New vs Old Golden Melody Shoot-Out

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.

:question: 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:

:arrow_right: The redesigned Special 20 birthed the Rocket

:arrow_right: The redesigned Marine Band birthed the Crossover

:arrow_right: 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

the skeptics.


I was fully prepared to love the new design. So…what’s the final verdict???

Well, it’s….ALMOST as good…

:thinking: For some reason they ditched the plastic box of old and are using a cardboard box?

:thinking: Why not the nice nylon zipper case of the Rockets and Crossovers?

:thinking: Especially since it now costs $60 instead of $50!

Here are my ratings of old vs new:

:hugs: COMFORT

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!

:eyes: LOOKS

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.

:arrow_heading_up: BENDABILITY

OLD - Bends like a champ!

NEW - Almost as good. Not QUITE as easy as the older model or SP20. Very minor difference.

:musical_score: TONE

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

:grey_exclamation: 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? :thinking:)

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?


I agree with most of your points, Luke @Luke .

The new GM that I have (in the key of G) needed major work to get the lower notes to bend easily, and the 3 draw was so difficult that I was beginning to think that I was again a beginner!

After much reed adjusting things are now very good. Perhaps I had bad luck, but my previous old GM harps did not require any reed adjustments to play bends easily.

As for comparing the new GM with a Lee Oskar harp: I find the tonal quality & richness of the new GM to be vastly superior to the Lee Oskar harps – but that is again a personal, subjective judgement. And for the higher price, the GM should be better – otherwise why buy it?

Astrid @AstridHandbikebee63 has suggested that the quality control for the new GM might not yet be optimized and might account for the “lemon” that I was sent.

– Slim :sunglasses:


Right @Slim! I actually WANTED to treat myself to the Bb Harp as the New Golden Melody.
However, there were several delays in delivery! For me, that means that the first thing to do is to fulfill the seemingly numerous orders. Of course I could be wrong, but I’ll wait and maybe switch to the new model later. I’m sure that the “teething troubles” will then have been overcome.

At the moment I don’t need a new key.
As with the key of A, I again chose the Seydel 1847 Lightning for the key of Bb. Significantly more expensive, but unpacked and played all the tones without the need for any adjustments.

Regards Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:


I must be on the Hohner Golden Melody algorithm because I’ve seen several reviews over their new creation.

I must admit that I almost got caught up in the wave to buy one of these new babies in the Key of G, since I like her older sister in the Key of C, but am double clutching now, particularly after reading @Luke and @Slim 's comments.

New isn’t always better as Luke so aptly states and as far as tinkering with the tuning of my ladies, I know just enough to be dangerous, certainly not nearly as experienced as Slim.

No doubt that most, if not all the reviews I’ve seen so far are from very talented players and they can certainly make that baby Blaze, but I can’t help but feel they are a bit biased since many seem to be paid promos.

I’m coming to the realization that a poor quality harp in the hands of a master can still sound amazing, while the best harp in the world in the hands of a novice can still sound horrible.

Thank you both for your opinions! :sunglasses:


Hello @HarpinBobbyMcB,
hit sunk! You have the same impression as me. :slightly_smiling_face:

Regards Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:

How is your right “wing”?


My right wing is on the mend @AstridHandbikebee63 !

Thanks for asking.

It will still be awhile before I get my Wa Wa hand back into action but my collarbone seems to be doing its thing to get back in shape :wink::+1:


Hey @Slim I think @AstridHandbikebee63 is right on the money because straight from the horses mouth, Hohner Brand Manager Jimmy Zednik asked me to try playing some more in the future as it takes a little while for quality control:

“Hohner strives to have production as consistent as possible with quality control, but there is room for each instrument to vary and I suspect that if you tried three of this new model, you would find at least one that outperforms the 542. This is something we’ll need to address with Hohner Germany to boost the quality and performance expectations of each harp that passes through QC. There are challenges with harmonicas because some things like bendability are not apparent until a player puts it in their mouth to try it out.”

@HarpinBobbyMcB you know I’ve been coming to something on my own about keys and I just heard Ronnie Shellist say the same thing. I’m finding a really prefer the wood comb harps (Marine Band Deluxe, Crossovers, Thunderbirds) for the lower keys (C and below) and the plastic combs for the higher keys (Db and above.) That’s my own personal preference, but as you’re buying more keys in the future, you might consider it.


Hello @Luke,
very interesting what you write! :wink:
Thank you very much for your feedback!

Many regards from Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:


Right on @AstridHandbikebee63 glad to hear it it. Hope you are doing well my good friend.

Rock on! :sunglasses:

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Thanks for asking @Luke! Yes, the weather here is modest and so there is plenty of time to further develop myself on the harp! I’m experimenting a lot, but I’m noticing good progress! I think it’s good that I can now play faster beats! You don’t believe how happy I am to have discovered and finished you and your BTB course! I wouldn’t have gotten this far without it! What I learned helps me to work independently today.

In the meantime, I have complete confidence in a perfect setting for problematic individual reeds.

I often think of you and your family! What is your little one doing?

All the best to you and stay healthy!

Best regards from Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:


Little one is getting soooooo nice and fat. Wonderful for hugging and squeezing and tickling and eating. :rofl: Many blessing on you and your harmonica journey!


Babies and kids are so much fun! Congrats on yours getting so huggable, nothing like it in the world. :blush:

I’m finding that being able to play with them and then give them back to their parents when they have poopi diapers or are hungry is even better! :joy:

Enjoying my GrandGuys now even more that my collarbone is well on its way to healing and I have more mobility, including my wah wah hand🤩

The youngest is almost a year old and is already showing he loves music and had pretty good rhythm. I think he’ll be the drummer, while the older one has already started doing his thing on da harp.

Thanks for the advice on the wooden combs for the lower keys…

I can see a woodie in my future for a G harp which is the next one I’m thinking of adding to my arsenal :wink::+1::notes:


I loved the tone of my old Golden Melody for my folk straight harp playing but it gave up the ghost. I have another harp but was thinking of getting another golden Melody.

From your review it sounds like the new one is not the same tone and perhaps a little harder to play. Mostly what I want from it is the richness of tone playing simple Dylan style chords. I have other harps for blues.


I think the Rocket has a similar tone, and the tuning of it should sound much sweeter than the golden melody.


Fairly new player here. I currently have six harps, one being the old GM in G. But I’ma sucker for new gadgets and that new design just looks too cool. So I get one in the key of C tomatoes in the mail. I guess if I don’t love it I’ll just buy all the old models in whatever keys I can.


Q:'what about the tuning?

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Hey @DukeSilver great to see you in the forum again my friend. Did you get the GM yet?

@jaybear the tuning is the same - great for single notes, not so great for chords.


Yes. I have GM model 1 in G and model 2 in C. And I got a baby fat in C and A, since they were marked down on Amazon.



How are you liking them?

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I like them both very much, but I’m not really advanced enough to experience all of the intricacies of version one to version two. For me, they are both great. I own several harmonica‘s… Crossovers, special 20s. So far I like playing the golden melody is the best.