[Harp-L] Small High-Tech Harmonica Makers: The Future?

Though I have so-far been the public face of our new business X-Reed.com, I
must point the spotlight on my partner: Zombor Kovacs. And that brings up a
wider issue about the future of harmonica making.

I've been tinkering with harps ever since I started playing, but only have
hand-tool skills to test my ideas. Zombor is not only very inventive when it
comes to harmonica design in his own right, but he has the CAD and CNC
knowledge to refine our ideas down to minute precision parts that can be

Our X-Reed OverValve Plate is a case in point. I came up with the idea and
made a couple of prototypes by hand. They worked, but were laboriously slow
to make and had the natural irregularities that come from hand work. 

Zombor took the idea, put it into his CAD software and ironed out the kinks
to create a precision designed part that could be machined. Then it got
transferred to his milling machine and these amazingly accurate finely
detailed parts arise from blank material before our eyes. It still seems
magical to me!

It's really stimulating working with someone who has a similarly restless
brain but who can transform ideas from crufty hand-made prototypes to slick
products that could have come out of any high-tech factory - all in the
comfort of your own home workshop. And we are not alone.

Because harmonicas are so small, they really suit this new world of mixing
small workshops with high-tech machinery. It's now affordable and
user-friendly for anyone with a mechanical bent - not just CNC but 3D
Printing as well.

Just as home studios revolutionised the music industry, I think the small
high-tech harmonica operation is destined to make quite an impact in the
harmonica scene in the years to come. Making reeds is about the only area
that the big manufacturers still have the edge. It's not insignificant (!),
but the tech exists now for the small guy to have a go at even this
formidable barrier. 

Whatever your opinion about his business model, you have to hand it to Brad
Harrison for having a good crack at that final frontier. He made his own
reeds, and in a new way. I really hope his pioneering work is not wasted and
someone else takes his technology forward.

Any news on what's happening with that, by the way?


Brendan Power




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