More proof that there is nothing new under the sun. In 2004 Suzuki brought out their wonderful SCT-128 Tremolo Chromatic harmonica, but this was not the first time some had tried to make such an instrument. The harmonica pictured here was made shortly after WWII, during the US occupation of Japan and is made mostly of Bakelite. It is actually two separate tremolo harps, one in the key of C, the other in the key of C#, joined to a common mouthpiece. Instead of having a slide which moves from side to side, as in the typical chromatic harmonica, the mouthpiece of this instrument has a central cylindrical unit which can be rotated to direct the breath to either the upper or lower harmonica by turning the knob at the right end of the instrument. Here is a close-up of the gearing system with the end covers removed:
Unfortunately, the central part of the mouthpiece has completely seized up and has so far resisted my careful attempts to free it. Also, the reedplates are mounted on to Bakelite combs using nails and, of course, the Bakelite has cracked as a result.
There are various Japanese patent numbers stamped on the casing, but no mention of its US Patent, number 2256682, granted in 1941 the Torahachi Machino company of Tokyo. Torahachi Machino held several patents for chromatic harmonicas, including the Machino Tone chromatic that was marketed during the 1960s.
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