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Author Topic: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?  (Read 3224 times)

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samtheman

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A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« on: December 09, 2009, 04:42:32 AM »
I just recieved an a Hohner 64 I bought on Ebay.  My reasons for buying it were to get the case and to have a 16 hole harmonica I could totally rebuild, possibly in an alturnate tuning.  But now that I'm lookingat it I'm wondering (and hoping) that it isn't worth anything in antique value.

It came with the store reciept dated 1958 (bought for $10.54 with a discount of $8.00) from a music store in Huntington, PA.  The box is really beautiful; a wooden box with chrom hardware with a faux tortishell/burl finish.  This is really worth keeping.

The 64 itself is in crap shape.  The slide button is shot and now is only a bumpy lump of metal that appears to be WELDED on.  It's out of tune, the mouth piece is all crusty and, looking at the reed plates under the covers it looks like 3 are sticking out about 1/8" above the plate. 

So I abviously have my work cut out to rebuild this - but will I be destroying something of value here?  I think, if my understanding of antiques is correct, this item is JUST aquired actual antique status by one year.  But it's a harmonica.  Is it worth saving?  I mean I bought it on Ebay already so I doubt there is a forum for selling something like this where any other percieved potential value might be added to it by any buyer; like some Suthebeys of the instrument world or what ever. 

So it's okay to rip this thing apart - right?

Sam

Pitzone

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2009, 06:22:39 AM »
Dear Sam:

Unfortunately there are no Stradivari or Amati or Guarnerius type harmonicas...I think Bill Romel ( may he rest in peace) would say :
Bravo,  have fun rebuilding it and then, an only then  will be worth something because you can play music on it!  Unless you can sell it for more
to a museum (!) it sounds like it will be great when you are done. I saw the box on ebay...it is a thing of beauty!

How do like "Cats of any Color"  Just curious!

All the Best
Pitzone

Offline Grizzly

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2009, 07:05:25 AM »
I'll second what Pitzone said. It's probably worth no more than what you paid for it; you might even get more than that just reselling the box. I traded for two boxes just like it. They took some tightening up, but they're functional. I keep my Super 64 (circa 2004) in one of them.

I would suggest that, if the comb is cracked or in any other way unusable, that you replace it with another wooden comb if you're wanting to restore it. I believe Mike Easton has some for sale. You'll have fun with it, anyway, and learn a lot in the process.

Tom
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Offline John Broecker

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2009, 07:45:57 AM »
Hello, Sam.

We don't know what you paid for the e-bay 64 chromatic, but I wouldn't pay more than $25 for any e-bay harmonica, unless for parts or, if the harmonica is extremely rare, or if you just gotta have it".

The main reason I would bid on e-bay would be for replacement parts for my antique harps. Some rare harmonicas no longer made are difficult to keep in playing order. E-bay is a good source for replacement parts. And, you might get a real gem of a harp, in playing shape, clean and ready to go.

The manufacturers seldom have replacement parts for harmonicas made before 1960, unless the harmonica is made with identical materials today as it was in earlier times.

Most of my antique harps are for performance, not for display.

About your Hohner 64- is it a "64 Chromonica," or a ""Super 64?" The Super 64 is a relatively new harmonica, probably less than 30 years old, but the 64 Chromonicas were made from about 1930-present. You've written that the original receipt was from 1958, so I'd guess that you have a 64 Chromonica.

The original 64 Chromonicas had the wood case that you've described, wood comb with nails, and in-line note placement, not diagonal.

John Broecker

« Last Edit: December 09, 2009, 08:07:02 AM by John Broecker »
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Offline Winslow Yerxa

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2009, 08:05:47 AM »
Boxes and harmonicas on Ebay are often mismatched. For instance, the burlwood box is the earliest box (though in use for a long time and fairly common). The red box dates from a later period, closer to the 1958 sale date on the receipt that accompanies the harmonica (the harmonica could have been new old stock at that time).

Examine the grid pattern inside the holes. If the slide-out openings run in a straight line across the top or bottoms of the holes, you have the earlier straight-tuned type of instrument and the harmonica and box likely match. If they alternate up-and-down from hole to hole, you have a later cross-tuned model that does not match the box.

However - and this is where it gets interesting - if you have a cross-tuned insturment AND
1: the mouthpice is skinny and
2: rests entirely atop a 3-part cage consisting of U-channel, slide, and backing plate

then you have a transitional model that used the old 4-part construction together with the newer cross tuning (instead of the current 3-part construction wheter a fatter, broader mouthpiece acted as its own U-channel). That still doesn't match the burlwood box (it's red box period).

No matter what the vintage, what's the point of leaving it in a bad condition? If you can rebuild it into a functioning instrument, that's preferable to having a lump of useless junk.

Offline SlideMeister

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2009, 09:54:12 AM »
Short story:
I have a Whizzer motorbike. Whizzer went out of business back in 57 or whatever. In 1999, someone had bought the rights or whatever and had a company in Taiwan start knocking them off. The displacement is the same and the bike and motor look the same, but the Carburetor's better, comes stock with a roller bearing crank, and a CDI ignition and a few other improvements. There have been a few technological advances over the years and although the collectors are still paying upwards to $5 grand for a mint condition 1948 Whizzer; the new ones from Tiawan, start faster, run better, runs longer, pulls hills with two passengers, on less gas and will go around the "original" one so fast, it'll suck the headlight out as it passes! (Had mine up to 58 mph) So some things actually do get better.

So, here's my opinion. (and a lot of you know where I'm going)  most Chromatics haven't changed a lick in a hundred years (especially that 64) and if there is any collectible value, I hope you find the guy that actually believes your 64 has it, and is ready to put the money in your hand. If it were an odd make, or model it might be worth a buck, but otherwise I'd keep the box and toss the rest or use it for parts.

If you wanna work on it for "therapy value, or to someday say: "Look what a great job I did on restoring this Classic 64," go for it. However, if you feel your time is worth over 5 bucks an hour, you're better off just buying a new one.

FTR, I got a new 270 a few years ago, and though identical to my "vintage" 270s, it actually sounds better.

Age
« Last Edit: December 09, 2009, 09:56:25 AM by A.J.Fedor »
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samtheman

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2009, 10:41:10 AM »
Thanks guys,

I really didn't know about what antique value harmonicas have.  I bought the harp for 1. The Box, 2. Parts, 3. to do a rebuild in perhas another tuning.  I don't rate my hourly worth on stuff like this; it's mostly because I really enjoy working on Chromatics with the TV on in the background on bleak winter Sundays or evenings.  I've had a lot of success reviving a couple of 270 bought on ebay for next to nothing to the point where they play way better than any out of the box 270.  So now I want to do some 64s.  I don't mind the nails; I have ways of dealing with them without retrofitting for screws (however, if a certain girlfriend pays heed to certian Micromark Drill Press links sent to her email I might start 'screwing' my wood combed harps). 

The slide is straight, not stagered and it's 64 Chromonica, not a Super, to answer a couple of questions.  I'll have to replace the actual slider but the comb is in great shape.  It's on of those with the faux burl edge finish - I like those and have a couple of 270 with that comb finish. 

Pitzoni, I'll get back to you on 'Cats' as I have a dentist appt. and I don't write about books like that on the fly.  Gotta go - thanks y'all.

Sam

Offline Winslow Yerxa

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2009, 10:42:48 AM »
most Chromatics haven't changed a lick in a hundred years (especially that 64)
Not true. 64s have changed in several ways over the years:

  • Switch from wood comb with nailed-on reedplates to plastic with pinned reedplates to plastic with bolted reedplates. EFFECT: change in ease of servicing (leaving aside any claims of effects of materials on sound)
  • Switch from straight tuning to cross tuning EFFECT: change in ability to operate slide at speed due to longer throw (along with reed placement for tuning and claimed greater air flow)
  • Changes in mouthpiece shape. EFFECT: Change in player embouchure comfort and ability to tongue block wide intervals.
  • At least two changes in slide housing. EFFECTS: airtightness and slide travel

And that's just the standard 280, saying nothing about harps like the CX-12 or the 2016, which introduced even greater changes.

As to the sound of the new Hohner chromatics with their changed reed dimensions, many players I've spoken with have expressed dissatisfaction with a perceived reduction in dynamic range and in timbral complexity.

It's true that many people value things that are older and increasingly rare simply because they are old and rare. But sometimes good reasons exist for valuing something that was made differently from present production because it offers perfomance that new production does not.

Offline Grizzly

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2009, 11:08:03 AM »
Winslow, I assume you mean a detriment to speed with a longer slide throw.

Regarding the CBH 2012/16, innovative design that doesn't affect building techniques, materials or future design is, in essence, a failed attempt despite their popularity among a few players. Slide mechanism, materials (glass-filled Delrin) and individual chambers in the covers never made it into general production. I don't particularly like my 2016, and thought I would be able to handle a 2012 better. Trying one at Garden State cured me of that.

Regarding CX-12 design, I think you're right on the money. Despite claims of same-old same-old slide, comb and reedplate design, and the so-called "plasticky" tone, the cover alone, especially with its airtight design, is worth the price of admission. Even Wuxi Suzuki saw fit to make a knockoff. They've done well enough since their introduction in the early 1990s for Hohner to (finally!) offer an alternative cover in the new Jazz model.

The newly designed CN64, which Franz Chmel helped design, sounds like a major attempt at improving harmonica design. If, like Suzuki's innovations and build technique of the Fabulous, filter down into less expensive models, it could truly change overall design, and the industry itself.

Hohner hasn't stood still; but Age's take needs serious consideration. Changes of basic 260/70 have been minimal; and changes in 280 design, while making for important improvements, have been at best incremental—even with the Super 64X. I would say Meisterklasse and Amadeus represent significant improvements, too, in mouthplate design and build quality.

Tom
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Offline Winslow Yerxa

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2009, 12:14:36 PM »
The changes represented by the 2016 extend to the continuous edge shape, which for my money is the best-ever shape for mouth comfort and wide tongue blocking.

Placing the slider at the back of the harp is also a good ergonomic change. (That said, I was recently listening to the raw tracks of a live performance played on a CBH, and the sound of the button hitting the comb wall every time it sprang back was quite audible even though the mic was several inches away from the harmonica.)

The reason none of the 2016 innovations found wider adoption is that the design patent prevented copying. The reason Hohner didn't continue with the model is that, at least according to Cham-Ber Huang, he owned the rights to the design and when he left Hohner he took it with him but then couldn't afford to produce it on his own. (That said, Danny Wilson has told me that prior to the development of the CBH, he saw a prototype of an original idea by Bernie Bray that Bernie had built, and that it bore a striking resemblance to what later turned up as the CBH.)

Offline Grizzly

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2009, 12:38:27 PM »
I like the continuous edge too. CX-12 fills the bill, as does the SCX series. They're not the only ones, but are the only ones I have—unless you include the Chrometta series, which predates the CBH series by some 20 years. Chromettas barely qualify, but the seam isn't as abrupt as a 270. And I agree with you about the slide slap of a CBH.

Others have used the same slider/lever mechanism, notably a custom (boutique?) maker in Italy, with a more standard slide than the half-round one. But it's another idea that didn't make it past the CBH for regular production.

Your information on the rights is what I now remember from posts from a few years ago. Cham-Ber could have granted the rights, but didn't. I remember reports that the CBH took a lot of hand fitting, making it essentially a custom instrument, and not that viable commercially for that reason. IMO, if they were a great money-maker back then, they would still be in production somehow. They were as different in 1975 as the CX-12 was in 1991. The difference? The CX-12 is relatively easy to manufacture, is in a more popular and accessible size, and is extremely easy to maintain. Believe it or not, Hohner suggested getting an extra set of reedplates for the CBH—so players could have a set to play on when they sent the other set in to replace windsavers! Times certainly have changed.

That said, I still see a few of them at festivals, and on eBay. Most of the decent ones sell for a premium. They're certainly much more collectible (and playable) than the average vintage/antique 64s (to bring the discussion back to the topic :)).

Tom


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Offline Winslow Yerxa

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2009, 12:48:08 PM »
I bought a 2016 when they first came out after seeing an ad in Downbeat magazine, of all places. I still own two of them and occasionally enjoy playing them (they do have some nice and distinctive qualities) but somehow never get around to tuning them up and getting them into good playing shape.

If I could have a 16-hole harmonica with the profile of the CBH, the responsiveness and volume of the G-48 (or, to go one better, the handmade Renaissance), the bottom-octave response of the 64x, and the servicing ease of the CX . . . .

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2009, 01:13:11 PM »
Not true. 64s have changed in several ways over the years:

Like I sed: not enough to mention (at least not enough to impress me)  The only thing remotely resembling a significant "change" is the CX-12, everything else is tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!

Don't even try to convince me otherwise :)

Age
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Offline SlideMeister

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2009, 02:30:10 PM »
Sam wrote:
I really didn't know about what antique value harmonicas have.  I bought the harp for 1. The Box, 2. Parts, 3. to do a rebuild in perhas another tuning.  I don't rate my hourly worth on stuff like this; it's mostly because I really enjoy working on Chromatics with the TV on in the background on bleak winter Sundays or evenings.  I've had a lot of success reviving a couple of 270 bought on ebay for next to nothing to the point where they play way better than any out of the box 270.  So now I want to do some 64s.  I don't mind the nails; I have ways of dealing with them without retrofitting for screws (however, if a certain girlfriend pays heed to certian Micromark Drill Press links sent to her email I might start 'screwing' my wood combed harps). 

In that case, go for it! Bottom line is: "whatever you enjoy" And you'll even end up with a playable instrument with a lot of yourself in it to boot!  :) I wouldn't dissagree with that on a bet.

age
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ejacob4

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2009, 05:22:29 PM »
The value of a used harmonica can depend on what unique qualities the rare instrument may have. On the other hand, when I started at all this I remember reading and heeding: "And antique violin is a stradivarius, and wondrous and a miracke and beyond whatever an expert quotes its value. An antique harmonica is an old thing that has been in another, and probably dead, guy's mouth."

If you can love it, get it worked on or work on it. If not, count the ducets and hours.

Offline Wendellfiddler

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Re: A vintage Hohner 64 - worth anything?
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2009, 08:13:01 PM »
parts, parts, parts!   I bought several old 64's on ebay several years ago and I've been using the reeds from them to fix cx-12's, MK's and Harboppers ever since.  Even traded the boxes to Griz for more parts!   I bought a lot of three 270's recently - a C, a G and an F.  Used the F and G to keep my MK tuned CX-12 running. (still go the C - anyone want it?) You can use 260's too - especially the G's.  They have the same or similar reeds as many cx's and 270's that aren't standard C.  I could use another G though - seems like I consistently destroy the same reeds.

Doug
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