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Civet Cat
Oct 24, 2009 2:42 AM GMT

Hey everyone, This is going to be a negative post: Just a heads up, the company Gold Plated Harmonicas ( they do not do good or honest work and their customer relations is rude, irrational, and terrible. The guy who runs the site is "Raymond", Here's what happened:

I ordered 13 or so double sided gold plated special 20 coverplates for my harmonicas. My reason for doing so was to end the problem of rusting coverplates. As you all know I travel constantly and deal with a wide array of weather/humidity conditions and even though I always try and wipe my harmonicas down and keep them as clean as possible they rust like crazy. The more you clean them, the more you wear the metal down and thus the faster they rust each time. I ended up paying something like 13.50 or something like that, a side, 540.00 dollars total. for 13 or so coverplates ( hard to remember) . Richard Sleigh had done some custom work on them as well and a small share of the money went to him, Richard Sleigh's work unlike Raymond's work was excellent as always!

The fella who runs, Raymond (sorry no last name ever given to me.) website claims the following:

"Increase Your
Investment's Value !
Harmonicas don't cost 25 or 50 cents anymore !
They cost 10's - 1000's of dollars,
so why let them deteriorate quicker than they need to ?.
Keep them looking great for many years to come !.
Get Them Gold Plated !!
24Karat Gold Plating by us keeps your harmonica cover plates, mouthpieces etc.... lasting longer than any chrome cover and they look great as well.
You'll be proud to own your own gold harmonica !!!
RW Designs.........."

Here's what I got 8 MONTHS after I ordered them : 8 double sided "Gold" plated that were not even fully "gold Plated" there were patches through out the plates of silver (Steel/original coverplate metal) coming through, they looked liked like they had been air brushed Gold! The rest of them had not even been "Plated" at all on the bottom/insides at all (as requested.) After they were finished and mailed to me, Richard told me that Raymond had said That he was having trouble plating Hohner plates! Pretty funny since his website claims they plate all brands and styles of harmonicas! No one called me through out the process to inform that the plating was not going well and would I like to discontinue the order or receive some kind of discount! It seems only logical that I should not have to pay for sides NOT plated! Instead he sent a few pairs of un-"Plated" knock off, cheap, Chinese blank coverplates as a consolation without even asking me if that was cool which it wasn't, ( I have tried using those with my own building). The reason I quote the words "Gold and Plated" is because I'm not sure they are Gold? I'm not a chemist but does Gold rust? Maybe it's just so, so thin thats its rusting underneath? I have no idea...He wouldn't answer this question.

Any way, when I got them I was stoked even though the work wasn't perfect I figured, what the hell at least they wont rust where they are plated, right? WRONG! After a week of laying they started rusting all over inside and out much FASTER than if they were just brand new steel! I was furious I called Raymond up and told his machine how pissed I was. Shortly there after my phone broke and the result was a wave of rude, apathetic, emails from raymond never answering any of my questions about a re-do, refund, or partial refund anything! By the time I pinned him down to a refund I was terrified that I would never see the money upon mailing them back. This guy was SO RUDE and far removed from reality during correspondence. He repeatedly told me he had already said this or claimed that nothing like that had happened, I had almost no communication with him until I voiced my complaint and he came alive. I knew when he started making things up out of thin air that reconsiliation would be difficult if not impossible. In hind site, he was trouble from the start, In an attempt to get a discount, I offered to hook him up with Richard Sleigh, Brad Harrison, Joe Spiers, and Chris Michalek and get those dudes to start carrying his stuff as options for their customers, so he declined (Which of course was normal) but was rude and arrogant about how busy he was and how he didn't care about my offer.

I'm not a big star like Bruce Willis or Van Morrison (the guys he boasts on his site) but I hope I can do some damage this company! Spread the word yall.
Jason Ricci aka Violin Cat

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Comments (11)

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Oct 24, 2009 4:22 PM GMT
eric b Replied:

Sounds like they were airbrushed.To my knowledge when you "plate" something it is charged with a current and the material bonds to the complete surface.From what You've said,if He treats His customers they way He treated You...sounds like He wont be in business too long.

Oct 25, 2009 10:32 PM GMT
Jaybird Replied:

Raymond Caraher is his full name, in case you wanted to know.

Oct 26, 2009 4:33 AM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

Hey, Jason - Remind me not to piss you off..... :)

I remember a kit Radio Shack used to sell - instead of immersing the object you connected an alligator clip to it and brushed the plating solution on with a special pen that had the opposite electric charge. So you could sort of "paint" on the plating which would allow you to do only one side. However it was incredibly thin and would wear off easily. GOOD quality gold plating, like that used on printed circuit board connectors, decent jewelry and such, is MUCH thicker (although still way thin) and will last long and won't rust.

Oct 26, 2009 9:16 AM GMT
Reed Triller Replied:

There is a chemical bath that,similar to jewelry cleaner dipping jars,you dip metal into and it somehow plates the metal with gold through some chemical change process.I`ll see if I can find it.

Oct 26, 2009 7:32 PM GMT
eric b Replied:

What Greg is talking about is "electrostatic" painting...but that's painting,not plating.I would muscle the guy into replacing the coverplates.It's not like word doesn't get around in the harmonica community.

Oct 27, 2009 5:00 PM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

No, I'm not taking about electrostatic painting - aka powder coating. I had one of those babies and it indeed legitimately electroplated the material. The "pen" just made it so you needed a lot less expensive solution to make the whole thing work, which put it in a price range that kids (or their gift giving parents) could afford.

Oct 28, 2009 11:27 PM GMT
blogward Replied:

Hope you get your money back Jason. Personally, this photo - presumably of Raymond with Jim Belushi -

Looks like Raymond on the right.

would have put me off. I mean, he might put one of my harps in his mouth!

Jun 17, 2013 11:01 PM GMT
Reed Triller Replied:

I am surprised that he still seems to be in business. I spoke to my fiancees father last night who is a jeweler and can do electroplating. I showed him one of my GM'S and he says these covers can't really be electroplated. He was saying it would not stay on. They would have to be specially treated professionally first before plating and this is not something just some jeweler with an electroplating machine would be able to do and keep the quality up.

Jun 18, 2013 1:26 PM GMT
John B Replied:

Hello, Jason.

This is my first post on Harmonica Space.

What model of Hohner harmonicas are you using? There should be no rust on the covers of your harps.

Most of Hohner's 10-hole diatonics have brass covers chrome-plated, or (older models) nickel-plated. The newer models have stainless steel (no rust) covers.The very old harps (1858-1940s?) may have steel covers that do rust, but some of the oldest models used brass covers.

Chrome-plated covers will not rust, unless the plating wears off.

Enamelled covers (painted), such as the Hohner Pro Harp, should not be a problem. Enamelled covers were introduced because some players are allergic to nickel plating. That was before stainless steel covers were introduced.

The brass covers will not rust, but they do oxidize green (brass is a copper and nickel? alloy). If the brass covers of a Golden Melody (for example) are not coated with a clear spray, theymight oxidize green.

Nickel-plated brass covers will oxidize a brownish color. This is easily removeable with lemon juice. Wipe the lemon juice on the nickel plating with a damp cloth, then, rinse or wipe with tap water. Dry the harmonica.

I'm not a metallurgist, but I don't think that gold rusts. Only ferrous metals (steel) rust, as far as I know.

From what I've read here, Raymond may heve been air-brushing "gold" onto the harp covers. A thin coating will wear off quickly, and then you are back to "business as usual."

The gold-plating process involves three or more steps. Three layers are applied to a surface, involving layers of copper, nickel(?), then finally, gold. I may be wrong about the plating metals used.

Anyway, it appears that whatever Raymond did to your harmonicas was not satisfactory to you. If he is a legitimate business owner, he will refund your money, with an apology.

Best Regards

John Broecker

Dec 10, 2013 11:26 PM GMT
beginnersmind Replied:

A good plater would plate with copper first so that the gold would adhere. Do a google search in your local big city for "electroplating" and you can find businesses that cater to the jewelry trades. Those are the people who are for real and wouldn't be in business if they didn't know what they were doing. Contact them. They will do it right for you. Sorry you went through all that grief!

Jul 22, 2014 8:11 PM GMT
doug m Replied:

He should have done-nickel strike, cooper plate, clean, niclkel plate, clean, gold plate...that was the old way I learned. The gold still will only be a few microns can see through it, thats why the nickel b4...

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