© 2005 P.Missin - Details

Unitone Chromatic

Upper view

Front view

Rear view

Made by the Harmonic Reed Corporation of Philadelphia, this harmonica has several unique features. It is mostly made from Bakelite, with an integral body and casing vaguely reminiscent of the Hohner CX-12, with an ivory coloured mouthpiece attached to the front of the instrument. Despite looking just like the 10-hole diatonic in their All-American series, this is indeed a chromatic harmonica, due to the ingenious tuning. The blow reeds provide a C major scale starting on the C above middle C, going up one octave and a major third to E; the draw reed give notes one semitone above the blow notes. This arrangement was covered by US patent 2276501, granted in 1942 to Ettore F. Manieri. Of course, as this harmonica only has 10-holes, this gives a very limited range to the instrument. However, this is not the most unique feature of this instrument. This close up of the harp with the mouthpiece removed may give you a hint:

Those upright pieces of brass in the picture are reedplates - there are twenty of them, one for each reed and they are mounted vertically in the sides of chambers that are connected to each hole in the mouthpiece. This design was also used in their All-American diatonic harmonicas and was protected by US patent 1817109, granted in 1931 to Irving L. Stein and Charles H. Bennington. This patent was reissued in 1934 as RE19299. The latter number is given on the instrument itself, along with the number 32285, which refers to a design patent granted in 1934 to Stein and Bennington for the distinctive shape of this harmonica.

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