Half valved chromatic for retuning or maybe in custom tuning. Which model to buy?

Anything apart from the two mainstream default harmonicas (Solo-tuned fully-valved chromatic, and un-valved Richter 10-hole diatonic). Alternate tunings, different construction, new functionality, interesting old designs, wishful-thinking... whatever!
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EdvinW
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Half valved chromatic for retuning or maybe in custom tuning. Which model to buy?

Post by EdvinW » Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:14 pm

I've been experimenting with some new tunings on my DM48 lately, and I think it's time to try my ideas in a real harmonica. One of the main advantages of a real, reed-equipped instrument is that it allows for bends, and I would thus prefer a model suitable for half valving.

I'm thinking about retuning a stock harp. The upside of this would be a large choice of models, and me finally learning to modify chromatics. If I can start with a solo tuned harp in D I wouldn't have to retune any note more than 3 steps in either direction, though almost every reed would have to be tuned. Starting from a standard C many notes would have to go up 5 half steps, and I'm not sure this would work. Does anybody have any model to recommend for such a project? With too cheap an instrument I don't think it would do my ideas justice, but with a too expensive one I face the risk of ruining it.

The comfortable option would be to order it, and the first place that comes to mind for buying custom tuned chromatics is Seydel. I've been thinking about the de Lux model with brass reeds. They're the cheapest, I sort off like the sound of brass reeds and, most importantly, their harmonica configurator lets me enter the tuning in the key I want. For their steel reed models I would have to choose between transposing it to another key or to raise it an entire octave. Is the quality for this model OK despite it being their cheapest? Is it air-tight enough for half valving? Are the other models any better?

Also: Am I missing some other good place to buy a custom chromatic without a very long waiting list?

I hope people are having a nice summer :D
Edvin Wedin

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Brendan
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Re: Half valved chromatic for retuning or maybe in custom tuning. Which model to buy?

Post by Brendan » Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:01 am

Hi Edvin, retuning chromatics is not difficult or slow if you use the right tools. For upward retunes of a semitone or more I'd suggest a rubber buffing disc in a Dremel-type rotary tool. I use the Proxxon ones, #28 294:

https://www.proxxon.com/en/micromot/too ... agents.php

For detunes of a few semitones it's best to add weight with solder and then tune up to pitch, but you can use Blue Tack for smaller intervals. It's also reversible.

The Seydel brass reed chroms are OK. They benefit from embossing, as do all half-valved chromatics.

EdvinW
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Re: Half valved chromatic for retuning or maybe in custom tuning. Which model to buy?

Post by EdvinW » Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:05 pm

Thanks for the advice!

In the end I ordered a custom Seydel de Lux after all. Realizing that a D chromatic is actually rather shrill, and that I would rather had started with a low D, there were not so many options. There are a few low C chromatics on the market, but having to raise so many notes by a full fourth I went with the comfortable option this time. It's also a question of time since I don't seem to get so much of a vacation this summer. I AM getting those tools though, to make sure I have no excuse the next time ;)
Edvin Wedin

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triona
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Re: Half valved chromatic for retuning or maybe in custom tuning. Which model to buy?

Post by triona » Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:29 am

EdvinW wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:05 pm
... low D ... There are a few low C chromatics on the market, but having to raise so many notes by a full fourth I went with the comfortable option this time.

? ? ? from low C to low D a full forth? For me it seems more to be 2 semitones. Or did I miss here something?

But anyway, in cases like this I prefer the ""comfortable option" as well - as long as it is available at all. Retuning a whole chromatic by 2 semitones all over is kinda drag in any case.

But the upmost question with Seydel's configurator is, that not all reeds required in the low ranges are available for the chromatics, Sampler and Fanfare (which all are manufactured on the same base). With steel reeds there are sometimes even less tones available than with brass. And Seydel does not sell instruments with heavily retuned reeds, i.e. retuned more than some cents as with usual fine tuning. (I guess this is for warranty reasons.) And this applies to retuning by merely a semitone as well (as alredy experienced). Before they retune by a full semitone, they change the reed. And not available tones do not show up for choice in the configurator at all. In such cases you have to retune your brandnew and with costly surcharge paid configurated harp by yourself anyway.

For harps like this I prefer brass to steel reeds anyway, if still available - for reason of the costs. To exchange a broken reed every now and then is much cheaper than the extra costs of a steel reed harp. Btw, with chromatics and tremoloes (Fanfare) - the slide diatonics (Sampler) never had been available with brass reeds - I never had negative experiences with brass reeds - in opposite to some 10 hole diatonics, octave harps or the old 12 hole blues harps, which were discontinued recently anyway. And if you prefer the warmer sound of brass reeds it is still a good option anyway.


dear greetings
triona
Aw, Thou beloved, do hearken to the Banshee's lonely croon!
sinn féin - ça ira !
Cad é sin do'n té sin nach mbaineann sin dó


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1yI3H ... 9ktgzTR2qg

EdvinW
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Re: Half valved chromatic for retuning or maybe in custom tuning. Which model to buy?

Post by EdvinW » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:16 am

triona wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:29 am
EdvinW wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:05 pm
... low D ... There are a few low C chromatics on the market, but having to raise so many notes by a full fourth I went with the comfortable option this time.

? ? ? from low C to low D a full forth? For me it seems more to be 2 semitones. Or did I miss here something?
Sorry for the confusion! I wrote earlier that I hoped to start out with a D-tuned harmonica (not a detuned one :lol:) to minimise the change needed to three seminotes in either direction. Starting at C means some notes must be raised by 5 seminotes, i.e. a fourth.
But anyway, in cases like this I prefer the ""comfortable option" as well - as long as it is available at all. Retuning a whole chromatic by 2 semitones all over is kinda drag in any case.

But the upmost question with Seydel's configurator is, that not all reeds required in the low ranges are available for the chromatics, Sampler and Fanfare (which all are manufactured on the same base). With steel reeds there are sometimes even less tones available than with brass. And Seydel does not sell instruments with heavily retuned reeds, i.e. retuned more than some cents as with usual fine tuning. (I guess this is for warranty reasons.) And this applies to retuning by merely a semitone as well (as alredy experienced). Before they retune by a full semitone, they change the reed. And not available tones do not show up for choice in the configurator at all. In such cases you have to retune your brandnew and with costly surcharge paid configurated harp by yourself anyway.

For harps like this I prefer brass to steel reeds anyway, if still available - for reason of the costs. To exchange a broken reed every now and then is much cheaper than the extra costs of a steel reed harp. Btw, with chromatics and tremoloes (Fanfare) - the slide diatonics (Sampler) never had been available with brass reeds - I never had negative experiences with brass reeds - in opposite to some 10 hole diatonics, octave harps or the old 12 hole blues harps, which were discontinued recently anyway. And if you prefer the warmer sound of brass reeds it is still a good option anyway.


dear greetings
triona
Thanks for the input :)
Edvin Wedin

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