Once you're comfortable with the basics of tuning and reed adjustment, what's the next step for an aspiring harmonica technician? Watching an experienced technician at work and being able to ask them questions as they do their thing is definitely useful and Richard Sleigh, one of the most respected harmonica technicians in the world, makes himself available for this sort of learning experience If you live within a convenient distance of Richard, this is definitely something you should consider doing, but if this is not an option for you, there is an alternative - "Hot Rod Your Harmonica: The Movie!"
Actually, "movies" plural is more accurate. Two DVDs with a series of almost twenty videos on all aspects of high end harmonica customisation, including a ton of stuff that you will not be able to find anywhere else, saving countless hours of frustration trying to figure out these things by trial and error. I have worked on other people's harmonicas for a couple of decades now and I've worked on my own harps for even longer, but there were a few things in in these videos that were new to me, as well as lot of things that I had discovered for myself, but really wish someone had shown me years earlier. I'm not going to list the topics covered, just take it from me that it is all practical, useful information geared towards helping do professional quality work on your harmonicas, all demonstrated in clear close-up and with a nicely relaxed devlivery. The focus is on diatonics, but most of the material is equally applicable to other types of harmonica.
... but that's not all! Along with all the videos, also included is a manual to accompany the videos, a .pdf of Richard's book "Turbocharge Your Harmonica", a .pdf of "The Marine Band Field Spotters Guide" and all sorts of other good stuff. For less than the cost of one custom diatonic, all of this can be yours as either a DVD set and printed manual, or as a digital download. Whichever version you buy, it comes with a money back guarantee if you are not completely satisfied. Just in case this still isn't enough for you, if you buy the video set, Richard will personally take a look at a harmonica you have worked on and tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. I think this is the bargain of a lifetime for anyone interested in improving and personalising their harmonicas.
Also available from Richard is his new slot customising tool. This is an improved version of the tool that he has been selling as part of his harmonica tool kit for the past few years, allow you to draw in the edges of the slot to reduce air loss and make the reed more responsive. It can be used to work either one side of the side at a time, or both sides simultaneously and there are some free videos on Richard's website demonstrating how to use it most effectively.
For more information on these products, as well some other good stuff, please visit hotrodharmonicas.com
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