Brendan Power Signature
Brendan Power
View Cart
PowerComb customer image I've invented many harmonica-related features over the years: original tunings, odd sizes, accessories, and even whole new types (you can read the history of them here).

From day one I was always a harmonica hacker, using simple old-school tools to create specialised custom harmonicas for my own playing. It was out of necessity, as I found the commercially-available harps just didn't do the things I wanted. After a while my personal harps sparked interest from other players, and I started selling custom-made Power Harps online in 2000.

From 2000-2006 I sold a wide selection of innovative hand-customised chromatic and diatonic harps. Many had never been made before, such as the Power CX-10, CX14 and CX-16, the Trad Session Harps for Celtic music, and my Stretch Harps (extended length diatonics). However, the increasing workload meant I was neglecting playing and recording, so I took a break for a while. In 2012 I started X-Reed Harmonicas with Hungarian designer/engineer Zombor Kovacs, to make the best versions of the new extra-reed concept for harmonicas. We both learned a lot from each other. Zombor's influence led me to teach myself CAD (Computer Aided Design), and it has opened up a new world of sophisticated harmonica hacking! Combing CAD with cool new workshop machines has got me excited again about pushing the envelope of harp performance and design.

The advent of affordable small-scale manufacturing technology like CNC machining and 3D Printing means that inventive ideas can be tested and produced very quickly now, to exacting standards, in any home workshop. Using CAD and this new maker technology I'm currently able to realise some long-cherished dreams of harmonica models that were virtually impossible to make previously. It's such a buzz to design bizarre original combs on screen and then quickly see them come out as solid, usable parts that can be incorporated in harmonicas no-one has ever seen before.

Those available to buy will be added to the Harmonicas section of the website. This page shows off some previous custom harps, as well as odd one-offs that never got released.

November 2014 - More photos coming soon! - Bren


I have been trying to make a DoubleChrom for over 20 years, and have laboriously hand-made several prototypes in that time. Here are some photos of my first one, from 1993/94. The string pull is to allow the player to hold in the master slider with their left (holding) hand, while operating the two secondary sliders with their right.

It worked, but not great. Now I have CAD skills, a 3D printer plus laser cutting at my disposal, I have finally been able to realise my dream with a superior patent pending design. Here are five 2014 prototypes.

Some POWER HARPS from 2000-2006

CX10 with Internal Metal Resonators and Slide Hook. A Responsive Blues Chromatic.

My Custom "Stretch Harps": 12 and 14 Hole models with the same hole
spacing as a standard 10 hole diatonic. At last, a comfortable long diatonic.

Bling Bling!! Gold Power CX16. All the convenience of the CX12 in a 4 Octave version

Power CX14

Customised Hohner 364

The cheapie of the Hohner range transformed into a Hot Chrometta!!

Trad Session Harp: Two keys in once chromatic (mostly D/G), for Irish music. No slider spring.

CX12 With Drilled Covers, Internal Metal Resonators and Slide Hook

Below are some of the many possibilities for the 10 hole diatonic and 12 hole chromatic. You can see many others on Pat Missin's excellent site.


There are an unlimited number of ways to tune a 10 hole diatonic harp. The standard is RICHTER TUNING, but alternate ones can give advantages for certain music styles (eg. Irish, Country, or Jazz). Below are some of the more commonly-used alternate tunings. I use all my own tunings, and include some of them here that have become popular with other players.

All tunings shown are based on C, but can be made in all 12 keys. Blow notes are on the left, Draw notes on the right. Numbers refer to breath holes. (The players' names listed are not necessarily the inventors of the tuning, but the first to have recorded extensively with them)
Click to enlarge, click outside the photo to return.


Alternate Tunings for Chromatic Harmonicas

The standard chromatic harmonica is the 12 hole 3 octave model in SOLO TUNING. There has been less experimentation with alternate tunings for chromatic but, as with the diatonic, using a different tuning can give you certain advantages. I show some common ones and some of my own tunings

All tunings shown are based on C, but can be made in all 12 keys.Blow notes are on the left, Draw notes on the right, Slide-out on top, Slide-in on bottom. Numbers refer to breath holes.
Click to enlarge, click outside the photo to return.

I guess I'm known about equally as a harmonica player and maker/customiser. To me, they're not separate things: the two aspects intermingle and reinforce each other. People often tell me they can pick my style from hearing just a few notes, and a significant part of that comes from the special modifications I make to my harps.

I love thinking up and testing new technical modifications for harmonicas almost as much as playing them. Some call me the ultimate Harmonica Hacker! A lot of my ideas got discarded for one reason or another, but some have worked magically well. Discovering those special ones is a real buzz! I've shared most of them, and it's gratifying to see that many of the innovations I pioneered over the years have become quite widely used today. This page is for harmonica geeks who are interested in such stuff!

Here are quick links to the innovations described below, in chronological order. They are documented in good faith. If anyone can prove (with photographs, sound files etc) an earlier example of any of the claims, I'll happily defer to the original inventor. Please get in touch to verify it by email.

Regular Breath Tuning 1979 - Invention of Half-Valving 1980/81 - First use of Blu-Tack for Reversible Tuning 1980/81 - First Coverplates with Flattened Backs and Drilled Side Vents 1980/81 - First Stretch Harps (Extended-length diatonics) 1980/81 - Power-Chromatic Tuning 1982 - Slide Diatonic setup c.1985 - World's First Working 30 Reed 10 Hole Harp 1989 - Paddy Richter Tuning 1993 - Paddy Richter-Slide Diatonic Tuning 1994 -
Paddy Solo Tuning 1996 - Paddy Solo-Slide Diatonic Tuning 1996 - Tune-Specific Harmonica Tunings 1996-present -

I began playing while at university after hearing the great Sonny Terry at a concert in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1976. Utterly inspired, I bought a Hohner Marine Band harp in C the next day and it quickly took over my life! Soon other keys followed, and I began playing 8 hours a day to try and emulate Sonny Terry and the other Blues masters. Sonny Boy Williamson ll (Rice Miller) became my main guru, but I also learned from Little Walter, Junior Wells, James Cotton & Big Walter Horton.

I have a compulsion for pulling things apart to see how they work, so it wasn't long before my harps lay in bits and I was tweaking them every which way to find out what made them tick.

These days, the internet provides a wealth of knowledge about how harmonicas work and what to do to improve performance. We take it so much for granted that it's hard to realise it wasn't always that way. Back in 1970s New Zealand, technical information about harmonicas was lower than zero: there was more misinformation around than fact. I had to figure everything out for myself in a knowledge vacuum.

I started with the discovery that reed gapping was very important to response. If I gapped the blow reed closer, the draw reed would respond easier and sound louder and crisper. Wow - result! Then I worked out how to fine-tune reeds by scraping off material at their tips and bases.

It soon dawned on me that this could be taken much further: the whole scale could be altered! Troublesome parts of the Richter tuning could easily be changed to make my harps work better for certain styles. For example, the 5 draw note could be raised a semitone to give a true major scale in 2nd Position. This was a revelation! It gave the harp a whole new sound, and I began using this altered tuning extensively in about 1978. Later I found that it was called Country Tuning, pioneered by the great Charlie McCoy - one of my early harp heroes after the Blues Period.

Not content to stop there, I tackled the awkward upper octave of the standard Richter tuning, which has a reversed breathing pattern to the rest of the harp. In overcoming that issue in 1979 I created my first original harmonica tuning, which was a buzz! I called it Regular Breath Tuning, because the draw note was always higher than the blow in every hole:

10 Hole Version
Brendan Power
Draw is always higher than blow, every draw can be bent C D E G G B C D E F# G A A B C D E F# G A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

My first alternate tuning, I used it all through the 1980s. Hear it on all tracks of the Country Harmonica album 1984, and some on State of the Harp GOOD VARIATIONS: Raise 3 blow one tone; lower 5/9 draw a semitone

I found I could make it more easily if I split the upper reedplate at hole 6, moved it along one hole and and inserted a new reed in hole 7. But this created an overhang at the end. Rather than cut off the extra piece of reedplate and lose a good reed, the logical next step was to create the world's first 11 hole harp! Here is the full tuning:

11 Hole Version
Brendan Power

Here it is shown for my old 11 hole harps in the photos below C D E G G B C D E F# G A A B C D E F# G A C B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

I made it out of two Hohner Special 20 harps, because their ABS combs had front lips to cover the cuts in the reedplates and ensure comfortable playing. It worked great, and soon I made a whole set of 12 keys. I still have them:

My harp case from the early 1980s, with a full set of 11 Hole harps in Power Regular Breath Tuning.
Note the use of Half-Valving: it was pioneered on these harps and first recorded on Country Harmonica, 1984.

Various covers on the 11 hole harps. Most were Hohner, and all combs were made from Special 20s,
but I made some using the early Suzuki Folkmaster reedplates with welded reeds (right).

In addition to their unique tuning and size, these harps include other new features now in common use:

1. They were the very first half-valved diatonics.
I'd bought a chromatic not long after starting to play, but found it unresponsive compared to my diatonics. Chromatics come fully valved, but I discovered I could make some of the notes bendable in the same way as a blues harp if I removed half the valves. Thus half-valving was born.

I liked the effect and soon transferred it to my diatonics by adding valves to affect the low-pitched notes in each hole. Now I had harps that kept all their traditional bends but added some bending expression to the other notes as well! What wasn't to like? From this point on (about 1980/81), ALL my harps (chromatics and diatonics) were half-valved. (you can see the valves in the harps in the case).

2. The first use of Blu-Tack as a quick, reversible re-tuning method.
I had been using solder to lower reed pitch, but one day around 1980 thought of trying that blue putty used for sticking pictures on the wall: Blu-Tack. I found that it stuck really well, and stayed there for years, decades even! Not only that, it was reversible, so you could stick it on and remove it at will. This was a great way to try new tuning ideas quickly, or have several tunings in one harp!

For example, I could raise the 5 draw a semitone (from F to F# on a C harp), then apply enough Blu-Tack to lower it to its original pitch. If I wanted the F I kept the Blu-Tack on, if I wanted the F# I removed it and stuck it on the rivet pad for later use to lower the reed again. Nice!

Check out the photo below, of the same early 80s harps as above. You can see a reservoir of Blu-Tack on the blow reedplate and bits on some of the reeds. Thin beads of Blu-Tac were also used to attach and seal the extra reedplate segments. Since I started publicising it on harmonica forums, Blu-Tack has become quite commonly used for harmonica retuning now.

To get the Power Regular-Breath Tuning, I sliced the Blow reedplate at hole 7 and inserted an extra reed (either
the same as blow 6 or a tone up). The draw reedplate stayed intact but had an extra reed added on hole 11.
Note the primitive reedplate attachment with bent wire. I had yet to discover the benefits of self-tapping screws!

3. The first customised coverplates with flattened backs and drilled side vents.
After the bright sound of my first Marine Band harps, I found the Special 20s I used for the 11 hole Strech Harps sounded a bit dull. To overcome this I hammered the rear of the coverplates flat and drilled holes in the sides, for better projection, louder volume and a crisper tone. Today just about every custom harp has these features, but as far as I know my 11 hole harps from 1980/81 were the first to use them.

The harps had some innovations common today: holes in the ends of the covers for a brighter sound, and
flattening the backs of the coverplates for better projection. Of course, they're rather old and bent now!

My 11 hole harps in Regular Breath Tuning featured on my first ever album, COUNTRY HARMONICA, released in 1984. Click the link to hear soundclips of these harps.


I was put in touch with Suzuki Music Corporation of Japan by their NZ Distributor Riki McDonnell, and disclosed my half-valving invention to them in 1989. Suzuki decided to incorporate it in a forthcoming luxury harmonica model, the Suzuki Promaster MR350-V. They paid me a royalty for 5 years for the idea from its launch in 1991. I think it can be fairly said that the MR350-V was the first genuinely innovative commercial diatonic (in terms of increased functionality) since the Marine Band, nearly 100 years earlier. You can hear more about it in this commemorative video I made on the 20th anniversary of the Promaster's debut.

Since then Hohner has released a half-valved diatonic and chromatic, and Seydel is now offering half-valved diatonics endorsed by the well-known half-valving exponent PT Gazell. PT learned of half-valving from the Suzuki Promaster, but went on to create his own excellent Gazell-Method valves made of Ultrasuede.

Once I had figured out how to slice and join up two harps into a longer one I quickly experiemnted with other sizes. During the 80s I also made 12, 13, 14 and 16 hole sizes, and called them Stretch Harps. They were in various tunings: extended Richter on the 13-hole (with an extra low octve to the left of the normal 10-hole range), Solo or variations on the 12-hole, two different keys on the 16 hole!

However the 11-hole Stretch Harp in Regular Breath tuning was my main axe in those early playing days. I used it for most of the 1980s when I was starting to gig regularly in Auckland, and do a bit of session work. Playing was all I wanted to do but it didn't pay enough to survive, so in between gigs I did part-time work, such as coal shovelling (I've never been so fit in all my life!). I was also on and off the dole, as were many of my musician friends. We were poor, but didn't care 'cause we were jamming all the time. The Auckland music scene was humming in those years, so many great players developing their skills. Many of my best friendships come from that time.

Kiwi musicians are among the most stylistically versatile in the world, I think. The scene is so small that you have to master a lot of styles to get enough gigs to survive. I was naturally curious anyway, and had regular obsessive phases on new musical styles. Blues was my first love and I've never tired of playing it, but I get bored playing 3 chord 12 Bars all night. I like variety, and often shift radically from one style to another in live performances. It keeps me on my toes (and the audience too, I think).

Charlie McCoy was the first harp player to awaken my interest in other styles, because he took the cross-harp Blues position I was familiar with and refreshed it by playing fast Bluegrass breakdowns. He was a real innovator, and I was amazed at his technical control - and sheer speed! To try and figure him out I used to slow down his LP records to 16 RPM. Charlie came out sounding like a tenor sax, but I could start to grasp what the hell he was doing! He was a big influence on me, and many others.

From listening to him I got into Western Swing, and then swing jazz of the 1930s/40s, which has remained one of my favourite music styles for listening and playing. I was using mainly half-valved chromatics to get around the changes, and came up with a variation on my Regular Breath tuning that I still use for jamming on chromatics today. I called it Power-Chromatic Tuning:
Brendan Power
My main choice on chromatic harmonica for improvising & jazz/pop since 1982. Replaces doubled blow C-C# with A-B. C D E F# G A A B C D E F# G A A B C D E F# G A A B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
C# D# F G G# A# A# C C# D# F G G# A# A# C C# D# F G G# A# A# C

I use it half-valved, so all draw notes can be bent. Fully chromatic via bending except for one note per octave, Can start scale on any note (C/E/G/A). Great for jazz and all kinds of music. Check out Back to Back, Swingfellas, Tradish CDs. GOOD VARIATIONS: Lower 4/8/12 blow a tone

I normally start the scale on the G or A blow in hole 1. It's quite an easy retune from a stock chromatic. It works great in half-valved configuration because every draw note can be bent a semitone. This gives you lots of what I call 'Bend Enharmonics': bent notes of the same pitch as the built-in notes. They allow you to explore many alternate phrasing and sound flavour opportunities. In my opinion, this makes Power-Chromatic much more expressive than the standard fully-valved Solo Tuning, whilst retaining full chromatic ability.

If you want to hear it in action there are many examples from my albums. It's used exclusively on BACK TO BACK, the collaborative album I recorded in Nashville with PT Gazell, and BRENDAN POWER & THE SWINGFELLAS.

I first recorded with Power-Chromatic tuning in the mid-80s on an Auckland folk music compilation album, but my first solo album featuring it (with variations) was STATE OF THE HARP. I'm proud of that album. The production and all-round musicianship from Auckland's finest young players still stands up today, I think. It was also quite groundbreaking in terms of the harps I used, as it showcased several original tunings on half-valved chromatics and diatonics in a wide range of styles.

In addition to Regular Breath and Power-Chromatic, I also recorded my 'Slide-Diatonic' setup on two tracks for the first time. This is not a specific tuning per se, but a way of altering the slide scale on the chromatic to make it sound better for modal music. Most folk and ethnic music styles are mode-based (ie. they stick to a single 5-7 note scale), including the Irish music that I was exploring a lot in the 1980s.

Turning a chromatic into a Slide Diatonic involves tuning all the slide notes to the notes of the home scale of the chrom. Instead of rising a semitone, the slide notes rise to the next note of the home scale. The instrument is no longer a chromatic harmonica at all, but something new: a Slide Diatonic. Here is a diagram for a C chromatic in Solo Tuning:
Brendan Power
Raises every slide note to the next note of the home scale (Here shown in C Solo Tuning). Works great for Irish/Celtic and other folk music C D E F G A C B C D E F G A C B C D E F G A C B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

It makes the slide decorations sound much sweeter and authentically 'in the style' for traditional Celtic music and other folk styles. On 'State of the Harp' I used Slide Diatonic setup in Power-Chromatic tuning on two tracks, The Rights of Man and 'King of the Fairies'.

I still use it all the time for Irish music (more on that later).

Around the same time I was recording State of the Harp I was also exploring a radical new technical idea for the diatonic harmonica: adding an extra lower-pitched reed to the chamber to allow both active reeds to be bent! So a 10 hole harp would have 30 reeds instead of 20. In 1989 I created the world's first working 30-reed 10 hole harp, made from a Koch chromatic:

It looked primitive but it worked! I was ecstatic, as I felt that this opened up a whole new world of expression and chromatic ability for the diatonic harmonica. But only in 2012 is this great triple-reed concept coming into commercial reality. Why it took so long is a saga in itself! You can read about it here.

(Jan 2014) The 30 reed diatonic is now a reality! It's available to buy in a commercial model (the Suzuki SUB30) and in superior hand-made versions from X-Reed Harmonicas, my partnership with Zombor Kovacs. Developments are happening fast; check out the current range here:

The tune Swamp Funk Thing used a transitional tuning to one I played a lot throughout the 1990s.

I originally simply called it Power Tuning, but now call it PowerBlow Tuning. It reverted to the reversed breathing pattern in the top octave but with a twist: now all the blow bends were the same as the draw bends in the bottom of the harp.
Brendan Power
Same as Richter up to hole 7.Top octave optimised for blow bending in 2nd Position C D E G G B C D E F G A B A D C G E C A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Blow bends in top octave are the same as draw bends in bottom octave.Great for expressive bluesy playing. Check out Two Trains Running CD
GOOD VARIATIONS: Raise 3 blow one tone; raise 5 draw a semitone

After moving to the London in 1992 I started playing wherever I could. The UK has a well-established folk music scene, and soon I was doing spots in folk clubs and starting to get gigs at folk festivals. I played my customary eclectic smorgasbord of styles, but the one that really pricked up peoples' ears was my playing of traditional Irish music.

I began picking out Irish jigs and reels on the harp not long after starting to play. It was natural I guess: my grandfather was from Ireland, and both my first and second names are Irish. One of the first things I did after arriving in the UK was to take a trip to Dublin to soak up the atmosphere and hear the music at its source, which greatly reinforced my attraction to this wonderful genre.

In 1994 I got asked to make an album of all Irish traditional music by a Leeds-based seller of Irish instructional books & music, a real character called Dave Mallinson (or Mally, as he is universally known in the English folk scene). This focussed my attention on the technical aspects of the music and I began an intense study of the traditional Irish instruments (the Uillean pipes, fiddle, fluet & whistle) to try and emulate their special character on the harmonica.

The Slide Diatonic Tuning I'd created in New Zealand for the chromatic harmonica worked great for the music, but I also wanted to include the funky, earthy sound of the diatonic. However, standard Richter tuning forced me to play in the top octaves, because of the notes missing in the first octave. The most important missing note was the 6th of the scale (A on a C harp). I just couldn't play down there at the speed required with accurate pitch on the the three hole draw bend.

Since 3 blow and 2 draw are the same note in Richter, I decided to raise the three blow a tone (from G to A on a C harp). This worked brilliantly for Irish music, so I whimsically entitled it Paddy Richter Tuning.

Brendan Power

Hole 3 Blow is raised two semitones (from G to A on a C harp) C D E G A B C D E F G A C B E D G F C A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Makes 1st, 3rd and 4th position melodies much easier in low octave. Good for Irish and other fast dance music.

That one note change makes an amazing difference! Paddy Richter was the key to unlocking Irish music on the 10 hole diatonic for me, and soon I was re-learning all my Irish repertoire on it. Initially I used it on just G and D diatonic harps, but then made some 10 hole G & D chromatics combining Paddy Richter with my Slide Diatonic setup. This meant I could switch between diatonics and Slide Diatonic chroms easily without having to relearn pieces in a different tuning. Here is the combination (shown on a C harp here, but the main ones for Irish are G and D harmonicas):
Brendan Power
Raises every slide note to the next note of the home scale C D E G A B C D E F G A C B E D G F C A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I used my new Paddy Richter tuning on both types of harp for the first time on the album I was recording for Mally, with the great multi instrumentalist player Chris Newman. It had a fresh appraoch, so I titled the album New Irish Harmonica. Mally sent a few copies of the CD to Irish radio stations and it started getting widespread airplay over there. Suddenly I started getting calls to come and play and record with big names in the Irish music scene, the masters 'd previously known only from bootlegged cassettes in New Zealand. It really boosted my career, and I owe a lot of it to Paddy Richetr.

Paddy Richter Tuning is now in widespread use amongst players who like to expand their horizons on the 10 hole diatonic. in 2000 I released an instructional book/CD for it called Play Irish Music on the Blues Harp, which has proved popular and keeps selling well to this day. However Paddy Richter is not just for Irish music; it's great for all sorts of melody playing in other genres including pop and jazz, plus other ethnic folk styles.

In about 1996 I decided to alter Paddy Richter for my own Irish playing by combining it with Solo tuning, the standard tuning for chromatic harmonicas. preferred the same scale arrangement in the middle and top octaves. I called it Paddy Solo Tuning. I use it on both diatonic and chromatic harps in Slide Diatonic setup. Here is the scale layout for a C 10 hole diatonic harp:


Brendan Power

Combination of Paddy Richter and Solo Tunings C D E G A B C D E F G A C B C D E F G A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

and a 12 hole chromatic. The scale proper starts on hole 2:
Brendan Power
Paddy Solo Tuning for 12 hole chromatics, with my Slide Diatonic setup G A C D E G A B C D E F G A C B C D E F G A C B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

The scale proper starts on hole 2 for a full 3 octave range. All slide notes raise to the next note of the home scale. Hole 1 is tuned to give some nice low-end fifth double-stops.

From 1996 to 1999 I played in The Riverdance Show, initially as a stand-in for the great Irish button box player Mairtin O'Connor, later as a member of the band with a featured solo spot. The show was a huge hit all around the world, and we played extended runs in massive theatres to ecstatic crowds - heady times! Bill Whelan's soundtrack for the show is brilliant, but incredibly daunting to play on harmonica. To do it convincingly without missing out notes I had to create a series of really bizarre tunings, almost one for each tune! These Tune-Specific Harmonica Tunings are specialised that I never used them for anything else, and frankly cannot even remember them now. However they are all preserved on the album I made of my version of the show's music, Brendan Power Plays the Music of Riverdance, so I guess they could be 'reverse engineered' if anyone could ever be bothered.

I adopted the same approach when invited to tour Japan as guest soloist for the Paul Mauriat Orchestra in 1999, a French light-music orchestra (along the lines of James Last or Henry Mancini) that has been massive there since the 1960s. I was asked to play Hora Staccato and Concerto de Arunuez, two classical music showpieces that really challenged me. Power Chromatic was fine for Arunuez, but to get real flow and panache on the demanding Hora Staccato I created a tune-specific harmonic tuning. It's another one I can't recall, but it did the job.

There is lots more to add, and I will update to the present day soon (January 2014).

We live in exciting times. The advent of accessible, affordable small-scale manufacturing technology using CAD design, like CNC machining and 3D Printing, means that inventive ideas can be tested and produced very quickly to exacting standards. Using this new technology I'm currently working on some very cool, groundbreaking new harmonicas with my X-Reed partner Zombor Kovacs, that we will be releasing before the end of the year. Watch this space!

This is a selection of short commentaries on various topical subjects, generally harmonica-related but not always. Additions will be irregular but flagged up on my Facebook page. Some are copies of articles I have written for the NHL Harmonica World magazine.


Never heard of Helmholtz Resonance? Nor had I until I started making my big Twin-Harmonica System harmonicas. It's a fascinating phenomenon, and can be quite a nuisance!


Plenty! It's a great instrument but has lots of shortcomings. Check out my analysis and suggestions for improvements.

August/September 2014: MAKE YOUR OWN STRETCH HARPS!

The Stretch Harp is a longer size diatonic harmonica made by slicing and joining the parts of two harps together.

June/July 2014: REED PROFILING

Reed profiling is the darkest art of harmonica manufacturing, one of the most important parts of making a harp sound good - or bad! It also has a massive effect on reed life. For these reasons, companies attend to it with a lot of care and guard their secrets jealously.

February/March 2014: EXTRA-REED HARMONICAS:Another Pioneer Discovered

Last year I devoted a few articles in this magazine to uncovering the fascinating history of the Extra-Reed Concept for harmonicas. Now, out of the blue, it appears there was another x-reed inventor no one ever heard about before!


Reed-slot Burnishing (now commonly called Embossing) has become widespread in the harmonica world in the past 20 years, but surprisingly few know how it started. Many attribute the origins to the master customizer Joe Filisko but, without taking anything away from Joe's big place in the story, he wasn't the inventor. That honour goes to a very significant character in recent harmonica history, Rick Epping. Here is the story of how he came up with the idea, in his own words.

February/March 2013: THE GAME IS CHANGING

Here's my analysis of how low-cost CNC milling and 3D Printing technology is making it possible for small start-ups to take the lead in harmonica innovation away from the big manufacturers. We live in exciting times!

Email me Join me on Facebook Join me on Youtube Join me on LinkedIn