Custom harmonicas- worth it?


Yes, if you get a good one, but they aren’t all created equal!

Every player who’s paid his dues knows that stock harmonicas can be really great, really bad, but usually fall somewhere in the middle. When you get a great one, oh man…it’s like winning the lottery!


There are foundational reasons for this, born in the compromises that are the nature of mass production. They lie deeper than the more obvious things that you read about, like combs, curves and embossing.


The truth is, the one-in-fifty “lottery-prize” plain old Marine Band sometimes seem better than a lot of custom harps, once you get past the loudness and pay attention to how they feel. Why is that???


Well, because. The outcome of a build is determined by whatever is holding it back, not the list of tricks a customizer says he’s done! When a harp has deeper issues, modifying it from there produces mediocre results, if you’re lucky.


Fixing the underlying problems first is what makes my instruments reliable and consistent. The foundation of each harp I build is “blueprinted” before moving on to the fun stuff, and it’s a big part of why they’re worth the wait.


Having said that, every builder has his own opinions, and they may not agree with mine. Caveat emptor!