 1 blowing ( remember that the top and bottom rows are producing the same note) 1st note blow = C , the next set of top and bottom holes (from left to right) are draw and = D, next is blow = E, next is draw and = G, then blow = G, next draw = B, then blow = C, draw = D, blow = E, draw = F, blow = G, draw = A, blow. ( ex: is using C tuned side). It is diatonic or “richter” tuned.

My first hole (on the key of C side) is B according to 3 different guitar tuning iPhone apps (when the lower notes are on the left) when I blow. Also, the hole under that first hole produces a note waaaay lower. This top-high, bottom-low trend continues for all 12 holes.

It sounds like you have a octave harp rather than a tremolo. I have many octave harps mostly unsere leiblings, comets and full concerts. This is my favorit type of harmonica cuz they have such a full rich sound. If you practice you can learn to work the top and bottom rows of individual notes enabling you to jump octaves while playing scale runs. I’m trying to wrap my head around B being the first note on number 1 hole blow? As far as I know (I don’t know that much) on a C tuned harmonica they shouldn’t be any blow notees that produce a B tone. On the G side it would make more sense. Ex: from left to right B blow, D draw, D blow, F# draw, G blow, A draw, B blow, C draw, D blow, E draw. The possiility exists that the harmonica could have been serviced at some point and the covers got flip flopped during reassembly? I also find it to be curious that you say that the adjascent holes have the same tone. Could it be that it is an octave harp that also has tremolo tuned reeds? I don’t have a “chimes” yet, but I am so seriously intriigued that I will look for one to purchase today. If your description is accurate then when playing this harp you could play a note on 4 reeds simultaneously (two in one register and two one octave lower).

Ok, so I put tape on the holes on either side of the one I was blowing/drawing through and made this table of what each note and corresponding hole is on my harp. To make the notes lower to higher (from left to right) all the lettering on my harp (including the “C” or “G” is upside down). What I found was that the odd holes were blow and the even holes were draw. The harp is definitely an octave harp as the holes underneath are exactly the same as the hole above. To denote “blow” on the table I put a ‘^’ and for “draw” I left the letter alone. Let me know what you think.

(sorry for the huge table…it was the only way I knew how to get it on here)

I would have to say that the cover has been off for one reason or another and got put back on flipped around. Just note to yourself that the key marking is reversed and flipped and you’ll be ok. I serviced a pretty old hotz song bird.and put it together with the covers on the wrong sides by mistake. I’m not going to put em right though. It is by far the finest sounding and playing harmonica that i own. It sits right above my recording console and gets used a lot. If you want to put them right, it can be done. I looked and found a couple of “chimes” today. I can’t spare the $ for them though. They are fairly rare and not cheap. I just spent my harmonica allowance on a Honer ]nsere Leibling" in F from about the same era as yours. It is incredible! Never played before today, I’m pretty sure. Clean and sweet.

Wow, how interesting! What do you think of the layout of the notes? Do they seem normal? Also, is there a name for them (diatonic? richter? Solo?) Again, I know nothing about any of this so any info you have would be great.

The tuning is normal. It is diatonic or “richter” tuned (same thing). There is a lot of good instruction available. Just remember that if you are trying to follow music written out for a standard 10 hoe diatonic that your number 5 blow = the charts number 4 blow. In other words - shift one hole to the right. This is because of the position of the root note on your harp.