Monday, January 25, 2010

"Custom" Harps

Here are a couple harps I've been working on...

I opened up the back covers sealed them with cloth tape.

Here I am waxing the draw reeds.  This helps a ton with overdraws which I am doing more and more of. The reeds have been embossed, arced, and gapped to my needs.  This is always tricky because the reeds will drift back to their original shape and gap from time to time.  So I tweak, play, wait a day, and resume.  Throughout the week I'll come back and tinker to get the best overall response and feel.

Here is the comb after I sealed it.  Note that I removed the plastic burrs that run through the channels.  The harps will be played a bit daily for the next week so I can work out any kinks.  The last thing I do is tune the harp to 443, but the reed work and wax can play with the tuning.  I guess I have to be patient!

Typically, I play Golden Melody harps.  However, they aren't made in the low keys.  With the GM's, I typically don't mess with the comb.  It isn't as easy to cut as on the Sp20's.  However, I have a Dremel tool I just bought.  I am now starting a GM in Ab that will be cut and taped.  My preference is for wood or composite combs, however.  I have three coming this week from Chris Michalek of Buddha harps.  They are worth every penny!  That being said, the Ab isn't on the list of comb priority, lol.  Those will go in a C, D, and Bb I finished this month.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Customizing Harmonicas

I've been on a huge tweaking kick...I play a lot of overblows and set my harps up as such.  Here is a list of what I do and in what order.

- tip scoop
- emboss
- Ruper Oysler's, "radical reed shaping"
- arcing
- gapping
- tuning
- opening up the backs (not on Golden Melodies, though)
- attaching labels

I tune to 443.  I don't really play hard, but the harps have more cut this way.  I can also use a deep blues vibrato and not get pitchy.  Most of what I learned has been from Chris Michalek and the Ruper Oysler video.

I have the Herring tool kit along with a lot of other tools I pick up here or there.  The most recent has been diamond tipped bits for a Dremel.  I use them to scoop and tune.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Splittin' at the Seams - Harp notes

Just thought I'd throw my album notes out there...rhythm harmonica means I played rhythm on a specific section...never the whole song.  We wrapped recording this week.  I'll posts parts of some of the rough mixes as I figure out how/where to host the audio.  The album will drop on February 23.  I'll be posting here more now that the holidays are over and I am back to the daily grind!

Funky Mama (two progressions, rhythm harmonica, head)
    - C harp (2nd position) Vibro Champ w/ BBE Two Timer delay
Living a Lie (one progression)
    - Ab harp (3rd position) Vibro Champ w/ BBE Two Timer delay
Leave Your Light On (one progression, rhythm harp)
    - Db harp (2nd position) Vibro Champ w/ BBE Two Timer delay
Time for Me to Go (intro, thre progressions)
    - A harp (2nd position) Vibro Champ w/ BBE Two Timer delay
Gotta Keep Moving (one progression, rhythm harmonica)
    - Bb harp (3rd position) Vibro Champ w/ BBE Two Timer delay
North Wind (intro, outro, rhythm harmonica)
       - A harp (2nd position) B harp (2nd position), E harp (3rd position), HarpGear DT
Eventually (outro, rhythm harmonica)
    - Ab harp (2nd position), HarpGear Double Trouble
Hungry Ghosts (B section and turnaround)
    - B harp (11th position and 2nd position), HarpGear Double Trouble w/ BBE Two Timer delay
Karma King (one progression)
    - A harp (4th position), Harp Gear Double Trouble w/ BBE Two Timer delay
Scooterbox (head, two progressions)
    - D harp (2nd position), acoustic
Splittin at the Seams (two progressions, one progression trading)
    - F harp (3rd position), Harp Gear Double Trouble, Micro POG, BBE Two Timer delay