But what if you could somehow move reeds around so that the non-bending reeds were in the same airstream as a lower reed, thus allowing them to bend? That's the concept behind the patent-pending SlipSlider harp.
It's made in two separate parts, with the draw reed attached to a sheet of super-slippery Teflon (the space-age food grade plastic coating that lines non-stick fry pans). The two halves of the harp are held together with magnets, which also locate them in the neutral position for normal play. But when you want the extra bend notes, you just slide the draw reedplate a few millimetres to left or right with a small adjustment of your grip.
Slide to the right, and hey presto: you can bend the lower blow notes! 2, 5, 6 and 7 blow are suddenly juicily bendable. The high blow bends remain the same, so you can play Jimmy Reed style over the top and middle octave. It's really cool and very soulful.
Slide to the left, and now you can bend your high draw notes! 8 and 10 draw now bend like 4 and 6 draw. In fact, you can play the top octave in exactly the same way as the middle octave, which stays the same as normal during the shift. Just transfer your favourite middle-octave licks up there with identical bends and breathing patterns – so easy, and so expressive! The reason it's easy to adjust to is that the rest of the harp remains exactly the same in each shift, so you can flow through the octaves. Release your grip and the magnets snap the draw plate back to the middle position, for normal harp play with overblows and all the stuff you're used to.
Check out the videos to hear it in action, and click on the tuning diagram to see the note layout for the three positions.
The moisture from your breath creates a seal between the two parts of the SlipSlider, and it is remarkably airtight – similar to a normal out-of-the box harp. You can enhance the natural seal by adding saliva (try licking!), or adding a very light dab of non-toxic oil or grease to the upper comb tines. For example, chromatic harmonica slide oil, Vaseline, chapstick/lip balm, or possibly a certified food-grade lubricating grease (your responsibility to check into and decide on that). Adding some kind of food safe oil/grease will optimise performance and response - send us your suggestions of good stuff to try!
If you are really tech-minded and want the lowest price you can choose to buy the loose Raw Parts and do all the finishing work yourself - check out the step-by-step video showing how. This option is best for customisers and players who are experienced with working on their harmonicas; without good tool skills you could mess up one of the steps. If you choose the Raw Parts option, the responsibility for doing the job successfully lies with you. If in any doubt, buy the finished PowerParts to attach to your reedplates/covers, or the fully assembled SlipSlider harmonica.
Tech 2: Assembling Your SlipSlider (PowerParts Assembly Option)