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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Simple alternative tunings?
Simple alternative tunings?
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1667 posts
Nov 11, 2020
9:00 AM
It so happens that I have several C harps of a cheapo, but not unplayable, variety, and I´ve tuned one to Country, one to raised 6D and one to lowered 3D.
I´m not big on alternate tunings, and normally prefers to change position, but these five or six instruments are now just sitting there, a bit provocatively.

Anyone got useful ideas for other simple re-tunings -- and I must emphasize "simple", since I´m an absolutely terrible klutz, and I´m even having problems taking off the covers.
606 posts
Nov 11, 2020
8:06 PM
The best,and simplest retuning i have found is where you drop the 7 draw down to give you a flat(ish) 3rd.
Just makes the high end a bit more "user" friendly imo.
2914 posts
Nov 12, 2020
12:51 AM
I think the two best simple retunings are Paddy Richter and country tuning.
But you’ve already tried those two.

Last Edited by Gnarly on Nov 13, 2020 8:58 PM
725 posts
Nov 12, 2020
6:26 AM
You've probably already tried it, but I think most of the time you'd use a Country tuned harp then "Melody-Maker" tuning works even better (combined CT + Paddy Richter). In second position the flat-second wouldn't be a common note choice in any case, and you benefit by having a stable note for the 2nd scale degree ie blow 3.

Also it's the perfect tuning for 5th position in my view, as it gives a stable 4th note, and you'd never really want the "lost" major third.

I suspect you already know all this, but may be useful for others

Last Edited by GamblersHand on Nov 12, 2020 9:29 AM
1668 posts
Nov 12, 2020
10:21 AM
@GamblersHand:Yes, I´ve tried a few MM:s, but, for some strange reason, I don´t let them see much action. The 3DDD is of course a missed note but not such a big deal (and I´ve put on valves in order to reach that one by bending down), also I like the Minor chord you get on blow notes. Still, there´s something that keeps me from them.
Thanks anyway -- and maybe I should try a straight Paddy R?
368 posts
Nov 13, 2020
7:19 AM
I see you want to do your own tunings. I do use a few of the melody makers though not in the key they are necessarily labeled. I use oskars Em in the key of G for Mack the Knife for example.
I keep a chart of each harmonica I have and what not

i did want to mention with a C harp paddy tuned you lose the Ab like you mention. So I get that note by bending the A down to Ab on the exhale.

That kinda brings you over to Pt Gazell method of setting his harps up. I have a couple of his but did set one up myself with moderate results though I tend to me all thumbs when working on my harps.

But I figure if you're setting up some of your extra harps you might want to have a go at it.

Last Edited by Spderyak on Nov 13, 2020 1:44 PM
101 posts
Nov 16, 2020
7:31 AM
One can make a so-called "Easy Third" harp pretty easily. You have to lower the 2 and 3 hole draw reeds' by two half steps each. So, on a C harp, hole 2 draw drops from G to F while hole 3 draw drops from B to A.
Blow will be the CEG pattern holes 1-10. Draw will be DFA, holes 1-6 only. You can get octaves that weren't available before, nice for playing in third position, reggae and more.

A complete mod to have the CEG and DFA pattern 1-10 requires reed swapping on draw reeds 7-10, something I have yet to attempt.

You can lower reeds pitches by applying a tiny bit of Blutak poster putty on the free end of a reed. Pretty fiddley work there, but doable, not that hard to make.

Another way to make alt tunings is to marry different reedplates from different Lee Oskar tunings. Many interesting possiblities that route.
check out this link for details on that. Good luck, have fun. Peace.


Last Edited by ROBERT TEMPLE II on Nov 16, 2020 7:35 AM
1669 posts
Dec 02, 2020
9:41 AM
Thank you for suggestions, Robert Temple.
Thing is with me that I´ve tried countless times to apply Blue-tak to reeds, and the invariable result is that the reed dies. Every bloody time. No matter the amount, carefulness etc.
This causes some rather grave irritation in me and a general lowering of pleasantness standards in my home -- but I fully agree that an 2D:F and 3D:A would be a very interesting tuning!
Filing down reeds a whole step is something I guess also would result in misery, and I´ve been warned off it.

But say that I would be interested in assembling a LO reed plate combo with holes 1-2-3D creating a minor triad, what harps would be the best to choose?
(It gets a little bit thick in the head when I try to work this out.)

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