[Harp-L] Announcing the Harmonicaster electric harmonica

robert mcgraw harpbob@xxxxx
Sun Dec 25 17:54:01 EST 2016

I'm definitely in...I'll buy one as soon as they are available. Any plans to build one for chromatic harmonica?
WVa Bob

Sent from my iPhone

> On Dec 24, 2016, at 7:12 PM, Ronnie Schreiber <autothreads at xxxxx> wrote:
> Well folks, now that the intellectual property is buttoned up and the design is close to production-ready, it's time to go public with the Harmonicaster (TM) , a true electric harmonica I've developed. I'm hoping to have a crowdfunding page up within a couple of months and for production to start some time in the second quarter of 2017 but before it's introduced to the general public, I thought I'd give the harp community an advanced peek. I'm looking at a target price of about $300 for the basic unit including one key cassette. Additional key cassettes will be priced comparable with pro quality harps.
> While it's not intended to replace your current rig, the Harmonicaster (TM) solves a number of problems associated with playing through a microphone but more importantly it opens up a universe of tonal possibilities. When Little Walter first cupped a mic and plugged in, he invented one of the great, primal sounds of music. That was almost 70 years ago, however, and now there's a huge array of effects devices, pedals, and signal shaping that, for the most part, has been inaccessible to harmonica players.
> * First off, the Harmonicaster (TM) is a completely functional
>   harmonica capable of all draw and blow bends as well as more
>   advanced bends if the reeds are set up for them. The sound path is
>   sealed airtight from the mouthpiece to the front grip.
> * It works on the same principles as an electric guitar, vibrating
>   steel elements and electromagnetic pickups. Unlike some other
>   electronic harmonica devices, it actually sounds like an electrified
>   harmonica, not a sine wave generator.
> * It plays as loud as you want to play without ever having to worry
>   about feedback, even playing directly into the grille of your amp's
>   speaker with the amp turned up to 12. You can now play as loud, or
>   louder, than the guitar player (I can see you all grinning now)
>   without needing an expensive anti-feedback device that doesn't
>   always work. No getting buried in the mix anymore.
> * It will work with any effects device or pedal that is compatible
>   with an electric guitar or bass. It's not an exaggeration to say
>   that this opens up a world of tone and sound previously unavailable
>   to harp players.
> * We're using an old-school Switchcraft 2501 screw-on cable connector
>   because it takes up little space inside the housing and it's also
>   pretty common in the harp world because of vintage mics. I recommend
>   Tone Defender harp cables - they sound great, they're very well
>   made, and they are available to match the 2501. If you want to use a
>   cable with a 1/4" plug I plan on shipping the Harmonicaster (TM)
>   with a 2501 to 1/4" adapter, also made by Switchcraft.
> * If you want to work without any cable at all, the Harmonicaster (TM)
>   is compatible with off-the-shelf wireless guitar gear so there's no
>   need for an expensive custom wireless harp mic. Both Line 6 and
>   Samson make miniature plug-in transmitters that make for a nice
>   compact rig.
> * You can easily and quickly change keys in a dark night club, using
>   our foolproof, no-error-possible cassette system. Our latching
>   system works 100% of the time and the Harmonicaster (TM) will not
>   come apart unless you are changing the cassette.
> * The compact housing has an ergonomic shape that fits perfectly in
>   one or both hands, but we've also designed in a traditional grip for
>   hand wahs and flutters.
> * To save space in your case, our cassettes can also function as
>   traditional harmonicas played acoustically or with a cupped microphone.
> * Our durable steel reeds and modern polymer combs are made in Germany
>   by Seydel, the oldest, most experienced harmonica company in the
>   world. Alternate tunings will be available through Seydel's custom
>   configurator.
> * We'll be using Lace Sensor pickups, custom wound and voiced per our
>   specifications in California.
> * The housings will initially be 3D printed, made of ABS. I may later
>   go to molded parts but I kind of like the way 3D printed parts look,
>   similar to how people like the graphic look of carbon fiber parts.
>   For color choices, I'm currently leaning towards black, gold, and
>   silver.
> * The Harmonicaster (TM) will be "Made in the Motor City", initially
>   in a near suburb but I hope to be successful enough to need a
>   permanent production facility within the city limits of Detroit.
> Out of the box does the Harmonicaster (TM) sound like Little Walter? Does a Fender Telecaster sound like a Martin acoustic? You already have a Chicago-style rig, though I'm sure that with the correct settings on a multi-effects box you could probably get the Harmonicaster (TM) to indeed sound like a cupped mic, the same way you can use a special pedal to make a guitar sound like a Hammond B3 organ.
> This isn't about reproducing vintage sounds, though. This is about new sounds and tones. Leo Fender introduced a new thing to solve the problem guitarists had being heard over the rest of the band. He couldn't anticipate what Hendrix and Clapton (and amplifier and pedal inventors) would do with his guitars 20 years later but he made it possible. I have no idea what the Harmonicaster (TM) will turn into. That's up to you guys.
> I don't know if I'll sell many, or even any, but musicians, including a couple of world-class harp players, have been impressed by it and have encouraged me to go forward, as have the folks at Seydel and Lace as well as others in the music industry.
> We still have another iteration to go, about three pages of revisions for the next print, but those are mostly internal changes so these photos will give you a good idea of the form factor. It weighs just a couple of ounces more than a Green Bullet / Special 20 combo, is currently just 9 mm taller than a Green Bullet ( 72mm vs 63 - and we're going to shrink it by a few mm the next time around) and it's actually shorter front to back than combining a harp with a bullet mic.
> http://www.rokemneedlearts.com/harmonicaster/lace/IMG_5965.JPG
> http://www.rokemneedlearts.com/harmonicaster/lace/IMG_5969.JPG
> Sound samples here. Please excuse the poor playing. Leo Fender couldn't play guitar or bass.
> http://www.rokemneedlearts.com/harmonicaster/lace/harmonicaster%20sound%20test.mov
> Please let me know what you think.
> Ronnie Schreiber
> Harmonicaster (TM)
> The Electric Harmonica Company

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