Special 20 vs Silverstar

Hi all, The Special 20 costs about £28 pound in the UK. The Silverstar costs about £9 pound.

Compared to the special 20 the silverstar sounds and plays dreadful.
So what can the difference be ?.
Lets go naked. SFW

Top reed plates are from the silverstar.
So what could be the difference. Lower grade metal ?.
I have Feeler gauges here so will adjust all the reeds and see what happens.
Any other ideas on how we can get the silverstar sounding and playing better ?.

Any other ideas on how we can get the silverstar sounding and playing better ?.
Yeah, wave your magic wand and turn it into a Spec20!


But all seriousness and no bullshit aside:

Comparatively, cheaper Hohners do sound a bit ‘tinny’ and not very loud. You get what you pay for. That’s just life!

If you’re the tinkering sort, in order to make the SilverStar a bit more airtight, you can do some gasketing on the comb with medical tape; along with some embossing on the reed plates and finally reed gapping.

But yeah, along with waving that magic wand…a phone call or online order to your favorite music store, or best yet from here:


Will change that SilverStar into a Spec20 in no time!

Hope this helps!


Keep On Harpin’!

Me just being curious . If I’m really bored tomorrow, I will have another play.
It does sound better now, Just by gapping the reeds.
I already have 2 special 20’s A and c.
I Love tweaking things.

This is what i used to do, Before the harmonica found me.
All the best.

Cool Beans!

Glad to see playing with Lego & Erector sets really payed off for somebody!! :wink:

Hey a time travel machine I want one of them ;D

Harp On!!

That sounds like a good guess to me. I doubt the quality of metal in the plates makes too much difference either though, I think the difference might be in the reeds.

I’ve been doing the same thing, comparing my Blues Bender to my Special 20. The Blues Bender isn’t as cheap as your Siiverstar, but it is $10-$13 cheaper than the 20, and seems to be a very similar model. The combs seems to be just about identical, and the reed plates seem to be fastened in the same way, and with the same number of screws. It does seem to be as airtight as the 20.

The cover plates are also similar; the engraving on the 20 looks higher quality, but that’s merely cosmetic. Overall though, I prefer the plates on the Bender, which are vented, and a bit wider, with the bottom plate rounded like the top. I find I really like the ergonomics, the mouth feel, and the slightly thicker harmonica also is a bit more comfortable in my hand. I also think they are especially well suited to the “deep relaxed mouth embouchure” which JP advocates. And, they seem to do a little something for the sound as well.

So I have really enjoyed playing the Blues Bender for those reasons, but the reeds just seem to be not of the same quality to me. It’s hard to say for sure, as I’m comparing different keys, and the Bender is in F, which is a higher key that is going to have stiffer reeds anyway than C. So I might have to eventually try another in a lower key.

But, I at least have a suspicion that they could be using a lower quality brass. The quality of brass can vary depending on how much copper vs. zinc is in the mix, and some small amounts of other metals can be included as well. Since copper is about four times as expensive as zinc, and it seems that higher copper content can make an alloy both softer and stronger, my guess is that better reeds might have more copper (better bending but yet more durable).

There must be more to it than this though, as the amount of metal just in the reeds seems rather small, and I doubt materials have as much an impact as the cost of the process of producing the reeds. For whatever reason though, I think the cheaper reeds are stiffer and have a thinner sound.

In any case, my favorite harmonica this week is now the Special 20 with the Blues Bender plates.

Hey Joe!
We had a guy at work who I believe came to us from another planet (or at least a “nervous hospital”). He tried starting an argument with me once about time travel. Of course I know the theoretical use of subatomic “repositioning” of matter, but nobody has visited me from the 25th century yet.
Anyway, I told him to mark the time, because I would prove time travel right then. He wrote down the time. I worked up some technical sounding mishmash and then told him to check his watch. Two minutes had passed. I said, “See, we have just travelled forward in time two minutes.” I tried to charge him a Time Travel Guide fee, but he was a very bad customer. You just can’t satisfy some people.

Dr. Whom?

Your right Ken, The reeds on the Special 20 are thicker and more flexible. I will practice tuning on the silverstar, Then i will put it in the spares box.

it absolutely is the reeds, their composition, which alloy, thickness, how their milled, and especially how they’re matched to the slots in the reed plates (no space or very little space around the reed when they are drawn or blown into the reed plate slots). Also how the reeds are weighted at the tips (tuned), and their gapings. IT’S THE REEDS!!!


When I started the journey I had a mix of both. The Silverstars comprised what were my least used harps. I quickly grew to hate them. I’m not a tinkerer so I didn’t waste time in getting them to sound better. I threw them out.The Sp20 is German made but the Silverstar is from China.

Now I’m not bagging Chinese made, as Suzuki have a really good low cost (cheapie) ie Folkmaster which is made in China. It’s very different in size & shape to other Suzuki models that are produced in Japan ie Folkmaster is exact same size as Marine Bands. At the price it is a good harp but where it fails is in its volume but the backs can easily be stretched open to bring more volume.

It’s not as good as Harpmaster, Bluesmaster or Manji but the Folkmaster is a very sweet sounding & very tight harp ie no problems with it leaking air like the Silverstars.

I like my Folkmaster - favourite is an Ab which I play when I’m not watching what I eat and drink. It’s really easy to wash out and if I destroy it then it wont hurt the bank. But I can’t kill it ie it loves being abused .