The Tremolo: Reviews
Overall: A very good and obviously very refined instrument.
Price: This writer bought all of his Tombo 1521's for
about US$90 plus shipping, a number of years ago. This does vary according to the
U.S./U.K./Nippon exchange rate situation. The most reliable
source thus far has been Harmonicas Direct; it has been found best to order
by voice phone. Full
contact information for Harmonicas Direct is here.
Reliance should not be made on prices posted on any web site for this
instrument, because currencies change quite rapidly.
Keys: All, major, harmonic minor, natural minor.
Box: Some of these harmonicas are shipped by Tombo
in good strong plastic cases, some in cardboard boxes which
should be thrown out as soon as possible!
Physicality: Heavily treated wooden comb, behaves as if it will last quite a while. Good sheet metal covers. Two good screws and semidecorative nuts on opposite sides hold it all together, with more inside. Edges of reedplates are visible, obviously very high quality heavy grade brass. Sheet metal covers are polished to a high sheen, with just a few markings (high-pressure die press) to indicate make and tonage. Overall feel is very strong.
Tone & Tuning: Excellent for the mids and highs, just usable for the lows. Solo-tuned. The tuning is extremely precise. The off-tuning of each tone is considerably less than Hohner Double Echo, Huang Musette 24, or 20-year-old Brelli. The treated wooden comb gives a good, strong yet sweet, rounded timbre. Every note comes out smoothly, but lows have a just-usable timbre balance. It is almost impossible to get this instrument to squeak or make other unappealing noises, which is rather unlike Huang Musette 24. Chords are as easy as single notes, which is very different than Hohner Double Echo, Huang Musette 24, or my twenty-year-old Brelli. This harmonica is scale-tuned (a.k.a. solo-tuned), so you will be able to play three full octaves in runs.
Downsides: Three. First, the price is very very high, and it is by no means certain that its price is justified by its performance. Second, the low timbre is simply not excellent, not even as good as Suzuki Humming. Third, the close-tremolo tuning is less strongly tremolo, less 'wet', than the other instruments this writer prefers.