Torpedo : a diatonic harp overblow ready, at an exceptional price
Available on www.harmo.com for 69,90$ + shipping cost (this is a US based company)
Overblowing techniques are now widely shared by many harmonica players, whatever their skill level.
However, the major harp manufacturers offer few out-of-the-box overblow-ready harmonicas. None of them, neither Hohner, nor Seydel or Suzuki, offer any harp really set up for overblows. Indeed, even if the player is skilled enough to pop overblows out of any kind of harmonica, it requires a fine upfront man-made set up to get a real chromatic instrument. And the so called “overblow special” offered by manufacturers are still machine-made, although their quality is way better than the low range instruments. Then, the reed set up is often unreliable, and not suitable for overblowing, if not outright air tightness issues…
This is why David Herzhaft, a musician and harmonica teacher, decided to start his own business, with an overblow ready harmonica branded “Torpedo”. These harps are made in China, then David sets each of them personally.
The Torpedo diatonic features a composite comb, and the cover plates are made of metal. The reed plate is quite thick. The whole instrument looks robust. Angles are a bit sharp and should be softened to provide more comfort to the player.
Without disclosing any trade secret, I can tell you I noticed some clear customization marks at the root of the reeds when opening the harp. It also seems that the reed curve is modified, in order to confine the gap to the top of the reed.
From the first notes I played on the harp I bought, I’ve noticed the instrument is pretty airtight, with a powerful sound. Overdraws (always difficult to set) and overblows are easy to get (especially on hole 1 ), except on hole 5 which features a lack of airtightness. Very positive feedback : overblows can be played for quite a long time, even with a vibrato or while playing on sound volume changes. However, there was still some air leakage remaining, so I decided to alter the gap on holes 4, 5 and 6. It’s piece of cake, thanks to the reed curve set up, which allows to leave a very small gap without blocking the note. The outcome is very good : no more leakage and hole 5 is now fully airtight.
The sound of this harmonica is very bright. Probably too much for me, since I’m used to the sound of the full wood harmonicas made by Raymond Brodur. Just a question of taste, I guess.
In summary, the Torpedo perfectly meets the specifications. This is a very good value instrument, “out of the box” overblow ready. And you can still set it up according to your needs and taste (reed gaping).
Playability : 4/5
Material quality : 3/5 (metal cover plates)
Finish : 3/5
Sound : 3/5 (a matter of taste)
Value for money : 5/5