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Jim "TurboDog" Antaki
talks about his latest
TurboHarp invention
The TuneMaster
The World's 1st Tunable Harmonica

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TurboHarp Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

One of our top priorities at TurboHarp is to always provide customers with whatever information they need about our products and services. 

Here you will find the answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions.


Still have a question? Email Us

Product Questions

An ultrasonic cleaner is a wet, thorough cleaning for your harmonica. It's meant to remove residues such as dirt, spit, food, lint and other things that may have wedged their way into your harmonica. You can add a bit of chlorine bleach to help kill germs.
The water should not damage your harmonica as long as the harmonica does not sit in the water after the cleaning cycle is finished. Make sure to remove it immediately to let dry.
A UV light & ozone sterilizer is a dry cleaning that will kill germs and bacteria. Ozone technology is known to kill single and multicellular organisms with low cell specialization, like bacteria and viruses. It destroys the exterior protein shell on viruses, then oxidizes the RNA. It is also is a powerful disinfectant and deodorizer.

Please see our User Guides page for a list of free downloads.

Unfortunately, the Sotto Voce is a sealed unit that is glued shut so the harp body will not replaceable.

The Bahnson overblow harp is based on a patented design of Dr. Henry T. Bahnson who designed a valve mechanism for facilitating the overblows and overdraws on the diatonic harp. I have been working with him for about 11 years and have recently designed a version based on the Special-20. We have made a few of these, and have sold a couple. But they are painstaking to assemble. And we generally lose money every time we make one. So until I figure out a simpler, more streamlined way to produce them, I am not really selling them at the moment.
But stay tuned... I remain optimistic that we will work out the bugs in the process soon.

At the moment we're not building any more Bahnson Overblow harps. Building the Bahnson Overblow is a very slow painstaking hand assembly. Until we develop a more streamlined method for fabricating them, we will not be taking any further orders. But we appreciate your interest, and hope that you will continue to check back with us.

The TurboHarp ELX was discontinued in 2020, so it is no longer available for sale.

General Harmonica Questions

Need help deciding? I understand your pain. When I was first learning to play, I must have purchased every harmonica that Hohner had made. Each time hoping, “this is the harmonica that will make me sound like [enter your favorite musician here.” The truth was, of course, that the sound I was seeking had very little to do with the instrument but a great deal with the technique. This realization was in turn the motivation of our research on the “phonetics and physiology” of harmonica playing. But that is a different story. You came here for help choosing your axe.
Like with most harmonica lines, it is very difficult to differentiate between one model and another. Quite honestly, there is a great deal of difference between most of the harmonicas on the market. They key differences are:
The opposite of “leakiness.” The perception of “air-tightness” has three components. One has to do with the actual quality of manufacturing, whereby air blown/drawn into/out of the instrument is just wasted. A second aspect of “leakiness” perceived by the player relates to the way in which the reeds have been adjusted. When the reed is in its resting position, there is naturally a physical gap between the reedplate and the reed. This is necessary for the reed to initiate its vibration.
You may ask, “Why not make this gap small to minimize the air leak?” Good question. The answer is actually related to the third aspect of leakiness, namely the players’ embouchure. This is described in the following section.
Bend-ability and Over-blow-ability
You may have noticed that the note produced by most holes of the harmonica depends on the shape of your mouth: specifically the position of your tongue and jaw. Sometimes the note will flatten (or bend), sometimes it will jump up in pitch (overblow), and sometimes it will freeze or “choke.” There is a tradeoff between these three responses. Players who wish to modulate the pitch through overblow, and to a lesser extent bending, need the reeds to set low (having a small gap.) The advantage of improved modulation unfortunately increases the propensity for choking. This can be very frustrating, as you can imagine. Therefore, it takes additional practice to play a harp set up this way.
One of the goals of our research and development is to find ways to improve both bend-ability and overblow-ability, while reducing the choke-ability. As of the time of this writing, the TurboAX/S20 provides the best performance in this regard.
Intonation and Tuning
Although you might suspect that all the notes of the scale (do-ray-me-fah-so-la-ti-do) are mathematically precise, there is actually a bit of subjectivity involved in tuning the reeds of the harmonica. This is actually a complicated topic, covered in great depth by an expert on the subject, Pat Missin. Briefly, there are trade-offs involved between playing individual notes on the harmomica versus multiple notes (chords.)
Depending on your preference, the harmonica can be adjusted to sound “better” one way or the other. Most of the harmonicas from Hohner have been tuned to achieve a “compromise” between the two extremes. One exception is the Golden Melody, that is tuned to favor individual notes. (This is known as “Equal Temperment.”) A second aspect of tuning involves the reference pitch. Because some people find that the harmonica often sounds “flat” when played in accompanying other instruments, it is common to tune *all* of the reeds of the harmonica a little bit higher than the “orchestra.” This is denoted by the frequency of the reference note (which for historical reasons is the note “A.” The baseline, known as “concert pitch” is 440. For the reason above, the harmonica is typically tuned to 441 or 442. You might think that such a subtle difference would be perceivable to only the most sophisticated musician or audiophile. But this is actually an important consideration to the overall perception of “brightness” (or dull-ness) by the casual listener.
When you’re shopping for a new harmonica, you will often find descriptive words like warm, smooth, bright, deep, rich, big, scent of plum with overtones of dandelion and cherry… you get the idea. Choosing a harmonica without actually playing or even listening to it is not too different than choosing a wine without tasting it. Nevertheless, there are differences. Again, a great extent of the differences you hear between one player and another is indeed the player him/herself. As described above, the player’s embouchure affects the actual note, and to some extent overtones – hence the overall “timbre.” But the use of the hands has a great effect on the tone. (To see what I mean, you can experiment playing your harmonica into a coffee cup — a neat little trick that Howard Levy taught me.) For the same reason, the cover plates (or lids) of the harmonica affect the tone.
In general, as you might intuit, lids that are partially closed sound more muffled than those that are more open. For this reason, Joe Filisko opens up the cover plates – and has been doing so for many years. In recent years, some manufacturers have been offering such cover plates. Again, we believe that our patented TurboLid was one of the first such open cover plates commercially available.
In my (Turbodog’s) humble opinion, the main difference between many harps on the market is nothing more than their outward appearance. You may find several harmonicas with different names stamped into their covers, but having virtually the same the functional elements.
In recent years, this is beginning to change, thanks to the efforts of several enthusiastic customizers, and some manufacturers. A non-exclusive list would include Joe Filisko (the “Stradivarius” of the harmonica), Rick Epping (inventor of the XB-40), Winslow Yerxa (inventor of the discrete comb), and Seydel (who recently introduced a very high-quality line of harmonicas with stainless steel reeds.) We’d like to also believe that we were one of the first innovators in the modern era, having patented several improvements to the harmonica in the early 2000’s. Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the harmonica selector guide.
Click here to see The TurboHarp Harmonica Selector Guide that attempts to summarize our product offerings, both physically, and according to the descriptions above.
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From time to time you might need to replace a reed on your harmonica. The first step is removing the old reed, which can be accomplished in several ways. One way involves a relatively expensive tool. And if you only want to remove one reed, once in a while, it really doesn't make sense to make such an investment.
So for you do-it-yourself'ers, there is an inexpensive alternative that I've been using for a long time. It involves just two components: an anvil that you can make from a piece of plexiglas and a drift, that can be made from an old drill bit. The following images & video should be self explanatory, but if you need help or have further questions, don't hesitate to Email Us.
Click here to see image 1
Click here to see image 2

Check out Jim demonstrating an Inexpensive Method to Remove Harmonica Reeds

These terms refer to additional notes that you can achieve with a diatonic harmonica. Like "bending" the notes are elicited from the holes by changing the shape of your mouth (aka embouchure). Typically, the holes through which overblows are obtained are 4, 5, and 6. And overdraws are achieved on holes 7 and 9.

The consequence of lowering the gap on some reeds is that they might cause the normal notes (non-overblow/overdraw) to "choke." This is especially the case if you play your harmonica "hard." Ideally, you, the player, should feel comfortable adjusting the gaps of your reeds because the optimal gap really depends on your personal style of playing. Fortunately, the TurboLids that are equipped with your TurboHarp make it especially easy to gain access the reeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

We can send a Physical Gift Certificate in the mail, or we can issue a Digital Gift Certificate to an email address.
Get one for yourself or have us send it to someone else!

Currently, you can not. But, you can Email Us with the information and your desired custom amount we can arrange something for you. Gift Certificates must have a value of at least $10.00 and no greater than $9,999.99 USD.

Turboharp Gift Certificates are accepted ONLY at TurboHarp.com

Yes, as long as there is still a balance remaining on the certificate.

Yes. You can redeem another Gift Certificate during checkout.

No, you can't use a Gift Certificate to buy another Gift Certificate.

Yes, Gift Certificates are applied to the final order total which includes shipping and taxes.

Yes, Gift Certificates are a form of payment.

No, Gift Certificates cannot be reloaded.

You will have to Email Us and we can check the balance remaining for you.

You can click Resend gift cards from your order confirmation email. This link will only work if the order has been fulfilled.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can return most products purchased from TurboHarp within 30 days of the purchase date. While we are confident in the products we make and carry, perhaps something just wasn't what you expected.   Any harmonicas returned to us are used solely for research purposes and are never repackaged and sold.
Please see our Shipping & Returns page for complete details.

We currently ship to Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
If you don't see your country on the list, Email Us to inquire about shipping options.

Frequently Asked Questions

All harmonicas aren't shaped the same...We would love if the TurboLid fit all harmonicas, but unfortunately some need adjustments, or won't fit. That's why we are working to increase the list to include all of your favorites, and making modifications where we can.
Hohner Crossover The harmonica is too small. Shims are needed on both the width and the length of the harmonica. We offer a modified version called the TurboCrossover
Hohner Marine Band The harmonica body is not wide enough. A shim is needed to keep the harmonica from slipping out of place.  We offer a modified version called the TurboMB
Suzuki Manji The comb is too wide. The width of the harmonica needs to be filed down in order to fit. We offer a modified version called the TurboManji
Suzuki ProMaster The comb is too wide. The width is just 1mm too wide. The width would need to be filed down in order to fit.
Suzuki Olive The harmonica body is too large.
Seydel Blues Session Steel The harmonica body is too large.

Not exactly....as you can imagine, we've had many requests for a Lee Oskar TurboLid. We would definitely consider making one if not for the tremendous cost of tooling. So, we've worked backwards and in a more economic fashion.  Dr. Antaki has created a tooling process to trim/grind down LO plates to fit within a comb, so as to fit within the existing TurboLid.  The result is the TurboLX.

There are two styles, an old and a new. The TurboLid will fit the old style, but not the new, which is based on the Hohner MS system. You can check yourself by measuring the dimensions of the comb. If it is about 100 mm wide then it will fit. If 104 mm wide, then it will be too big (by 4 mm, surprisingly enough).

Most harmonica players are taught to hold the harmonica (primarily) in the left hand, while some hold it in their right hand and use the left for vibratos, wah-wahs, etc. The Turbolid was designed for players who hold the harp in their left hands. The larger end is intended to go at the bass end. This provides additional resonance to the bass notes and clearance to the 1-reed, thereby reducing buzzing. But the Turbolid can be attached to the harp either way. We have a few satisfied customers who use it "backwards."

That's easy.... Shop the TurboLids Series

Frequently Asked Questions

Possibly. It has been on our to-do list for years. (As has been The TuneMaster.) If the harmonica gods are willing… we will get to it eventually.

Yes, totally. This is a perfect job for The TurboSlide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! And as a matter of fact this was the main reason that it took so long to develop The TuneMaster… figuring out the puzzle of inserting the bottom magnets inside the harmonica cover plates.

No. Unlike the TurboSlide, which has magnets on a rack that slides left and right, these magnets are in a fixed position laterally.

Possibly. It has been on our to-do list for years. (As has been The TuneMaster.) If the harmonica gods are willing… we will get to it eventually.

Yes. See below...

You might do this for two reasons. Lets break it down. If you wish to remove the magnets because you don’t like having them, and want to return the harmonica to its original state, then one of two things will happen. Either (a) the entire harp will increase in pitch by a semitone (e.g. from Bb to B); or (b) the entire harp will increase in pitch by 50 cents. In case (a) you can simply play the harp as-is, albeit in a different key. In case (b) you need to unfortunately retune each of the reeds the old fashioned way, by either raising or lowering the pitch (filing the tip or the root). I would advise raising the pitch (filing the tip.)

Yes, totally. This is a perfect job for The TurboSlide.

Yes, in most cases, you can lower the pitch a semitone to flatten the 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc… unless the reeds start buzzing.

To be honest… possibly. This is one of the reasons that we offer a 60 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. There are two reasons. One reason is that the springy-ness of the magnets is non-linear. Meaning that it depends on the magnitude of the excursion of the reeds. Hence the pitch might be affected by how hard you play. The second reason is because the magnets might open or close the resting gaps of the reeds, which might cause them to seem leaky, or to choke. This is usually easily correctible with a little re-gapping.

Not right now. We like to use Seydel's Session Steel because we rely on the stainless steel reeds, which are slightly magnetic, unlike every other harp which uses brass, phosphor bronze, or other alloys. But maybe in the future.

It's because each harp is assembled by hand, to order. Normally, I try to turn around orders within a week but rarely more than three weeks. Thanks in advance for your patience.

Good question. It's because The TuneMaster uses twice the number of magnets, which are surprisingly expensive, and also requires twice the amount of work to assemble and set up.

You are welcome to return it within 60 days for a full refund. This is twice as long as our usual 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee.

That's easy.... Shop The TuneMaster

Frequently Asked Questions

The TurboLiner, an integral part of the TurboAX/S20, is a precision etched stainless-steel plate that is bonded to the face of each reedplate of the harmonica. It is not available separately. Based on the figure on our website, the TurboLiner is easily mistaken for a gasket. But if you look again, you will realize that only one of the two TurboLiner's is located between the reed plate and comb.

Usually we will lower the gap on the reeds relevant to the notes affected. We will also apply "TurboTape" to some of the reeds to increase their stability lest they squeak, squawk, or squeal.

The setup primarily involves two things; one is the addition of TurboTape, which is generally a good thing, and has no known side effects (like make regular bends or regular notes harder or any other such thing). Second is setting gaps, which will involve the usual tradeoff between ease of overdraw/blow and risk of "choking" when attacking a note quickly. If you're learning overblows, part of the finesse is learning how to manipulate your mouth (tongue) muscles to achieve the note you are seeking. By closing the gap of the reed, the overblows become more achievable for a range (albeit small) of embouchures. But, if you attack a note with a constricted embouchure (with tongue forward), you might unexpectedly get an overblow note, whereas you might have previously gotten a straight blow note.... or nothing at all.
In either case, it's a good idea to learn to adjust your reed gaps to your taste. And the TurboLid makes it really simple to get to the reeds to make the adjustment.

The limited key availability is due to the reed dimensions. TurboHarp requires a special stainless steel plate to be attached to both reedplates. Since the Hohner reedplates come in two sizes, having shorter reeds for keys D and above, we cannot fit our existing plate to their plate. If demand were great enough, we would consider tooling up for the higher keys.

That's easy.... Shop the TurboAX/S20