What is a custom harmonica? Let us begin at the Hohner factory founded 1857 in Germany. Hohner is the world market leader for harmonicas and accordions. Because harmonicas are cheap instruments that are mass produced no factory in the world can keep a high quality. That is one of the reasons why Hohner has the HAC (Hohner Affiliated Customizer) programme. The HAC is an independently certified seal of quality for customized harmonicas built to the most exacting standards and based on stock Hohner instruments, which offer the best possible raw material for this process. It guarantees consumers the highest possible level of craftsmanship and represents a historic step, both for Hohner and for the harmonica community as a whole. This exacting work can only be performed by skilled technicians who are also expert players and shouldn’t be confused with modding, such as simply exchanging combs or covers: we call that “semi-customizing”. True customizing always involves painstaking adjustment of reeds and reed plates; true custom harmonicas are like fine wine – they take time to make and very hard to come by, as demand far outstrips supply.
Customizing harmonicas is like tuning the engine of a car to make it go faster. Customizing makes the harmonica louder, more responsive and techniques such as overbending far easier to execute. Every harmonica is set up to reflect the playing style of the user.