We are obsessed harp tweakers, players, teachers, and our goal is to make the best harmonicas we can possibly make, be inspired by what people can do with this incredible instrument, and do all we can to inspire you to take it to your next level.
The following quote is from the book “Harmonicas, Harps, and Heavy Breathers, by Kim Field:
“Enter Joe Filisko. When I first met Joe, at the SPAH convention in 1991, he
was in the middle of a cluster of harmaniacs in the hotel lobby
demonstrating a solid brass harmonica that he designed and built. Over the
next couple of days he always seemed to be the focus of some similar
congregation of excited harmonica enthusiasts. The buzz was that this
Filisko character was some kind of free reed genius who could dissapear into
his hotel room with your Marine Band and a bag of exotic tools and emerge a
few minutes later with that wonder of wonders: a diatonic harmonica that
played really well. And if you were keen on overblows, Joe could trick out
your diatonic so that you could not only achieve them but sound good doing
By the mid-1990’s Filisko had more work than he could handle creating custom
mouth organs and tweaking and retuning stock models to new levels of
performance. Many professional players, overblowers and tongue-blocking
blues masters alike came to rely on his instruments. People were waiting
months for their Filisko harmonicas. Joe had to join forces with another
talented player/tinkerer, Richard Sleigh, in order to handle his workload.
Competitors sprung up. A new category, the “harmonica technician” had been
It did not take long for Richard Sleigh to get buried in harmonica orders, and Joe and Richard began looking for someone else to work with. James Gordon began studying with Joe and Richard after meeting them at the SPAH convention in 1997.
Joe always said that there must be someone who knows about free reeds from
an entirely different perspective than accordion or harmonica specialists. Fortunately, James studied with just such a mentor, who taught James some aspects of reeds that were unknown to Joe or Richard. With the benefit of this essential information the Filisko Method once again grew in depth and effectiveness from new ways of understanding and working with the basic properties of reeds.
Over the years, Joe, Richard, and James have ended up developing their own
unique ways of setting up harmonicas, but all draw upon the time spent
daring and double daring each other to push the instrument to the next
level, and comparing notes on how they did it.