Donate to This Project

Your donations help us continue to add new and exciting features. Please consider making a donation

HarmonicaSpace is a subsidiary of Brady Mills Graphics

Why the need for custom harps

Back to the Gear Room

Mar 06, 2009 10:43 PM GMT

I have asked this question before on other sites, and I just want more ideas. They did give me one heck of an education, I wont be surprised if guys hers have already seen my post.

I now understand a bit about "out of the box" and custom.

I just want your take,

why you do it


do you request something different from others.

just remember i am a newbie that is still learning. I didorder 2 Turbo harps I think thats as close as i come to understanding customization....

and I have out of the box

Hohner sp20, / marine Band both in "C"

lee oskar

Melody Maker in G,C,A

Natural Minor FM,Gm,Am,Cm

I practice solo and I have a buddy that belongs in a band and wants to work with me, he will be here this Sunday...

abner (still on my wonderful journey)

Share |

Comments (23)

Login or Register to Post Comments

Order by Date

Mar 06, 2009 11:53 PM GMT
Robb L Replied:

I have found the important thing is to check the tuning of new harps. If you do nothing other than that they will sound better. An inexpensive chromatic guitar tuner will do fine to get started. A small file is about the only other thing you'll need. Check out the videos on youtube about tuning harmonicas. There are some really good ones. Then go slow. Pick out the most out of tune harp you own. The Sp20 and the Lee oscar will be the easy ones to open up and reasemble once it is tuned. Again... go slow. I trashed more than one harp learning to tune.

Mar 07, 2009 12:17 AM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Thanks Robb L, I don't think im ready to start fooling around with the hard... i don't know what im trying to achive....I might haveforgottento mention that I am a newbie


Mar 07, 2009 12:36 AM GMT
Zack P Replied:

Well a Custom Harmonica is literally like a custom guitar so I will use a guitar to explain. On a cheap Squier Fender the frets may be sharp, unleveled, unrounded; intonation may be very off and the tuners may not keep hold. Now, try a high-end P.R.S., that guitar will hold tuning, have great frets, great intonation, everything! But of course, a skilled player will REALLY get the difference, a beginner will not (okay, they'll know the difference, but should learn on a little less, possiby/probably).

Now, in a Harmonica there are reeds, that's it! But, they must be gapped, tuned, and possibly even embossed. Then the reed tolerance (which I believe in the space between the reed and the slot) can be tigthened. On a cheap Chinese harmonica the reeds will probably be made out of cheaper/thinner brass, have very bad tolerances, and the gapping may be sub-par.

A Custom Harmonica on the other hand is different, and mainly because they are made by a PERSON and not by some machine that may or may not be functional that day. First of the gapping will be perfect so that you do not need to blow or suck too hard. The reedplates may also be thicker to cause a better response (as there will be more metal to vibrate) and also make better volume. The reeds will be embossed and gapped perfectly for overblows and overdraws (if you want). Also, more minor things like the backs are usually opened up and side-vents, also. Some may even allow you to have mix-and-matched coverplates (I really love SP20 covers, nice wah-wah's but the tone of a MB coverplate is just amazing!!!).

So I hope I helped you out, and I understand that you are a self-proclaimed 'newbie'. But I hope you do understand a little bit. So good luck man, and keep playing!!!

Mar 07, 2009 12:37 AM GMT
Zack P Replied:

Also, I do want to mention that different customizers will have a different approach. Definitely!!!

Mar 07, 2009 12:57 AM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Thanks Zack P

I have heard of overblows and overdraws., To be honest I don't know what they mean.


Mar 07, 2009 1:15 AM GMT
Zack P Replied:

Pretty much, an overblow is when you blow on, lets say the 6 hole, and you make it pop up to a new note. Same with an ovedraw, except you draw on, lets say, the 7 hole.

Mar 07, 2009 1:42 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Zack how would that be different then a bend with an over draw ?

and if I may ask, who does your customizing? you can email me this info if you like.


Mar 07, 2009 3:56 PM GMT
Zack P Replied:

An overdraw is bending down a hole in the high end to achieve a new note that I believe is a third higher, but I am not completely sure.

And, right now I am in the middle of having someone do some for me, but at the moment no one. But when it is a done deal then I'll be giving reviews, etc.

Mar 07, 2009 4:04 PM GMT
Zack P Replied:

But, I do want to clarify or say something: you do not need one to be good or do those things. But, you should learn how to clean, adjust gap, and do other modifications to your harmonica. Just like a guitarist can change strings, tune, adjust intonation, etc, a harmonica player should at least try. Give it a year, I didn't but I was confused. After awhile, like two years, I finally figured it out a little.

Mar 07, 2009 6:22 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

understood, thank you Zack.

I was kind of hoping others would jump in. Considering thatcustomizingisprettyintense.

Mar 07, 2009 7:06 PM GMT
Kingley Replied:

I play Marine Bands that I take apart. Then I seal the comb and gap and arc the reeds, emboss the reed slots and open up the cover plates. This makes a huge difference to the playability of the harp. It enables me to have a harp that responds exactly as I want it to. I learnt a lot of what I know right here on Harmonica Space.

I knew a fair bit before but the great guys on here like Jason Ricci, Dave Payne and Joe Spiers helped me understand what i was doing a lot more, when I'm making my own custom harps.

Mar 08, 2009 12:32 AM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Thank you Kingley, im a little timid in trying to take apart any of my harps. one day.


Mar 09, 2009 11:14 AM GMT
Civet Cat Replied:

Mar 09, 2009 12:00 PM GMT
Civet Cat Replied:

Hi Blue eyes:

In short overblowing is a method of obtaining the "missing" notes to allow ones self to play three complete chromatic octaves on a diatonic harmonica in conjuction with draw and blow bending. Over blows needed for this are 1, 4, 5, and 6 BLOW then 7, 9 and "maybe" 10 DRAW (to take it past a complete chromatic scale in first position any way). Over blows are actually voiced (Come from) on the draw reed, and vice versa for over draws..What I mean is that even though you are blowing hole 6 (Example) it is the 6 draw reed that is producing the tone.

The best way to get an over blow is to remember your emrouchure when draw bending and simply blow (and opposite for overdraws). So try the 6 hole...draw the 6 natural, bend it then simply and naturally exhale...If the reed is any where near the the reed plate (action, gapping etc...) it will overblow eventually. You don't need a custom harp either. It helps to be able to set the action/gap (which is easy too) but its not neccassary, I played them on good ole hohner marine bands and golden melody's for many years with out so much as setting the action. As I got better at them and started using them every night or in almost every riff...I got tired of some harps doing it better than others and started fidgeting with them. This made it so I could hit them any time every time just about unless I was sucking as long as I set the action tight enough...

when you close the gap or bring the reed closer to the reed plate by gradually pushing over and ver again with a little screw driver or tooth pick whatever you will find the the closer it gets to the reed plate the less air it takes to make the reed sound/bend/overblow/overdraw.So this helps everything...SORT OF... you can no longer play that hard or the reed will stick...So you have to start learning to play softer which is better any way for you. You will be just as loud just more focused and in tune but sometimes as I still do you will get carried away and blow to hard and no sound at all will come out of the reed!

Hope this helps. I have another vid on youtube of how to over blow.


Mar 09, 2009 12:22 PM GMT
Civet Cat Replied:

Hey...sorry...also READ these old posts...

Mar 10, 2009 11:55 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Thank you, i have seen lots of your vids on youtube and you make it easy.. by this i mean your having fun and it makes someone like me want to learn...

dude your the best, hope to see you in Sunny South Florida...

Mar 11, 2009 1:08 AM GMT
Zack P Replied:

There ya go Blue! Jason helped you out!

Mar 11, 2009 1:09 AM GMT
Zack P Replied:

P.S. Jason likes Florida!!!

Apr 03, 2009 10:07 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Zack p , thats right im the man... ( only because Jasonresponded).

I ride the coat tails.

Im waiting for Jason to come down to South Florida I had found his teaching vids on you tube and I thought he was just one of the guys. Then I find out he has a band and I missed his dates by a week....

a week can youbelievemy luck.... Jason had 2 or threeengagementI could haveeasilygone to.

Apr 07, 2009 5:46 PM GMT
Civet Cat Replied:

Hey Blue eyes I think Ill be back in July...Lets get coffee...


Apr 08, 2009 5:00 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

you got yourself a deal.

Now all I have to do is practice,practiceand have fun. hopefully by July I can play

"Mary had a little lamb"

abner (Blueyes, now I have something to look forward to )

May 20, 2009 10:31 PM GMT
Zack P Replied:

I got a Harrison and it is an amazing harmonica. Definitely one of the bests. Definitely get one sometimes. a Bob Meehan is pretty cheap and good wait period, and I have only heard good things about them!

© 2009 HarmonicaSpace

Advertise with Us | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy | Anti-Spam Policy | Report Abuse | Report Problem | Contact Us

Harmonica Space offers free social networking, harmonica forums and harmonica chat for harmonica players.
Join today and meet other harmonica players from all over the world!

Web Development and Web Design by Brady Mills Graphics