The quality of mass produced harmonicas is considerably lower than those produced by professional customizers. For example, a customized Hohner Golden Melody in the key of LowD requires less air for playing and allows easier overbending than the same harmonica out of the box in the key of D. Harmonicas out of the box.
Unfortunately, the quality of factory-made harmonicas is quite limited. New designs are produced for marketing purposes every year with only insignificant changes made with regards to the playing properties. No company can afford to do time-consuming manual tuning at the factory for economic reasons and for the vast majority of their customers it’s not necessary. Despite all the faults of factory-made harmonicas they are usually much cheaper than custom harps. The higher price of the professional-level instrument is the result of the skill and many hours of labor that the customizer puts into it.
Custom Harp Quality Criteria
Some players have had unhappy experiences with harmonicas that have been badly customized. How can you determine the quality of a custom harmonica?
How do I make custom harmonicas?
For tuning harmonicas I apply an extremely complicated technique – the only one of its kind in the world. I have been improving this technique for many years. My technique takes into account all the traditional and commonly used tuning methods. But, for all their advantages, traditional methods all have a limited effect. I am sure that each and every craftsman has his or her particular methodologies and many of them keep them a secret. I also keep most of my techniques secret. In general, my tuning method includes over 15 steps and it takes 6 to 8 hours of work. I apply several techniques to increase the fatigue endurance of the reeds. During over 5 years I’ve been using this technique not one reed has broken on over 150 customized harmonicas. I install valves on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd holes on all my harmonicas. That affects how the draw notes sound. They are clearer and brighter (especially on low-key harps). The valve bend with the 2nd hole draw note replaces the overbend on the 1st hole, which is more difficult to elicit. In addition, I also maximize the centering of all the reeds to improve their reliability. Wooden combs are impregnated with oil and wax to improve their appearance and prolong their life.
At the moment I’m testing some harmonicas in which I have used the special technique for precise fixing the height and shape of the reeds to eliminate the negative effect of natural ageing process of the reeds, so harmonicas do not lose the accuracy of tuning with the passage of time.
You should not worry about the delivery. I’ve been working with post offices for a long time. During all this time there was only one single case when the harmonica has not been delivered to the customer, and I have refunded the payment.
USA, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Finland, France, Norway, Israel, Poland, Bulgary, Turkey, Ukraine, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Taiwan. These are the countries, where I have had cutomers and where I have delivered harmonicas by mail. Delivery price for any country is 10$.
Apart from diatonic harmonics custom chromatic harmonicas and Jew's-harps are also avalaible.
I employ all the skills and techniques I’ve learned and developed when I customize a harmonica. If for any reason I’m not completely satisfied with the quality of that work I don’t offer that harmonica for sale. If you feel that a harmonica you’ve purchased from me is unsatisfactory, I want you to return it to me. All reeds are warranted against failure for five years. Reed plates have engraving date customization.