The Tremolo: Reviews
The Tombo Band 21, a.k.a. the Tombo 3121

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Overall: A very good instrument.

Price: About US$25 plus shipping. This does vary according to the U.S./U.K./Nippon exchange rate situation. The most reliable source thus far has been Harmonicas Direct; voice phone orders have produced best results. Full contact information for Harmonicas Direct is here. Reliance should not be placed on the prices posted on any web site for this instrument, because the currencies are changing quite rapidly these days.

Keys: All. Some sources may not be aware of this fact, but if they are willing to contact Tombo, they will be able to order whatever keys you need. However, some sources have been unwilling to do this simple bit of legwork.

Size: 3121 is 21-tone. There are very close relatives that are larger: 3124 (24-tone, in C, C#/Db, A, and A#/Bb, no minors), 3326 (26-tone, in C only), and 3328 (28-tone, in C only).

Box: Ditto 1521 above.

Physicality: Good strong plastic comb, behaves as if it will last quite a while. Good sheet metal covers. Two good screws secure into hollow screw studs, one on each opposite side, holding it all together, with more dimly visible inside. Edges of reedplates are not visible, construction is different than 1521. Sheet metal covers are polished to a high sheen, with just a few light markings to indicate make and tonage. Overall feel is very strong, quite possibly stronger than 1521: screw-and-stud is usually better than screw-and-nut, and there are fewer parts visible from the outside. 3121 is also not as heavy, which almost certainly means better ability to withstand accidental impact. This writer does not impact-test his harmonicas :-), but he is definitely more comfortable temporarily carrying a 3121 in his pocket than a 1521.

Tone & Tuning: Excellent for the mids and highs, just barely usable for the lows. Solo-tuned. The tuning is precise. The off-tuning of each tone is normal tremolo, not 1521-special. The plastic comb gives a very satisfactory timbre, less rounded than the 1521, not unlike my Swans, far better than my Huang Musette 24. The timbre is close to my Hohner Double Echo, but not woody; sweeter, better for some vocal accompaniment. Every note comes out smoothly, but the lowest octave does not have a satisfactory timbre balance. On two test units (Cm and Am), one note very near the lowest rattles slightly while still delivering true tone when played in a certain way just off-optimal, but the notes can still be played. Chords are as easy as single notes. This harmonica is full-scale (solo) tuned, so you will be able to play three full octaves in runs.

Downsides: Just one. Low quality and timbre is simply not very good: it is usable if you must, but if you can, use another instrument for lower tones.

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