Brass instruments, slide whistle, timpani, kazoo,
Theremin (spelling?), electronic keyboards,
synthesizers, single-headed drums (congas,
timbales, difficult on bongos) dumbeg,
"talking drums", tabla , flexatone, oop-goobi,
berimbau, probably many more.
Yes, Dezzy, that is correct: to raise the pitch of a reed,
sandpaper or file the free end of the reed.
To lower the pitch of a reed, sandpaper or file the riveted
or screwed end of the reed, just below the reed "pad's
squared end (below the [ ] part of the reed, not under it).
Or, try adding a very little weight to the free end of the reed,
such as a drop of glue, "blue tac" adhesive, or albumen
(egg white) to the reed.
1. To protect the neighbor reeds from breakage or damage,
slide a thin plastic (credit card or thinner gauge) between the
reed to be re-tuned and it's reed plate, with the neighbor reeds
under the plastic, and the re-tunable reed over the plastic.
A brass "feeler gauge" strip may also be used.
2. Using a very fine grade sandpaper or a metal file, lightly
and slowly swipe the reed VERTICALLY, only 1-3 times .If
you swipe the reed horizontally, you might snag the reed,
break the reed, or permanently damage the reed.
3. Swipe no more than 1/8th of an inch at the free end. Let the
harp sit overnight. The re-tuning process, although easy to do,
should be done slowly and patiently. If not, the reed may change
pitch from one day to the next, by itself.
In Ireland, the word "paddy" refers to police officers.
A "paddy wagon" is a panel truck or other vehicle
used to transport miscreants to the local jail.
There is a favorite Irish jig, "paddy Wack", used to
tell a story of a barroom brawl, and the resulting
wacks of the fighters, by the local police.
A Paddy Richter reed placement on a standard
10-hole diatonic harmonica (Richter system) was
originally designed by Brendan Power in the mid-1980s,
for easier play of Irish music.
The Paddy Richter system harp is a standard Richter
system harp, with the hole #3 altered from an exhale
G (on a key of C harp), to an exhale A pitch.
This allows the player a full 2 octaves of the A natural
minor scale (on a C harp), plus the A minor chord.
No bending is needed for the hole 3 exhale A note.
Here are three excellent, free harmonica website sources for "alternate tunings"
on a standard 10-hole diatonic harmonica:
(look for the section on "Altered States", or other title with the word,
"altered"). This is not a recent list, but it's very useful, if you can read
(this website lists some of Pat Missin's altered tunings, from the
Missin website, but the altered tunings are more clearly presented.)
Also, the Seydel company will custom-make the Paddy Richters in
The Steve Baker tuning is used on a 14-hole Hohner #365-SBS
Marine Band harp. It adds three holes on the left (lowest pitched)
holes, and one hole on the right side (highest pitched).
The three holes on the left are the same as the next three holes, but
one octave lower in pitch. The last hole on the right, the added hole,
has the reeds b and E.
The Marine Band #365 SBS designed by Steve Baker, is not made today.
It was only available in the key of C. In the following chart, large letters (C,E,G)
are exhale reeds and small letters (g,b,d,f,a) are inhale reeds
HOHNER #365-SBS MARINE BAND HARMONICA
||C d |E g |G b |C d |E g |G b |C d |E f |G a |b C |d E |f G |a C |b E ||
The most popular of Brendan Power's many altered tunings is probably the Paddy
Richter tuning, introduced in the mid-1980s. It was originally designed for a 10-hole
diatonic harp, but it has been expanded onto a few slide chromatic 12-hole harps.
Since the subject here is 10-hole diatonics, we'll show the 10-hole chart. By using a
Lee Oskar Music Maker top reed plate (exhale) with a Lee Oskar Major Diatonic bottom
reed plate (inhale) of the same key, you'll have a Paddy Richter setup:
BRENDAN POWER PADDY RICHTER TUNING:
||C d |E g |A d |C d |E f |G a |b C |d E |f G |a C ||
Another answer: The diatonic harmonicas are usually
less expensive than the slide chromatic harmonicas.
For the price of one excellent standard slide chromatic,
you can buy 5 excellent standard diatonic 10-hole
Also, maintenance of the diatonic harmonicas is less
than maintenance of a slide chromatic harmonica.
Most Asian countries' players (not India) prefer the
tremolo diatonic harmonicas, over the slide chromatic
and 10-hole diatonic harps.
Sussex, Wisconsin, USA
Here's another free website for harmonica players.
It's a play-along website, with freely downloadable tabs,
no traditional music notation. The pre-recorded tunes
are also freely downloaded.
It has tunes for diatonic 10-hole harp, and tunes for slide
It also has the tunes for playback
TPBass, I'm glad that you sold your bass harp, at the price that you wanted.
Bass harps are not as popular as other types of harmonicas, and now you
have some extra money.
Maybe once or twice I've gotten an overbend
at hole 5, on the standard draw note (on a
C Richter system blues harp, overblow the
draw F note to play an F#). But that was an
Regular draw bends and blow bends are no
major problem for me, except for hole 3, where
3 draw bends are possible (Bb, A and Ab on a
standard Richter key of C blues harp). It takes a lot
of control to play those half steps in tune.
Every time I play harmonica, it sounds like someone beating a pie pan.
Bends and overblows still give me the heebee jeebies.
Hello, Harmonica Heroes.
Here's a fun game: create your own
Complete the sentence:
"Every time I play harmonica..."
Examples: Every time I play the harmonica, it weakens the nation.
Every time I play harmonica, dogs roll over and play dead.
For me, playing the Arkansas Traveller tune is easiest on a solo system reed
placement harmonica. It's factory-designed to offer 3 complete major scales,
in the same key, in consecutive octaves. There are no missing major scale notes.
If you are a chordal player, you'll lose some chords on a solo system harp. The
Richter system (standard 10-hole) blues harp has a few chords factory-installed.
The solo system harps are sold only in the key of C, unless you request an F harp
solo system from the Seydel company.
If the key of F tune is written in F, for a piano, play it in F. The easiest solution
is to ask the piano player what key he or she is playing, and play in the pianist's key.
The positions charts recommended in an earlier post will help you to decide which
harp to use. The key of F is located in different positions on different harps, as the
Always look for the easiest key position on the harmonica. If you want to add
improvisations, embellishments, etc., the most commonly used position is second
position. It's sometimes called "cross harp". For example, use a key of Bb harp
in cross position to play the F scale (key of F on a Bb harp).
The arrangement of Glenn Weiser is a different version from
the George-Heaps-Nelson arrangement from his book.
Publishers ask the arrangers to write a variation of a tune,
to avoid copyright legal problems.
The Weiser version has all correct tablature, but the tune may
not be what your ears have heard before.
Since I learned the tune from the Nelson book, the Weiser
version took a few minutes to learn.
The tablature will be the same, regardless of the key in which
it's played. You may play it in any major key, as long as it's
the same key as the piano player in your group. If you are playing
it without a group, you can use any Richter 10-hole major key
Here's the Nelson version's tablature. The Nelson version is in
the key of C, but the tablature will work with a D harp.
Lack of rhythmic notation is the main problem with reading
harmonica tablature. If you don't already know this tune's
rhythms, this tab won't help you.
Two foot taps per measure;
The sign ( - ) is a rest of a half count;
A blow reed has no extra sign; ( * ) is a draw reed;
The sign ( | ) is a measure divider (bar line);
The signs ||: and | are inclusive repeat signs.
||:6 | 7 8 8* 7 6* - | 6 - 7 - | 8* 8* 8 8 | 8* 8 8* 7 6* 6 |
| 7 8 8* 7 6* - | 6 - 7 - | 7 7* 7 6 6* 7 6 5* | 5 4 4* 4 |
||: 5 5* |6 5* 5 6 5* 5 4* 5* | 5 4* 4 5 4* 2* |3 - 4 *- | 5 4* 4 5 4 |
5 5* |5 4* 4 5 4* 6 | 7 7* 7 6 6* 7 6 5* | 5 4 4* 4 |
Sussex, Wisconsin, USA
Welcome to the Hormonica Club.
You have many new friends here.
Besides this great website, there are
many free websites for harmonica players.
This next one is just for fun. It has pre-recorded
tunes for play-along, written in hormonica tablature,
not in traditional European music notation.
You may freely download the tunes for practicing,
and freely download the recorded tunes.
Sussex, Wisconsin, USA
The bending technique is only available on a single reed per note harmonica,
if:the "interval" (scale distance) between the two factory-installed reeds in a
hole is a whole step or larger, such as C-d, G-a, etc.
Let's look at the solo system note chart and the Richter system chart, for a key
of C, standard diatonic harmonica. In these charts, the large letters (C,E,G)
are exhale reeds, and the small letters (b,d,f,a) are inhale reeds:
STANDARD RICHTER SYSTEM DIATONIC HARP, KEY OF C
||C d |E g |G b |C d |E f |G a |b C |d E |f G | a C ||
Holes 1-6 are bendable (not hole 5), as inhale bends.
Holes 8-10 (not hole 7) are bendable as exhale bends.
Notice the reversal of breath pattern at hole 7.
The holes 5 and 7 have notes with a distance of only
a half step (E-f; b-C). There is a total of 12 bends available
on a Richter system harmonica.
STANDARD SOLO SYSTEM DIATONIC HARP, KEY OF C
||C d |E f |G a |b C |C d |E f |G a |b C |C d |E f |G a |b C ||
Holes 1,3,5,7,9,11 have bends available.
No bends are available in holes 2,4,6,8,10 and 12.
The solo system harps have only 6 bendable reeds,
and the Richter system harps have 12 bendable reeds