Custom Harmonicas & Personal Service

Posts tagged “1847 Cover Plates

SPAH 51 St. Louis – August 5-9, 2014


I’m happy to be attending SPAH 51 again this. As last year, I will be representing Seydel in the vendor booth area. SPAH has been going strong for over 50 years now and it is a busy but fun week where harmonica players of all skill levels gather for a time of jamming, teaching, clinics, performance, buying/selling, and and all other things related to our instrument. The vendor area is a central spot where the major manufacturers of harmonicas and related gear can showcase and sell their products. Seydel has an active presence at SPAH both as a contributor and a vendor. Seydel harps are available for demo and purchase and the selection will be extensive this year. As part of this, I will be on hand to answer customer questions, provide technical advice, and process your purchase. Both in the vendor area and around the hotel, you will see great harmonica players, including Jimi Lee and PT Gazelle who are are part of Seydel’s endorser program. On Thursday morning from 10-12, I will be leading a workshop on basic Seydel chromatic maintenance. We will cover ways to keep your Seydel DeLuxe and Seydel Saxony on stage and off of the workbench, as well as simple repairs. Please come by and say hello if you are attending. More information on SPAH is at the link

Photos below were taken by my good friend and harmonica player Keith Mitchell. He’s talented musically and as a photographer. Keith specializes in musical photography. For more of his work, see the link

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Seydel Sales and Repair


Welcome to 16:23 Custom Harmonicas.  I am a full-service Seydel dealer and offer all Seydel products.  My specialty is individualized and personal service with a goal of getting you the player into the right Seydel harmonica.  My customers  appreciate the individual attention and responsiveness I provide and that is my specialty.  If you have questions and are considering a Seydel purchase feel free to contact me.  My prices are generally in line with most Seydel dealers.

I like to provide my customers with options that might not otherwise be available.  This includes economical harmonica configurations, tunings, temperament and choices that are specific to their playing.

I also specialize in Seydel repairs and have an extensive stock of spare parts for Seydel diatonic and chromatic harps.  More information on repairs is available on the link to the right.

As a way to insure my customers get exactly what they need, I accept orders by email instead of drop-down menu format.  This allows me the satisfaction of developing a relationship with my customers and guarantees  I am in tune with their needs.

I accept Paypal, credit cards, and personal checks.  As a matter of general practice, I do not invoice customers until the order is ready for shipping.

Thank you for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from you.


Personal Service, Sales, and Tech

Welcome to 16:23 Custom Harmonicas.  We are primarily a seller of Seydel diatonic and chromatic harmonicas.  If you are here, it is likely you are interested in learning more about what we offer.  16:23 Custom Harmonicas specializes in providing personal and individualized service to its customers.  You will find our prices to be in line with the outstanding service we provide.  At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we understand that our products are of the highest quality and hence are priced higher than many other fine harmonicas available on the market.  We also understand that our customers may need guidance in choosing the right harmonica for their playing style, experience, and of course budget.    We offer numerous creative options.  We hope that if we satisfactorily serve you in this regard, you will choose 16:23 Custom Harmonicas as your provider.  In addition to Seydel diatonic and chromatic sales, we handle Seydel repairs and repairs on other chromatic brands.  We also specialize in setting up harmonicas in alternate tuning, over-blow/draw set-up, and half-valving. At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we know we are a great resource for musicians.  However, if a purchase is clearly not in your future, or if you have committed to buy from our many friends in the harmonica business, we ask that you use our web site or one of the many online resources to get more information.  We want to remain available for our existing and future customers. Need more info? Shoot us a call, text, or email at or (210) 445-6600

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Seydel Repairs


As your Seydel Harmonicas dealer, we are able to handle diatonic Seydel repairs to include reed replacement and adjustments. 16:23 carries the full line of spare parts such as reeds, cover and reed plate screws, combs, and more.  Priority is given to existing 16:23 customers, but if you have a broken harp, contact us and we will see what we can do.  greg@1623customharmonicas   (210) 445-6600

Reed Polishing

Jump on any harp related forum or discussion group and you will almost certainly find complaints from players about reed failure.  Reed failure is simply the point where the reed either breaks or goes severely out of tune.  This happens because of stress on the reeds. The road to reed failure starts as soon as the reed begins to vibrate. The reed stress is highest at the base of the reed near the rivet. This also happens to be a spot where there are micro scratches and cracks in the reed that are referred to as milling marks.  Milling marks are the result of the manufacturing process. They are the starting point for reed fracture.  The process of reed polishing removes these milling marks using a variety of rotary tools and light abrasives. Eliminating the mill marks does involve making the base of the reed slightly thinner but it also removes the most common starting point for reed failure.  If you find you are consistently blowing out Seydel reeds, contact me about replacing the failed reed with a polished reed. Typically, I replace the reed with one that is 1/2 step above what was there previously and polish the base to the correct pitch. Customer feedback has been outstanding and the polished reeds significantly outlast the unpolished.  Many customers report a more responsive reed, as well.  At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we don’t want to see your playing limited by reed failure.  Contact us regarding Seydel reed polishing options and lets keep your harp in your hands and not on the repair bench.

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Alternate Tuning

Years ago, great acoustic guitar players & even a few guys playing electric discovered that they could change the feel and timbre of a song by re-tuning a few strings. I have no idea when the concept really emerged but the Rolling Stones used an alternate tuning on the song Honky Tonk Woman.  Do you ever notice yourself falling back into familiar phrases and licks? On a diatonic harmonica, that’s easy to do but a difficult habit to break.  It is that point where muscle memory takes over for our ear and as much as you dislike it, you just play an uninteresting iteration of the same phrase or run almost out of habit.  The most noted players out there (Our You Tube favorites) are the ones who figured out ways to break out of familiar phrasing and create new sounds.  When we re-tune a few notes on the diatonic and then habitually play that old familiar phrase, a completely new sound pops out.  It is sort of like instantly seeing the world in color.  Volumes could be written about the topic but consider stepping out and trying some of the options available to the player.  Country tuning has probably been considered the most popular but there are others that are gaining popularity and some are quite radical.  As you venture into this area, remember it is a musical experiment.  Deciding a particular tuning isn’t for you doesn’t mean the experiment failed.  The worst that can happen is your musical mind will be momentarily re-wired. That is a good thing.  Conversely, you might just find a new musical world available to you that was just one reed away.  Contact me via email if you have questions on the many alternate tuning schemes available.

Overblown, Overrated, or Overcharged..

The custom harmonica market became popular years ago when the skill of many great players exceeded the quality of manufactured harps.  As Howard Levy and others were developing extremely advanced playing techniques, musicians realized that the manufactured harmonica benefited from adjustments.  Although he is a great harp player, Joe Filisko is recognized for pioneering harmonica customization techniques as are Richard Sleigh, Jimmy Gordon, and others.  At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas we started out in business customizing the Marine Band and we will never forget our roots.  However, since that time harmonica manufacturers such as Hohner, Seydel, Suzuki, and Lee Oskar have drastically improved their products and have introduced high quality consistently produced harmonicas.  At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we’ve decided to keep “custom” in our name because the world of customization is where we came.  However, we believe the need for a custom harmonica is much less frequent now then in years past.  Many of the greatest and well known players in the world today (Mickey Raphael, Frederic Yonnet, Charlie Musslewhite, Charlie McCoy) play stock harmonicas.  Many of these players can even play over blows on their harps with limited adjustment.  At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas we encourage you to try our stock Seydels before investing in customization services.  Our objective is to help you reach your musical goals at the best price.  Although the harmonica forums are filled with great information, read with a critical eye the posts that boldly claim a custom harmonica is the only route to harmonica proficiency.

Musically Yours!

Seydel Chromatic Sales & Repair

At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we are big fans of the Seydel line of chromatic harmonicas which are precision built to the highest of standards.  We can also handle most Seydel chromatic harmonica repairs.  Prices on repairs and routine service vary and the nature of chromatic work is such that it is both time consuming and requires meticulous attention to detail.  Contact me via email for inquiries regarding chromatic repair.

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Seydel 1847

They Seydel 1847 is one of the premier harps out there today and they play amazingly well. The sandwich style comb means the edges of the reed plate are exposed and grooved so the covers fit nicely on top. Many great players out there prefer the 1847 which comes as an 1847 Classic with a maple comb, the 1847 Silver with a polymer comb, and the 1847 Noble with the anodized aluminum comb. Although the 1847 comes stock with open style covers (Also called ear tab), the covers for other Seydel models are completely interchangeable. Pictured below are some examples of the comb and cover options you can get on your Seydel 1847 through 16:23 Custom Harmonicas.

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Spiral Tuning

Spiral tuning for the diatonic harp is a very simplistic tuning scheme that places the notes on the harp in a logical and repeating sequence that follows a designated scale.  For example, a spiral tuned (C) harp will lay out the notes of a (C) scale in a blow/draw pattern that allows each note of the scale to be played without bends or over blows.  The scale can begin at any hole, but the spiral pattern still follows on each side of the root note.  Spiral tuning puts every note of the scale in easy reach with a simple blow or draw and the in between notes in reach using a half-step bend.  Also, the blow/draw pattern continues across the harp so there is no blow/draw switch on hole 7. The advantage in this tuning is that finding melodies is much easier.  Also, because it relies LESS on bends and over blows, your important notes will sound more in tune when playing melodies.

The beautiful shading and expressiveness that defines the diatonic sound is even greater on a spiral tuned harp.  The tuning works great for fiddle work as well as fast runs.  The disadvantage of spiral is that the over all range of the harp is diminished some and the player loses the I and IV chord that many rely on for rhythmic vamping work on holes 1-4.  Also, the split octaves are gone because the octave notes will alternate between blow and draw holes.

If you find yourself in a musical box, step out a bit into alternate tuning and experience the thrill of playing that new musical idea or the new musical twist to an old standard  you play that just never sounded quite right.  At 16:23, I offer harps in all alternate tuning, including spiral.  Contact me for more details on custom tuned spiral Seydel 1847 or Session Steel.

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Great 3rd Position Lesson by Sandy Weltman

Sandy Weltman pic

New gear is always fun, but learning your instrument takes more than just buying a new custom harp.  Sandy Weltman is an amazingly talented player who presents his students with material that takes the harmonica to unheard of levels.  This is not 4 draw and wail or typical Sonny Somebody. This is making music and you will hear sounds coming from your harp you never knew existed.  Try this great 3rd position lesson and begin your journey to musical mastery.

PT Gazell – Not Your Every Day Player

PT Gazell

One of my favorite payers and unquestionably a top talent in the music business is PT Gazell.  PT’s style has a broad appeal and his musical skills are unmatched.  Great technical mastery and smooth lyrical lines define a style and musical genre not normally associated with the hard-core blues heard on the diatonic harmonica.  As a Seydel endorser, PT uses harmonicas specially outfitted with valves bearing his name and design.  The PT Gazell half-valved harmonica gives the player access to notes not easily obtainable on a standard un-valved diatonic while also tightening up the feel of the lower end notes.  Check out PT’s music.  His 2 Days Out CD is not only entertaining but will no doubt motivate you to take your playing to another level.

Embossing v. Gapping

Embossing refers to a common technique used by harp technicians where the slots in the reed plate are narrowed using a variety of different tools.  The theory behind embossing is that by narrowing the reed slot, less air will escape around the reed and hence the reed will respond or sound with less effort.  Embossing might help a harp to play a little better.  However, embossing reed slots only reduces air loss by about the amount that is embossed – maybe 1/1000 of an inch by the length of the slot that is embossed on each side. Contrast this with gapping a reed where a reed that sits 1/16 of an inch above the reed plate is lowered to 1/32 of an inch above the plate. This lowering or adjustment in the gap translates to less air loss across the entire reed slot.  This is significantly more than embossing.  Embossing a reed slot will have very little effect on a reed if the optimal gap has not been reached. Spend your time and effort finding the right gap and you will see much larger improvements in reed response.


Adjusting Your Harps

Many times, there are just one or two notes that keep your harp from being your favorite.  Perfecting your harp to your playing style is an evolving and continuous process.  The reeds on a harp have an optimal setting that is unique to the individual player.  This means the height of the reed above the reed plate – referred to as the gap – may be higher for some players and lower for others.  Making small fine adjustments to your harp will result in a much more responsive instrument that is set up for you.

If you find a note doesn’t sound when you blow and you get that feeling you get when you blow up a balloon, it probably means the reed is too close to the reed plate.  The converse is true when you draw a note.   You can use many easily available tools to adjust the gap on your harp, but I suggest a feeler gauge as I use in the pictures below.  Strive to keep the reed as straight as possible.  The image you want to have is similar to a gate.  Although the gate may be wide open or practically closed, the over all shape of the gate doesn’t change.  Also note that stainless steel reeds are especially resilient.  It may take several tries to move the reed from its previous gap.

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Powder Coated Covers

At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we offer stock Seydel covers with an added touch.  Powder coating is a very durable surface and slick coating applied to the inside and out of the covers giving them a distinct look and even a nice feel.  Powder coating does not add or detract from the tone of the harp, but is just another neat way to identify your favorite harp on the fly.  Note that powder coating may slightly obscure the company branding stamps.  Their still there, just covered up.  Make your harp your own and unique with powder coated covers.

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Seydel Alternate Tuning

At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we specialize in building custom tuned harps.  Take your playing to the next level and try some clever tuning schemes which can take you out of your musical rut.  Here is a quick demonstration of a Melody Maker Seydel Session Steel.  Melody Maker tuning takes country tuning a step further and raises the 3 blow so you can get a full major scale in 2nd position without bends.  At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we have a full selection of individual Seydel stainless reeds to use for reed repair/replacement or alternate tuning.  Contact us at  or (210) 445-6600

Country Tuned .. Not Only For Country

Ever heard of a country tuned harmonica?  Country tuning is the secret weapon of great harp players in every genre and in truth, it has as many or more applications outside of country music as within.  A country tuned harmonica has the draw 5 note raised 1/2 step.  Most applicable in 2nd position/cross, raising the 5 draw gives the player easy access to a major 7th.  The 5 draw in cross harp is the 7th note of the musical scale and many recognizable songs require that note to be a major 7th.  Some harmonicas can be ordered as country tuned and Seydels are among those that can be configured to this great tuning.  I can also re-tune any Seydel I carry to country tuning and I do this by exchanging the 5 draw reed, not by filing the existing reed.  Try something new and re-train your ear to hear different and more creative sounds.  Country tuning gives great timbre to many show tunes, jazz standards, bluegrass, country, pop, and hymns.  Step away from the blues and expand your musical creativity!

Session Steel w/Solist Pro Powder Coated Covers

This is a really neat Session Steel and I put the lower profile Seydel half-flat covers on it.  The half-flat covers are the style used on the Solist Pro and although they are not as open in the back, the narrower profile is very comfortable to play and I actually think it helps the OB/OD some.

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I’ve never been too big on minors, but I’ve built a few out of Session Steels…Either by re-tuning the reed or exchanging it with the correct note for the minor…They are coming out nice!  This one is a Lee Oskar but I slipped some Session Steel covers on it and it feels great..

Super Slick!

Your style, your sound, your harp!

At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we believe choices are a good thing and sometimes it just feels good to look good.  The Seydel Session Steel from 16:23 Custom Harmonicas.  Pictured below are just some of your options available when you buy from 16:23.  White recessed ABS plastic comb and your choice of powder coated covers pictured below.    Find your favorite harp on the fly!

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Cover Plate Braces

Ever wrestle with those annoying crushed cover plates?  A 16:23 simple solution.  Pictured here is a an aluminum comb Seydel with 1847 cover plates and a center post.  Stainless hex, it can be hand tightened and removed with just your fingers.  Purchase a Seydel from 16:23 and we will install the brace for $5.00.  Send us your harps and we’ll do it for $15.


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