What is customization?
In order to fully realize their musical visions, top professional players often need a little bit more than a series instrument is able to deliver. That’s where customizing comes in. With the harmonica, customization basically entails making extremely fine adjustments to a series instrument to better meet the player’s individual requirements. The first person to do this commercially, using Hohner Marine Band harmonicas exclusively, was Joe Filisko from Chicago. A master player who has built instruments for countless world famous harpists from Neil Young to Howard Levy, he developed the “Filisko Method” of harmonica customization, which he taught to a select few others who aspired to this level of craftsmanship. 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.
The Hohner Affiliated Customizer Program
With the Hohner Affiliated Customizer (HAC) Program, we have systematically developed a worldwide network of top class harmonica customizers who work exclusively on Hohner instruments. 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. Once you’ve played a HAC harmonica, you’ll never want to play anything else. They’re extremely airtight, making them loud, but also very responsive at low volume levels. They make techniques such as overbending far easier to execute and can be set up to reflect the playing style of the user. It’s no exaggeration to say they represent the finest harmonicas in the world.
How to become an Affiliated Customizer
To bestow this revolutionary new seal of quality and guarantee that all instruments sold under the name of the HAC Program fulfil the highest possible standards of craftsmanship, we needed to establish a process of independent certification by an unimpeachable and widely accepted authority. To this end, Hohner entered into a close cooperation with Joe Filisko himself.
If their application to take part in the certification process is accepted, candidates have to submit samples of their work to Mr Filisko for in depth assessment. Hohner may not influence his decision in any way and his answer will be either "yes" or "no". Only those applicants whose work satisfies his extremely exacting standards will be granted certification as a HOHNER AFFILIATED CUSTOMIZER and may use logo and certification in their advertising. With this bold move, Hohner brings clarity for the consumer as well as recognition for the craftsmen and sets new standards in this field.