Brendan Power

 
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A few years ago, with expert help from London MIDI guru Tim Jacobs, I released the Mini PitchBender: a small 4-way joystick unit intended to add accurate pitch bending to the new Lekholm DM48 MIDI harmonica. It proved popular among DM48 owners, and all the initial batch sold out. In response to demand, in 2021 I partnered with Professor John Shirley of Massachusetts University Lowell to launch a new product called the miniMIDI-JOYstick (Patent Pending). Outwardly it looks similar to the original Mini PitchBender, but its capabilities go way beyond mere pitch-bending alone. It is now a user-programmable MIDI controller with 16 Presets - including pitch-bending, modulation, and many other kinds of expression. It can be fitted on virtually ANY musical instrument, whether acoustic or MIDI. That includes brass and woodwind instruments, bowed and plucked string instruments, percussion instruments, all kinds of harmonicas and accordions - and even vocal microphones! As long as it’s plugged into a MIDI-capable interface of some kind (eg. an iPhone), a huge array of expression can be added to enhance any audio or MIDI signal.
Blues Harp Chord Vamping
Pitch Bending Techniques

miniMIDI-JOYstick miniMIDI-JOYstick miniMIDI-JOYstick

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS

CONNECTING the miniMIDI JOYstick PLUS ANY INSTRUMENT to iPhones and iPads
ATTACHMENT SUGGESTIONS for ANY INSTRUMENT
Walkthrough of presets with Professor John Shirley
HOW TO ADD NEW BENDS TO YOUR PLAYING!
PROFESSOR JOHN SHIRLEY: Advanced Features of the MiniMIDI-JOYstick
Useful DEMO from Jason Keene
★★★★★
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miniMIDI-JOYstick

£62



Package includes Micro USB cable (select length below)

Cable length:



TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION


basic user guide
download basic user guide

advanced user guide
download advanced user guide

MINI PITCHBENDER for MIDI HARMONICA

The Lekholm DM48 is a very impressive MIDI Harmonica, only released in 2017. As the first beta tester, I helped the inventor Erik Lekholm add extra tweaks to its amazing range of useful features, which you can see in this video. The DM48 has incredible functionality and expression, but two things about it make it less appealing to diatonic harp players: an inability to controllably bend notes, and a 12-hole chromatic-harmonica-size mouthpiece.

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!

DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48

UPDATE Dec 2017: PitchBender gets Modulation/Vibrato!

I found I was not using the up-bend direction on the Mini PitchBender at all, so asked Tim Jacobs to replace it with something that would be really useful: Modulation (the technical term for Vibrato). Now you can get modulation/vibrato at any breath level on the DM48, incuding very quiet notes. You can hear the sound in the demonstration video. There is also a description of an online Calibration Tool that Tim has created to fine tune the Mini Pitchbender, and even make it work in different ways. For example, to get bigger ned ranges, change the bend directions, or swap Modulation for some other MIDI effect. You can see his extensive notes on the calibration tool plus the fascinating history and electronics behind our Mini PitchBender project here.
★★★★★
Shipping is included in all prices. For additional options, see your shopping cart.

Please include your phone number when ordering. Without a valid phone number we cannot guarantee delivery.

For full details see our Terms & Conditions



DM48 Mini-Pitchbender

£60

DM48

 




Technical Points

The Mini PitchBender is powered by its own USB lead (included) and will be recognised in your music software as a MIDI controller. To get the correct in-tune bending range you need to set the bend settings to 3 semitones in the patch you’re using.

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