Re: [Harp-L] New Electric Harmonica
- To: Ronnie Schreiber <autothreads@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: [Harp-L] New Electric Harmonica
- From: Boris Plotnikov <ploboris@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2014 14:59:22 +0400
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Very interesting. Does it utilize regular reeds and reedplates and standart
If yes, it have to allow to use very high quality reedplates (e.g.
customized), e.g. fits standart reedplates (hohner, suzuki, seydel, tombo)
and have to be airtight in construction. Do you mean some shell for
2014-11-09 0:24 GMT+03:00 Ronnie Schreiber <autothreads@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>:
> I'm developing a new electric harmonica.
> Little Walter plugged in right around the same time that Muddy Waters did.
> Six decades later, guitarists have taken Stratocasters to the stratosphere
> and beyond while we harp players are still stuck in the early 1950s
> propeller era as far as technology and tone are concerned. Bullet mics and
> other dedicated harmonica microphones create a great sound, no doubt, but
> amplifying harmonica with mics is hardly an ideal solution. Feedback and
> impedance issues limit volume and tone.
> I can't yet disclose to the public just how it works, but I've shown the
> first prototype to a number of professional harp players including Peter
> "Madcat" Ruth and Carl Caballero and they're encouraging me to go forward
> with the idea so we're working on a production version. I know now that
> it's a practical, playable instrument (and it's unbelievably cool to watch
> great players use my gizmo to make music) now it's a question of putting it
> in a player friendly production form that we can sell. I'm posting here in
> the hope of getting some input from other players about what you'd like to
> see in the final product. We're going to start with diatonics (and yes,
> you'll be able to change keys easily and quickly), but the concept will
> work with chromatics as well. It's a passive device, no need for power
> supplies, belt packs or 9 volt batteries, though the design is compatible
> with active electronics should we want to offer that in the future.
> Simply put, the prototype works, it plays like a harmonica, all the bends
> work, and it sounds like a harmonica (unlike the Turboharp ELX, which is a
> very cool and clever idea itself but produces pure sine waves), only
> electric, it won't feedback no matter how loud you play (which means you
> can play as loud or louder than the guitar player now if you want to), it
> has great sustain, and it's compatible with any effects device that will
> work with an electric guitar or bass (though I hope to work with an effects
> company to develop devices that are voiced specifically for harp). It's
> seriously amplified and you don't have to blow hard to play loud. While
> it's necessarily heavier than a regular acoustic harmonica, the prototype,
> which was made of hardwood with relatively simple tools, so there's a lot
> of superfluous material, already weighs less than what a Shure Green Bullet
> and a Lee Oskar weigh together. I'm working with a 3D printer and we expect
> the production version with an ABS body to weigh significantly less. We're
> aiming for less than a JT-30 mic by itself and I'm pretty sure we'll meet
> that goal. I want it to be a pro quality instrument, up to the rigors of
> touring, so while the body will be made of a polymer, metal inserts will be
> used for parts that could wear.
> I've put the prototype right up to the grill of a Fender Twin Reverb
> turned up to 12 and while it has great sustain, it simply won't feedback.
> No more fiddling with mics, amps and equalization to get the tone you want
> without worrying about things squealing and howling. No more having to turn
> down between riffs. You can set the volume and tone controls on the amp
> where you like how they sound, not where you have to keep them to avoid
> feedback. Also, there are onboard volume and tone controls. At moderate
> levels the tone is clean, but turn it up and just like an electric guitar
> things start to get tastily distorted.
> You can use a traditional grip and get a tight hand cup for wah and other
> hand effects. Since you're not having to hold a mic, when you're not using
> hand effects you have a free hand for gesturing, getting another key ready,
> and fooling around in your harp case or fiddling with settings.
> In addition to playing loud and not feeding back, as mentioned, it's
> compatible with any effects device that will work with an electric guitar
> or bass.You now will have the opportunity to create entirely new tones and
> sounds for the harmonica. You haven't heard weird till you've heard a
> harmonica through an envelope filter: duh dum duh dump wowwowwow wowwow. I
> have a Digitech RP-250 and while not all of the effects are necessarily
> something you'd want to use with a harp, all of them do function, as well
> as all of the multi-effects devices' amplifier models.
> Since it's a new thing, you'll also have the chance to use it to develop
> new technique. While out of the box it plays pretty much like any
> harmonica, it presents an unequaled opportunity to create new techniques.
> Think of some of the signature sounds in rock n roll - Jimi Hendrix's
> wahwah pedal, Jerry Garcia's envelope filters, or how guitar players have
> developed things like pull-offs, hammer-ons, tap tones and harmonics. You
> now have the opportunity to create your own signature sounds.
> So it works. Now I want to make it as player friendly as I can. I think
> I've gotten most of the features down, but I'm a very rudimentary harmonica
> player so I need input from folks who can actually play.
> Do you prefer a traditionally shaped mouthpiece with the comb proud of the
> cover plates, or something smooth and round like on a Hohner CX-12?
> Round holes or square holes?
> What kind of cable connector? For space reasons I don't want to use a 1/4"
> jack and I'd like a connector that the cable latches or locks securely to
> it. My brother suggested Lemo connectors, but I want to go with something
> that's compatible with what cables players would have in their gig cases or
> at least can buy at a music store in an emergency. I don't want players
> stuck because they misplaced a hard to find adapter. Right now I'm leaning
> towards either an old-school screw on Switchcraft 2501mp (and since old
> Astatics use them, adapters to 1/4" are readily available in the harp
> community), XLR or mini XLR. Mini XLR is becoming the standard in the mic
> I plan to sell it as both a basic kit with a single key cassette and a pro
> kit that comes with the six most common keys. Which key should the basic
> setup have, C or A? What six keys do you use most frequently? Just about
> all keys and even alternate tunings will be available. The cassettes will
> have covers so they'll also be functional acoustic harmonicas so if you
> want to play acoustic or traditional bullet mic style, you can without
> having to carry around a traditional harp in the same key in your gig case.
> What effects devices would you want to use? So far it seems like chorus,
> delay, octave and reverb are the top choices.
> I tried to get it to feedback Jimi Hendrix style, but I believe that
> harmonica reeds are just too small, relative to guitar strings, to be able
> to be resonated under most conditions. Some players do use feedback in
> their act. Is the fact that it won't ever feedback a drawback?
> Should I offer it in colors or is black/chrome or black/gold sufficient?
> Finally, how much would you be willing to pay? It depends on how I decide
> to market it. I'd like to price it between $300 and $400 for the basic
> setup. Not counting assembly labor, marketing costs and overhead, even at
> manufacturers' discounts, I'm going to be spending at least $100 per
> instrument for components. Mass marketing it through firms like Guitar
> Center or Musician's Friend means having to make a profit at 50% of MSRP
> and I'm not sure that's possible.
> I considered trying a Kickstarter campaign, but I don't see any advantages
> to that compared to starting out with limited production. What do you think?
> Thanks for reading this and if you do give me some feedback, thanks for
> that too.
> Ronnie Schreiber
Thanks, Boris Plotnikov
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