Sometimes you start doing things simply because there is no other way for them to get done – I’ve become a harmonica hacker.
After looking at all available harmonica models worldwide, checking with online modification options, and talking with people I know knowledgeable in harmonica modding work, it came to the point where I had to just move ahead, even though I was being told by experts that it wouldn’t work.
Here’s the problem that had to be solved:
I am playing a lot of Celtic music nowadays which is really great stuff to do on harmonica and guitar and it’s very challenging, especially when you’re doing the session technique of moving from one tune to the next without missing a beat and what that means quite often is that you are changing keys on the guitar and also at the very least changing positions on the harmonica.
For example, to play these tunes together, Connaughtmans Rambles, Morrison’s Jig, and Kesh Jig, on the guitar you go from key of D, to key of E minor, to key of G. So on the harmonica you can start with a D harmonica in first position to play Connaughtmans Rambles, then stay with the same harmonica in the third position to play the E minor tune, but then there’s a problem with playing the following tune. in G major-it just doesn’t work very well on the D harmonica.
So what are you going to do? If you’re playing live, it’s impractical to stop in the middle and put a new harmonica in the harmonica rack, and so I wanted to find a way to have two harmonicas in a rack.
The average Marine band style harmonica is 4 inches wide, and I have a seven and a half-inch inch-wide harmonica rack that I like to use, so clearly two standard harmonicas wouldn’t work.
Now the interesting thing is that if you take the actual playing surface of the 10 whole diatonic harmonica, it’s only 3 inches. So if there is a way to reduce the size of harmonicas down to their essentials, to their playing surfaces, then clearly there’s a way to fit two10-hole diatonic harmonicas in a 7 1/2 inch wide harmonica rack.
Harmonicas are made of metal, plastic and wood so you can’t exactly shrink the things to make them fit, like they were fabric or something. I don’t like min-size harmonicas, anyway, but like to keep playing holes and surfaces to be a standard size so everything works easily from key to key.
Instead I decided to remove the non-playing surfaces of a harmonica – here’s the results:
This is a major game-changer!
So yes I’m now officially a harmonica hacker!
Would you like to know more about how the hacked harmonica sounds and if it still works? Comment below!