In our series of buyers’ guides we look at the various models produced by the major harmonica manufacturers. This time it’s the turn of German brand, Seydel, or to use its full name, CA Seydel and Sohne.
A Long History
Back in the late 90s and early 2000s I had the good fortune to work in the then nascent dotcom industry. At the time, amongst the overspending on parties, table tennis tables in the board room (yes, really) and other frivolities, there was a great deal of talk about the advantages of being the first to market in a given area. This was thought to be the key to unlocking significant venture capital cash, which would subsequently be blown through at a rate usually reserved for the wives of Premiership footballers.
The evidence that being first to market could be correlated with long term success however, proved to be illusory. Few people today will have anything other than a distant memory of early search engines, such as HotBot or Excite; fewer still may recall using the music sharing service, Napster, yet these were the early icons of the internet.
Seydel, on the other hand, has managed to buck this trend. It may not be the largest manufacturer of harmonicas, but it is certainly the oldest extant one, with a date of establishment that is earlier, even, than their compatriots, Hohner. The date of their incorporation, in fact, is hard to ignore, given that they produce a whole host of harmonicas featuring the requisite year – 1847 – as their prefix.
Let’s take a look at the various models and help you to determine which ones best suit your needs.
Seydel Diatonic Range
This is the entry point to Seydel’s harmonicas. Unlike many of the other major manufacturers, Seydel doesn’t outsource production to China, so, although this entry level harmonica is priced higher than the base models from many of Seydel’s rivals, it’s made in Germany and should be viewed as equivalent to a Hohner Special 20 or Rocket rather than cheaper harps, such as the Blues Band.
It’s similar in construction to the pricier Session Steel, with a plastic comb and stainless steel covers, but unlike the Session Steel it features brass, rather than stainless steel, reeds. A great introduction to Seydel harmonicas, and keenly priced, given the quality.
This is a variant of the Session with ‘antique -coated’ (bronze/brown coloured) cover plates. Otherwise identical.
Unlike other Seydel models at this price, the Solist pro has a wood, rather than plastic, comb. The comb itself is treated to multiple coats of sealant to mitigate against swelling, and features half flat stainless steel covers. Reeds are brass.
The Session Steel ups the ante a little with Seydel’s signature stainless steel reeds. Seydel claims that these can last up to five times longer than some brass reeds. Whilst we’ve not empirically test this assertion, we have received plenty of positive feedback from customers on the longevity of these harps. Also available in a Summer Edition, which features a new colour of comb for each year of release. Many players like to pick up a new Summer Edition model in a different key each year, as it enables them to build a set in which the keys are easily distinguishable from each other by the comb colours.
Although the Orchestra S shares a similar construction with the Session Steel, it is solo tuned, with the note layout being similar to that of a chromatic harmonica. This makes it particularly suited to playing melodies.
The Favorite is similar to the Session Steel, with stainless steel reeds, but replaces the plastic comb with an anodized aluminium one, giving a clear, bright tone.
This harmonica harks back to Seydel’s first production diatonic with stainless steel reeds, but updates it with modern precision manufacturing techniques. The maple comb is coated with multiple layers of sealant and the cover is made of extra strong stainless steel sheet.
Shares many of the features of the Classic, but with a plastic, rather than maple, comb and silver reeds.
This updates the Classic with an aluminium comb and an optimised cover plate design.
To celebrate the 170th anniversary of Seydel, this harp takes the Noble’s construction and adds gold plated covers.
Seydel Octave/Tremolo Range
Plastic comb, 40 brass reeds and a curved shaped for playability. Available only in C.
Richter tuned, 10 hole, 40 reed octave harmonica with a plastic comb and brass reeds.
24 hole tremolo harmonica with stainless steel reeds. Plastic comb and German silver reed plates.
Solo tremolo tuned harmonica which provides three complete octaves, making it particularly suited to playing melodies. Plastic comb, stainless steel reeds.
Seydel Chromatic Range
12 hole, 48 note chromatic harp featuring an acrylic comb, brass reeds and stainless steel cover plates. Available in a number of keys.
Not to be confused with the Deluxe Chromatic, this 12 hole, 48 note harp uses a CNC milled acrylic comb, stainless steel reeds and a silver plated mouthpiece. Available in a wide range of keys, and can be ordered in solo or orchestra C tuning.
Professional level 12 hole chromatic harp. German silver reed plates, stainless steel reeds and an aluminium comb for a clear and bright sound. Available in a range of keys and can be order in solo or Orchestra C tuning.
This sits at the top of Seydel’s chromatic range, and has a stunning array of features, including a case that plugs into a USB port or a vehicle’s power point and heats the harmonica to the optimum temperature for playing. The recessed reedplates are precision cut from anti-corrosive German silver, and the 64 stainless steel reeds are hand tuned. The valves have less adhesive than conventional ones, which facilitates precise control. The slider, made from 1mm German Silver, has an ergonomically convex-shaped, silver coated slider button with a soft surface. Available with an acrylic or aluminium comb.
Seydel Custom Tunings
Many of Seydel’s harmonicas are available in custom tunings, including Paddy Richter, PowerBender, PowerDraw and Orchestra C. For an explanation of these different tunings have a look at our guide here: Harmonica Tunings Explained