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How would YOU re-tune the Easttop EDharmonica?

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:46 pm
by IaNerd
In a ten-hole format, the venerable Standard Richter tuning spans tonally from Tonic 1 to Tonic 4. This looks like three octaves; however, its first and last octaves are missing some notes. Three complete octaves of a septatonic scale simply do not fit within ten holes.

Some tunings are extremely wide. For example, Pentabender has each octave occupying five holes. A ten-hole format can therefore sport only two of these octaves.

In this discussion I want to focus on those tunings which--entirely or nearly so--have octaves made of repeating banks of three holes. Two notable examples are Extended/Repeated Richter, and its sibling Extended/Repeated Paddy Richter (more recently called EDharmonica). Many interesting and useful alternate tunings have a structure like these two.

For people who like to re-tune harps, these compact-scale tunings can be problematic. Over 99% of stock 10-hole harps have Richter's non-repeating octaves and reversing breath pattern. One might be able to re-tune one end of a harp, but the differences accumulate and before long we need to alter reeds by four or five semitones, or even more.

I noticed recently that the EDharmonica can be had in three stock models:
1) the Easttop T008k (key of C only), 30 USD
2) the Seydel Session Steel (12 keys from G to F#), 80 USD
3) the Seydel 1847 Classic (12 keys from G to F#), 110 USD

In this discussion I want to focus on the fact that the Easttop option is a unique product for two reasons. First, it has that repeating bank of three holes. And second, it is relatively affordable. I know of no other stock harps which meet both of these criteria.

I envision that the Easttop EDharmonica promises huge potential for enthusiasts of alternate tunings. I hope that many of you on this Forum contribute in the space below your creative responses to this question: "How would YOU re-tune the Easttop EDharmonica?"
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Re: How would YOU re-tune the Easttop EDharmonica?

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:57 pm
by IaNerd

Re: How would YOU re-tune the Easttop EDharmonica?

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:12 pm
by IaNerd

Re: How would YOU re-tune the Easttop EDHarmonica?

Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 5:33 pm
by EdvinW
I don't have any harps in Extended Paddy, and I haven't thought much about them for a long time. Your post made me think though, and it made me want to take up your challenge :)

One thing I hadn't considered before was the possibilities for minor play in 3rd position, Dm on a C harp. One nice property of this is that while the major 6th and minor 7th (used in the Dorian mode) don't require bends, the minor 6th and major 7th are available as simple half step bends. As for the "large" bend in each octave, we only need the lower one (to get the minor third), which in my experience is easier to reach quickly and cleanly than the half-step one.

When playing 3rd position minor, one thing is missing though: anything resembling a tonic chord. This leads to my proposal for a retuning: Interchange the blow and draw notes in hole 3!

Code: Select all

c e b c e a c e a c
d g a d g b d g b d
The scale makes what I like to call a "snake", the pattern of draw, draw, blow, blow that arises. Snakes can be introduced into spiral-looking segments of any tuning, and the point is that it creates a pair of adjacent draw notes one fourth apart, constituting an inverted partial Dm chord. (without the 3rd, so technically not minor...)

It's not much, but as adding a fifth under the tonic is one of the most common double stops I think it would make a significant difference. Depending on preference one could reverse the notes of hole 6 and/or 9 as well, but it's a trade off between harmonics and having familiar patterns.

I've previously used snakes in spiral tunings to enhance chord capabilities, and though though a little strange they don't take that long getting used to.

Thanks for a nice thread start, and congratulations on your 400th post :)

Re: How would YOU re-tune the Easttop EDharmonica?

Posted: Mon Dec 23, 2019 3:03 pm
by IaNerd
I don't feel well qualified to "review" products per se. However, having started this thread on re-tuning the Easttop EDharmonica, I feel obligated to share my initial real-world experience with this model.

This week I received two Easttop EDharmonicas from a major seller. They arrived in brand-new, unopened condition. Neither was very playable out of the box. In both units, about a quarter of the reeds had had gapping problems. And both units showed a random mix of flat and sharp notes.

I wasn't expecting Seydel Session Steel quality for half the price. All of the issues were fixable on my benchtop. Even still, I was disappointed with the overall quality.

If you are interested in a low-cost EDharmonica and don't mind fixing up a new unit, then the Easttop is still the best value. If however you need to get (or give) an EDharmonica that plays well ootb, I would expect the Seydels to be a far more reliable bet. The Seydels also can be had in any key, whereas the Easttops are strictly Cmaj/Amin.

Re: How would YOU re-tune the Easttop EDharmonica?

Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:51 pm
by IaNerd