Harmonica Reviews: Golden Cup Tremolo Harmonicas
The specifications of the Golden Cup Tremolo Harmonicas:
- 24-note 48-reed tremolo in harmonic minor tuning, available in the keys of Em, Gm, Am, Cm and Dm
- Using the typical Asian pseudo-solo layout
- Three full octaves of the harmonic minor scale, with extra notes at both the low and high end
- Brown plastic comb and chrome plated brass covers
- Reedplates attached with screws, with smooth and neat assembly
- Equal temperament around A=443Hz with a dry tuning, resulting in a less pronounced tremolo effect compared to Hohner or Hering instruments
- Double-sided tremolos in G/A and C/D keys, each side having 16 notes and 32 reeds
- Aluminium covers, with a black finish on the G/A harp and a red finish on the C/D harp
- Two separate combs held in place by the covers, making it possible to alter the pairing
- Slight variations in tuning and some inconsistencies in reed adjustment
- Comfortable to hold, measuring 13 cm x 5 cm x 2cm (5" x 2" x 3/4")
- Comes in a simple card box.
I was recently sent some Golden Cup tremolos for review by the same company that imports Leo Shi harmonicas. The first model I received is a 24-note, 48-reed tremolo in harmonic minor tuning. It comes in five different keys, including Em, Gm, Am, Cm, and Dm, using an Asian pseudo-solo layout that gives a three-octave range of the harmonic minor scale, with added notes at the lower and higher ends. The layout of notes is consistent across each key, with the Em starting on low B (one octave below the lowest note on a B diatonic) and extending to G (the highest note on a G diatonic). The Gm starts on low D and goes up to Bb, the Am ranges from low E to high C, the Cm ranges from G to Eb, and the Dm ranges from A (the lowest note on an A diatonic) to F (the highest note on a F diatonic).
The Golden Cup tremolos feature a brown plastic comb and durable chrome-plated brass covers, which sets them apart from other tremolo harps that often come with cheaper aluminum covers. The reedplates are securely attached with screws, ensuring a tight and well-sealed assembly. There were some slight rough edges on the reedplates, but these can easily be smoothed out with a file. The harps come packaged in a simple cardboard box.
The tuning and reed adjustment on these tremolos are quite good, although some fine-tuning may be required to perfect the sound. Like many Asian tremolos, they are tuned to equal temperament around A=443Hz and have a dry tuning, which results in a less pronounced tremolo effect compared to brands like Hohner or Hering.
The retail price of these Golden Cup tremolos is around US$18, making them a great value for those in the market for a minor-tuned tremolo harp. They are significantly less expensive than the Suzuki SU-21H and Tombo 1521, with few other tremolo models readily available in minor keys.
I also had the opportunity to review some double-sided tremolos from Golden Cup. These harps feature 16 notes and 32 reeds on each side, with the major keys G/A and C/D paired together. Unlike other double-sided instruments that are typically paired in fourths or fifths, such as C/G or A/D, these Golden Cup tremolos feature the typical Asian pseudo-solo tuning. The scale layout remains consistent across each key, with a middle octave containing a full diatonic scale, a low octave with the low third, fifth, sixth, and seventh notes of the scale, and a high octave with the high second, third, fourth, and fifth notes. This provides each side with a range equivalent to holes 2 to 9 on a standard diatonic harmonica.
The double-sided major key tremolos from Golden Cup feature the same brown plastic comb as the single-sided minor key tremolos. The covers, however, are made from aluminum with a black finish on the G/A harp and a red finish on the C/D harp. Although the covers might not be as sturdy as those on some other models, they are still functional and easy to remove. Unlike the traditional German designs, where the covers are attached using nails, the Golden Cup covers are attached using a more practical method, making it easy to replace them if necessary.
Upon removing the covers on one of the harps, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were actually two separate combs, held in place by the covers, rather than a single comb with both pairs of reed plates. This means that you can easily change the arrangement from G/A and C/D to C/G and D/A if desired.
The double-sided tremolos by Golden Cup are equipped with reliable screws for attaching the reedplates, but there may be some room for improvement in terms of reed adjustment. A few reeds were not optimally adjusted, but with some basic skills, these issues can be easily fixed. The tuning is on par with the standard A=443 Hz, but with a slight variation here and there.
Measuring at approximately 5 inches by 2 inches by 3/4 inches, these harps are designed for comfortable use and come packaged in a simple card box. They are a great option for those looking for an affordable introduction to the world of tremolo harmonicas or for those who desire a more comprehensive range of notes compared to traditional German-style tremolos.