Chromaticising X-Reed Harmonicas

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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Brendan
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Chromaticising X-Reed Harmonicas

Post by Brendan » Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:26 pm


EdvinW
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Re: Chromaticising X-Reed Harmonicas

Post by EdvinW » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:58 pm

I tried an AsiaBend at HarpMeet and liked it, so I've been keeping an eye out to see when they'll be back in stock, so updates are nice:D
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Re: Chromaticising X-Reed Harmonicas

Post by EdvinW » Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:15 am

By the way: Are there any drawbacks to setting the blow reeds to a non-zero gap?
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Brendan
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Re: Chromaticising X-Reed Harmonicas

Post by Brendan » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:02 am

Zero blow reed gap is the best for the tightest, cleanest sound on the draw reeds. Having a positive gap on the blow reeds allows some air to come in through their slots when you draw, reducing the purity/intensity of the draw reed tone and making the sound a bit more 'breathy'.

However, if the chrom is airtight, you can give the blow reeds positive gap whilst retaining a good sound on the draws. Embossing all the slots helps a lot with the AsiaBend, but even without it the playability is quite good if the chromatic is well made. The Lyra works pretty well in that regard.

You can easily check the effect of zero blow reed gap on draw reed performance in a diatonic if you want.

Another chromaticising variation I should have mentioned in the video is to give the blow reeds positive gap, without additional valves. This would allow overblows as well as the natural chromatic notes from the blow reeds - two ways to get chromaticism. Since the overblows are bendable (and louder), it might sometimes be preferable to choose them over the blow reeds.

Personally I prefer the sound of valved blow notes, as this gives them more purity of tone, greater volume, and allows isolated reed expression like vibrato and bends into/off the main note. But good overblowers might prefer no valves inside, and it does offer more phrasing options with the two ways to get chromatic notes.

A third way on the AsiaBend is of course to use shallow draw bending to get the chromatic notes - similar to what I demonstrated on the XB-40 in the video. This is harder to control but can be very expressive, as you can slide into them and add a lot of vibrato.

The reason the AsiaBend is currently discontinued was because I was unsatisfied with the performance of the Easttop one without embossing - which is not within the skills of most customers. However they are developing new reedplates; when ready I'll test theirs against the Kongsheng to see what works best for this demanding application. I'm also still undecided on the best scale: the Lyra has a 4-hole repeated octave, but I'm hoping to get similar note coverage from a 3-hole repeated octave. Doing a lot of A-B testing of riffs and melodies at the moment, it's very interesting!

CrawfordEs
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Re: Chromaticising X-Reed Harmonicas

Post by CrawfordEs » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:26 am

Great stuff Brendan. I can’t wait.
Any more updates available from the double diatonic style x reed or switch harps?

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Re: Chromaticising X-Reed Harmonicas

Post by hparks » Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:45 pm

Very interested in the Asiabend version 2.0!
I'm generally happy with mine (I will try embossing the slots), but I'd like to check out the half-valved version when it comes out.

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Re: Chromaticising X-Reed Harmonicas

Post by Brendan » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:50 pm

Thanks for your interest. Investigating options, hope to have a new model in early new year. Interesting developments in the Switch-Harp zone also, similar time frame.

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