Skip to main content

Tour the Site

Click here to watch a video tour of what the inside of the site looks like. Take the tour now. >>

Levels of Achievement

Click here for our system of mastery for all skill level blues harmonica students.

David's Tip of the Day: Custom Harmonicas - Why They're Really Nice

David Barrett Admin's picture

Yesterday I gave you two reasons of why custom harmonicas may not be necessary. Here are the reasons why I personally like custom harmonicas…

Balanced
Though construction and quality control is currently better than it's ever been in the harmonica's history... from the factory, for obvious economic reasons, you’ll never reach the level of attention that a customizer will give your harmonicas. Most simply, a harmonica will play more evenly across the entire range of the instrument. This means that it takes the same amount of air pressure to sound hole 1 as it does hole 10.

Here’s a good personally story about this…

I have two sets of custom harmonicas, my primary set and a travel/backup set. I never send in two of the same keys of harmonica for servicing, this way I can always build a complete set when needed. Not having any upcoming gigs or recording sessions I broke my rule one time, and of course, right after I sent them in, I get a gig. During the gig I’m improvising on a sweet ballad and two of the reeds were sluggish and required more air pressure to play, making my lines clunky, destroying the beautiful melody I was trying to create.

Dynamic Range
The main reason why we play custom harmonicas is so that we can play softly. These harmonicas sound with the slightest amount of breath, allowing us tremendous dynamic range… from ultra-soft to ultra-loud. The more you get used to playing customized harmonicas, the softer your default volume becomes, allowing the amp/PA to do the work for you. Whether you’re playing through a bullet mic with a tube amp, or in front of a vocal mic through the PA, your technique grows in a way to allow this range to happen.

More thoughts on this tomorrow…