2002 - 2016 P.Missin - Details

What's that boomerang-shaped harp on the cover of Charlie Musselwhite's "Ace Of Harps" album?

(Used with permission of Alligator Records)

Not surprisingly, it is a Boomerang brand harmonica!

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, a Sydney music store owner called Frank Albert had a bunch of harmonicas made specially for the Australasian market by the German company Seydel (who have also made instruments for Weltmeister, Bushman and other companies). These all had names with a "Down Under" flavour, such as Boomerang, Kia Ora, Corroboree, etc. They also featured catchy slogans such as "Closed Vibratory Reeds", "Albert's System", "Tangent Tempered Reeds", "20 Tuneful Reeds" and similar things which actually meant very little, but sounded very impressive.

Several different models were made with the Boomerang name, the one featured on the album cover is the Miniature Boomerang, a 12-hole diatonic model. Others sold under the Boomerang name ranged from miniature 5-hole harps, through single reed diatonics and tremolos, to chromatic harmonicas. Some of these were shaped like a Boomerang, some had slightly flared covers to suggest the boomerang shape and others were merely ordinary shaped instruments with the name Boomerang on them. All of these models are now considered to be highly collectible. In recent years, Seydel reissued a standard shaped diatonic and chromatic under the Boomerang name, again for the Australian market. These were not in production for very long, but they might still turn up in Australian stores.

For more information on the subject of Mr Albert and his harmonicas, as well as a generally history of the harmonica in Australia and New Zealand, I highly recommend Ray Grieve's excellent book "A Band In A Waistcoat Pocket" (see Q28).


Update

A few years ago, Seydel produced a limited edition reissue of the 12-hole diatonic Boomerang, just like the one on the Ace of Harps cover. They occasionally turn up for sale on auction sites such as eBay.>


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