Re: custom diatonic harmonicas


Thanks for the cautionary note.  While I do not make my living playing harp,
and I'm certain there's much more to learn, and I do feel that there is
greater performance to be wrenched from this simple instrument, I'm pretty
certain that I have the chops to make even a cheap piece of crap sound
pretty good.  Over the years, I've found that even when I think everyone
noticed that I missed this note or that because at the given moment, a reed
decided to stick or buzz, or the guitar player didn't like to tune his
guitar, or the PA sounded like crap, or any number of other things to get
hung about, I later find out that I'm the only one who's freaked out about
it.  I've gotten by for years, dealing with imperfection.  That's not to say
that I don't appreciate the occasional magic harp.  It's great that there
are so many generous individuals on this listserve who are willing to share
their knowledge on how to attain this ideal.  That said, I will take your
advice and reserve my known decent, albiet out of the box, uncustomised
harps for those occasions that demand predictable albiet less than optimal
performance.  In the meantime, I have that box of harps, some of which date
to the 60's, with swelled combs, sticky reeds, gook build-up, crushed
covers, etc, which my wife has been trying for years to get me to dispose
of, upon which I can screw-up until the cows come home.  But then again,
back in the day, I used to rebuild VW's based upon knowledge gained from a
simple spiralbound book and drove them to many a gig.


Howard Chandler

- ----- Original Message ----- 
From: <yeehaw@xxxxxxxxxx>
To: <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2003 8:46 PM
Subject: custom diatonic harmonicas

> Hi Everyone,
> I can't help making some comments on the recent custom harp thread.
> Some people seem to be of the opinion that it is a simple process to turn
> a stock harp into a professional instrument.
> Nothing could be further from the truth! Anymore then I could watch a
> video, and read a book or two about rebuilding automobile engines, and
> then rebuild one myself, and have to rely on it to get me to gigs.
> If I only had to go to "work" and it broke down on the way, I could just
> call in sick, but music is not like that! I absolutely have to be where I
> am supposed to be and my instruments have to be in tune and if one of my
> harps blows out during a gig, I absolutely need to have a replacement at
> hand.
> So, if you are going to "customize" your own harmonicas, you should
> seriously conceder how important they are to you, and what your motivation
> is for doing so.
> Even though I am a full time customizer and musician, I conceder my set of
> Filisko and Sleigh harps one of the best investments I ever made!
> I had no idea how much of a difference there was between a stock harmonica
> and good customized one, until I was able to actually play one, and really
> give it a workout!
> So, lets conceder motivation. If blowing harp is just a hobby and you
> enjoy tinkering, then by all means see if you can improve their
> performance by gapping them, or whatever else you want to try, but
> conceder this, I have been doing this full time for several years. It
> takes me a full days work to customize a harp, and I know what I am doing.
> If you are going to experiment, then expect to ruin allot of harps!
> If I call in a plumber or electrician to work on my house, I expect to pay
> him a days pay. If a customizer spends a day working on your musical
> instrument, then he also deserves a days pay. Right?
> Anyway, IMHO if you want the best instrument you can get, buy one from a
> good customizer.
> All the best,
> Bob Meehan
> 145 Keenan Ave
> Goose Creek, South Carolina 29445
> phone 843-670-3154
> web site
> --
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