Anyone Playing the Turboslide?

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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Anyone Playing the Turboslide?

Post by Brendan » Sat Mar 25, 2017 1:47 am

Jim Antaki is someone I admire: a true harmonica innovator who has a day job as a world-renowned biomedical engineer. He's created many original harmonica products, and has been working for more than 20 years on his ELX electric harmonica: a Special 20 with optical sensors under the covers that sense the reeds' vibration.

But for me his coolest idea is the Turboslide, which uses moveable magnets to depress the pitch of steel blow reeds on the Seydel Session Steel: ... ssionsteel

In Richter tuning its only really useful in holes 1-6, where the blow is lower than the draw note. But in PowerBender or PowerDraw the Turboslide works great in all holes 1-10. Though it is intended to give chromatic notes on the blows, the unintended happy consequence is that it gives deeper draw bends as well. I explore that in this video:

TurboSlide in PowerBender Tuning

It works great in half-valved setup too. To my mind this combination is one of the best ways for diatonic players to play chromatically and get a lot of extra soul from the 10 hole harp, all with a simple push of the button.

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Re: Anyone Playing the Turboslide?

Post by Gnarly » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:10 pm

I tuned one to Major Cross--
But you knew that!

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Re: Anyone Playing the Turboslide?

Post by Brendan » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:50 am

I hadn't seen the video, thanks Gary.

One good feature of the Turboslide you didn't mention that is relevant to Major Cross is that it allows extra draw note bending.

Major Cross is a good logical tuning, but it has some semitone intervals between blow and draw notes that eliminate the possibility of bending. For many this would not be a problem, and it's explicitly advertised by Tony as not needing bends to play folk melodies.

All well and good, but personally I like every hole on a diatonic harp to bend: at least one reed, preferably both!

The Turboslide enables both blow and draw bending on any tuning where the draw note is higher than the blow, even by a semitone. In Major Cross hole 2 draw cannot be bent in standard configuration, but with the Turboslide it can.

The amount of draw bend can be determined by how much the slide lowers the blow note. Normally it would be one semitone; in MC that would give a semitone draw bend on hole 2. If the Turboslide lowers the blow a tone, you could have a tone draw bend on hole two: same as the familiar Richter bend there.

As you point out, the Turboslide is most useful in tunings where the draw is higher than the blow in every hole, such as PowerBender. In Richter and Major Cross it doesn't give any advantage in holes 7-10, but is still very worthwhile to have in that important range holes 1-6.

Add in the enhanced Overblow stability it offers, and the fact the harp plays completely normally when it's not in use, and it could be argued that the Turboslide should be considered a standard extra on any steel-reed harp.

And a very good reason to switch to the Seydel Session Steel! Since that is the model Tony is using for Major Cross, I'd say it's a no brainer to combine the two as an option in his advertising :-) What do you think Tony?

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Re: Anyone Playing the Turboslide?

Post by harpdog123 » Mon Apr 03, 2017 6:48 pm

I've tried the Turboslide, and was intrigued by the concept of using the magnetic slider to play chromatically. I loved the idea, but I had problems with the reeds playing with correct pitch when the slide was pressed. I would tune the slide notes by adjusting the magnets and the slide notes would be out of tune the next time I played it. I think the magnetic pull on the reed might be changing it's gap and therefore changing the pitch. Jim offered to send me a weaker set of magnets to try, but I never took him up on his offer.

David Pearce

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Re: Anyone Playing the Turboslide?

Post by CrawfordEs » Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:13 am

I've thought about one and may give in and try one some day (unless a new x-reed harp comes out first)
What do you think of a turbo slide, solo tuned, but the first duplicate tonic replaced with the sixth?
I think Gnarley calls it C6, or A-bop.
I seems it would be a simple transition to or from a normal chromatic.

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Re: Anyone Playing the Turboslide?

Post by Harmonicatunes » Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:18 am

Looks like a cool idea. I made a set of Major Cross Gazell method half valved harmonicas so that i could try some jazz tunes. While the harmonicas are made, I haven't gotten around to playing them yet. They're on my "to do" list, along with a bunch of other things.

The Turbo slide seems to do the same thing? The price looks reasonable, perhaps I'll try one. One question though: is it possible to replace reed plates on the Turbo Slide instruments? If yes, then they become far more viable, as there is just a one off cost for the turbo slide components, with a simple reed plate swap once reed begin to die.
Tony Eyers
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Re: Anyone Playing the Turboslide?

Post by Alan » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:54 pm

The turbo slide installs on the upper reed plate using the existing screw holes with a few different length screws in places to accommodate the slide. The cover plate has to be cut to accommodate the slide. Replacing the reed plate isn't much different than on a standard session steel harp.

It's been a few years, but I was able to send my personal session steel to the turbo folks for them to install the slides.
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