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MINI PITCHBENDER and BLUESHARP MOUTHPIECE for MIDI HARMONICA

The Lekholm DM48 is a very impressive new MIDI Harmonica, released in 2017. As the first beta tester, I helped the inventor Erik Lekholm add extra tweaks to its amazing range of useful features, which you can see in this video. The DM48 has incredible functionality and expression, but two things about it make it less appealing to diatonic harp players: an inability to controllably bend notes, and a 12-hole chromatic-harmonica-size mouthpiece.

For my own playing and to help make the DM48 more user-friendly for all harp players, I decided to develop two add-on accessory parts to address these issues. Diatonic players are used to small 10-hole harps, so I designed a 10-hole mouthpiece with the same shape and close hole spacing as a blues harp - complete with real metal coverplates from the iconic Hohner 1896 Marine Band. It screws into the same sockets as the stock DM48 mouthpiece, and gives a familiar diatonic-size interface to the amazing world of MIDI harmonica.

The Mini PitchBender was something I could not develop on my own; it required a partner with sophisticated electrical and MIDI knowledge. After looking on YouTube I found the perfect person: London electronics guru Tim Jacobs (check out his website). We struck up an online friendship and have been working hard together over several months to try various approaches to this gnarly issue. The first was based on a small pressure ribbon (see photo), and we also tried tiny pitch wheels. But the best approach turned out to be a mini joystick which allows a player to bend notes accurately to 4 different pitches with small finger movements.

After a little practice I was able to use it to mimic the kinds of bends I do on harmonica, and discover more cool bends that are not possible on any normal harp! This pitch-bending control adds so much soul to the DM48, which for me greatly increases the playing pleasure of this amazing instrument. Based on the success of the prototype, Tim and I have ordered the parts to make a smaller version on the Mini PitchBender for sale to DM48 and other MIDI instrument players. The CAD drawing below shows approximately how it will look.

Hear for yourself: check out both accessories in the video!

 

DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48 DM48
Photos 1-3: Blues-Harp Mouthpiece, 4: DM48 assembled with Mouthpiece, 5-6: CAD Rendering of the Mini Pitchbender (currently in production), 7: Abandoned prototype of earlier ribbon version, 8: Tim Jacobs

Click to enlarge, click outside the photo to return.

Technical Points

The Bluesharp Mouthpiece directs air to holes 2-11 on the DM48, so tunings using it need to be configured for those holes (holes 1 and 12 in the Tuning Editor will not sound). The Mini PitchBender is powered by its own USB lead (included) and will be recognised in your music software as a MIDI controller. To get the full bending range you need to set the patchbend settings to 3 semitones. The Lekholm DM48 MIDI Harmonica website is Here.

Buying Advice

The Blues-Harp Mouthpiece is available now. Includes soft rear gasket for airtightness and two securing screws. Price £60 including postage. The Mini PitchBender includes USB lead, cable tie, double-sided foam tape for sticking on to the DM48. It can be pre-ordered now, for guaranteed shipping in August (but hopefully earlier if parts arrive quickly). Price is £60 including postage. REDUCED PRICE OFFER: Price for both units together is £100 including postage. Both will be shipped together when the Mini PitchBender is ready, in August at the latest.

DM48 Blues-Harp Mouthpiece £60

Colour:


DM48
Pre-order now! DM48 Mini-Pitchbender £60
Add to Cart DM48
Pre-order now! Buy BOTH! £100
Mouthpiece Colour:


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