Hohner history

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  • #4122
    Daren BanarsëDaren Banarsë
    Keymaster

    I’ve been looking at the history of Hohner after hearing from Bruno that they were bought out by KHS, of Taiwan, in 1997. It seems that after decades of continued growth, taking in the 1920s golden era of the harmonica, and then the accordion boom of the 50s, they suddenly found themselves in financial trouble. This was the late 50s, when rock and roll was all the rage, and electric guitars replaced harmonicas and accordions in popularity.

    Interesting that this was just the time that they bought out their first line of melodicas. An attempt to adapt the accordion into something modern and hip? Well, it didn’t help the company’s profits, as they continued to decline until Taiwan based KHS acquired majority ownership in 1997, and in 2001 bought them back into profit after over 20 years of annual losses.

    So, is it finally time for the melodica?

    Read more at ‘funding universe’ here

    #4123
    AvatarBruno Travi
    Participant

    In 2014 a general meeting of Hohner AG complete acquisition of the company by KHS investment convened by means of a forced sale was decided . The 2015 is effective.
    That means for us, melodica players?
    It is obvious that since 2014 they want to revive the Melodica, through new (and colorful) Airboard and Airboard Rasta in 2015. This is a way.
    The other way is that the KHS Group also owns the Altus (Handmade Flute), Mapex (Drums) , Jupiter (Woodwind and Brass), etc. keep in Trossingen the 200 employees working in the areas of development and product design and manufacturing Top range harmonicas and accordions…And again become the Melodica “Handmade” included !

    What do you think? What way will take KHS/Hohner from now ?

    #4157
    AvatarBruno Travi
    Participant
    #4161
    AvatarBruno Travi
    Participant

    Here are some historical images where appears the Hohner Professional 36 produced since 1960 and the Hohner Piano 36 and Basso produced since 1970.
    I have evidence that the Hohner Solist was produced in the last 60ies.

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1I4WRon9blLflVvSGEwRmh0OFpYVkRWcFdMTE1jLVM2UWtONUQ5SWY3NnlLaHhVb3lLTjg&authuser=0

    #4162
    AvatarBruno Travi
    Participant

    Here are some images where appears the Hohner factory in German (2009-2010).
    You can see the handmade construction of the Hohner Piano 36. Good times !!

    https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B1I4WRon9blLfkF0VGRHejFGblBZaGQxVy1seHpHOUM3QV9xNF9wc1Y1bXU2eVRqQkRKSWc&usp=sharing

    #4166
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    Bruno, great investigative work. What information have you found on the Solist? Do you know if this was a special order or maybe a short or limited run. I personally have never seen it in print (other than mine on Google image)or even on you-tube.
    Melodica-Me

    #4167
    Daren BanarsëDaren Banarsë
    Keymaster

    This is great Bruno. Thanks for posting all of this. Fascinating…

    #4171
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    Good work, Bruno. It’s hard to believe that the Piano 36 was still in production in 2010. The production photos seem to me to show the HM (Piano) 26 or 27, an HM (Piano) 32, models that apparently ceased production around 2011 and a 36 or 37 key model (2 photos with the woman in blue and white). If that’s a Piano 36, it’s surprising that all the used Piano 36 models we find are pretty old. I know that some Internet stores advertise the Piano 36 and even the Professional 36 as if they were still available though they’re always “out of stock”.

    Hohner advertised a microphone pickup for the Professional 36 and for the Basso in 1964, so we can assume those Hohner models were already on the market by then. The first old-style Hohner Piano 26 appeared in 1961; so they were moving on to a professional level melodica pretty quickly.

    #4172
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    I think the Solist is a hoax perpetrated upon us by Melodica-Me. Just kidding, I think.

    Okay, so “Solist” is German for “Soloist” and Hohner is of course a German company. So we can venture a guess that it had a very limited run in the German marketplace.

    There are Seydel Solist harmonicas and Solist bicycle tires.

    #4173
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    A couple of Bruno’s photos do seem to show a 36 key Hohner being produced just a few years ago. It would be interesting to know for sure about the year in which those photos were taken, if it was actually 2010-11. I just found some photos of a Piano 36, though, that seem to indicate that it was produced as late as 1978. Actually, this already seems to be indicated by Hohner brochures that show a Piano 36 along with the Piano 26, 27, and 32 that are Lowboy’s favorites. Those were produced from about 1978 until 2011. It is the early models that came with the brochure showing them with a Piano 36. The 26, 27, and 32 came in a grey soft plastic sided case of the kind you see in the photo below. This (except for accompanying photos) is the only photo I recall seeing of a Piano 36 in the grey case of that type. The cases of the early Piano 26, etc. had the same logo that appears on this case, while the 2011 models have a different “Hohner Melodica” icon showing a melodica. So the Piano 36 apparently was still in production into, say, the early 1980s. Maybe it continued in production for much longer, though perhaps in small numbers. That rascal Bruno has drawn my attention to Hohner photos of quite a few recent musicians playing some rather new looking Piano 36 melodicas. Some of these photos, at least, are displayed on the playhohner.com Web site.

    http://en.audiofanzine.com/melodica/hohner/melodica-piano-36/medias/pictures/a.play,m.1035408.html

    #4175
    AvatarBruno Travi
    Participant

    My Mac (computer) have the option to know the info of each photo (model camera and configuration used, date of the photo, etc). The photos in the factory appear (Canon 5D, 2009 or 2010, etc)

    #4177
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    Thanks. I should have thought to try that, as my photo softwares also do that.

    So this is a big discovery, that the Piano 36 was still being produced so recently. I will keep an eye out on eBay for a Piano 36 with the grey case. Maybe they were just making these recent ones for a few musicians associated with Hohner. We know they made special melodicas for the Hooters.

    It looks now, from your data and other information I have been collecting, as though Hohner continued to make selected models (Piano 26, 27, 32, and 36) in Germany after shifting the rest of Melodica production to China. But then, if I’m thinking correctly, after 2011 they stopped production of these models in Germany, so that all Hohner melodicas are now made in China. This would be a smart business decision, I guess, since there is so much more enthusiasm in the marketplace for the Airboard and Fire models.

    Your research is really helping to bring this picture into focus, Bruno. You da man!

    #4178
    AvatarBruno Travi
    Participant

    Alan, in the link “Historical images” I’ll be adding information.
    Today I added a “50 Years Melodica” brochure dated 2009, which show models that were available at that time. I have also added a list price of february 1969.

    I’ve had two Piano 36 of the last version (lower black plate without brightness, opaque / black box with a button and white logo on the right side) both had a lot gray oxide in the reeds (I suspect it was because of the change of the reeds material before out from the market)
    This gray oxide have not seen in my others Piano36s 20 years ago version.

    When I have a free time I like to travel to Trossinger and find information about the Hohner Solista, Silvertone and Hohner acordina… also I need a deserved rest 🙂

    #4181
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    I have had the price list for some time, Bruno. The brochure shows the Microphone pickups for the Professional 36 and the Basso. These pickups were announced in 1964, so those two models were already on the market. And your 1962 photo shows what appears to be the Hohner Professional 36. The first piano key Hohners were introduced in 1961, and these were heavily advertised. We know now that Hohner was also more quietly at work on a melodica for professionals. Hohner’s big melodica advertising campaign during the 1960s did not give much attention to the higher end models. I have been researching the ads and announcements.

    You may have to travel to China to find out what’s really going on.

    I have a recent Piano 26 apart and its reeds and reed plate also have gray oxide. It’s sad if the quality of the reeds was sacrificed in the more recent versions. There’s also very little evidence of factory tuning on this particular Piano 26.

    Further evidence that at least some vintage models may have better sound than more recent versions.

    #4183
    AvatarMelodica-Me
    Participant

    I recently purchased a Hohner Professional 36 from one of our fellow Melodicaworld members so I could have extra reeds for my other Pro-36 and Solist melodicas. Ittook a picture of the gasket that I removed and there was a date of March 1962. This Melodica does not have the standard moisture plug but a button just like my Solist. Now the Professional 36 has the logo of the Hohner man playing an accordion but my Solist only has the words made in Germany and the only logo is that of the word Hohner in the same font as all my other Hohner Melodicas.
    I also wanted to purchase this melodica so I can get into it to see how it works. For my first experiment I wanted to create a air chamber that I could replace or repiar easier. The current design is that the gasket seals lay on the wooden frame. I removed all the gaskets and cleaned the removed the adhiesive and purchased some window and door seal from the hardware store $6 bucks and created a seal chamber on the metal cover and did not attaché them to the wooden body of the frame, Bam it worked and sealed better than the thin material that was on the melodica. Air tight seal now. I did notice that there is a small leak coming from (2) key pads So that repair is next.
    Please see pictures attached.
    Thank you
    Melodica-Me
    Monsters of Melodica
    http://monstersofmelodica.smugmug.com/Professional-36-1962-and-Solist

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