Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > What the highest key you use ?
What the highest key you use ?
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John M G
262 posts
Oct 14, 2018
10:42 AM
I think most of the major manufacturers stop at a high G but Seydel goes not just to a high G, but an Ab, A and a Bb
Does anyone use those higher Seydel harps for any blues numbers?

I've got a Lee Oskar high G and have never had a call to use it. My F harp is the highest regular key I ever use.
The Iceman
3682 posts
Oct 14, 2018
12:01 PM
Wow...higher than High G? Must be newer models. I'd get me a HIGH A if available in GM.

I've used High G frequently over the years in situations where I needed to cut through the mix in 2nd position.
The Iceman
2724 posts
Oct 14, 2018
12:56 PM
F is it. Next would be Eb. D. C. A. G. I do have low C, D, Eb and F as well. To me for the most part lower is cooler sounding.

I used to get Vest Pocket Hohner in high G and had both E and F# some years ago but rarely used either.
Music and travel destroy prejudice.



1848 posts
Oct 14, 2018
12:57 PM
High G (like the standard F harp) is useful for playing second position in D (or C on the F harp) for fast bluegrass, rock, or blues when you are shredding and need fast reed response, and also when you want to cut through the mix. I might use my High G once or twice a night at most. I would usually not pick it for a slow song. Currently my High G is as high as I have and use.

I carry regular F, F#, and G harps as well as Low F, Low F#, and High G harps. I choose which pitch of that key harp to use based on the song. I sometimes will start a song comping on the lower pitched harp and during my solo switch to the higher pitched harp if transitioning to fast playing fits the song. For me, F and G harps are the keys when I may pick high or low harps depending on the song.

I don't have High Ab or High A harps, though they would be worth considering.

I do have Low C, Low D, and Low E harps that I use occasionally when it fits the song, but not usually. Presently Low C is difficult for me to bend on the 2 and 3 draw. I tend to choose the Low D mainly for key of Em songs I do in 3rd because of the more mellow second and third octaves on the Low D than in the regular D.

Doug S.

Last Edited by dougharps on Oct 14, 2018 12:59 PM
3263 posts
Oct 14, 2018
3:35 PM
I have a high G and low F......2 ends of the pitch level.......not into all that high and low harps.....confusing to me
5617 posts
Oct 14, 2018
5:04 PM
F. I own a HiG but I can’t recall ever using it.
I use the F up to 3 times on a gig. I used to play it more but migrated a few songs from C to G.
Generally I’ll use standard F to play 2nd position. I don’t play LoF much in 2nd.
I don’t play a G very often in 2nd either. I expect I’d feel much the same about HiG as F if I had call to play much 2nd in D.
378 posts
Oct 14, 2018
8:29 PM
i use a 'high G' for the same reason as Iceman " to cut through the mix"

IF I know the guys Im playing with,I'll ask em to come down if they want me to take a lead---but even then they are usually to loud to use a regular G

I think a high G is useful to have for sitting in---so u can hear it
u can't blow to hard or they'll jam up---I wouldn't mind trying a High A again to cut thru the mix---I guess u really have to play
soft with a High A

Last Edited by snowman on Oct 14, 2018 8:33 PM
3544 posts
Oct 15, 2018
9:40 AM
High A's have been around for decades as both special orders as well as production line models. I bought the now discontinued Hohner Piccolo/Vest Pocket Model in the 80's in High G and High A and they're fun for doing SBWII stuff on and the "look ma, no hands" trick.
Barbeque Bob Maglinte
Boston, MA
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John M G
263 posts
Oct 15, 2018
11:14 AM
I'll have to pull the high G out and give it more of an airing before I'd look at a high A. Some interesting and useful feedback, thanks.
618 posts
Oct 15, 2018
12:30 PM
My highest is D harp.
Konstantin Kolesnichenko(Ukraine)
9981 posts
Oct 15, 2018
7:57 PM
I have an F and an F#, but in practice, since I have a low F (and a LLF) and you don't need F# that often most of the time I only go as high as E, and my D harp is the first of my harps that I'm liable to have in my pocket if I'm just out and about walking around town.

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First Post- May 8, 2009
2071 posts
Oct 15, 2018
8:40 PM
The highest I use when playing out is F. I have used F# once I think. I made a video a few years back using my high G when I was listening a lot to the Soul Brothers from South Africa.

BronzeWailer's YouTube
2561 posts
Oct 15, 2018
10:30 PM
Well, the top notes of the higher tuned harps aren't much use to me, but I have a few hybrid harps that are "high" G and A--here's the chart for the G.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
D F# A D F# A C E F# A
John M G
265 posts
Oct 15, 2018
11:52 PM
Hey Eric, I really like it. You don't mind if I steel it to play it at our local folk club sometime, it has a great feel to it. Magic! Cheers JG?
2072 posts
Oct 16, 2018
12:01 AM
By all means please do John. I am flattered! Enjoy! At least the old high G will get the odd workout...

Cheers, Eric
BronzeWailer's YouTube

Last Edited by BronzeWailer on Oct 16, 2018 12:02 AM
221 posts
Oct 16, 2018
7:30 AM
I use a High G from time to time.

Those High A models from Seydel look nice with the thin combs for a smaller embouchure - it makes sense in theory. Can anyone comment on them?

Last Edited by AppalachiaBlues on Oct 16, 2018 7:30 AM
1822 posts
Oct 17, 2018
3:29 AM
Love it, Bronzewailer. Reminds me of DeFord Bailey. And it's nice to be reminded that 2nd position isn't compulsory.
The Iceman
3685 posts
Oct 17, 2018
7:26 AM
I suggest to my students that they buy a High G harmonica and practice all their different bend/TB techniques on it - not so much because they will actually use this harmonica in performance, but more so they can refine and strengthen the depth of these techniques.

I remember back in the early 90's wowing Joe Filisko in his basement when I played "Whammer Jammer" on a High G - even that 10 hole exhale bend!

J. Giels meets Alvin and the Chipmunks!
The Iceman
580 posts
Oct 17, 2018
11:49 AM
I use the High "G" quite often when Speed is needed in 2nd position, playing in "D." Greg Jones made me a Seydel custom, hybrid, or optimized, which ever you want to call it, so it is not quite as high pitched.
And I Thank You !!

Last Edited by KC69 on Oct 17, 2018 11:52 AM
John M G
266 posts
Oct 17, 2018
2:33 PM
Iceman, "J. Giels meets Alvin and the Chipmunks!" love it :-)
2073 posts
Oct 17, 2018
7:06 PM
Thanks for the kind words Andrew. I have listened to
DeFord Bailey but haven't ventured there yet. On the to-do list...

BronzeWailer's YouTube
2195 posts
Oct 18, 2018
11:04 AM
I had to use a high G only once for a Pennsylvania Lottery Commmercial
223 posts
Oct 20, 2018
9:57 AM
@Diggsblues - that's a good example of where High G works well.

It might sound too high playing alone at home, but with a band, it can work well. It depends on the song, and the role of the harp within that song.
143 posts
Oct 28, 2018
1:39 PM
Seldom use my High G, A and Ab. To my knowledge, only Seydel is making the High Ab and A. Tend to lean more to the lower register, especially with F and F#. All depends on the song. Keep a LG and LLF in my case, but don't use them very often. More inclined to use 6-10 on the lower registers and drop down or go up an octave at the break. But then, I'm only entertaining myself, so it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks...besides, no one is listening to me in my woodshed. (Garage studio)
3270 posts
Oct 31, 2018
7:52 AM
you dont use A????what about those in E???so many do.....actually most I back are in G......but whatever key they are in.....its second nature to me
144 posts
Nov 01, 2018
9:23 AM
@groyster1: Use regular A and Ab constantly, just not the high A or High Ab except on occasion when I feel like hitting the high end.
4294 posts
Nov 06, 2018
12:17 PM

If you are doubting its potential, check out Lee Oskar's playing. You can also jam out to a fair amount of Freddie King in 2nd position.
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