New video: HOHNER Affiliated Customizer Program explained by Joe Filisko


What is Harmonica Customizing?

Customizing is a generic expression used to describe systematic modifications to a series product in order to meet the specific requirements of an individual customer.

Although a HOHNER harmonica such as the MARINE BAND CROSSOVER offers exceptional quality "out of the box", even the best harmonica from a production line cannot meet all the specific needs of every individual musician. People are looking for different things. A raunchy blues player, a gentle folk stylist and an overblow specialist, for example, all have widely varying approaches and employ completely different embouchures, vocal tract forms and breath pressures to create their music. No serial product can simultaneously meet all these demands, so it's common practice to adjust the instrument to suit the needs of the individual player.

What does the customizer do?

a) Semi Customizing

Semi Customizing is a sales offer to an unspecific circle of potential purchasers, usually involving physical modifications to the finished instrument. A typical example of semi customizing is the offer to exchange combs or covers on an undefined number of harmonicas at a defined serial level. Another example would be the offer of standardized alternate tunings in either an online base or a catalogue. Much semi customizing does not encompass the reed work delineated below and in such cases can also be performed by non-players.

b) Full Customizing

Full customizing involves accepting orders to modify harmonicas in order to improve performance in regard to the specific playing style of the customer, as well as fulfilling individual wishes by exchanging or modifying parts of the instrument.

Here the goal is to make the harmonica play better, sound louder, respond better and/or facilitate certain playing styles such as overbends. In addition to the operations performed by semi customizers, full customizing always involves extensive modifications to reeds and reed slots (embossing, offsetting, gapping, polishing, bevelling of reed edges, fine tuning et al). This highly skilled work can only be conducted by experienced technicians who are also expert players.

The HOHNER AFFILIATED CUSTOMIZER PROGRAM is aimed at bringing together the finest harmonica customizers in the world under the seal of the HOHNER AFFILIATED CUSTOMIZERS. This is an independently certified seal of quality which guarantees the highest possible standards of craftsmanship, based on the finest harmonicas in the world, made by HOHNER. It represents a historic step both for HOHNER and for the harmonica community as a whole.