Research and development of optimized combs

I have an ongoing process of quality improvement and I devote some time and resources for research and development on certain projects. I've enlisted the help of a number of players to do some testing. I need the input of different players to determine if a particular change to a comb design is indeed an improvement that can be measured.

In cases where the improvement is felt across the board, the change becomes part of my standard design.

In some cases, the change is subjective. Some may love it while others may hate it. In that case, I can offer the new feature as an option so that customers can get a truly customized comb, made to order with or without any desired design tweaks.

I recently had some testers compare two combs. Both were identical except for the hole spacing. The Hohner Rocket boasts wider spaced holes and I wanted to provide that experience without making the comb tines too thin.

Wide openings and standard openings

The tines are only thin at the opening and become a normal spaced channel to provide less compressible volume a little further down. This is to improve responsiveness. The hole openings are 40 per cent wider than standard Marine Band comb openings.

Feedback is trickling in and I am considering it carefully.

My next test will involve resonance chambers. I feel the consensus is that thinner combs offer better response because there is a smaller compressible volume between your lips and the reeds. But thicker combs offer a larger resonance chamber and some prefer the tone of a thicker comb. Here is not-too-thick comb with enlarged resonance chamber. The aim of this design is to get the sound of a thick comb with the responsiveness of a thin comb.

Comb with built-in resonance chambers

Comb with standard shaped tines

I will be looking for more testers in the near future. I need to finish getting feedback from the first test as well as tweak the "resonance chamber" design before I call for more testers. Stay tuned!

***Update 2016/05***

I have come to the conclusion that resonance chambers have no real benefit and some drawbacks, namely that they can interefere with the performance of some bends/overbends. The original, classic comb design with straight chambers provides the best, smoothest performance.

Although this doesn't result in any innovation, it does provide some helpful evidence as to what makes a harp play well. I believe this project was time well spent.