The first time I heard about the Polle Concert harmonica was when I talked to Tommy Reilly after a concert in Munich, Germany in 1990. I knew about the custom made silver instrument manufactured by a silver smith in England.
When I ask him about his famous silver harmonica he explained to me that his current concert instrument was a much better model made in Norway by someone named Georg Pollestad.
Throughout the years I got to know more about the “Rolls-Royce” of concert harmonicas. I was curious to find out more about this unique instrument. In 2021 I was finally able to find the time to visit Mr. Pollestad in his home town in Stavanger, Norway.
It was a wonderful experience. Mr. Pollestad is such a pleasant person to be around.
He was so kind to pick me up from the airport and took me on a small tour showing me the surroundings.
Throughout my 4 days stay I was also lucky that the weather was extraordinarily nice with lots of sunshine.
The next day I had the chance to talk to him about his famous harmonica. He showed me his workshop located in the basement of his house.
When I entered I saw all these newspaper articles and diplomas posted at the entrance. It gave me quite a first impression.
Before we actually went into his workshop we set down and started an interesting conversation about the beginnings of the Polle harmonica. With the permission of Mr. Pollestad I taped some of the conversation.
After my initial interview with him we went to see his workshop where he showed me all his tools and machinery.
Mr. Pollestad in his workshop
I ask him questions about the process of creating the cover plates. This is all a manual process.
What makes the Polle concert harmonica so special is the fact that even though the harmonica body consist of pure silver it is relatively light, only 214 gram! The trick Mr. Pollestad explained, was to cut the silver block into two pieces, hollow out all excess silver and then screw the to halves together. Quite an ingenious idea that works very well. Here in his own words…
Polle chromatic showing the hollowed out silver body in order to reduce weight
There are so many more interesting and ingenious ideas Mr. Pollestad integrated into this amazing harmonica it is difficult where to start.
In Tommy Reilly’s own words: the slider and its easy movement is nothing short of a “work of art”.
Polle quick change reed plate removal system (courtesy Owen Ho)
Harmonica side view showing the two-piece body and the small LCD thermometer displaying the current temperature of the instrument
In 2009 Mr. Pollestad started to explore using Titanium as an alternative to silver. This would bring down the weight even more significantly:
Recently, Georg Pollestad began also to manufacture his own line of titanium reed plates. Using titanium decreases the tolerance between the reeds and reed plate and therefore increasing the reed response.
Of course I was very curious to find out how long it would actually take to build one complete instrument. Mr. Polle answered this questions with the following words:
From top: one of the first Polle concert instruments, Titanium Polle, Modern Polle with engravings, Modern Polle with deep engravings (courtesy Rocky Lok)
Until today, the Polle concert chromatic is considered the Rolls-Royce of all concert harmonicas.
Additional info can be found on polle.no.
I can’t thank Mr. Polle (and his wife Berit) enough for their generous hospitality. The few days I spent in Stavanger will be forever nice memories. Especially the trip we made to the beautiful island of Flor og Fjære will always amaze me.
Some beautiful impressions of Flor og Fjære
One thought on “Polle Concert Harmonica”