What production harmonica is most easily modified to an overblow harp?

At the moment of writing this the Seydel harmonicas are very good at playing overblows. As for value for money the session steel is unbeatable. Some of the high reeds might need some wax to counteract squealing but that goes for most harps and the steel reeds are very strong and apparently will last for a very long time. Especially for the beginning overblower this is an interesting thing because learning to overblow remains a good way of killing a harp.

  • The Seydel 1847
  • The Seydel Session Steel
  • The Hohner Crossover
  • The Suzuki Manji
  • The Suzuki Firebreath
  • The Hohner Special 20
User Contributed Notes
09-09-2017 11:58
I so much appreciate ur reply tinus u r the best I think I have to see how to get one of ur listed brands or if there s any way u can help me with That Nigeria here s not an harmonica trifing country so no encouragement no selling shops for itI only encourage my self tru sites like this and YouTube videos if u can help me with one of the brand n complete keys just let me no ow much it will cost me and how m gonna pay to u I have a dream afromonica music I don't wanna give up on it.thanks tinus
02-09-2017 10:44
@Dmaski: I have no experience with those particular brands, so I can't help you with those. In general my experience with the Chinese harmonicas is that they are prone to squeeling, but some wax on the rivet end and careful gapping can fix that.
If you isolate the reeds you can get a feel for what the reeds need in order to overblow well.
01-09-2017 23:48
Pls I really want to no if the angel and swan harmonica s good for overblow especially d angel harmonica we never I try adjusting I get d wanted note but miss d former note m so fed up I really need help of the elders here
27-08-2009 03:08
I have to say that the best out of the box, no adjustments needed, overblow harp I've ever encountered is the new Hohner Crossover. I'm playing a D harp right now and can get holes 1,2,3,4,5,6 to overblow with minimal effort and also hole 7 overdraw. Above 7 overdraws are tough though. But hey this is a D harp so those higher overdraws are asking very short reeds to respond. Wish I had a lower key to fool around with.
10-11-2008 01:48
That may be true but the heavier reed might close the gap better once it is choked. With the reed thickness though we are only talking a few micrometers difference anyway.

I noticed though that 1 OB on the low F shoots all the way up to a C if I'm not careful when all I want is an Ab. I think the difference is that you do not need to be spot on in your technique to achieve the overblow or regular bends on the low octive harp. So its proably good for the beginner or when playing a longer composition.

I think at least its worth checking out.
09-11-2008 16:21
But arent't the heavier reeds more difficult to choke? I can get a good hole 1 overblow on a C harp, but it gets really difficult on a G harp. I imagine it gets even more difficult on a low F or low Eb. If the reed is heavier at the tip so that it vibrates at half the frequency I think you need more force to get it to move. Not that force is a big factor in overblowing, you can overblow a c harp with a whisper of air.
If I meet somebody with a low F I'll certainly give it a try.
09-11-2008 15:55
The reeds vibrate at one half the frequency of a regular harp; therefore requiring less force from air to obtain the overblow. You still need to manually set the reeds for overblow though.

The harps sounds good by themselves, but to play with a band the frequency is not high enough to compliment the singer or guitar. In other words, the sound doesn't quite project through the other instruments.

This is a great website!
09-11-2008 14:13
Harponline sells the low special 20's.

I don't quite see how they would be easier to overblow than normal special 20's especially if they don't sound good with other instruments.
09-11-2008 05:07
Try the Special 20s Low octave Harps for overblow especially the low F.

Warning, the Low octave Harps are great for practice but do not sound good when trying to sit in with guitar or a band.

I only ever found them on ebay.
18-04-2008 15:52
Yes I will for shure atest that the Golden Blow is very overblow friendly, not to say it was made for it. There is the Silver Blow version that is a tad less expensive beeing the only diference the cover (like old Silver) since all else is the same. This harp however makes the player play softer. that for me got some ajusting being a newbie to overblowing. Before this harp I could already do the 4,5,6 overblows, after it in the first 10 minutes I got 7 and 9 ODraws and a skweek on the 10th. The 1 hole tends to stuck and mute wen I'm trying to overblow it, but maybe its just me. All in all, althought quite expensive, a great harp with a great tone!
17-04-2008 13:19
Yes, I have heard that the Seydell 1847 is very good for overblows, as are the Hering Golden Blow and the Susuki Firebreath. But since I haven't played them myself I really can't be sure. I wouldn't mind talking to Seydell, but I think they don't want to put beeswax on their reeds :)
16-04-2008 19:04
Hi Tinus,
I just spoke to Seydel and we discussed the favorite black and how their company is developing. He seemed to think that the 1847 classic (wooden comb) was the best harp for overblowing. I'll probably buy both but I wanted to know what you thought, and if you have tried it. The company is also aiming to make all their harps modular and perhaps this would be a good group for you to design a harp with, they were very complimentary of you, your site and I'm sure we would all buy a few.
27-11-2007 00:56
Well you are right Fernando, it must have been more than 3 years since I last had a out of the box Golden Melody. So you are probably right that things have improved at Hohner (especially with you on the case :)
26-11-2007 20:12
Hi Tinus,

when did you last get an out of the box GM to play? Setup of Hohner harmonicas has improved a lot over the last 3 years, as can be seen on the Marine Band Deluxe.
21-11-2007 22:56
The Golden Melodie classic (not the MS version) is preferred by some overblow players, but in general the quality of the setup of modern Hohner harps is not very good. Equal temperment is not really enough reason to get the Golden Melodie. Any harp can be tuned to EQ in a few minutes with a few simple tools. Some people say that the Golden Melodie is good for overblows because the reeds are close to the lips. If this is so you might as well get the seydell 1847, its reeds are also close to the edge of the reedplate and the setup is much better than that of the Golden Melodie.
21-11-2007 17:35
agustin gb uribe
what about golden melody? its special tunning -equal- its suppossed to be better for playin in different positions with just one harmonica. wath do you think? saludos desde Madrid.
02-08-2007 22:31
Can't help but butt in here, since I've been playing Sp20's for about 30-35 years now.
I agree with Tinus - at present my favorite harp (even though I only tried one so far) is the Seydel 1847. Mind you, it does need work to get it to be OB-friendlier (concerning squeals especially).
Also, Howard Levy used to claim that a harp with the reeds closer to the mouth (such as Marine Bands, Seydel 1847) is better for OB-ing - I always thought this was BS, but through the years I've come to think he might be spot on (pun intended ;-))
02-08-2007 20:17
Yes I did change my mind in a way. The special 20 classic is no longer the harp that is most easily moddified to play overblows. Not because it changed but simply because the competition is starting to make better harmonicas.

I tried the seydell and it is very good for overblow playing all it needs is a little anty squeek meassures.

There are a few other new harps that are said to be very good for overblow playing; the Suzuki Firebreath and the Hering Golden Blow (terrible name that). Especially the Golden blow, since it appears to have all the modifications that are described on this site already done to it in the factory.
I haven't tried those harps yet.
02-08-2007 19:49
Sorry if I'm being dense, but why is the Special 20 struck out? Did you change your mind or something?

I recently picked up a Special 20 and found it the easiest harp to OB on I've played so far, but my only other experience has been with Marine Bands and Big Rivers, so I'm no expert. I haven't had it very long, so it's too new and shiny for me to risk buggering it up by fiddling around inside, but even out of the box i can get a pretty clear 6 OB (after a few goes).