Overblows on chroms?

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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Overblows on chroms?

Post by EdvinW » Sun Feb 21, 2021 10:38 pm

I was taking a chromatic apart just now to check on a buzzing in-side valve; I must have damaged it somehow last time I opened it, and it wouldn't lie flat. I couldn't bend it back, and since it was a fairly high note, a hole 10 A, I thought to try and just remove it to see how it would play. Valves are sometimes omitted in the highest holes after all.

I assembled the harp, and not only did the hole play just fine, to my delight I found an overblow popping right out! It wasn't harder to play than on a diatonic, with a nice sound.

It's a redundant note, sure, but this got me kind of thrilled! What new opportunities could this open up? What kind of new tunings are possible if we can "add a new row to the diagram", in addition to slide in/out notes and bends if half valved, for at least part of the range of a chromatic? One application could be to add a new top note, which could actually be useful in my standard tuning.

My question to you is: Do you know of any players who use OBs with slide-harps? Are there any tunings for chroms that are designed with overblows in mind?

I know Brendan's Asiabend lets you play overblows, but that's the only example I can think of. Does anyone know if there are players who regularly use them?

I still have a lot of figuring out to do, and it's still not very mature idea, I just got excited and wanted to share this right away :D
Edvin Wedin

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Brendan
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Re: Overblows on chroms?

Post by Brendan » Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:27 pm

Andre Coelho from Portugal is making something of a specialty setting up chromatics with no valves for bending and overblows. He has some nice videos and photos on his Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/andre.coelho.1694059

Here's an old thread where I talked about overblows and how they could be used in chromatics, which might be of interest:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=23&hilit=antaki

andrecoelho
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Re: Overblows on chroms?

Post by andrecoelho » Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:32 am

Hi there! Thanks for mentioning Brendan :)

Here is a demo a did sometime ago with a slide diatonic Chromonica 10 hole. In the end I am doing the same phrase with the slide and overblows.

Though the overblows are not as bendable as on the custom diatonic I work on, indeed you can get them easily on 4 5 6. On 7 9 and 10 they are more challenging but possible. It does give a new interesting range of choices and worth exploring!

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_ ... 2&sfnsn=mo

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Brendan
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Re: Overblows on chroms?

Post by Brendan » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:37 am

Welcome Andre! Good to have you here🙂

That chromatic is sounding great, and overblows sound good. Of course embossing makes a big difference on chromatics, but it's only half the story: the mouthpiece/slide assembly is critical for good airtightness.

What do you do to the leaky 270 Hohner slider? A quick fix is taping the slide with Magic tape. It works well, but doesn't last forever, you need to redo at some stage. Or are you going further and grinding down the sides of the slide channel? That's a more satisfying permanent solution, but takes greater skill and more time.

To me, a very well set-up valveless chromatic in Richter tuning would be an obvious choice for Overblow diatonic players who want to take their playing to the next level. They can retain all their overbending chops and licks but have them in two keys, plus use slider notes when they work better.

That's the point I get to in the musings in the "Overblows - Where to Next?" thread above, after exploring various alternatives. Except I speculate that the perfect Richter valveless chromatic would be the same size and hole spacing as a diatonic.

Since that's not around just yet, a good alternative for you to promote in your custom work would be the Richter chroms that can be found now. The Koch chromatics and Hohner Slide Harp, whilst discontinued, can be found second-hand on eBay. Also Seydel will make chromatics in Richter tuning.

Personally I don't like Richter Tuning much, but since it's what all the overblows guys use, if you can give them amazing playing Richter valveless chroms that overbend easily, it could be a good market for you! I sold a lot of my Richter CX-10s when I was making them.

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Re: Overblows on chroms?

Post by andrecoelho » Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:22 am

Hi there!

Indeed, the most leakage normally comes from the mouthpiece and slide assembly, plus the comb. This is where I probably spend the most time tinkering to get the action good and a tighter sound. I have worked on 64's to get them half valved and diminished tuning in A and Bb. They were Suzuki's, so the two piece mouthpiece sure helped a lot. But when you get to the 270 having your power comb sure solves a lot of problems of the wooden comb. So one part less in the equation.

Then there is still the mouthpiece... I tried the magic tape on different chromatics and it is great but like you said, not a permanent solution. I also find that the tolerances on the slide are good except that the top and bottom are a little shorter than they should.

Still experiment with embossing the U piece to close that small gap. I also work on those parts to remove small burrs that catch the slide and makes the action bad. I also think there is too much tension on the spring sometimes and I work on it to make it softer. Some people seem to enjoy that a lot. I haven't adventured myself working on the sides much yet but would love to talk to you sometime to get some ideas.

These are fantastic instruments to unleash the creativity and I hope more people adventure themselves on that. Your twin system for diatonics to be layout like that is one of the greatest ideas I have seen, and I will sure try that at some point!

Thank you for those suggestions on the chroms. In Portugal it is not so easy to find 10 hole chroms, but every now and then I can get one. Of course working on a new instrument will save a lot of time, so I really think I will try to reach Seydel to see if we can think of something. Back in Brazil, my home country, I could try Hering, but at the moment they are re structuring, so not the best time.

Best regards,
André

Brendan wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:37 am
Welcome Andre! Good to have you here🙂

That chromatic is sounding great, and overblows sound good. Of course embossing makes a big difference on chromatics, but it's only half the story: the mouthpiece/slide assembly is critical for good airtightness.

What do you do to the leaky 270 Hohner slider? A quick fix is taping the slide with Magic tape. It works well, but doesn't last forever, you need to redo at some stage. Or are you going further and grinding down the sides of the slide channel? That's a more satisfying permanent solution, but takes greater skill and more time.

To me, a very well set-up valveless chromatic in Richter tuning would be an obvious choice for Overblow diatonic players who want to take their playing to the next level. They can retain all their overbending chops and licks but have them in two keys, plus use slider notes when they work better.

That's the point I get to in the musings in the "Overblows - Where to Next?" thread above, after exploring various alternatives. Except I speculate that the perfect Richter valveless chromatic would be the same size and hole spacing as a diatonic.

Since that's not around just yet, a good alternative for you to promote in your custom work would be the Richter chroms that can be found now. The Koch chromatics and Hohner Slide Harp, whilst discontinued, can be found second-hand on eBay. Also Seydel will make chromatics in Richter tuning.

Personally I don't like Richter Tuning much, but since it's what all the overblows guys use, if you can give them amazing playing Richter valveless chroms that overbend easily, it could be a good market for you! I sold a lot of my Richter CX-10s when I was making them.

EdvinW
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Re: Overblows on chroms?

Post by EdvinW » Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:29 pm

André: That's really cool, both the harmonica and the playing! Thanks for sharing! Does the slider raise every note 1 half step? Especially in the bottom octave there seems to be many interesting ways to tune the slide-in notes, depending on whether you prioritise more chords or more clean notes.

Brendan: That's right, I remember that post! Last time I read it was before I learned overblows. Together with the apparent lack of OB-chrom players, I guess that made the notion somewhat abstract. Probably that's why I didn't think of it yesterday. There are good thoughts in there!
Edvin Wedin

andrecoelho
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Re: Overblows on chroms?

Post by andrecoelho » Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:58 pm

Hi Devin!

Yes, half step on those ones. But you can go crazy and try different things. I am all for that!

One of that cool sounds you can get there but wasn't on the video is sustaining a bend and then pressing the slide. You can can get amazing trumpet like tones on 2 and 3, I tried playing over All Blues and I could get some of those precise imprecisions on Miles Davis pitch and phrasing that just didn't sound as cool on a standard chromatic or diatonic.
An augmented or diminished tuned half valved chromatic is something worth exploring using this technique.

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