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Brendan Power
 
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SLIPSLIDER mk3 – The Blues Harp with a JOYSTICK! All Sliding now Inside the Harp


Introductory / Left Shift Video

My SlipSlider mk3 represents the ultimate expression of this revolutionary diatonic harmonica concept! In the earlier SlipSlider Mk1 and Mk2 models the entire lower reedplate and coverplate moved from left to right as a unit. This gave extraordinary new expression impossible on a traditional Richter diatonic (see their respective page links for details). However some players found the outward shape-shifting of the harp was so disconcerting that it prevented them from being able to appreciate its benefits. It was also not optimal for maintaining a consistent cupping position with the hands.

I strongly believe that the SlipSlider concept offers a fantastic way forward for Richter harp players to keep all the good stuff they love in their traditional harps (no valves, resonant tone, overbending ability) whilst moving the existing draw reeds around to offer heaps of exciting NEW possibilities. So I resolved to find a way to keep all the movement inside the harp, so the outward form remains unchanged. After a lot of experimentation over the space of about a year, I am now very proud to present the SlipSlider mk3! It uses the magic of magnetism to keep the harp airtight at all times, whilst allowing the draw reedplate to slide left and right INSIDE the harp while the coverplates remain fixed in place.

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To make my SlipSlider mk3 I chose the excellent Hohner Rocket model for its comfortable and precision reedplates, combined with coverplates from the Dabell Contender model. These strong full-length covers allow all the movement to happen unimpeded inside the harp.

As a player, you don’t need to know all this technical stuff – all you do is play! Outwardly the harp looks similar to any other 10 hole diatonic - except it has a small thumb knob sticking through the lower cover. Think of this as your Joystick to Heaven! It has three positions:

  1. DEFAULT CENTRAL POSITION – The harp plays exactly like any standard Richter harmonica.

  2. LEFT SHIFT POSITION – Familiar feeling draw bends in the top octave, plus bigger draw bends in the lower two octaves. (see Introductory / Left Shift Video)

  3. RIGHT SHIFT POSITION – familiar feeling blow bends in the middle and lower octaves, plus bigger blow bends in the top octave. (see Right Shift Video)
With these two small thumb movements, the Richter harp is utterly transformed! In stock form it has only 8 bends. Now you can bend 16 notes, in places where bends were impossible before. Not only do you have familiar-type blow bends in the middle octave and familiar-type draw bends in the top octave (amazing enough in themselves), you also have very cool new WIDER bends available. These can add a lot of great expression for adventurous players who enjoy exploring new musical effects.

In addition you can now play fully chromatically through the whole 3 octave range using bends alone. Please go to the How it Works page to read more about the amazing new musical possibilities the SlipSlider Mk3 offers.

The SlipSlider mk3 – a Truly Revolutionary New Harmonica that Retains the Best from Tradition

★★★★★
All prices include international shipping.
For full details see our Terms & Conditions


mk3 SlipSlider

£199

Key:

Customisation:


(See Ordering Info at bottom of page about customisation)

Slip Slider
(Click to enlarge)

Introductory / Left Shift Video

Right Shift Video

ORDERING INFO

This is an initial Limited Release of 25 harps, in the keys of G, A, Bb, C, D. They are being released to gauge interest in the SlipSlider Mk3. If the interest is there I’ll explore a way to make the harp available in the future – but that could take a while! So, if you are interested now, this is your chance to own one of these unique revolutionary diatonic harps: handmade, numbered and signed. When they’re gone, they’re gone!

CUSTOM OPTION

As shown in the videos, the SlipSlider Mk3 sounds great with standard Hohner Rocket Reedplates. However, any harp will improve by being hand-customised (having the reed slots embossed, reed shaping, fine gapping etc etc).
Slip Slider

If you are highly skilled, you can customise your own SlipSlider. However, I strongly recommend you get it done by André Coelho.
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The SlipSlider Mk3 is a mechanically complex harp, with a lot of components. André helped me assemble the initial batch of 25, so he has an intimate knowledge of the harp already. He has already customised several of them for top players, and he can take your SlipSlider Mk3 to the highest level of performance.

If you decide to choose André to customise your SlipSlider, please email him first to discuss what you’re after. Once you have agreed, choose the Andre Coelho custom option in the Drop-Down list. After you purchase we will post your SlipSlider directly to him.

HISTORY OF THE IDEA

It turns out the concept of sliding reedplates in a harmonica goes back at least to 1892, when a patent was issued to one Franz Jacob for a tremolo-type harmonica that used it to achieve extra chords. There was another patent along similar lines from Rheinhold Friedel in 1925 - but nothing came of these early designs, and the idea fell into obscurity. The application of sliding the draw reedplate on 10-hole diatonic harps for extra note bending was invented by my good friend Zombor Kovacs, a clever harmonica-playing engineer from Budapest, Hungary. He made a prototype in 2006 that worked, but not well enough for his liking. Here are some photos:
Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype Slip Slider Prototype
In 2016, with Zombor's blessing, I decided to re-examine this idea and see if it could be improved. My Mk1 SlipSlider had many innovations: the main one being the use of magnets, to hold and locate the parts together. My improved Mk2 SlipSlider retains the use of magnets, but is otherwise closer to Zombor's original concept. The advanced Mk3 SlipSlider is a new development of this basic concept, allowing the sliding to remain inside the harp whilst the outward form remains the same.

Understanding the Concept

The stock Richter diatonic harp 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 patent-pending SlipSlider harmonica.

How and Why it Works!

My first two SlipSliders Mk1 and Mk2 literally allowed the player to move the entire lower draw reedplate and coverplate from left to right. They both worked great (see their respective Tabs above), but players found this shape-shifting of the harmonica rather disconcerting! My Mk3 model finally gives you a SlipSlider with a fixed outer shape. All the sliding action happens INSIDE that harp, with the movement controlled by your thumb via a small joystick in the lower coverplate. It's far more user-friendly, but has the same fantastic musical benefit. Think of it as your Joystick to Heaven! It has three positions:

  1. DEFAULT CENTRAL POSITION - The harp plays exactly like any standard Richter harmonica.
  2. RIGHT SHIFT POSITION - familiar feeling blow bends in the middle and lower octaves, plus bigger blow bends in the top octave.
  3. LEFT SHIFT POSITION - Familiar feeling draw bends in the top octave, plus bigger draw bends in the lower two octaves.

The upper octave draw bends and middle octave blow bends give the harp incredible new expression, and feel very natural. That's because your familiar scale layout is simply shifted to new places on the harp! The best way to understand it is by looking at this chart, for a Richter tuned harp in the key of C:

Slip Slider
(Click to enlarge)

RIGHT SHIFT - Notice how the middle octave scale holes 4-7 is now EXACTLY the same as standard Richter scale holes 7-10. This means you can now play ALL your favourite high end blow bending licks in the middle octave. Jimmy Reed style comes to the middle octave - wow, how cool is that!

LEFT SHIFT - Notice how the upper octave scale holes 6-9 is now EXACTLY the same as standard Richter scale holes 3-6. This means that all your easy middle octave bends, warbles, chord vamping can now be played the same way in the high end of the harp! You don't even need to think about it - just do that left shift, imagine hole 6 is hole 3, and start wailing. It's truly amazing when the penny drops and you grasp how simple it is.

With these two small thumb movements, the Richter harp is utterly transformed! In stock form it has only 8 bends. Now you can bend 16 notes, in places where bends were impossible before. Not only do you have familiar-type blow bends in the middle octave and familiar-type draw bends in the top octave (amazing enough in themselves), you also have very cool new WIDER bends available, These can add a lot of great expression for adventurous players who want to explore for cool new musical effects.

EASY CHROMATIC PLAYING

The Slipslider's new bends not only give you lots more soul and expression, they also make chromatic playing much easier! You can now play fully chromatically throughout the whole 3 octave range of a Richter harp using bends alone, using a mix of the three Joystick positions (Neutral, Left and Right). For those who don't use overbending, this opens up chromatic runs on a standard 20-reed Richter harp for the first time.

But of course you can still use overblows/overdraws as well. In fact you can now get overblows in the top octave (Left-Shift Position) and overdraws in the middle octave (Right-Shift Position), foir the first time! With the SlipSlider Mk3, the fun never stops 😊

Mk2 FEEDBACK

" The SlipSlider is a genius innovation by harmonica guru Brendan Power. Built around the classic Hohner Special 20, it has a sliding reed plate that allows for many additional blowbends and drawbends. This means it's a fully chromatic instrument, but more importantly, it gives you way more soulful bending options when playing blues or country music. No longer do you have to cross harp to play blues. There are some wonderful first position capabilities, as I demonstrate in this video. All the normal playing techniques you're used to on a standard Richter harp are preserved. "

Rory Hoffman, USA
" The slip slider is an amazing idea. THIS IS INCREDIBLE THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH FOR INVENTING THIS!!!!! THIS COMPLETELY OPENED UP MY WORLD OF HARMONICA AFTER 25 YEARS!!! "

Daniel Cousin, USA
" I'm in love with the Special 20 Slip Slider. It really does do everything, and in many instances eliminates the need to overblow or overdraw. I also found some interesting uses for the crazy draw bends. The best part is, it sounds and plays like a normal Richter harp, plus overbends, which is something no other specialty harp can claim as far as I know. Single reed blow bends may also be achieved by sliding partially, which comes in especially handy for bending 4 blow. Its extra bendability makes this an ideal harp for rock tunes, allowing one to really wail on the 6 and 7 blow notes. In the harmonica world, if folks realize the Slip Slider's capabilities, this could be the equivalent of what the invention of the electric guitar was to guitar players. It's that good! I still see a need for standard harps, and will definitely continue using overblows and overdraws for speed runs and licks, but I'm going to be incorporating more Slip Sliders into my playing, especially for melodies. I'm having lots of fun playing accompaniment now as well. The country players would be crazy not to use this harp on recording sessions. There are so many things that open up with the extra bends, and they sound very good and normal, if that makes sense. In other words, they have that same characteristic interactive bend sound one would expect from a draw bend. Overall, this is a killer harp and extremely friendly for melody playing.

Finally, we have a harp that gives us everything we could possibly need, while not compromising the classic playability and sound of a standard harp which we all love. My family and friends keep saying, 'will you please put that harmonica away!' "

Todd Parrott, North Carolina USA (July 2018)
Check out Todd's brilliant playing on his CD "Songs From the Harp", and info on his popular harmonica workshops, session playing etc at his website.

" The S20 SlipSliders are just so much fun to play. I'm totally sold on the magnetic cover attachment, BTW. The S20 had a draw reeds that was gapped a little too closely for me, so I popped off the cover, lifted the reed with a fingernail and stuck the cover back on. The whole thing took just a few seconds. I've already started wondering how practical it would be to redo my main diatonics like this!

Something else I noticed - with the draw reeds shifted to the left on the S20, what was the 5 overblow (now in hole 4) becomes much easier. Hardly an essential feature, but I suppose there might be a situation where one might prefer the overblow to the hole 6 blow bend. "

Pat Missin, UK/USA (July 2018)
Make sure to check out Pat's amazing website, hands down the best harmonica resource on the internet:

Mk1 FEEDBACK

" The harmonica plays like a dream, I was a bit concerned about the air tightness when I first see the concept, but in action, I can overblow 456 and overdraw 789 out of the box, 10 is a bit squealing but I think that's just my technique. This is WAY better than the OOTB crossovers I've had in the past, so the air tightness is definitely not an issue.

In terms of the notes, from my little experience with it, I can now play the b3 in the lower octave which I wasn't able to get with OB, and I can get the same juicy bending trill between the major 7 and root as the PowerBender running in the middle octave when playing 2nd, much stronger than using OB, and much more musical and tonally pleasant.

It is totally a game changer for sure. "

Wenchao Li (May 2018)

" I purchased a SlipSlider Crossover in G a bit ago and have been digging it... Took a bit of time to figure out a method to prevent slipping fingers but in the end I came up with a nice grip system using a few brass finishing washers and a spot of hot glue; it works well and looks great. ... I really appreciate your ingenuity! "

Harp, from Brendan's Forum (May 2018)
" I finally put my SlipSlider together. This is fun. I haven't done much with it yet, just noodled around, and haven't decided yet how I'm going to do the grip modifications, if any. With Thunderbird covers it does pretty well, maybe just a small dab or two of clear E6000 glue on each side will do the trick. In C having the blowbent Eb and Ab available is going to be nice. The ease of disassembly for cleaning and adjusting alone is a great plus. If it works as well in the Lucky 13 regular breath direction models my other harmonicas are going to get dusty. "

CrawfordEs, from Brendan's Forum (May 2018)

Mark 1 SLIP-SLIDER (Now Discontinued)

The initial development of the SlipSlider was to fit the excellent Hohner Marine Band Deluxe and Crossover harps. All the design and testing work was done for the Hohner version, and they feature on the first videos. As you can hear from them, the Hohner harps come out sounding very good in SlipSlider format, even without any reed gapping or slot embossing. When those refinements are added they sound very close to customised standard Hohners, with enhanced overblow performance as well as all the fantastic extra bending expression the SlipSlider gives.

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  1. Home Position - plays exactly like a normal harp
  2.  Right-Shift of Drawplate - Gives new blow bends in the bottom two octaves, top octave stays the same.
  3. Left-Shift of Drawplate - Gives new draw bends in the top octave, lower two octaves stay the same.
Check out the videos to hear it in action. The essential new bending ability is the same as the current SlipSlider Mk2, but it adds even more new bends!

Slip Slider Logo

The SlipSlider - a Revolutionary Harmonica

In July 2018 the SlipSlider Mk2 was released, made from the classic Hohner Special 20 harp. It has many improvements over the Mk1:
  1. Consistent and comfortable mouthpiece due to the lipped comb.
  2. Low pressure required to move the lower drawplate/coverplate.
  3. No need for grip pads on the coverplates.
  4. More bends! 7 draw will now bend (impossible on the Mk 1).
  5. Bigger extra bends! In addition to the new high draw bends and low blow bends, you also get huge high blow and low draw bends. These can all be bent to in-between notes for great expression.
  6. Top and bottom coverplates can be instantly removed to work on the reeds for fine tuning, gapping etc.
The SLIP-SLIDER HARMONICA Mk2 - Easier to Use, More Bends, Lower Price!
THE SLIPSLIDER DEMYSTIFIED - Revealing Video Shows All!
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To understand the basic concept behind the SlipSlider, go to the How it Works tab. To see/hear more useful examples showing the cool new bends, check out the videos relating to the Mk1 SlipSlider - all the main new bends are the same.

ORDERING: NEW! THE POWER-PARTS OPTIONS

Up till now, the SlipSlider Mk2 has been only available as a bespoke custom harp, hand-made by Brendan. He worked out and refined the process over a period of years. He now feels his method is simple enough to be followed by anyone with decent mechanical skills, to make their own SlipSlider! To assist, he's made a detailed video showing the whole process from beginning to end, with running commentary and helpful annotations. If you're interested in owning a SlipSlider, please watch the video first.

There are now two ordering options for the Special 20 SlipSlider:

  1. DO IT YOURSELF (DIY) – If you are handy with tools and believe you can follow the steps in the video, great! Simply order the PowerParts Kit and get to it. BUT – the onus is on you to do the job well. We will not be responsible for any problems or failures. However, we will offer support if needed (see below).

  2. RECOMMENDED CUSTOMISER – If you don't feel confident to make your own SlipSlider, it can be made for you by some of the best in the business. Below is a bunch of very talented, experienced harp techs, who are ready and waiting to make your SlipSlider! In addition to the basic job, they can add cool extra features (eg. slot embossing, flattened backs to the covers, alternate tunings etc etc).

    If you choose to get your SlipSlider made by one of our Recommended Customisers, you don't pay us anything. Nor is there any need to contact us – just go straight to your chosen RC and deal directly with him to choose your harp key and any special features you desire.

    PRICES

    The SlipSlider PowerParts Kit contains all the necessary bits and pieces in one handy pack. The price includes the parts, international postage, and an IP/Support charge. This is to recompense Brendan for his work in developing the SlipSlider using magnets, dating back to the SlipSlider Mk1, refining the SlipSlider making process, and sharing his knowledge in the detailed video. He is also ready to offer support for anyone who gets stuck (included in the price).

    1. DIY PRICE for PARTS KIT ONLY - £25
      If you already own a Special 20, this is all you'll pay to utterly transform it into an amazing all-bending harp, which will give you truckloads of expressive new possibilities!

    2. RECOMMENDED CUSTOMISER BASE PRICE - £120*
      This includes a new Special 20 harp in the key of your choice, the SlipSlider Parts Kit, and of course the knowledge your SlipSlider will be made by a highly skilled harmonica customiser. It's a price they have all agreed for the standard conversion using the stock harp, and you will pay them directly for the whole package. If you want upgraded features (embossing, alternate tunings etc), each of the Recommended Customisers has his own specialities, and will let you know the extra charges for them.

    (*£120 is the agreed basic Recommended Customiser price for the SlipSlider Stock Conversion (no extra work), but due to the different government tax policies of the various countries the RC guys reside in, there might be small adjustments necessary – they can explain that when you get in touch with them).

RECOMMENDED CUSTOMISERS

Joel Andersson
Sweden customiser

Based in Sweden, Joel makes fabulous custom chromatics and diatonics.
Website

Kan Osumi
Japan customiser

Kan is a very creative, enthusiastic harmonica customiser from Japan.
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Andre Coelho
Portugal customiser

A Brazilian living in Portugal, Andre does excellent harmonica custom work.
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John Cook
UK customiser

A brilliant UK engineer / machinist, John repairs harmonicas and creates his own from scratch!
Website

George Miklas
USA customiser

Well-known USA harmonica repairer/customiser.
Website
★★★★★
All prices include international shipping.
For full details see our Terms & Conditions

Mk2 SlipSlider PowerParts Kit


For DIY option

(Harmonica not included)

£25

(Discount applied for five or more)

 

Slip Slider PowerParts

Tuning Diagram

Slip Slider tuning diagram
Inbox Notes

Disassembly and Tech Tips

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