The Electric Harmonica Company is located in suburban Detroit.
Over 20 years ago I figured out that you could make a harmonica work the same way as an electric guitar works, with magnetic pickups, if you used steel reeds instead of the traditional brass or bronze. It wouldn't have the feedback problems that playing through a microphone create and it would be compatible with effects devices and pedals. An old-school chromatic tech agreed to make me a half dozen steel reeds and I put together a crude prototype, which had nice tone, and worked pretty well. As mentioned, the tone was good, it was loud, and it even had a little bit of sustain. The problem was, nobody was making harmonicas with steel reeds and I didn't have the resources to have them mass produced myself.
About five years ago, I started playing harmonica again and found out that Seydel, the oldest harmonica company in the world, located in Klingenthal, Germany was now making harmonicas with stainless steel reeds. I ordered one and a couple of pickups from Lace, who had helped me prove the concept years earlier, and I started working in my woodshop.
A month later I had a functional prototye that I showed to a grammy winning harmonica player, who encouraged me to work on it, as did another world class player who tried it out soon after that. I would name them but they have existing endorsement deals with other harmonica companies - if you play harmonica you would recognize their names. They know who they area and I thank them for their encouragement. Encouraged by great players, I started to develop the functional prototype into a practical musical instrument.
Twenty five years ago I would have had to invest fairly large sums of money in things like injection molds and if I would have had to change the design, it would have been even more expensive. Fast forward to the present. Being able to use CAD software to design parts and 3D printing to make them meant that I was able to go through many design iterations in a relatively short period of time.
We introduced the original Harmonicaster electric harmonica at the Summer NAMM show in 2017. People loved the concept and really liked the tone. We were able to connect with advanced players like Will Wilde in the UK and Stephen Hanner in Nashville. Feedback (no pun intended) from them made it clear that as cool at it was, our first version was flawed. The mouthpiece we were using was creating problems with something called Helmholtz resonances, so we committed ourselves to a complete redesign, and eliminated the mouthpiece by using an idea for custom configured reedplates suggested by world-class harmonica player Brendan Power. Players who have tried the Harmonicaster Mk II love it and agree that we got it down.