The Golden Melody has always been one of my favorite Hohner Harmonicas.
At a total rating of 4.8/5 stars, it’s my top recommendation for players with small hands.
On Feb 23rd Hohner released a new redesigned version of it, model #M544BX (the old one was model #542PBX).
You can check out my full video review here.
But WHY did they redesign it, you ask? Here’s the low down:
The tooling for the old design had aged and needed constant maintenance to continue to produce harps consistently to Hohner’s quality standards. Hohner either needed to build new machinery to manufacture the old design or redesign the Golden Melody.
They decided to take feedback from engineers and players over the years and see if they could make it EVEN BETTER.
NOW to their credit, Hohner HAS had success with redesigning:
The redesigned Special 20 birthed the Rocket
The redesigned Marine Band birthed the Crossover
But the Golden Melody serves a smaller niche market, and the smaller demand wouldn’t warrant having two models of the same harp. So here we are.
With change often comes skepticism,
but then I’m a contrarian, so
I’m skeptical of
I was fully prepared to love the new design. So…what’s the final verdict???
Well, it’s….ALMOST as good…
For some reason they ditched the plastic box of old and are using a cardboard box?
Why not the nice nylon zipper case of the Rockets and Crossovers?
Especially since it now costs $60 instead of $50!
Here are my ratings of old vs new:
OLD - One of the most comfortable harmonicas on the lips and hands.
NEW - Same. I’ve seen people complain about the divet in the cover plate. I’m not sure why. It doesn’t bother me at all. I still love it!
OLD - Docked a star for key labels.
NEW - I think it looks awesome! Gotta raise it a half star for looks.
OLD – Perfect.
NEW - Almost as good. Just a little stiff to my tastes. It’s the same for me like the Seydel 1847 Silvers and Suzuki Manjis, though not quite as pronounced. It just lags ever so slightly for my playing style preference.
OLD - Bends like a champ!
NEW - Almost as good. Not QUITE as easy as the older model or SP20. Very minor difference.
OLD - The tone of this harmonica is dark and beautiful. Ideal for single notes.
NEW - Almost as good. It’s got more of a midrange honk.
OLD - 4.8/5
NEW - 4.6/5
Durability/Fixability – The plastic comb is not susceptible to any of the swelling or splintering that a wood comb could do over time. The old model had 2 flat head screws per cover plate, and the new model has hex screws on the side.
It’s funny to me how up-in-arms some are about the switch to a Torx screw.
Come on guys, it’s a $6 tool and it’s a better head style than a flathead! (I’m pretty sure that’s called progress? )
We all have different preferences. The great Rachelle Plas LOVES the new design and says she can get a much better dynamic range from the new model playing soft nuanced parts as well as louder projected parts. She’s one of the best, so her vote matters! Different strokes for different folks…
The newly designed Golden Melody is still a great harmonica at 4.6/5 stars. It’s still my top Hohner recommendation for pure single note players, and especially for those with small hands.
HOWEVER, because the Lee Oskar is also tuned for single notes, and is only $47 versus the $60 for the Golden Melody, I vote Lee Oskars the best value pro harmonica for single note playing.
You can check out the Hohner global launch event with a great lineup of players here.
What’s your thoughts on the New vs the Old vs the Lee Oskar?