[Harp-L] Lee Oskar repairs/customisers

Tom Halchak info@xxxxx
Thu Apr 13 10:02:30 EDT 2017


Lee Oskars have a very good reputation for being durable and solid harps.
Lots of guys like them.  Even some touring professionals.  There are a few
basic reasons why you don't see many (perhaps not any) customizers
specializing in Lee Oskar repair and/or customization.  To begin with,
Lee's basic concept is a Modular System.  The entire harp is assembled with
two cover screws and three reed plate screws.  It takes about 30 seconds to
take them apart.  You can buy replacement reed plates all over the internet
for $15-$20 a set.  How much can a repair tech charge to replace one broken
reed and compete with an entire new set of plates for less than $20?
There is no money in it.  That's the repair part.

Regarding customization, the trend is most definitely moving in the
direction of building custom Overblow Overdraw harps.  There is no question
about it.  The harps that have identified themselves as excellent starting
points for OB/OD harps are Marine Bands (including the Classic 1896, the
Deluxe and the Crossover), Golden Melody, Special 20, Suzuki Manji and
Olive, Seydel 1847 and Seydel Session Steel.  They all provide good solid
foundations for building high performance harps.  Sadly, Lee Oskars do not
fit into this category.  I have done the idential reed work to Lee Oskars
that I do to Special 20's or Marine Bands.  The end result is not as good -
if what you are shooting for is an OB/OD harp.   I make custom combs for
the Lee Oskars.  I avoided making combs for a number of years because I
just didn't see a big market for custom Lee Oskar harps but I finally took
the plunge about a year ago.  The day that I got the first prototype from
my machinist, I built a custom Lee Oskar.  To be sure, the performance was
greatly improved via the combination of reed work and custom comb, but
compared to a Special 20 or Marine Band or a Manji - sorry, not as good.

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing or even a criticism of the
Lee Oskar harps.  Lee's approach to playing music with his instruments is
different than others.  The trend is to be able to play chromatically on a
10 hole diatonic so you can play any kind of music you want on a single
instrument.  Lee's approach is to used alternate tunings.  If you look
inside the gig case of a lot of professionals, you will find a few stock
Lee Oskars in Natural Minor or Melody Maker tunings, but that's about it.

I know some will jump up and defend Lee Oskars and that is OK.  He's a good
guy.  He makes good harps.  There is no debating that, but that wasn't the
question.  The question was about customizing them and turning them into
superharps.  You might find someone who will do a harp or two for you -
myself included - but I doubt you will find many (perhaps nobody) who
specializes in working on Lee Oskars.  It just isn't a good fit.

*Tom Halchak*
*Blue Moon Harmonicas LLC*
*P.O. Box 14401 Clearwater, FL 33766*

*www.BlueMoonHarmonicas.com <http://www.BlueMoonHarmonicas.com>**(727)

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