JEPPSQUARE / Simon Jepps
" Time plays Chess. "JEPPSQUARE / Simon Jepps


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JEPPSSAX / Simon JeppsThe Jeppssax is a modification of Melodica which allows the player to create Harmonica expressions to compliment the music.

The Melodica & Harmonica are actually brother & sister, two and one of the same womb yet constructed & played in different ways. Whilst the Melodica is fully chromatic and effectively a cross between Trumpet & Keyboard, the Harmonica offers the ability to bend notes profoundly and provide an alternative "colour of voice".

I am always playing around with the construction & styling of my Melodica, as you can see from these photos { Bluescape / Rainbluew / Glow 1 / Glow 2 } and I may perhaps change the colour scheme again in the future. Yet the design you see featured on this page is called Bianco, with a White Harmonica Comb ~ named in honour of my dear artist friend Elisa Bianco and is actually one of my absolute favourites ~ so maybe it will remain my chosen style.

Yet what I have done with the Jeppssax is quite poetic, if I may say so myself. This is because firstly as mentioned, the Melodica & Harmonica are actually two and one of the same womb and so in truth belong together ~ not least because otherwise you cannot really bend notes on a Melodica. Yet secondly, the Melodica has never truly been given a natural mouthpiece ~ I say this because in truth the Melodica is best played without a mouthpiece, directly into the instrument to achieve maximum close interaction with the reeds.

JEPPSSAX / Simon Jepps
Yet doing this seems kind of ugly and I sought a more profound or professional design. Thus, after a few experiments with marrying a Harmonica to the Melodica, I finally strapped a Seydel Big Six Harmonica to the upper corner at the blowing end of the instrument! Now what you have with the Jeppssax is both an instrument with hugely increased capabilities and a profound new marriage of a perfect dual-mouthpiece.

JEPPSSAX / Simon JeppsI have tried different Harmonicas for this purpose, but in reality the Seydel Big Six is really the only one suited to the task and this is because it is quite lightweight, powerful for its size and features a lipped coverplate vital to prevent the rubber wristband from slipping off.

I have also tried different placements for the Big Six. Here in the corner at an angle, it is possible to play without any need to remove the mouthpiece! Hooorah! Also as luck would have it, the case design of Hohner Melodicas features perfectly placed feet-studs to securely hook the rubber wristband around the case-underside. Here at an angle however the Harmonica's key-close corner moves quite easily and so it is important to remember to just bring it towards you as you finish a phrase - else it will sound the F-key.

The solution is to glue a rubber 'shoe' to the platform for the BIG SIX to sit on, then secure it with the rubber wrist band. This 'shoe' not only reduces movement severalfold but elivates the Harp above the F-key, preventing it from being pressed. I have now done this and indeed, here it is very comfortable to play and in fact by just resting your finger over the harp's cover plate with your thumb underside the Melodica, it feels very similar to holding one naturally.

The neckstrap you can see gently flopped over the stand-arm is actually itself a Seydel Big Six neckstrap, simply attached to the rear handle of the Melodica. This is a great little neckstrap since it features a buckle-clip for easy detachment of the instrument.

JEPPSSAX / Simon JeppsThe other cool thing about the Seydel Big Six is that you can custom tune them yourself before being dispatched from the manufacturer, through the Seydel Harp Configurator. I have a handful in different tunings, the one pictured raises the 6-Hole Draw a semi-tone to the flattened 7th of the instrument key, in this case an F, granting an extra actual F chord and allowing an almost full two octave range with 2 bends in that final hole!

This tuning also features Gazell valving on all the Draw reeds, enabling all Blow bends and in turn transforming the Big Six into a fully chromatic instrument with greater chord possibilities. The white comb really makes the style... Haha.

I was raised and trained as a Classical Pianist and over my lifetime I have played live Jazz & Classical music in various lounges, restaurants & bars ~ even the Royal Palace gardens in Turin ~ yet over time it became evermore obvious to me that I was simply too frustrated with the inconvenience of only being able to play wherever a Piano already resides.

In fact I have been on quite an adventure this last decade, learning numerous different flutes from around the world, miniature Saxophones and various stringed instruments... but without doubt these two relatives, the Harmonica & Melodica were always my closest friends and eventually herewith destined to become the one great Jeppssax.

Thank you for reading.

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