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The SlipSlider - a Revolutionary 10-Hole Harp. It's Weird, but it Works!

The stock Richter diatonic harmonica is a very expressive instrument, but it has some limitations. The main one is that only 8 of the 20 reeds can be bent in pitch: holes 1,2,3,4,6 draw, and 8,9,10 blow. That's because these are the only holes where the blow and draw notes are a tone or more apart, allowing for an interactive-reed bend between them. The high reed in each hole will bend, but the low one won't – because it doesn't have a lower-pitched reed to bend down to.

But what if you could somehow move reeds around so that the non-bending reeds were in the same airstream as a lower reed, thus allowing them to bend? That's the concept behind the SlipSlider.

It's made in two separate parts, with the draw reed attached to a sheet of super-slippery Teflon (the space-age food grade plastic coating that lines non-stick fry pans). The two halves of the harp are held together with magnets, which also locate them in the neutral position for normal play. But when you want the extra bend notes, you just slide the draw reedplate a few millimetres to left or right with a small adjustment of your grip.

Slide to the right, and hey presto: you can bend the lower blow notes! 2, 5, 6 and 7 blow are suddenly juicily bendable. The high blow bends remain, so you can play Jimmy Reed style over the top and middle octave. It's really cool and very soulful.

Slide to the left, and now you can bend your high draw notes! 8 and 10 draw now bend like 4 and 6 draw. In fact, you can play the top octave in exactly the same way as the middle octave. Just transfer your favourite middle-octave licks up there with identical bends and breathing patterns – so easy, and so expressive!

Release your grip and the magnets snap the draw plate back to the middle position, for normal harp play with overblows and all the stuff you're used to. The moisture from your breath creates a seal between the two parts of the harp, and it is remarkably airtight – you'll notice no difference between the SlipSlider and a normal out-of-the box Hohner Crossover or Deluxe. Check out the video to hear it in action.

Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider Slip Slider

ORDERING OPTIONS

At present, the SlipSlider only comes in Hohner versions: Crossover, Deluxe and Thunderbird. You can order it fully assembled ready to play, or buy the finished parts and assemble yourself. It's a straightforward process and means you can transform your existing Hohner harps into a SlipSlider and save money.

If you are really tech-minded you can go further and buy the loose raw parts and do all the finishing work yourself. We'll release a video shortly on that, but it's really only for harp techs and others who are experienced with making custom harmonicas. If in doubt, buy the assembled new harp or the finished PowerParts.

HISTORY OF THE IDEA

The concept behind the SlipSlider was invented by my good friend Zombor Kovacs, a very clever harmonica-playing engineer from Budapest, Hungary. He made a prototype back in 2006 that worked, but not well enough for his liking. The movement either way was quite large (7.5mm), and it was a bit sluggish - so he gave up on the idea (but in recognition of his pioneering role in inventing the concept, Zombor will receive a percentage of the profit from every SlipSlider sold). Here are some photos:
Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype
For my version I designed a new 3d printed comb that reduced the movement in either direction by half on the SlipSlider from Zombor's original prototype. I added magnets to snap the parts back into alignment, plus the Teflon interface plate for ultimate slipperiness between the two halves of the harp. I also created a special little cantilver reed dampener that sits inside the lower coverplate and operates on the cam principle. It stops the 7 draw reed from sounding when you slide the lower reedplate - without it extra reeds will sound, stopping the bends. I was really pleased with that idea!

SlipSlider Fully Assembled (including harmonica)

Base Price: £115

Harmonica:

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Slip Slider

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SlipSlider PowerParts Kit (You supply harmonica)

Base Price: £32

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Slip Slider

STATUS UPDATE: Now Shipping!

Tech videos

Tech 1: Preparing the Raw Parts for Assembly (PowerParts Raw Parts Option)

Tech 2: Assembling Your SlipSlider (PowerParts Assembly Option)

Items you will need (PowerParts Raw Parts option)

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