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Articles in the Harmonica Workbench Category

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[1 Feb 2012 | Comments Off | 13,779 views]
Harmonica Workbench: BlueXlab SP20 Comb—The Sequel

by Kinya Pollard
In the 2011 October issue of HarmonicaSessions.com®, I wrote about two extraordinarily good looking BlueXlab combs I had purchased. The quality and craftsmanship of the olive wood and anodized aluminum combs were exquisite. It was love at first site. I even contemplated running off to Vegas with them—and why not?  After all, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!”
My heart was broken, however, the moment I placed the SP20 to my lips. The protruding mouthpiece created an obstacle between me and the “fat tone” embouchure I worked so many …

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[1 Dec 2011 | Comments Off | 14,715 views]
Harmonica Workbench: Passion On The Bench

by Kinya Pollard
Over the years, I have been approached by numerous harmonica players who have confessed their love for tinkering. Many of you spend more time on the workbench than on the bandstand—sound familiar?
Motivated by the economic downturn or simply a desire to monetize their hobby, a few of you out there officially set up shop and began marketing your harmonica centric business.
As a business owner for over 30 years, I am always intrigued and delighted when I find an enterprise that has crossed over the notoriously difficult five year …

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[11 Oct 2011 | Comments Off | 10,263 views]
Harmonica Workbench: BluesXlab SP20 Combs

 by Kinya Pollard
What’s not to love about the perfectly milled SP20 combs made by BlueXlab (Italy)—makers of the vintage switchcraft lookalike Amphenol connector volume control. With exquisite materials and seductive finishes, I was fully expecting the BlueXlab (www.bluexlab.com) combs to provide me with my next favorite Special 20 harmonica.
Shown in aluminum

Check out the detail on this olive wood comb:

Unfortunately, there was a design flaw that prevented this from happening. For those harmonica players on the quest for big fat tone, you probably spotted the “fly in the ointment”—the mouthpiece.

No, it …

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[29 Jul 2011 | Comments Off | 12,684 views]
Harmonica Workbench: News Flash! X-Men Nemesis, Magneto, Likes Harmonicas

with Kinya Pollard
Every superhero has their unique gifts that they can choose to bring forth good or evil into our world. For years, I thought Marvel Comic’s Magneto character was one evil dude—little did I know there is a softer side to him. It turns out he’s a harmonica buff!
So with the X-Men movie prequel hitting the theatres, I couldn’t help but make the correlation between Magneto and TurboHarp. Both have a fascination with magnetism and continuously look for unique ways to manipulate metal.
For twenty years now, fans of TurboHarp …

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[7 Jun 2011 | 2 Comments | 12,176 views]
Harmonica Workbench: Go ahead, take the PLUNZ!

with Kinya Pollard 
Long time readers know I have an insatiable appetite for technology and techniques for improving the tone and playability of the diatonic harmonica.
As it turns out, I actually had on my list for future articles to build a double reed plate harmonica. So, when Mauro “Plunz” Pionzio, from Plunz Special Harp invited me to review his new “Forty Plus” double reed plate retrofit kit for the Hohner Special 20 (yes, I’m still in love with the SP20 after all these years), it was a no brainer for me …

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[1 Apr 2011 | 5 Comments | 99,469 views]
Harmonica Workbench: Size Matters

 by Kinya Pollard
For those of you who are thinking what I think you’re thinking; get your mind out of the gutter! We run a clean operation here.
For the Harp-Tech, one of the most important signature techniques to master is “Sizing,” also known as embossing and burnishing. I prefer “Sizing” because the word does a better job of conjuring up the proper image of what the technique is intended to do.
The purpose of sizing is to shrink the reed plate slot just enough to allow the reed to pass through. “But …

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[7 Dec 2010 | 2 Comments | 16,823 views]
Harmonica Workbench: Sure, you heard of Volvo…

with Kinya Pollard
Q: What do Volvo and Dick Sjoeberg of Master Harp have in common? 
A: Both call Sweden their home, and both are known for uncompromising quality and innovation.
In the Beginning
Late 2007, while visiting the Harpsmith workshop, Jason Ricci enthusiastically spoke about the unbelievable craftsmanship of the combs he had received from harmonica builder, Dick Sjoeberg of Master Harp www.masterharp.com. If only Jason had the comb to show me!
October of 2008, I had the pleasure of meeting two of Dick Sjoeberg’s students: Magnus and Krister at Steve Baker’s Harmonica Masterclass …

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[11 Oct 2010 | 2 Comments | 11,239 views]
Harmonica Workbench: EMC2 Einstein for Harpies

by  Kinya Pollard
For those full time and part time Harp-Techs who have experienced the joys of harmonica tuning, you understand how even being ambidextrous is not enough to avoid some stress.
Consider the tedious process of removing (and reinstalling) the reed plates from the comb; add to this, the task of holding the reed plate in place with one hand, reed support tool in another, and Chisel, file, sanding stick an/or rotary tool in the other—wait a minute, that’s three hands!
Rick Trankle’s inspiration for designing, manufacturing and distributing his Harmonica Einstein …

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[25 Aug 2010 | 2 Comments | 23,178 views]
Harmonica Workbench: My Next Favorite Tool

by Kinya Pollard
It was love at first site (don’t tell Mrs. Harpsmith). I think I found my next new favorite tool.
Many of you have read or heard that my least favorite Harp-Tech thing to do is tuning. So when I unwrapped the new 2oz high speed rotary “engraver” from Micro Mark with 3/32″ chuck (M-M #84446), I was moved to thank the Harmonica Gods.

With an assortment of available carbide bits (#60476) I am expecting tuning chores to be quick and precise.

It did not take long for me to discover the …