Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Equal Temperment, Just Intonation, and Compromised
Equal Temperment, Just Intonation, and Compromised
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Philosofy
181 posts
Apr 29, 2009
1:26 PM
Now, I don't want to start a thread about which is better. We've had enough of those. IIRC, one is good for single notes, the other better for chords, and the other is a compromise. What I would like to know is which mass produced harps use what type of tuning?
MrVerylongusername
283 posts
Apr 29, 2009
2:54 PM
I think this is the current situation. Corrections welcome.

Hohner's are all compromise except Golden Melodies

GMs are Equal tuned as are almost all the Far Eastern made harps - Suzuki, Bushman, Tombo (inc. Lee Oskar) the exception being the Suzuki Fabulous which is available in a JI version.

The Hering Vintage 1923 is the only affordable OoTB harp in JI as far as I know, although Seydel now offer it for a slight extra charge. (Their main models being a compromise tuning too)

Last Edited by on Apr 29, 2009 11:17 PM
Philosofy
183 posts
Apr 29, 2009
3:21 PM
Were the pre-war Marine Bands Just Intonation?
MrVerylongusername
285 posts
Apr 29, 2009
5:02 PM
Yes.
isaacullah
196 posts
Apr 29, 2009
7:36 PM
Does that mean that Suzuki Bluesmasters are Equal? I thought it was implied that when a harp model has "blues" in the title that it's NOT tuned equal (ie. it IS tuned compromised or JI). Can anyone confirm that all suzukis are tuned equal? I'm mainly just curious if my "blues in the name" scheme holds any water...
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The magnificent YouTube channel of the internet user known as "isaacullah"
Zhin
275 posts
Apr 29, 2009
7:50 PM
isaac, the bluesmaster is indeed in ET.

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http://www.youtube.com/harmonicazhin

Last Edited by on Jan 11, 2012 1:34 AM
snakes
206 posts
Apr 29, 2009
8:54 PM
Zhin,
I totally respect you as a better player than myself, but I have to say that I own at least a dozen Suzuki's, 6 or 8 Lee Oskar's, way too many Hohners of several models, and two Seydel's (a Blues Session and a 1847 Silver). My favorites are the Suzuki's. Second would be the 1847 Silver. The Bluesmaster and Promaster reeds are replaceable as well. I am sorry you had a bad experience with Suzuki's, but I think they have the best value of any harp I have tried. I get the Bluesmasters for $21.99 and the Promasters for $41.99. My Seydel Silver was $89.95!
isaacullah
198 posts
Apr 29, 2009
10:23 PM
hmmm... that's interesting. I've only owned one suzuki (a C folkmaster). It was okay I guess, but i didn;t really care for it. Something was "amss". It was their $12 model, though, so I reserved judgment until I'd tried another model. I wrecked it trying an early hand at customization, so i can't go back now and remind myself how it sounded. Now that I know about tunings and such, I'm actually very careful to try to play appropriate tunes with appropriate tuning systems. I wonder now if allthe people who I've heard raving about suzukis on the internet are mainly single note players? An the people who rave about other harps are (like me) folks who like to throw chords around a bit as well? It's pretty interesting to know about different comanies marketing strategys too. So far, the only company that I've been COMPLETELY satisfied with is Seydel (that's out of Hohner, Suzuki, Tombo, and Huang), so I guess I'm still sticking with them! :)
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The magnificent YouTube channel of the internet user known as "isaacullah"
Zhin
278 posts
Apr 30, 2009
1:43 AM
"I wonder now if allthe people who I've heard raving about suzukis on the internet are mainly single note players? An the people who rave about other harps are (like me) folks who like to throw chords around a bit as well?"

yep!

some models are JI/compromised though! But not the Bluesmaster and Promaster.

I think they look very pretty and shiny though. Those chrome plates are impressive to show off. Most people in the audience when they do come up to the stage to check out my gear they always notice my backup spare Suzuki harps that I barely play anymore. lolz!

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http://www.youtube.com/harmonicazhin
DaDoom
93 posts
Apr 30, 2009
2:03 AM
Hmm an interesting discussion here. I can only say that so far all the Suzukis I have bought are of really good quality. Especially the Hammond Mouth Organ is a really superb piece of equipment - took off the coverplates the other day and that thing looks perfect through and through.

But also the FireBreath, the ProMaster, the valved ProMaster and the Bluesmaster all seem very good to me. And they also play very good. The fact that the reeds are welded instead of riveted hasn't been much of an issue until now: I never had to exchange a reed (and I don't know if I ever will).

That being said I lately bought a Seydel Blues Solist (right after isaacullah pointed out how happy he is with that brand) and I was very surprised. The Blues Solist is the cheapest harp I've bought so far and it ranks amongst the best in terms of sound and quality. It's loud, bends well and even overblows (though it squeals a bit on sustained OBs). But for that price it's almost too good to be true.

@topic
My ears are just not good enough to make out any big differences between Just tuning and Equal temperament. I play single notes and chords with both types of tuning and it never sounds like a cacophony. Maybe I need more practice and experience or maybe the differences are so small that it just doesn't matter.

Last Edited by on Apr 30, 2009 2:05 AM
Andrew
260 posts
Apr 30, 2009
3:06 AM
I agree with DaDoom about the difference between the two tunings being irrelevant. A piano is ET, yet no-one complains that the chords sound horrible. And when you are playing a harp it's unheard of not to bend each note a little for effect - we aren't robots, we're musicians. And when you play a loud draw chord on a MB, all the notes are going to get bent a little.

Last Edited by on Apr 30, 2009 3:07 AM
Zhin
279 posts
Apr 30, 2009
3:53 AM
Yeah some people don't hear the diff. Everyone hears things a little differently for sure. That's why we all have preferences for sound.

I really can hear the differences though even back when I didn't know anything about harp (let alone how to bend a note.. lol) I could hear it.

To me, ET sounds very harsh on the chords in comparison to JI or compromised. At that time, I didn't know it was the tuning so I assumed it was the comb material or overall build quality of the harp to be blamed.


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http://www.youtube.com/harmonicazhin

Last Edited by on Jan 12, 2012 2:25 AM
Zhin
280 posts
Apr 30, 2009
3:59 AM
I've even conducted one experiment where I showed up with only ET tuned LO's and Suz. BM's and PM's (all ET tuned) and jammed with the guys i regularly jammed with.

At first no one said anything.

After the jam, the guitarist asked me if there was something different about my setup. He said my tone was a little more harsher than usual (this guy is a cream fan, it's not like he can't appreciate harshness...).

The next jam, on the following day, I used the exact same setup but brought my Hohner set. The whole band said I sounded better than the last time!!!

It's not because they are Hohners. It was simply because they were all compromised JI tuned that's all.

I want to say that regardless of my opinions...

If I was primarily playing single lines, jazz, or ethnic/world music I would go with ET for sure. Which harp, I don't know.

Suzuki is very popular with single line specialist players!

If you're obsessed enough you can always retune your own favorite harp to whatever temperament you prefer.

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http://www.youtube.com/harmonicazhin

Last Edited by on Jan 12, 2012 2:25 AM
chromaticblues
28 posts
Apr 30, 2009
5:25 AM
I would agree with zhin on most of that. I don't know about the quality part. I personally believe that Suzuki and lee oskars are a higher quality harmonica then the German harps, but for me they don't sound as good as hohners. I have a love hate thing with hohner! Marine bands are like a hot woman that want be true! You gotta have it, but you know your going to be let done! Or something like That.
As far as the tuning thing goes anyone can tune their own harp. It is very easy to do. I tune all of my harps when they are brand new. I have not found one yet that tuned perfect. Anyone that buys harps should buy a cheap little chromatic tuner and tune your harps. Go to Pat Missins site check out what says. Then Rick epping on the hohner USA site has a short informative explination of hohners tuning.
Buddha
335 posts
Apr 30, 2009
6:02 AM
Original Marine Band Tuning Cent Offsets from Equal Temperament
Hole #____1_____2____3____4_____5____6____7_____8____9____10
Blow ____0___-14___+2____0___-14___+2____0___-14___+2_____0
Draw ___+4____+2__-12___+4___-27___+6__-12____+4__-27____+6

Modern Marine Band Tuning
Hole #____1_____2____3____4_____5____6____7_____8____9____10
Blow______0___-12___+1____0___-12___+1____0___-12___+1_____0
Draw_____+2____+1__-11___+2___-12___+3__-11____+2__-12____+3

MS Richter Tuning
Hole #____1_____2____3____4_____5____6____7_____8____9____10
Blow______0___-10___+1____0___-10___+1____0___-10____+1____0
Draw____+2____+1___-9___+2____+3___+3___-9____+2____+3___+3
chromaticblues
29 posts
Apr 30, 2009
7:15 AM
Yes that's the page was talking about from hohner. I have heard a lot of good things about prewar Marine Bands, but I have to say I tried tuning some Harps this way and it just didn't seem right to me. And I love blues music(well a lot of it). I guess if that was the way all harps were tuned I and/or we would be use to it. I think the chords sounded really good, the draw 5 & 9 are just to flat for me! The draw 6 & 10 seemed sharp. I made the draw 6 & 10 +4 cents and draw 5 & 9 -14 and that seemed better, but this is something you'll have to do yourself.
I like to do things the easy way when ever possible. so this next part could save you a lot of time if this is new to you. When you check a new harp there will be readings all over the place! If you have not done this I'm telling you, you'll be amazed how out of tune harps are brand new!! I don't assume anything is wrong or right even after I check them. I right down the values and then play it for as long as I can. Sometimes it just sounds wrong right away, but sometimes it sounds really good. So I started keeping track of what sounded good and guess what. You need to read Pat missin's site before you do what I did!! He is a very smart man!!! His version of a compromised tuning is perfect for me. Everyone will hear it different, but he can give the info you need so your not just stabbing in the dark!

Last Edited by on Feb 10, 2011 8:52 AM
sopwithcamels266
14 posts
Apr 30, 2009
3:58 PM
I never knew until recently about ET comp or jt.
I simply bought the ones that I thought sounded right for me.

One thing I do know is my ear can tell a HUGE difference between ET and comp, or j tuning.

I would have thought anyone could hear that difference its so apparant.

I don't go along with the piano ET/ harp ET thing someone posted.There are different forces at work here.
Zhin
291 posts
May 01, 2009
1:52 AM
I like having both tunings. I actually do still use Suzuki Bluesmaster's and Lee Oskars on the rare occasion I decide I don't want to play ANY chords. Other than that, they are just backups in case a reed breaks on stage.

By the way Octave chords sound EQUALLY GOOD on either tuning!

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http://www.youtube.com/harmonicazhin

Last Edited by on May 01, 2009 3:47 AM
chromaticblues
37 posts
May 01, 2009
9:48 AM
Has anyone else experimented with their own versions of JI or comprimissed tunings? I'd like to hear what other people have found.
isaacullah
203 posts
May 01, 2009
10:17 AM
I tried the Steve Baker compromised tuning that he suggests in "The Harp Handbook". The upper and middle octaves sounded really good, but the low octave draw chord sounds like a bag of cats all getting their nuts chopped off at the same time. Maybe I messed it up, but my tuner says all the notes are what he says they should be.
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The magnificent YouTube channel of the internet user known as "isaacullah"
chromaticblues
39 posts
May 01, 2009
10:29 AM
outch!
chromaticblues
40 posts
May 01, 2009
10:30 AM
I'll have to look at it when I get home. I don't remember his version, but I'll get back.
oldwailer
701 posts
May 01, 2009
11:00 AM
Wow--this is the best discussion of this topic I've read for a while. Here is my 2 cents:

I have a Bushman (equal) Delta Frost and a MB (JI), both in B flat. Both are out of the box, except for a little tweak here and there.

I personally don't believe I have the kind of hearing that can tell a lot of difference in the tunings when I try them side by side--maybe the chords are a little sweeter on the MB.

What I do notice is, when I want to play in F--I Always reach for the MB first. My hand just does it--I will only reach for that Bushman if the MB is clogged up.

I think it's a visceral thing--different viscerals might have different results.

When I tune my own--I usually go for the original MB tuning that Buddha laid out above--which, I think, is a 7-limit JI scale--it has a very sweet sound and it is the tuning that Little Walter used--good enough for me. . .
Buddha
340 posts
May 01, 2009
11:04 AM
I harps I have built for Steve Baker have his compromised tuning. I don't find the chords to be harsh at all.

What kind of tuner are you using?
chromaticblues
41 posts
May 01, 2009
1:23 PM
Yeah I don't know about that tuning. It seems to be more of a Jazz tuning. Everyone hears things different! I knew a guy that was like buddha before the internet. He was a great harp player and the first guy I had heard of that use to take brand new harps apart seal the comb and tune his own harps. About 20 years ago this guy told me what he did to his harps at a gig I was playing. At first I that he was full of shit, but he called me like he said he would and showed be how to work my own harps.
This is what he told me as far as tunings go. Tune blow 1,3,4,6,7,9&10 at 0 cents(or at ET)
draw2,6,10 at 0 cents
Thats easy enough, but this next part I didn't understand at the time and did a lot of experimenting.
The blow 2,5,8 & the draw 3,5,7&9 you can set anywhere from -10 cents to -20 cents
What ever value you set those at. Set the draw 1,4&8 1/4 that value but positve to 0 cents.
He told me this is the trick to making smooth chords! I found it to work best at -16 and +4 for 1,4&8
draw!
That is one way to do it!
isaacullah
207 posts
May 01, 2009
1:40 PM
Probably the mistak is not the tuning system, but with me as a tuner. I use a cheap Korg CA-30. Perhaps I had it set wrong (A444 instead of A440 or something). Also, could be that I just overfiled a reed and read it wrong off the meter. I'll have to get his book out and the tuner and the harp and re-check what I measured. Plus, I perhaps overexaggerated how bad it sounded. The 1234 draw cord DID sound bad, but perhaps not as bad as newly eunuched cats. :) I think I the 2 draw was the one that was off, but i haven't played that harp in a while. I'll double check it and let you know.
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The magnificent YouTube channel of the internet user known as "isaacullah"
chromaticblues
42 posts
May 02, 2009
5:56 AM
No isaacullah I don't think you are wrong. I looked at steve bakers book last night and found some confusing things. First I know Hohner tunes their harps at 442 HZ. Maybe they used 444 when this book was writen? I don't know! I bought mine when it first came out, didn't understand it becuase it was in Hz and not cents(and that just doesn't make sence) sorry couldn't help myself!
I think 1 hz is the same as 10 cents on your tuner. So that being the case. He stated Hohner tuned their harps with the draw 1&2 10 cents sharp and his ideal tuning is also. Iv'e heard steve baker play in second position and his harp was not tuned like that.No I don't think so!! This was either a misprint or I'm not getting it or something. The point is I see why your harp sounded like that.
In the future I would suggest tuning all your harps at 442 hz. Try retuning that harp with the 1&2 draw to 0 cents and tune the three draw to the same setting you have the 2 blow. That sould fix your draw chord and setting to the 3 draw to the 2 blow will make them sound good together!
Tell me what you have for readings on the rest of the harp and maybe we can get this thing to the point where you can use it!
If you want anymore help state what kind of music you play and what harps you use now.

Last Edited by on May 02, 2009 6:19 AM
Buddha
343 posts
May 02, 2009
8:28 AM
I made some harps for Kit Gamble who is the mastermind behind all of Lee Oskar's special tunings like the tuning used in Carlos delJunco's B-Thing.

Kit had me tune his harps to what he calls Harmony Tuning. Its wicked cool for chords. I'll see if I can post the tuning. Basically nothing is tuned slightly flat and certain notes are sharpened. I know that I can offer it if you're buying one of my harps.

Last Edited by on May 02, 2009 8:29 AM
jimjam
1 post
Feb 09, 2011
6:59 PM
This is one of the best tuning threads I've ever read.


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"If you want to hide, find a stage."
~John Popper

Last Edited by on Feb 09, 2011 7:02 PM
nacoran
3797 posts
Feb 09, 2011
7:19 PM
Seydel lets you pick!

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Nate
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Thievin' Heathen
320 posts
May 31, 2014
5:31 PM
I know this is an old thread and there is probably something more recent along the same topic, but it is the hit I got when I was googling so..,
I believe I understand E.T. as being 12 equal spacings between the notes in an octave and as I have been experimenting with J.I. tuning it got me wondering(?). It would seem that fretless stringed instruments have the choice to either play the chords fingered the way it sounds most pleasing to the ear or finger the chords the way it fits in with everyone else's tuning. And that got me thinking about all the tuners that I see clamped to guitar heads. I doubt J.I. is one of the settings and it must be that the E.T. System has also influenced all but a few of the fret boards. Are guitar frets spaced for E.T.?
STME58
853 posts
Jun 01, 2014
12:04 AM
@Thievin' HEathen,

You might find this interesting
Fret spacing and temperment

I did. The only non 12 tone equal temperament I had heard of before reading this was 5 tone or pentatonic. The article mentions that fretted instruments with the octave divided into 19 tones is the next most common after 12 tones.

After reading this I can see why harp players fiddle with temperament and most other musicians don't. Changing temperament is a real pain on a chromatic instrument.

You are right about the choices fretless players have. As a trombone (essentially a fretless instrument) player I am aware of these and one other option, being way out of tune!

Last Edited by STME58 on Jun 01, 2014 12:16 AM
GMaj7
432 posts
Jun 01, 2014
5:45 AM
I'm not completely sure I understand Thievin' Heathen's post or question but I would suggest that too much emphasis is placed on temperament and not enough on frequency basis. In other words, I don't think I've ever really heard a harp on a recording or in a live setting and thought to myself how much better the sound would be if the harp were ET, 7JI, etc.. etc.. but I sure can say that there are cases where the the harp was tuned way too sharp. This is very noticeable in rack playing and acoustic stuff
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Greg Jones
16:23 Custom Harmonicas
greg@1623customharmonicas.com
1623customharmonicas.com
1847
1842 posts
Jun 02, 2014
3:54 PM
i bought a special 20 in country tuning
i have no idea what to do with it
so i tuned it back normal


the base pitch was 446!
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i get a lot of request when i play my harmonica
"but i play it anyway"
nacoran
7793 posts
Jun 02, 2014
5:41 PM
STM58, back in the day it was a big deal, but by back in the day I'm talking waaaay back in the day. There have been many different attempts to resolve the issue. You might have heard of 'The Well Tempered Clavier'.

Sadly, it looks like the musical samples in this article are no longer active, but it's still worth a read. (I'm being good- I had opportunities to make puns at both resolve and read, but I didn't go there... admitting I have a problem is the first step.)

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/music_box/2010/04/the_wolf_at_our_heels.html

Keyboards are reviving the issue a bit. It's much easier to have an electronic switch that you can flip to retune than to retune a whole piano.

Now, here is a question for the electronics and marketing guys- there are pitch shifters, which I presume just use simple math to shift frequencies- is there enough processing power in a pedal to recognize notes on the fly and adjust them just a smidge (I'm guessing there is if there is autotune) so that you could change the temperament of an instrument in real time? If there was, would the slight sharpness or flatness coming from the instrument compared to what's coming from the amp throw people off? Could you autotune yourself into a different temperament?

(Quick Google-Fu suggests maybe it is done at least in studio:

http://www.roelhollander.eu/en/432-tuning/how-to-changing-the-concert-pitch-and-temperament/

Now all someone needs to do is design the pedal and see if it throws people off. One pedal could solve the debate over which harp to buy. :) (Well, we'd still argue over side vents, I guess.)

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Nate
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First Post- May 8, 2009
STME58
856 posts
Jun 02, 2014
8:28 PM
Nate, I've read the Slate article before . It is intriguing to me and I would like to read the book reviewed in the near future.

As Thievin' Heathen suggested, fretless instrument players do this all the time. It is one of the skills learned in playing in small ensembles.

I have posted this before but it is quite good and quite appropriate to this discussion. Take a look as these trombonists describe and demonstrate how to move from the pitch the tuner says is in tune (ET) to a "locked in" chord. ( link should start at 54:54 part of interest here ends at about 58:44)

Locking in a chord

"Just because a tuner tells you your note is in tune does not mean you are in tune with the people around you."

We harp players do not have the flexibility on all notes that a trombonist or a cellist does, but there are a lot of notes we can bend to "lock in" a chord when we are playing a single note of that cord with other musicians, irrespective of the temperament the harp is tuned to.

Last Edited by STME58 on Jun 02, 2014 10:22 PM


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