: [Harp-L] Comb Material

Harvey Berman cscharp@xxxxx
Wed May 11 11:43:07 EDT 2016

I have been silent for a couple of months, while I changed my physical location from New Orleans to Pensacola Florida, and my relationship from attached to single.  Now I am back, and HarveyHarp is back in business.  Life is great.  
My new enthusiasm is similar to the excitement when I discovered custom combs years ago.  I bought a brass MS comb from Chris Reynolds with HarveyHarp on the back  When it finally arrived,  I put it on an MS Big River in G .  Wow.  In my mind, it improved the sound of the harp.  It was louder and brighter and  the harp seemed to play much better, and since I could not put it down, my playing became better.  It had to be the holy grail of harmonica combs. 
I have almost always worked on my own harps, and thank to Harp-l, and you good people, Including Joe Leone, Dave Payne, Jason Ricci, and others,  and Richard Farrell's repair kit, and Rupert Oysler's repair videos, and my 50 years of being a tech for numerous different things, here I am as a full fledged Harp Tech, and reedsmith.  Check out www.harveyharp.com
I used to take used harmonicas in trade and one day, I took in a whole bunch of Golden Melodies from one of you Harp-l members. You can identify yourself if you wish, and I switched out all of his custom combs from various sources on his new HarveyHarps, and put on all the good stock combs.  They were cool, but I was left with a bunch of Golden Melodies with combs that I call comb cancer, which is prevalent on Golden Melodies.  So, I tried to make some acrylic combs (real bad Idea) and eventually came across Florida Trader(now Blue Moon) on Ebay   Tom  Halchack agreed to make me a deal on a dozen combs, and in a couple of days they arrived.   They looked like charcoal briquettes and  smelled like a camp fire, because they were lazer cut wood.  I proceeded to sand off the char, but I could only sand so much, because they would have become too small.   I hated them and I called Tom and told him so. From his reaction, I could tell that he wanted to make it right, and make good quality combs.  I suggested that he have his combs CNC milled, rather than CNC Lazer cut, and eventually he listened and has continued to listen to me, and the rest of his customers through out his years in the comb business. And, now, Tom is the biggest maker of combs, to my knowledge in the whole world.  
While it is true that Tom wants to sell combs, that does not seem to be his major motivation.  His motivation is that he wants to be the best.Through the years, Tom and I have become friends, and he has sent me, and a few other techs, new products for us to make suggestions on.   The latest was his Special 20 Set in combs, which I think has been a major success.  I think the key to Blue Moon's success is Tom Halchak's customer service skills, and the fact that he was well capitalized when he started his business.
I was at his SPAH seminar, and the people there with keen hearing could tell the difference between some of his combs, especially the metal ones, which seemed to be a little brighter.  However, the real difference is in the players hands.  The feel of the harp, the extra air tightness, the feel on your lips all are part of the custom comb experience.  Add to that a customized harp and it adds up to a very professional instrument.
Yes, I can take a Marine band, and sand and seal and denail it, and it will play just as good as a Blue Moon comb, but it will not have the feel of a Corian, or Aluminum, or Brass or Fancy Acrylic comb, that I like.  And, cost wise, the time it takes to modify the stock comb is not that far from just putting on a custom comb. 
So, is Tom Biased?  Yes, because if he was not, he would not be in business.
Harvey Bermanwww.harveyharp.com

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