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The SlipSlider - a Revolutionary 10-Hole Harp.

The stock Richter diatonic harmonica is a very expressive instrument, but it has some limitations. The main one is that only 8 of the 20 reeds can be bent in pitch: holes 1,2,3,4,6 draw, and 8,9,10 blow. That's because these are the only holes where the blow and draw notes are a tone or more apart, allowing for an interactive-reed bend between them. The high reed in each hole will bend, but the low one won't – because it doesn't have a lower-pitched reed to bend down to.

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. 

Slip Slider tuning diagram

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!

Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider

ORDERING OPTIONS

At present, the SlipSlider only comes in Hohner versions: Crossover, Deluxe and Thunderbird. You can order it fully assembled ready to play, or buy the finished parts and assemble yourself. It's a straightforward process (just follow the steps in the video) and means you can transform your existing Hohner harps into a SlipSlider and save money. (Soon Seydel, Suzuki, Easttop and Lucky 13 versions will be available -watch this space).

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.

HISTORY OF THE IDEA

The concept behind the SlipSlider was invented by my good friend Zombor Kovacs, a very clever harmonica-playing engineer from Budapest, Hungary. He made a prototype back in 2006 that worked, but not well enough for his liking. The movement either way was quite large (7.5mm), and it was a bit sluggish - so he gave up on the idea.  Here are some photos:
Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype
In 2017 with Zombor's blessing I decided to reexamine this idea and see if it could be improved. I designed a new 3d printed comb that reduced the movement in either direction by half on the SlipSlider from Zombor's original prototype, and created a new more-intuitive tuning arrangement. I added magnets to snap the parts back into alignment, plus the Teflon interface plate for ultimate slipperiness between the two halves of the harp. I also created a special little cantilver reed dampener that sits inside the lower coverplate and operates on the cam principle. It stops the 7 draw reed from sounding when you slide the lower reedplate - without it extra reeds will sound, stopping the bends. I was really pleased with that idea! (Though the sliding-reedplate idea is Zombor's, I have taken out a provisional patent on my technical innovations in the SlipSlider - but in recognition of his pioneering role in inventing the concept, Zombor will receive a percentage of the profit from every SlipSlider sold).

SlipSlider Fully Assembled

(including new harmonica)

Base Price: £115

Harmonica:

Key:

Colour:


Slip Slider

SlipSlider PowerParts Kit

(you supply harmonica - 2 options)

Base Price: £32

Finish Level:

Colour:

Harmonica Type:

Reed Slot Length:


Slip Slider

Tech videos

Tech 1: Preparing the Raw Parts for Assembly (PowerParts Raw Parts Option)

Tech 2: Assembling Your SlipSlider (PowerParts Assembly Option)


Items you will need (PowerParts Raw Parts option)

Inbox Notes (all options)


STATUS UPDATE: Now Shipping!

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