Hohner has a new amp designed especially for harp players, the Hoodoo Box. You can find the specs online at places like Musiciansfriend.com, so I won’t bother listing them here. What’s interesting is what this signals about the harp gear market.
This isn't the first amp designed especially for harp players.
The Harp King, the Hurricane V-8, the Harp Gear, the Sonny Junior,
and the Meteor--I probably forgot a couple of other makes, for which
I apologize--were designed from the ground up for harp players,
and most of them are made and sold in various configurations of speakers,
power output, etc. That list leaves out Ron Holmes's excellent Harp
Commander, a harp-specific preamp which can be used as a front end
to any amp or PA.
The big difference between the Hohner and these other makes is that the
least-priced amp on the list above sells in the neighborhood of $775,
and the most expensive is around $2000. For that price you get a
hand-made amp that is dead sure to be a collector's item. And I can
tell you that any of the amps listed above makes a hellacious harp
sound for sure--I've played through all of them, and they work as advertised.
But the Hohner sells for $300, not $775. Somebody at Hohner apparently
woke up and realized that they can leverage their manufacturing and
marketing apparatus to produce a harp amp that's got 80% of the
value and performance of a HarpGear 1 for less than 40% of the price.
They've certainly aimed the specs (okay, here they are--5 watts, 8" speaker,
spring reverb, 3-way EQ, and an XLR out for recording and PA) at 1) the low
end of the market, where $300 is about the right price, and 2) the high end
of the market, where pros are delighted to bring a small amp with good sound
and an XLR out to a recording session or performance.
If the thing sounds decent and doesn't fall apart when you take it out of the
box, I think it's a winner. If the overall quality and sound are good, it's
a better deal than a Fender Champ 600, a Crate Palomino V8, or an Epiphone
Valve thingy for sure.
One thing's obvious: the market for performance gear tailored to harp players
is getting bigger. I give Hohner credit for acting on that insight. A lot of
supposedly smart gear manufacturers still haven't.