Hohner 280C Chromatic Harmonica (Chromonica 64) 16 holes 

I bought my “64 Chromonica, 4 chromatic octaves, professional model (280C)”, (indicating it has 4 complete octaves of chromatic scales starting from C one octave below “Middle C” up to so called “High C” which is two octaves above middle C), about 7 years ago.

I’m going to talk with you about this particular model, and also the benefits as I see them, and hear them, of the harmonica.

It is a good solid value harmonica, reasonably priced new and used, and the market has many new and used 280s for sale on Ebay, although realize used harmonicas often come with problems.

It’s a “workhorse”, a good solid reliable performer. It was state of the art years ago, not so much today. I think just about every chromatic harmonica player has owned or several.

Plusses of the 280 are strong build quality and acceptable tone, it can be repaired almost indefinitely as all quality harmonicas can, and Hohner will rebuild them at the factory for about $190, replacing the brass plates and all new reeds, if they can’t get the instrument back to new spec, they just give you a brand new one.

The round holes on the mouthpiece (which can be unscrewed by 2 screws on either end facilitating easy cleaning…see WARNING below) are very comfortable to play, and with proper technique it will provide many tonal variations which are the stuff of which musical artistry is made.

Stevie Wonder used to play a 280C.

But in many ways, the difference between what one can accomplish on a 280-C and a Super 64X is not in the harmonica, as much as it is the musician.

In proper hands they’ll both knock your socks off. The Super 64X is a bit easier to play, and a bit more nuanced, much better in the lower two octaves, and really better throughout.

Both have stainless covers, the 64X’s covers are just painted black, it is not polymer as some believe. This from the Hohner repair technician.

I would say the 280 is a great instrument if you are moving forward to become a learned musician.

All chromatic orchestral harmonicas are prone to problems with the windsavers, so that’s an element to consider. Windsavers are little plastic things which seal the reeds. You can repair them or send them in for repair.

Van Cliburn the pianist said that music was enough a lifetime, but that a lifetime was not enough for music. He meant that there is so much to learn.

Do not continue to practice on a day when you are frustrated, develop the habit of playing sensitively and with joy. Make up fun exercises that challenge you.

Build on a solid foundation of good technique and you’ll go somewhere.

Learn to read music and play with play along CD’s and with your favorite recorded songs. Take it slow, it takes time but one day all comes together.

Diana Krall learned jazz piano by this method, and when she became famous, set up performances of live performance with the musicians she’s played along with on records and CD’s at home.

Accept your failures as the walk along the path of finding excellence, be tolerant of your mistakes and errors.

Try not to be critical. One of my favorite band leaders told me, hey, play the other F#. I’d played an F natural, a nice gentle correction…the good ones are like that.

Don’t forget to learn to be silent too, you don’t have to play all the time…enjoy a moment or two of silence, even with solos. Like skaters which stop their movements for a moment…then when they move again we enjoy it more.

If you are enjoying your music…you have arrived at the most meaningful place in the world of music.

David Kettlewell