Silver Creek Harmonicas - Reliable, Professionally Presentable and Economically Minded
If you’re looking for a reliable, professionally presentable and economically minded alternative to the famous brand name harmonicas, Silver Creek harmonicas are for you.
There are three Silver Creek harmonica series that differ in materials and construction, as well as in price. There is additionally a four-hole mini harmonica attached to a key chain in the product line that serves as a playable curio or conversation starter. The basic model, the Iron Works, is also available in a seven-harmonica set that offers even more savings on the most common keys along with a protective case.
The Ironworks is the introductory harmonica within the Silver Creek line. This 10-hole diatonic harmonica is designed for blues, folk, country and more, and is characterized by an easy-playing reed plate, hand-assembled, pin-attached brass reeds and a durable black comb with an attractive stainless chrome cover. It is modeled in both form and function after the legendary German-made harmonicas.
The Silver Creek Iron Works Harmonica is easy to play and provides an incredibly rich range of musical expression for every genre. It comes with a rugged travel case.
The Ironworks 7-Piece Harmonica Set with Carry Case features seven harps in the most commonly used keys: A, Bb, C, D, E, F, and G. Its zippered carrying case is plush-lined and offers both protection and organization for your Silver Creek Ironworks harmonicas.
Within the good, better, best comparison, the Black Gold series is Silver Creek’s “better” 10-hole diatonic harmonica. Like the Ironworks, it is a fit for blues, folk and country, and features a contoured cover plate for good volume and resonance, this one in stainless steel black chrome. The Black Gold series distinguishes itself from the Ironworks by virtue of its durable black comb and a standard reed plate, which is tougher and longer lasting than the Ironworks reed plate.
The 10-hole diatonic Silver Creek Black Gold Harmonica offers outstanding volume and deep resonance.
The best quality Silver Creek harmonica is the Silver Star, a professionally viable 10-hole diatonic harmonica that provides a vast palette of musical expression. Its hand-assembled brass reeds are welded rather than pin attached, and it features an extra-thick pro-style reed plate. These attributes combine to enhance the Silver Star’s longevity, tone and tuning. Its styling is capped off by a durable tan comb with stainless chrome cover.
Whether the goal is to find an inexpensive instrument for learning, an intermediate harp for working out your chops, or a professional quality instrument for less money, Silver Creek is the place to go looking for your next harmonica.
The Silver Creek Silver Star Harmonica offers a smooth comb and extra-thick reed plate give this hand-assembled instrument solid tone and superior playability for years to come.
Expert Testimony From Glen Doll
When the Silver Creek harmonicas started to arrive, Musician’s Friend thought it was a good idea to distribute a few of them to some accomplished players in the Los Angeles area and see how they reacted to the finished product. Glen Doll is a Los Angeles-based harmonica player and vocalist whose music is rooted solidly in the blues, and he agreed to take some of the new harps for a spin. As was expected, the most positive reaction was toward the Silver Star.
Harmonica player, Glenn Doll.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if this harmonica gets popular. The reeds responded well from low to high in the harmonica that I tested. I would say that this harmonica compares very well with a Hohner Special 20, a harp used by many pro players, including myself,” Doll said. “The cover plates are held by male to female screws, a superior method usually found only on more expensive harps. The Special 20, for instance, uses this method.”
A criticism Glen had for the Silver Star relative to the Special 20 was that it seemed not to have quite the same volume as its German counterpart. He did report that while it was close, given the same column of air, the Special 20 might have a slight edge in volume.
“It’s subtle, but I think it’s there,” Doll said.
He did qualify that observation by noting that he didn’t have a C harp in the Special 20 on hand to make a direct C to C comparison, but the G Special 20, according to Glen, did seem to have a little more woof.
“But, if you use an amp, that doesn’t matter at all.”
Mr. Doll reports that the Silver Star reeds are “equally responsive across its entire range, which is a common failing in a lot of the budget alternatives to the popular pro harmonicas.”
With the Silver Creek Silver Star models selling for less than half of what the Special 20 sells for, it is an excellent value. In the three weeks Glen Doll has had his Silver Creek harmonicas, they have done a rehearsal, a gig, a jam and endless noodling, and they show no signs of failure or fatigue.
Doll’s impressions of the Ironworks model were likewise extremely positive: “The Ironworks is a really good value. I could absolutely play one as a backup harp and come out just fine. In terms if its limitations, the response of the reeds at the high end is somewhat marginal. Bending the high C wasn't possible on the C-harp, for instance. The brass reeds and reed plates are held by 7 set screws, and the cover plates attach with a screw/washer combination.”
“The only difference I found in the Black Gold relative to the Ironworks was the use of 9 as opposed to 7 screws holding the reed plates to the comb. This is a way to get greater volume and a clearer tone because it makes the whole assembly more airtight. I didn’t note any difference in tone or volume, however, when comparing the Black Gold to the Ironworks. I would tend to choose the Ironworks over the Black Gold for that reason,” Doll said.
Expert Testimony From Preston Smith
Our second product tester was Preston Smith, whose career includes composing, producing and performing “Oh, I Love You So,” the theme song from Tom Cruise’s movie “Cocktails,” a writing credit for Roseanne Cash’s hit, “Black and White,” and even an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His current musical pursuits include ongoing releases on his Prestoons Music label and leading his band, The Crocodiles. Preston was a good choice to explore the versatility of Silver Creek harmonicas, as his music sprawls across a wide variety of idioms including jazz, country, pop and of course, blues.
“When you’re playing diatonic harp, it’s going to sound at least a little like the blues no matter what you play,” Smith said.
Harmonica player, Preston Smith.
Like Glen Doll, Preston Smith had an exceptionally enthusiastic reaction to the Silver Star harmonicas. We issued him one in the key of G and he used it at a seasonal party over a weekend.
“It held up fine. No stuffy reeds, no unexpected behavior, no issues at all, really. It was bright and loud, just like I like them, and the upper register was noticeably clear and present, similar to the Lee Oskars I use all the time. I really like these. Are they looking for an endorser?”
As the accident of timing would have it, Smith played a number of Christmas carols on his gig using the Silver Star.
“G is the people’s key, so when I was doing sing-along carols, I used the Silver Star. I was a little concerned because it was mostly single-note playing on the brace while I accompanied myself on guitar. I would take it once through the melody and then lead the sing-along, so it was important for the melody to be clear, loud and have a good tone. And it always did,” Smith said.
We also supplied Preston with a Black Gold Silver Creek harmonica in the key of A, which sell for about half the price of the Silver Star.
“I made the mistake of playing the Silver Star first. I popped the Black Gold into the harmonica brace to play some blues in A after a round of carols in G, and I noticed an absence of power in the treble. It played fine and it was perfectly in tune, but I missed the fire in the tone of the Silver Star. For practicing or knocking around the house, the Black Gold would be perfectly good. For performing though, I’d prefer the Silver Star.”
In the harmonica hierarchy, there is now a money-saving spot for everyone. Say a parent wants to introduce a child to pitch and tone. You can now do that more cheaply than ever before, and still offer the young musician something that is very much a credible musical instrument and not just a toy. The Ironworks is perfect in such a situation. But learners are not the only customers for the Ironworks. As Glen Doll mentioned, it is a great harmonica for a professional to use in a practice or song-learning context.
Black Gold harmonicas probably aren’t for the professionals, but if you want a nicer harmonica than the Ironworks, one with some design elegance and a reed plate with more resistance and better longevity than the Ironworks, the Black Gold should suffice perfectly. It is half the price of a Silver Star and earns a place in the pocket of a lot of different kinds of harmonica players.
The Silver Creek Silver Star harmonica appears destined to become a popular price-conscious alternative to the name brand harmonicas that have long dominated the market. It is satisfying to a Super 20 player like Glen Doll and satisfying to a Lee Oskar player like Preston Smith.
For the student, hobbyist, or discriminating professional, there is a harmonica within Silver Creek’s line of diatonic instruments. And let’s not forget about the four-note keychain harmonica. It’s a must for any musician who wants to keep track of their car keys and always have a handy, accurate pitch reference as well.