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.


  1. What exactly does Ruper Oysler's "radical reed shaping" entail? And do you think it's a worthwhile modification to learn?

  2. This has to do with curving the reed a bit by the rivet so the reed lays flat and level with the reedplate. I believe this is standard on most custom harps and a good thing to do. It is important to keep the reed flat after the initial curve.

  3. Do you tune to 12-TET or just intonatation...or a compromise tuning?

  4. Whatever is stock for the harp. In the effort to master set up for overblows, I took lessons with Chris Michalek and no longer do Ruper Oysler's trick. I also do a few other things that are hush-hush.