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The Mississippi Saxophone
March 21, 2010 1:12 PM   Subscribe

The Steinway of Harmonicas.

A small business start-up in Rockford IL decides to make the best hamonicas in the world. Geared to professionals, and already gaining dedicated fans, it is inspiring.
posted by timsteil (24 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
really cool harp!
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 1:27 PM on March 21, 2010


On the one hand, it seems like this is a long overdue idea, but on the other hand, how many professional-quality harmonica players are there? It's not a super-popular instrument. However, it may turn out that every single one of those high-level players wants to buy one of his harmonicas, which would probably be enough to do OK at least.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:29 PM on March 21, 2010


I could almost justify spending a couple of hundred dollars for a great blues harp, but that's because I don't play with bands much anymore, and after thinking very carefully about what key to choose, I would only need one . I usually played keyboards, anyway, but the harmonica player had to have a nice box o' harps because the harmonica player needs to be able to blow (and suck) in quite a few different keys. That would run into some real money.
posted by kozad at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2010


On the one hand, I now want one of those so bad. On the other hand, Marine Band is the Steinway of Harmonicas, and this guy is, like, something newer and maybe better. It's like the Rain Song Guitars of harmonicas.
posted by The World Famous at 1:36 PM on March 21, 2010


I was always a Special 20 man myself (wouldn't swell up when you soaked them), had one in every key available, long harps, chromatics etc. Then one night the guy I somewhat learned from had a gig and asked if he could borrow mine, because he couldn't afford to buy them anymore. I never asked for them back. That was the end of my harp career.
posted by timsteil at 1:42 PM on March 21, 2010


Oh yeah, I didn't even think of that. You have to have harmonicas in every different key, don't you, you can't just have one. Which is easy to do with a $20 Hohner, not so much with his expensive harps.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:57 PM on March 21, 2010


I don't quite know why they're banging on about American-made harps, 'cos people have been okay with German-made Hohners for more than a century.
posted by scruss at 3:18 PM on March 21, 2010


Harps aren't 20 bucks. They cost closer to $30 and wear out very quickly. Just blowing or sucking one note too hard can ruin the harp. Some harps have replaceable combs, but the replacement combs are $20. If you are trying to maintain a set of harps in all the keys, it gets very expensive very quickly. The Harrisons are expensive as hell at $180.00 each, but the ability to change out one bad reed, instead of the whole comb is intriguing.
posted by wsg at 4:02 PM on March 21, 2010


The early B-Radicals have been getting good reviews on the forums over at Modern Blues Harmonica.
posted by tdismukes at 4:06 PM on March 21, 2010


Made in America and proud of it!

Good for you. (And us) (And U.S.)
posted by Drasher at 4:12 PM on March 21, 2010


I'm just waiting for someone to make the Steinway of Kazoos.

And you'll only need one!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:25 PM on March 21, 2010


You have to have harmonicas in every different key, don't you, you can't just have one.

Unless you play a chromatic. But I bet that's really hard.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:51 PM on March 21, 2010


I prefer quantity over quality. (seen in action)
posted by Evilspork at 6:57 PM on March 21, 2010


Just realized I only own two harps anymore, one special 20 for playing Heart of Gold, and a C/G Echo Harp 55/80 for when I want to get my polka on. /sappy.
posted by timsteil at 7:25 PM on March 21, 2010


Having experienced the world of $200 tinwhistles through hosting a forum on same for a few years, I think it would be pretty easy to build a business around high-end harmonicas. Not only do you get some of the pros (because some of the pros will want to stick with their Hohners or whatever) but you also get the collectors and hobbyists with disposable income. Not the next Hohner but definitely a potentially healthy business.
posted by mendel at 8:49 PM on March 21, 2010


I just wish I could find a really decent resource for getting past the minimal ability I have with mine.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 10:12 PM on March 21, 2010


$200 tinwhistles

Wait, a tinwhistle, that's the same as a pennywhistle, right? Holy shit! We're talking a twentythousandpennywhistle here!

Inflation's a bitch.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:59 PM on March 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


... on the other hand, how many professional-quality harmonica players are there? It's not a super-popular instrument.

There're out there. Just invisible. This guy for example, Mikey Junior, is one of the best Blues harp players you never heard of.
posted by three blind mice at 2:10 AM on March 22, 2010


Every Key.

I'd love to hear Das Wohltemperierte Klavier arranged fur Blues Harp.
posted by ovvl at 4:23 AM on March 22, 2010


I'd love to hear Das Wohltemperierte Klavier arranged fur Blues Harp.

Here you go.

Oh, wait, you said blues harp. Sorry.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:42 AM on March 22, 2010


"...enabling players to achieve unprecedented levels of musical achievement."

No copy editors at the Trib, anymore?
posted by steambadger at 8:11 AM on March 22, 2010


To be fair, Howard Levy, the 'dedicated fan' linked to, is one of the few who can play chromatically on a diatonic harmonica. So he'd only need one of these.

See eg this, plus everything else by him or involving him.

I say 'few' but haven't yet come across anyone else who can play diatonic harp chromatically like that. Would love to hear of them if anyone knows.
posted by motty at 10:29 AM on March 22, 2010


motty, Carlos Del Junco is another harmonica virtuoso who plays in the style of Howard Levy. He's got a song on this record that goes through every key and he solos beautifully on one diatonic harp throughout. I can't figure out which tune it is from the samples cuz they're so short.
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22Carlos+del+Junco%22&search_type=&aq=f
posted by wsg at 10:55 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


motty, Al Lerman does the chromatic-on-a-diatonic thing too.
posted by scruss at 7:20 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


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