For my own playing and to help make the DM48 more user-friendly for all harp players, I decided to develop two add-on accessory parts to address these issues. Diatonic players are used to small 10-hole harps, so I designed a 10-hole mouthpiece with the same shape and close hole spacing as a blues harp - complete with real metal coverplates! It screws into the same sockets as the stock DM48 mouthpiece, and gives a familiar diatonic-size interface to the amazing new world of MIDI harmonica.
The Mini PitchBender was something I could not develop on my own; it required a partner with sophisticated electrical and MIDI knowledge. I found the perfect person on YouTube: London electronics guru Tim Jacobs (check out his website). We struck up an online friendship and worked hard together over several months, trying various approaches to this gnarly issue. The best approach turned out to be a mini joystick, which allows a player to bend notes accurately to 4 different pitches with small finger movements.
After a little practice I was able to use it to mimic the kinds of bends I do on harmonica, and discover more cool bends that are not possible on any normal harp! This pitch-bending control adds so much soul to the DM48, which for me greatly increases the playing pleasure of this amazing instrument. Combined with the Bluesharp Mouthpiece, the Mini PitchBender gives diatonic harp players the ability to play MIDI harmonica with a familiar interface and bending technique for the first time.
Hear for yourself: check out both accessories in the video!