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Interview by Scott Emmerman
Hohner’s Director of Marketing and Sales
Over the past 50 years, Bob Dylan’s classic compositions and performances have changed the face of popular music. Throughout his iconic career, Dylan has maintained a special relationship with the Hohner company and has consistently showcased their harmonica products in his music. In celebration of this special relationship, Hohner and Bob Dylan have collaborated in the creation of a next-generation harp, the Bob Dylan Signature harmonica. This new harp meets the highest standards set by 151 years of harmonica craftsmanship, and by Bob Dylan himself. So what was the inspiration behind such a harmonica? Scott Emmerman, Hohner’s Director of Marketing and Sales, posed several questions to Dylan seeking insight into his approach to harmonica playing.
Scott Emmerman: When did you get started playing harp?
Bob Dylan: When I was in high school.
SE: Which came first for you, the guitar or the harp?
BD: The guitar.
SE: Having played both wood and plastic comb harmonicas, which do you prefer and why?
BD: I like the more natural feel of the wood.
SE: Who are some of your main musical influences?
BD: Wayne Raney, Little Walter, and Jimmy Reed.
SE: What are some of your personal favorite harmonica tunes performed by other artists?
BD: "Roller Coaster" by Little Walter, "Going Down the Road" by Woody Guthrie, and "Freight Train Boogie" by the Delmore Brothers with Wayne Raney.
SE: Can you tell us about your experiences with the harmonica "rack"? When did you first start using one?
BD: When I was performing solo in coffeehouses. I got the approach from Woody Guthrie . . . it really gave a coffeehouse performer more variety to be able to keep the rhythm on guitar while playing the harp.
SE: How did you adapt your playing style when using it?
BD: Well, you play a more chordal thing, as opposed to the single note-style of folks like Little Walter.
SE: Does the harmonica play a role in your songwriting process?
SE: How do you feel your harmonica playing has influenced today’s players?
BD: I’m not sure it has.
SE: Are there any young harmonica players today that capture your attention?
BD: Not really. But I hope one comes along soon.
SE: What advice would you give to a beginning harp player?
BD: Listen to Little Walter, Wayne Raney, and Jimmy Reed!
Based on the classic Marine Band harmonica, the new Bob Dylan Signature model features a gold-plated reed plate and a special select wood comb that allow this harp to produce uncharacteristically warm tones while also achieving a brilliance that gives musicians maximum expressive possibilities. Custom steel cover plates bearing Bob Dylan’s signature, a carrying case embossed with Dylan’s distinctive "Eye" logo, and an outer gift box featuring an exclusive picture of Dylan on the inside combine to produce a harp package that will delight everyone from the serious player to the legions of Bob Dylan fans around the world.
The Bob Dylan Signature Series harmonica is available individually in the key of C, as well as in a set of seven natural keys of A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, complete with a special carrying case. This set is perfect for today’s professional musicians who desire a complete set of harmonicas that are ready to perform to the highest standards.
Hohner master craftsmen and Bob Dylan: an historic collaboration that has produced a new classic. Additional information on these products may be found on Hohner’s Website.
In case you’re itching to wail on some blues or rock out with your favorite band, pick up one of Musician’s Friend’s new Hohner harmonica bundles that puts the finest harmonicas available on the market into your hands for less:
Hohner, leading the world in harmonica technology for the past 151 years.