Up until recently, all diatonic single-reed harmonicas had only two reeds per cell: a blow and a draw. X-Reed harps add extra reeds to the cell to allow greater bending ability. They come in two types: three-reed and four-reed. We call them the "X-Reed Triple" and "X-Reed Quad" harps.
X-Reed harmonicas are a type that has come onto the market only recently. Because they are so new, their development and applications are still in their infancy. But we believe they have massive potential, and our website is all about offering the early adopters of these exciting, super-expressive harps the information and custom options to overcome existing issues and maximise performance. Our custom X-Reed harps are wholly focussed on superior playability and hassle-free operation, as well as aesthetics. In other words: they play good and look good!
There is just one commercially-made example of each type available right now: The Suzuki SUB30 UltraBend (Triple Reed type) and the Hohner XB-40 (Quad Reed). The UltraBend (released August 2012), caused quite a stir in the harmonica scene because it is the same size as a normal 10 hole Richter harp, but offers 18 double-reed bends instead of the traditional 8. Currently it only comes in three keys and one stock configuration (full length covers on a plastic lipped comb). The SUB30 is a great basic design but it has some known playability issues (harsh sounds on some double stop chords, inferior reed response).
The initial offering of X-Reed.com was to present a wealth of exciting options for the SUB30 UltraBend: specially-designed solid combs, alternate tunings, extra keys, different coverplates, slot embossing...
We invented an exclusive killer app to cure the problem of unwanted harsh sounds on chords and inferior reed response: the X-Reed OverValve Plate. You can read more about all these SUB30 options on the Products Page.
But that was just the beginning! In June 2013 we proudly announced the first of our own-design models, the all-new ChromaBender. This is a triple-reed harp with the same familiar tuning and outward appearance of a 12 hole chromatic harmonica, but with a bluesy sound and fully chromatic scales through bending alone. Brand new and exclusive to X-Reed!
On 13th December 2013 we released our second own-design harp, the ExtraBend model with the revolutionary Z1 comb. It extended our unique OverValve principle to all 10 holes, a world's first for the small 10 hole diatonic. This harp brings the Suzuki SUB30 reedplates to their ultimate level of performance, with only two reeds in the airstream at all times, just like a normal harp - but with the ability to bend 18 reeds freely, with great response and no harsh sounds on double stop bends.
A mere ten days later we announced our most exciting and radical harp yet, the X-Reed MB30. This is truly the State of the Harp, the most expressive 10 hole diatonic on the planet! Moving away from the SUB30 platform, we started from scratch to create our own dream 30 reed harp. We took the most iconic blues harp of all and sweated for months on the almost intractable task of transforming a traditional 19th century classic into a state-of-the-art 30 reed stunner for 21st century players. We're thrilled with the result. All the tone and response of the world's favourite harmonica plus 18 raspy, snarling bends! Check out the video for detailed to see and hear it in action.
We invited custom Marine Band guru Richard Sleigh to create a top-of-the-range signature model of the MB30, the MB30-S.
Waiting in the wings are several more of our own designs currently in R&D. They will vastly increase the options available to players of X-Reed harps, in terms of keys, tunings and harmonica types/brands available. These will be added to the website as they come into production.