Blue Moon Harmonicas is a Florida-based company offering replacement parts, as well as upgraded harmonicas and restored vintage harmonicas. They really make far too many different things for me to go into much detail about them all here, but I'll try to give an overview of just some of their products.
Got a favorite harp that plays really well, but whose comb has seen better days? Blue Moon Harmonicas offer a wide range of replacement combs for most popular models of 10-hole diatonic. These are made using CNC machining at a facility that also manufactures components for the military and the aerospace industry and they are some of the most impressively made combs I have ever seen. Prices range from around US$20 to $40 and available materials include brass, aluminium (with three different surface finishes), Corian (a Dupont product most often used for kitchen countertops and the like), acrylic (in about a dozen different colours) and various woods, but my favorite material out of all those I sampled was Hogany - a resin based wood effect material often used for pistol grips and knife handles. All the combs are superbly finished and pre-drilled ready for use. If you are replacing the comb on a harp assembled with screws, there's nothing else to do other than take the reedplates off the old comb and put them on the new one. Obviously, if you are replacing the comb on something like a Marine Band, you will need too be able to drill appropriately placed holes in the reedplates. The number of different colours available in acrylic might be a really neat way to colour-code your harps by key or tuning, or just to impress people when you open up your harmonica case!
Another way to add some colour to your harp case is with BMH's powder coated covers. These are stock cover plates with a smooth, wear-resistant coating available in a wide range of colours. Priced around $25 per pair, this is something to consider the next time you sit down carelessly, forgetting that you have your favorite harp in your back pocket. Covers are available for various 10-hole diatonic models.
Another alternative for colour coding your harps is their range of Harmonica Skinz. These are adhesive-backed laminated vinyl shapes that are printed on the upper surface with various colourful designs. Just peel off the backing and stick them on your harp, after wiping down the covers to make sure they are clean. If you don't get it right the first time, peel it off and try again. These are just $5 per pair, but with some set-up fees and a fairly small minimum order, you can have anything you want printed on your own custom Skinz. Currently available for Special 20, Marine Band and Hohner MS harps, but I wouldn't be surprised if they fit other harps too.
BMH's most unique item is their SUB-30 customisation kit. The main feature of this kit is the EVP, or External Valve Plate, which addresses one of the weak points of the Suzuki SUB-30, namely the tendency of the auxiliary reeds to make unwanted noises at inopportune times. The easiest way to get this to happen is to try bending a couple of notes at the same time, something blues players like to be able to do. The EVP prevents those reeds from doing anything other than what they are supposed to do - facilitate the additional bends. The kit requires you to add the SUB-30 reedplates to the new comb, attach the EVP to the upper reedplate and attach the covers (specially made replacement comb and Manji covers are included in the kit). If you can remove and replace reedplates, you will have no trouble adding this to your SUB-30, although there are a few finishing touches you might wish to do, such as smoothing the edges of the newly exposed reedplates, etc. If this is not something that you feel comfortable doing yourself, you can buy the BMH30, which is a fully assembled version with a few additional touches.
With the EVP, the SUB-30 becomes a whole new instrument. You no longer have to tiptoe around trying not to set off the noise from the auxiliary reeds, you can get on with the business of playing the thing. One slight negative is that the EVP does affect the response of the reeds a little at very low playing pressures, but the kind of people who will really benefit the most from this upgrade will be the ones that really want to make the SUB-30 wail, so I doubt that's going to be much of an issue.
Since writing the above, Bluemoon's product range has changed dramatically. I hope to review their current offerings in the near future. In the meantime, check out their website at www.bluemoonharmonicas.com.
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