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Brendan Power
 
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The G/D Irish Session Harp is a revival of a harmonica I created for my own Irish playing in 1995 using chromatic harmonica parts, but with reedplates in the two different keys. The slider has no spring, and is held in or out with friction. With the slider out the harmonica played a low D scale in Solo Tuning. Press the slider in and you got a G scale. Two harps in one, G and D: perfect keys for 90% of Irish and Celtic tunes!

The common way to play Irish tunes is in sets: several tunes one after the other, often with pleasing key changes between them. Normally harmonica players have to switch harps at that point, but having an Irish Session Harp means you can play most Irish sets on the one harmonica! Just move the slider to the opposite position with the flick of a finger and you're in the new key - it's so easy and fast.

I sold it on my website from 2000-2006 (it was then known as the 'Trad Session Harp'). I released it again in 2013, made for me by Hering, re-named, and in two sizes/tunings: 12 Hole Solo Tuned, and 10 Hole in Paddy Richter tuning. Both are great for Irish music, but Solo tuning as on this page will suit chromatic players better, Paddy Richter will suit diatonic players more. If you're a diatonic player, go to the Paddy Richter version.

Watch the video to see how the Irish Session Harp works in the Solo-tuned version (this is the old model, now discontinued, to show the principle)
UPDATE: New Model!
Unfortunately there were supply  problems with Hering, so the chromatic-based Irish Session Harp was discontinued. However, the same concept of two keys in the one harmonica is now available again in my own-design Switch-Harp. This is made in a modular fashion, using two diatonic harmonicas behind a master slider. The advantage of the new model are: It can be ordered in any combination of keys, several different brands, and any tuning you like! You could have just one front unit and insert different rear harp units as you desire. However the easiest option to make an Irish Session Harp for Solo tuning is the Hering Orchestra version of the Switch-Harp: a 10-hole harp that comes in Solo tuning in 5 keys: Low C, Low D, Low F, G and A. Choose the LowD/G harps for the common version of the Irish Session Harp, but you can choose other combinatiions also if you wish.

Here is the scale layout and info for the Solo Tuned version of the Irish Session Harp, and below some photos of the old model (now discontinued).


Here are some handy tips to fix sticking valves and enhance airtightness on your slider harmonicas.

My 10-hole Irish Session Harp in Paddy Richter tuning is a unique and very useful harmonica. You can think of it as two 10 hole Paddy Richter harps in one. The overwhelming bulk of Irish tunes are in G and D major, and related minor modes. In the past, players had to switch between G and D Paddy Richter harps to get the right scales for each tune. But now it’s all there conveniently in one harmonica!

I created Paddy Richter tuning to make playing Irish music easier on the blues harp, and first recorded with it on my 1994 album New Irish Harmonica. Paddy Richter works well for Irish music because all the main melody notes are there, but it’s almost the same as the standard Richter tuning: just the 3 hole blow raised a tone. But that small change makes a BIG difference, and Paddy Richter tuning has steadily gained fans ever since. I made it available in my 10 hole Irish Session Harp from 2013; watch the video to see how it works.

UPDATE: New Model!

Unfortunately there were supply  problems with Hering, so the chromatic-based Irish Session Harp was discontinued. However, the same concept of two keys in the one harmonica is now available again in my own-design Switch-Harp. This is made in a modular fashion, using two diatonic harmonicas behind a master slider. The advantage of the new model are: It can be ordered in any combination of keys, several different brands, and any tuning you like! You could have just one front unit and insert different rear harp units as you desire. However the easiest option to make an Irish Session Harp for Paddy Richter tuning is the Suzuki Promaster version of the Switch-Harp: a 10-hole harp that comes in Paddy Richter tuning in 12 keys and half-valved.

 



The layout of the Irish Session Harp is simple: there is a G Paddy Richter scale on the top harp, which sounds when the slider is in the out position. Simply push the slider in and all your air goes to the lower harp, which has the D Paddy Richter scale. The slider has no spring, so will stay in position. This fast selection means you can now play all the main modes of Irish music without the harmonica leaving your lips!

Here’s the scale layout:



The Paddy Richter Irish Session Harp comes with handy in-box notes giving the common Irish modes and other useful info. If you don’t know much about modes and scales, don’t worry! Most traditional Irish players have no formal music learning and couldn’t name the modes they are using either. They learn by ear, which is the best way to really get the melodies and rhythms inside your body. Your ear will quickly tell you whether a particular tune suits the slide in or out.

EXAMPLES to PRACTISE

The Irish Session Harp has no slider trills available, so you will have to master decorations with the jaw and tongue. They are still very effective, and great to learn. If you want to hear these in detail, I recommend you check out my popular instructional book/CD Play Irish Music on the Blues Harp. This has lots of tunes in Paddy Richter tuning that will transfer seamlessly to the 10 hole Irish Session Harp.

The Paddy Richter Slide Diatonic brings together two of my harmonica inventions: Paddy Richter tuning and the Slide Diationic. Paddy Richter tuning is a small modification to the common 10 hole diatonic tuning (known as Richter) to make it much better for playing fast Irish and other folk melodies. The only change is that 3 blow is raised one tone, but it makes a massive diference!

Up till now it's only been available on the small 10 hole harp, but now for the first time you can buy a 10 hole Paddy Richter harp with a slider. As with my 12 hole Solo Tuned Slider Diatonic, the slider raises the main note to the next note of the home scale, to give really tasty and authentic modal slide decorations, similar to those used by flute, whistle and fiddle players.

I first recorded with this magical combination on my 1994 album New Irish Harmonica, and I've used the Paddy Richter Slide Diatonic for my traditional Irish playing ever since. It's now available for the first time to buy, and only here.

The Paddy Richter Slide Diatonic comes in the two main keys for Irish music, D and G. They are made to my specifications by the Hering company in a very responsive, free-blowing model with a CNC machined solid comb. Check out the video below to hear how easily and sweetly it adds in-key decorations to the main melody.

SOLD OUT




Here is the tuning diagram for the key of G:



You can see that the slider raises each note to the next note of the G Paddy Richter scale. If you press the slide in on a G blow note, the slide-in note is not G# (as on a normal chromatic harmonica) but A. The same principle applies to all the other slide-in notes.

This gives the Paddy Richter harp player a whole new and AUTHENTIC sound for playing Irish and other folk music, including Chinese, Scottish, Italian... Most folk melodies around the world stay within a specific mode or scale. Chromatic notes outside that scale tend to sound harsh, because they are inappropriate for the style.

The Paddy Richter Slide Diatonic also gives a player lots of enharmonic (same-not choices). Every note of the scale is duplicated in a slide-in note, which allows you to choose the best option for the music. This can be very helpful in playing fast dance tunes with big jumps, as it can reduce the distance you have to move your lips.

For example, look at holes 6 and 7: you can now jump from D and E notes to the A above in adjacent holes! Without the slider you'd have to take your lips off the harp and jump a hole. If you select your notes in this way it can make many of the tunes much easier to play. Another example is shown on the video above.

Paddy Richter tuning is growing in popularity all the time. Anyone who tries it for melody playing is hooked. Now you Paddy Richter heads have a new harp that gives you all the convenience of the tuning you love PLUS the tasty, sophisticated decorations used by other folk instruments.

Here are some handy tips to fix sticking valves and enhance airtightness on your slider harmonicas.

The ChromaBender is a brand-new harmonica never seen before, one of my inventions dating back more than 20 years but only now available to buy. It combines the best features of the 12 hole chromatic harmonica and the 10 hole diatonic to create a unique hybrid harp that will appeal to players of both types.

Discontinued





(Hear Sound clips recorded on the C ChromaBender by Al Clark & Randy Weinstein. Check out Randy's interesting discussion of his experiments with the ChromaBender: Randy's music.)


The ChromaBender has the outward appearance of a chromatic but sounds like a diatonic! Its parts (covers, comb, reedplates and mouthpiece) and standard Solo tuning come from the chromatic, so chrom players can play it straight away. But the sound and playability is like that of a 10 hole blues harp! Instead of a slider, the ChromaBender uses internal x-reeds and simple draw and blow bending to give you buckets of soul and full, easy chromatic scales over three octaves.

This unique new harp allows any chromatic player to get bluesy without having to switch to a different tuning or smaller-size harp, and it allows blues harp players to get chromatic using their familiar, easy blow & draw bending technique. Many 10 hole diatonic players like to use a chrom for 3rd position playing. Now they can get those big octave tones plus draw and blow bending on all notes!

I designed the tuning and specialist reedplates for this harp, and chose the Brazilian company Hering to make it. Hering chromatics have very close reed/slot tolerances, and that's important for this triple-reed design. In June 2013 I travelled to the Hering factory in Blumenau, Brazil to work with Hering engineers to create this all-new 36 reed model.

The ChromaBender will open up a whole new harmonica sound as players from both the chromatic and diatonic camps bring their own experience and strengths to create a unique hybrid sound.

Welcome to a new concept in bass harmonica: the Slider Bass Harmonica! Based on my patent-pending TwinHarmonica System, I have scaled up the design to fit existing bass harmonicas of the traditional type. Now, instead of having to jump awkwardly between two separate units as in the past, the player can stay on one comfortable rounded mouthpiece and get all chromatic notes via a sprung slider, just like a normal chromatic harmonica. Aside from the advantages in comfort, speed and accuracy, it offers bass harp players new techniques never possible before - like legato semitone playing, slider trills and more!

The mouthpiece/slider unit is all my own design; I make the plastic parts and rubber gasket using 3D printing and laser cutting, and outsource the chromed brass mouthpiece and stainless steel slider. The precision CNC machined mouthpiece is the most expensive part. I offer the full assembly for the older wood-comb Hohner small basses (Double-Reed 265 and the Single-Reed 264) and the Suzuki SDB-29. Here are some photos:
Hohner Small Single and Double Reed Basses Hohner Small Single and Double Reed Basses Hohner 265 Bass Parts Hohner 265 Bass Parts Hohner 265 Bass Parts Hohner 265 Bass Parts Hohner 265 Bass Parts Hohner 265 Bass Parts Hohner 264 Bass Parts Hohner 265 Bass Parts Hohner 265 Bass Parts Suzuki SDB-29 Suzuki SDB-29 Suzuki SDB-29 Suzuki SDB-29 Suzuki SDB-29 Suzuki SDB-29 Suzuki SDB-29
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The videos below show assembly of the completed Sliderbass upper unit to Suzuki SDB-29 and Hohner 265 basses.
As you can see from the videos, once the upper unit is assembled and the SliderBass made flat, you can leave the SliderBass fully assembled. Inner and outer coverplates can be removed in seconds to allow gapping and fine-tuning of ALL reeds! This makes my SliderBass system really user-friendly. You have all the advantages of the slider without any compromise on adjusting your bass for optimum reed response without disassembly.

Recommended Customisers

I have asked some of the best bass harmonica techs in the world to be Recommended Customisers for the SliderBass. You just pay for the parts, and select which person you want to do the work. Contact them yourself to confirm the job and receive their postal address for sending your bass harmonica. After receiving your order we'll post the SliderBass parts to your selected customiser separately. After they receive your bass and checks its condition, you two negotiate the fitting price between you.

George Miklas - USA

George Miklas George is a specialist bass harmonica player and customiser. He played bass and chord harmonica with the world-renowned trio Jerry Murad and the Harmonicats, as well as other well-known harmonica groups.

Widely respected as an expert repair man for chromatic and orchestral harmonicas, George's world-class ability on the bass harmonica means that he is guaranteed to get the fitting of my mouthpiece/slider adaptor working at its best with your bass harmonica.

Email: harmonicarepair@gmail.com
Website: http://repair.harmonicagallery.com

Steve Malerbi - USA

Steve Malerbi Steve is best known as a harmonica customizer, having done work professionally now for 15 years. He specializes in chromatic and orchestral harmonicas, melodicas, and melodian's. His list of customers reads like a who's who of professional players having been Norton Buffalo's harmonica tech for 10 years, to Mark Hummel, Rick Estrin, Charlie Musselwhite, Rod Piazza, Jon Eriksen, Michael Peloquin, Damien Masterson, Tom Stryker and many others. He's also a 15 year member of SPAH, the Society for the Advancement and Preservation of the Harmonica and has been a stand in teacher at the Berkeley Jazz School. On the music side, he's an active jazz chromatic harmonica player, fronting his own trio Harmonica Jazz, plays bass with the San Francisco Harmonica Ensemble, and answers the occasional call for harmonica recording in the studio.

Email: harpsurgeon@hotmail.com

BUYING THE SLIDER-BASS UPPER UNIT

All parts are sanded and finished, all fitting screws are included, and the slider is hand-ground for smooth airtight action.
SLIDER-BASS UPPER UNITS

SliderBass - £250

Currently unavailable


The SliderBass won't fit in the original box after assembly because of the extra height - but there is a solution! Check out this beautiful bespoke leather SliderBass case made by Michelle LeFree. Contact Michelle if you would like one for yourself.




The big Suzuki bass harmonica is popular with professional players, and it's now possible to customise with my SliderBass unit. It's so big that I couldn't fit the air-shifting unit on my 3D printer! I solved that problem by printing the unit in two parts and then bonding them together. The stainless steel slider baseplate and slider are laser cut, and the comfortable rounded mouthpiece is CNC milled from brass, then polished and chrome plated.
SUZUKI SDB-39 Bass Harmonica Parts SUZUKI SDB-39 Bass Harmonica Parts SUZUKI SDB-39 Bass Harmonica Parts SUZUKI SDB-39 Bass Harmonica Parts SUZUKI SDB-39 Bass Harmonica Parts SUZUKI SDB-39 Bass Harmonica Parts
Click to enlarge, click outside the photo to return.
Apart from its bigger size, the Suzuki SDB-39 SliderBass unit is identical in fitting and other aspects to the same version for the smaller Suzuki SDB-29 bass. If you are looking to fit it yourself, please refer to the video and follow the same procedure.
As you can see from the video, once the upper unit is assembled and the stainless steel slide base made flat, you can leave your SliderBass fully assembled. Inner and outer coverplates can be removed in seconds to allow gapping and fine-tuning of ALL reeds! This makes my SliderBass system really user-friendly, because you have all the advantages of the slider without any compromise on adjusting your bass for optimum reed response quickly, without disturbing the slider assembly.

Though the fitting job can be done by anyone with good tool skills, if you want to be sure the job is done right you should have the work done by one of my Recommended Customisers (see below). As you can see from the video it's not such a simple job; lots of care and attention to detail required. It requires someone with quite a bit of chromatic and bass harmonica customising experience to do it correctly.



BUYING THE SLIDER-BASS UPPER UNIT

All parts are sanded and finished, all fitting screws are included, and the slider is hand-ground for smooth airtight action. International tracked shipping is included in the price.

SUZUKI SDB-39 SliderBass Parts

SUZUKI SDB-39 Bass - £275

This model has been discontinued.


The SliderBass won't fit in the original box after assembly because of the extra height - but there is a solution! Check out this beautiful bespoke leather SliderBass case made by Michelle LeFree. Contact Michelle if you would like one for yourself.


I have managed to scale up the size of my unique SliderBass design to fit the original 'big daddy' of bass harmonicas: the 39 hole Hohner 268 double-bass. It's so big that I couldn't fit the air-shifting unit on my 3D printer! I solved that problem by printed in two parts and then bonding them together. The stainless steel slider baseplate and slider are laser cut, and the comfortable rounded mouthpiece is CNC milled from brass, then polished and chrome plated.
Hohner 268 Bass Harmonica Parts Hohner 268 Bass Harmonica Parts Hohner 268 Bass Harmonica Parts Hohner 268 Bass Harmonica Parts Hohner 268 Bass Harmonica Parts Hohner 268 Bass Harmonica Parts Hohner 268 Bass Harmonica Parts Hohner 268 Bass Harmonica Parts Hohner 268 Bass Harmonica Parts
Click to enlarge, click outside the photo to return.

Apart from its bigger size, the Hohner 268 SliderBass unit is identical in fitting and other aspects to the same version for the smaller Hohner 265 bass, so if you are looking to fit it yourself, please refer to the video.

As you can see from the video, once the upper unit is assembled and the stainless steel slide base made flat, you can leave your SliderBass fully assembled. Inner and outer coverplates can be removed in seconds to allow gapping and fine-tuning of ALL reeds! This makes my SliderBass system really user-friendly, because you have all the advantages of the slider without any compromise on adjusting your bass for optimum reed response quickly, without disturbing the slider assembly.

Though the fitting job can be done by anyone with good tool skills, if you want to be sure the job is done right you should have the work done by one of my Recommended Customisers (see below). As you can see from the video it's not such a simple job; lots of care and attention to detail required. It requires someone with quite a bit of chromatic and bass harmonica customising experience to do it correctly.



BUYING THE SLIDER-BASS UPPER UNIT

All parts are sanded and finished, all fitting screws are included, and the slider is hand-ground for smooth airtight action. International tracked shipping is included in the price.

Hohner 268 SliderBass Parts

Hohner 268 SliderBass - £275

This model has been discontinued.


The SliderBass won't fit in the original box after assembly because of the extra height - but there is a solution! Check out this beautiful bespoke leather SliderBass case made by Michelle LeFree. Contact Michelle if you would like one for yourself.




As its name implies, this is a double-chromatic harmonica: two full chromatic harmonicas in the one instrument! For any serious chromatic player, this is heaven in your hands. The new phrasing and expressive possibilities are immense. You can use all your traditional playing skills by playing it as a normal chromatic, and then massively enhance the creative power by pushing the master slider and accessing a different chromatic altogether. A huge range of musical options is possible for the Twin-Harmonica System DoubleChrom, limited only by your imagination.

To start with I'm offering one famous chromatic brand and model as the base harmonica for this revolutionary new instrument: the popular, user-friendly Hohner CX-12. This is one of the cleverest harmonicas ever designed, with convenient snap-fit construction. It makes assembly/disassembly of the THS DoubleChrom a breeze - as you can see from the video below.

There are many colours of upper unit available and a range of keys, all in traditional chromatic Solo tuning. To save money you can just buy the upper slider-mouthpiece and lower enclosure. You can then insert your own CX-12 rear units and sliders. (However, this option will not give you the bespoke laser-cut rear sliders and slider-locking bar, as seen on the video).

Ultra Compact DoubleChrom Ultra Compact DoubleChrom Ultra Compact DoubleChrom Ultra Compact DoubleChrom
Click to enlarge, click outside the photo to return.

Promotional Video

Playing/Assembly Video

A NOTE ON KEYS

Low keys work best with the DoubleChrom. Because of its longer air chambers and the Helmholtz Resonance effect, high keys (above G) start to suffer in the top octave. Therefore, if you insert your own rear units, make sure they are lower keys, like the ones listed here.

You can choose any key combination you want from the drop-down lists. I would suggest two keys a tone apart (eg. Tenor C/D, or F/G). This will give you wholetone trills, which is a massive plus for any classical/folk/jazz player. Plus you'll get fantastic alternate phrasing possibilities. If a given phrase is difficult in the traditional way, just push the master slider and you can try two or three other ways to play it! It opens up a massive box of new tricks for the advanced chromatic player. If you want alternate tunings, they can be made for an extra price - email me to discuss.

Embossing

Optimum airtightness at every stage of the air passage from lips to reeds is critical for the performance of the Twin Harmonica System. The laser-cut sliders are hand ground to get the best fit in their slider channels, and the composite parts are carefully sealed. To gain the ultimate performance it is advisable to improve airtightness at the reeds themselves, via slot embossing. This is expertly done under a microscope to give crisp, clean tone and maximum response. You can choose it as an option below.

Buying Advice

Prices are listed in British Pounds. Trackable International Postage is included. PayPal will do the conversion from your currency automatically.

CX-12 Complete DoubleChrom (Base Price: £750)

Brendan is currently updating the DoubleChrom to a new simpler design. Ordering is suspended until it's ready - watch this space!
Ultra Compact DoubleChrom
Jean Sabot plays Bach's "Badinerie"
using his own original tuning pattern

Jean says: "The DoubleChrom has a very subtle sound, particuliarly well adapted to
Barroco & Classical music due to its endless possibilities, Thanks Brendan!"

See more of Jean's videos on his YouTube Channel
Jacob Venndt tearing out all the stops and pushing all the sliders on the new Double Chromatic Harmonica
Check out more from this amazing musician

Earlier CX-12 models

Here are some photos of earlier versions of the DoubleChrom, including the Flying-V:
earlier versions of the DoubleChrom earlier versions of the DoubleChrom earlier versions of the DoubleChrom earlier versions of the DoubleChrom
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Still in R&D, when approved for commercial release (see 'Work in Progress' note below), the X-Reed Chromatic will be a quantum leap in expression for all harmonica players. It brings together the best elements from two hitherto divided camps, those of the blues harp and the chromatic harmonica. For decades players have generally been on one side or the other, with often a big gulf in between. Now that division is blown away in the X-Reed Chromatic.

This one amazing new harmonica marries the wailing sound of the blues harp with the easy full chromaticism of the slider chromatic! It is incredibly expressive, because virtually every note can be played as a bend or as a normally played reed. It offers tons of new soulful expression to traditional chromatic players, and gives diatonic harp players their familiar bluesy tone plus all the chromatic notes built in with a slider. I can’t wait to hear the fabulous new music that will be played on the X-Reed Chromatic in the near future.

The X-Reed Chromatic can come in a range of sizes and tunings, including the two most common ones, Richter and Solo tuning. In 12 hole solo tuned form, the X-Reed Chromatic contains two of my ChromaBenders a semitone apart.

A Work in Progress


The all-bending X-Reed Chromatic is a very demanding harmonica to make, as it has to be extremely responsive to a player's embouchure-based pitch control throughout the range. Having a slider and the reeds further from the mouth makes this tougher to achieve than on a simpler diatonic x-reed harmonica. You can hear from the video clip I have achieved proof-of-principle in my Mk1 model, and the slimmer Mk 2 improves performance further. However I don't feel the overall playability is good enough yet to sell the X-Reed Chromatic commercially. Below is the story so far...

Large Mk1 Model gives way to the Slimline Mk2

After extensive work I managed to reduce the size of the X-Reed Chromatic dramatically from the first Mk1 version. By designing and making my own thin combs I could also halve the size of the upper unit, slimming the compact Mk2 down to almost the size of a conventional chromatic harmonica. It also plays better than the bulky Mk1, because of the smaller air channel volumes. In addition, I added rear screws for quick, easy disassembly of the two harmonica units. But I'm still not satisfied, and am currently working on an even smaller Mk3 model - so watch this space!

X-Reed Chromatic Mk2
THS X-reed Chromatic Mark 2
THS X-reed Chromatic Mark 2
THS X-reed Chromatic Mark 2
X-Reed Chromatic Mk1
THS X-reed Chromatic Mark 1
THS X-reed Chromatic Mark 1

The QuarterTone Chromatic is a microtonal double-chromatic, to allow Middle Eastern musicians to play their music authentically on the harmonica for the very first time! The idea came from the brilliant young Israeli musician Roni Eytan, who asked me to create the first one for him.

Promotional Video by Roni Eytan

Introducing the QuarterTone (featuring Roni Eytan playing in a jazz context)

Playing/Assembly Video

Ultra Compact DoubleChrom Ultra Compact DoubleChrom Ultra Compact DoubleChrom Ultra Compact DoubleChrom
Click to enlarge, click outside the photo to return.

Buying Advice

Prices are listed in British Pounds. Trackable International Postage is included. PayPal will do the conversion from your currency automatically.

Ultra Compact DoubleChrom
CX-12 Quartertone DoubleChrom (Base Price: £850)

Brendan is currently updating to a new simpler design. Ordering is suspended until it's ready - watch this space!

Embossing

Optimum airtightness at every stage of the air passage from lips to reeds is critical for the performance of the Twin Harmonica System. The laser-cut sliders are hand ground to get the best fit in their slider channels, and the composite parts are carefully sealed. To gain the ultimate performance it is advisable to improve airtightness at the reeds themselves, via slot embossing. This is expertly done under a microscope to give crisp, clean tone and maximum response. You can choose it as an option above.

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