Ted van Beek’s reviews of double-reed harmonicas are well worth a look if you’re considering buying one of these unusual instruments. Here’s Ted’s take on the Hering Golden Sound.
The Hering Golden Sound (Model 89/64) is a double-sided Octave-Tuned harp with 16 holes and 32 reeds per side. It is available in the keys of F + Bb, and is hand made in Brazil. The street price is $20 US to $30 (although with the current shortage, I have seen these sold for considerably more). The review is based on two new harps.
This harp comes in the ugly Hering plastic baggie, completely out of character with the Professional status Hering bestows on this model. The harp is traditional in appearance with a curved mouthpiece and has a nice look to it. All external edges are covered with a clear finish that is quite smooth.
Both harps played very well out the baggie. All the notes sounded and were in tune, and all reeds had a well balanced response. Both harps were air-tight. My mustache survived intact.
On the Bench
The overall dimensions measured at 5.0×2.6×0.875 inches. The stainless steel covers are 0.016 inch thick, about medium weight. The only bracing for the covers is around the edges, but they are quite sturdy. There are four separate reed plates. The reed plates are a Yellow Brass, 0.029 inch thick (Perhaps this should be thin). Each plate is held in place by 8 small nails, which fortunately are placed into the thick part of the comb, not the reed chamber walls. There was some curl and twist in each plate. The wooden comb uses equal length reed chambers (allowing for the curve of the mouthpiece), the bottoms of the chambers have an elliptical front-to-back "scooped" profile that is different for individual reeds. I could not determine the type of wood used.
All the reeds on both harps were accurately centered and straight. There were no loose reeds. All reeds were gapped consistently.
As usual with nailed plates and wooden combs, re-assembly takes a bit of care so as not to damage the existing nail holes. I wet the nails before driving them in. All four individual covers are identical, but may have slightly different nail positions. Keep them identified, so that the nails will go in without enlarging their holes.
After the Break-in
The harps were still airtight after re-assembly, with most of the leakage caused by gaps between the reed chamber walls and the plates. These would seal after a few minutes of playing. The reed tuning was consistent, Just Intonation, centered around 443. Reed response was very smooth and offered easy control when playing solos and blends. Overall volume was louder than average.
These harps are a pleasure to use. The mouthpiece design provides good tactile feedback, yet is not rough on the mouth. The tone of the harp is distinct and different from the other Octaves on the market, robust, and easily controllable. Playing the Blues with this harp is a lot of fun.
Final rating (on a five star scale)
Out of the box: Four stars.
Both harps played very well straight out of the baggie. The minus side is that awful baggie, and the nailed assembly. Harps require maintenance. That means that
eventually the harp will be damaged because of the use of those nails.
After Setup: Four stars.
The factory did an excellent job of setting the harps up, so the improvement (mainly slight tuning differences) was minimal. Overall, this is a great instrument.
The Hering bad news: these harps are difficult to obtain, but worth waiting for.