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PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:59 am
by FastFouier
I'm an intermediate harp player - I can do all the draw bends on 1-6 and blow bends on 7-10. I have read the description of the PowerBender and PowerDraw on this web site, and am trying to understand the difference. Question number 1: in both cases, what's the difference between the "un-valved" and "half-valved" versions? Does one have a slider and the other not have one? Seriously, I don't understand what these terms mean.

Question number 2 (assuming I can understand the answer to the first question): my understanding is that the PowerDraw is just like a normal diatonic on holes 1-6, but that the bends on holes 7-10 are done by drawing instead of blowing (as with the normal diatonic). Sounds great! But then, what exactly does the PowerBender do, and why would someone choose the PowerBender over the PowerDraw? This really isn't explained very well on the web site. Can you direct me to any other source of information about the two choices? There should really be a page that begins with "I'm a standard diatonic player and I want to decide whether to purchase a PowerBender or a PowerDraw. How should I choose?"


Re: PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 4:45 pm
by IaNerd
FastFouier: You might find this helpful: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=169

Re: PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:03 pm
by FastFouier
Thanks - that is helpful. But what do the numbers next to the notes in first (diatonic) diagram mean?

Also, I get the point of the PowerDraw - the blow notes on holes 7-10 are lower than the draw notes, just as in holes 1-6. But what is the logic behind the PowerBender? And again, why would you choose one over the other?

Re: PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:26 pm
by IaNerd
Most 88-key pianos start with the lowest key/tone designated as A0. The first C is C1, the next C is C2, and so on. A "regular-C" harmonica starts with a C4 note, also known as "middle C". But variations such as "low C" (starting at C3) and "high C" (starting at C5) can be purchased. In my diagrams, I try to show what octave of a tuning is most likely.

Re: PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:35 pm
by IaNerd
PowerDraw is a departure from standard Richter tuning. It "corrects" what can be viewed as problems or limitations of Richter, ultimately to make various forms of expression easier and/or feasible. PowerBender takes that concept further still, and is even less similar to Richter.

Re: PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Thu May 31, 2018 6:25 am
by Paris
Agreed IanNerd!

Regards to your first question FastFouier:
Half- valving is one of Brendan's innovations and their are two major reasons for doing it. First: it allows a player to apply bends or actual vibrato, not tremolo, to blow notes.
Second: it allows for draw bends on a chromatic ONLY WHEN the blow reed is tuned to a lower pitch than the draw reed in that chamber.

A stock chromatic comes with valves (or windsavers) on all blow and draw reeds. As a result when a player blows on a given whole the draw reed is not affected by that airflow and VERY little air will slip through the draw reed due to the valve covering the whole.
If the player draws on that same hole the valve is acctuated and covers the blow reed BUT simultaneously prevents the possibility of bending that draw note because the valve is keeping the lower-pitched reed from interacting with the draw reed to create the bend.
Brendan's solution to this predicament is to remove all blow reed valves or all valves on the outside of the harp.

It should be noted that half valving a chromatic is most effective when the harp has been returned to something like PowerChromatic: CD EF# GA AB
Each blow note is a whole step lower than the draw note allowing for 11 notes of chromaticism without using the slide. The missing note - Eb - can still be played with the slide.

These same principles of half-valving and retuning apply to diatonics i.e. PowerBender or PowerDraw.
As far as I know the only diatonics you can order with valves are from Brendan's site or from Suzuki - Promaster Valved.

Re: PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Thu May 31, 2018 8:08 am
by Lizzy
You can order halfvalved powerbender or powerdraw from Seydel custom shop.

Re: PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Thu May 31, 2018 3:16 pm
by Paris
Yes, of course. I had forgotten.

Re: PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Thu May 31, 2018 4:42 pm
by Paris
In regards to your second question:
I think it is important to remember when analyzing a tuning, that every tuning is in some way a compromise.

As much as one comes to enjoy a certain tuning, a different one may offer other advantages. Such as better note groupings or home key notes being bendable in the draw position.
It is also important to look at a tuning in regards to a position, 1st 2nd 3rd 5th......anyways

If you haven't had a chance to look at the tuning diagrams of PD vs PB the only differences occur at holes 5 and 6.


I prefer PowerBender. With the E and the G in the draw position one can easily achieve chromaticism in the 2nd octave where PD and Richter cannot . All Richter players have fun bending the 6 hole! but having the 2nd position scale tonic (G)at the 6 draw is very refreshing!

PB offers access to the Eb and F# via draw bend while PD only offers the Ab bend. Hardly a relevant note to 2nd position - Gmaj. A better bend for 3rd position - Dmin.
The Eb and F# are critical blues bend notes for 1st position and 5th position with ease!

For some time I did miss having the D & F adjacent to each other on the draw for that classic 2nd position blues warble as no doubt Brendan anticipated Richter players would miss. I suspect this is why he also came out with the PD tuning. But i soon became used to having the D & F warble on the blow and at the 5/6 hole rather than the 4/5 hole and began realizing the other advantages of PB.

Like I said, every tuning is a bit of a compromise and there's lots to consider but hope some of this helps and I highly recommend both half valving and PowerBender tuning.

Re: PowerBender versus PowerDraw

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:23 am
by Brendan
Good analysis Paris. One relevant new development is the SlipSlider harmonica, which is now available in PowerBender and PowerDraw. The PowerDraw version gives all the missing bends in the middle octave that are built-in to PowerBender, so it kind of levels the playing field. You can keep that Richter style 'blues warble' you mention but still get all the benefits of the high octave of PB/PD, whilst gaining full chromaticism through bending. The benefits happen on PowerBender too, but to a lesser extent because it has more bends intrinsically.

Here is a demo for PowerBender:

I'll do a SlipSlider demo for PowerDraw in a future video, but because the middle octave is the same as Richter there is some relevant stuff in this video: