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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Altered tuning advice
Altered tuning advice
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247 posts
Dec 20, 2020
3:52 PM
Since I play blues pretty much exclusively I’d like to explore a way to get the flat third in the second octave with a note that’s more stable than the 6OB. So ......sharpen the 6 draw or lower the 7? It seems the 7 would give a smoother breath pattern to get the minor pentatonic scale in the 2nd octave.
36 posts
Dec 20, 2020
4:16 PM
Not 100% sure but what about those Will Wilde tuned harps? That might get you where you want to go.
248 posts
Dec 20, 2020
4:22 PM
Hi Tony. Those harps have multiple notes changed.
607 posts
Dec 20, 2020
4:46 PM
Lowering the 7 draw is done by quite a few players.Todd Parott is well known for doing this.
If you just want to try it out just use some Blu tack(US Poster putty)on the reed to lower its pitch.
Easy to apply and easy to remove.
If you do a forum search on Blu Tack there is a lot of info
641 posts
Dec 20, 2020
8:23 PM

I have all 12 keys with flatted 7 draw. I feel for blues in second, that change ties the High end of harp to the low end in a much blusier way.


thinkabout it---Todd Parrot is pretty dogone good-he likes it

Im so open minded and patient I now have most keys in "nat minor" tuned as well.

I also have some melody makers for jazzier Maj 7 songs

Pt is because Im patient and not stubborn. My muscle memory and ear memory , adjusts in seconds--It does'nt sound weird at all.

Dont be afraid to research and learn how tune yr harps. its really important in the long hall.

Definitely tune yr 7draw down. leave 6 hole alone.

Theirs 1 really good song, that has a “raised 6 draw “On the road again -Canned Heat---I have 1 harp especially for that song. And that’s it---u can play it with a normal 6 draw---just like it better on that song using "Owl's" tuning


249 posts
Dec 21, 2020
12:10 PM
Snowman, I would tend to agree that altering the 7 gives a smoother breath pattern for minor pentatonic in the 2nd octave than altering 6. I would lose the 3/7 draw octave that I actually use a fair bit.
642 posts
Dec 21, 2020
6:30 PM
ya----I love octave splits as well---but I think in the long run, youll find yrself using the upper octave more with flatted 7 draw.

however u get a really cool sounding warlbe on 6n 7 draw it sounds like a chromatic for 1 second.

Hope i didn't sound like a prim-dona---but harp people are so stubborn.

"u have to tongue block" thing, why not lip purse and tongue block.

another one I only play third pos on minor songs---why not be able to play a nat minor and 3rd----

i can do third,

but prefer nat minor----especially using a rack with guitar. There is no thinking when playing a nat minor harp with the rack. U don't have to be careful. u can play the same runs u use in normal 2nd pos. the same patterns---- chords sound sweeter in minor as well

Let me know if u have any trouble flattening your 7 draw-I HAVE A MILLION TOOLS FOR HARP AND GUITAR----I
could flatten either an off brand harp, or one u send, u pay postage

hope u get a tool set---when u work on yr own harps u feel more connected.


Last Edited by snowman on Dec 21, 2020 6:32 PM
263 posts
Dec 21, 2020
7:52 PM
I have the 7 draw flat on all my harps so I can play the 2nd position scale in 2 octaves easily. Its not just that you can move riffs up an octave ... it gives you the ability to play riffs that start below the root, then go above the root. Lots of good stuff there.

Jim McBride
Bottle 'O Blues microphones
250 posts
Dec 23, 2020
5:12 AM
Snowman, thx for the offer. I do send harps to a guy for tuning. I may ask him to alter the 7 draw on some. JP thx for the insight. I agree that it does more than offer the minor pentatonic up top. It gives a more fluid transition up the harp, especially when you are in a blues context. Also, the ability to get an “expression” bend on the 7 blow is very cool.
145 posts
Dec 23, 2020
5:19 PM
I also tune the 7 draw down to the flatted 3rd and also valve the 8 blow (valve on the top of the 8 hole, blow plate) which gives you a flat 5 draw note on 8 hole draw which is the same as the draw bend on the 4 hole. If you need the major 3rd you can blow bend 7 blow. You can also get an interesting scale sound by playing the major pentatonic scale and substituting the flat 3 for the major 3rd.I also keep some harps in regular tuning for major pentatonic in 2nd position.
644 posts
Dec 26, 2020
11:38 AM
Piro, Thanks for info may try that 8 blow deal---
Question: I know valved bends need to be mellower. Does your 8 draw jam up much? do u have to really focus on not drawing to hard?
I guess With flat 7 draw and 8 blow valved the notes from 6 Blow and up , in 2d pos -would be:
6 blow = 1
6 draw= 2/9
6 draw bend= b 2/9

7 blow= 4
7 draw=b3, or minor 3rd
7 blow bend = 3rd
I don’t overdraw it

With 8 valved
8 blow= 6/11
8 draw= 5
8 draw bend = b5
No blow bend now???

Please correct what wrong---I have valves in storage/shop—what glue to use for valve, to try it???

If time allows and happy holidays

Last Edited by snowman on Dec 26, 2020 11:38 AM
15 posts
Jun 25, 2021
5:35 AM
Higher end playing above the key of A is annoying to most ears, and usually only impressive to other players, leaving the blues loving crowd annoyed. No one wants to hear focused high end blowing for more then maybe once in a show and even that is on 1st position on a G/Ab harp or 3rd on an Ab or A harps.

The use of them as passing notes is fine in all keys, but when you want to start running scales on the top - ask anyone on the street that isn't a harp player and they won't be happy about it.

Keep in mind who you want to sound like before altering expensive harps forever :)

The things that impress us as players aren't always musical for the "blues fan" ear.

Last Edited by Millman500 on Jun 25, 2021 9:11 AM
2991 posts
Jun 25, 2021
9:13 PM
I am pretty fond of altered tunings, and find that altering standard tuning helps me make more of the top end.
I have made a few “On The Road Again” harps, and tried that Todd Parrott tuning too—but have determined which tunings are most useful for me, try what appeals to you and see what YOU like.
Edit--chromatic gives you that note, jus' sayin'.

Last Edited by Gnarly on Jun 28, 2021 7:41 PM
254 posts
Jul 01, 2021
11:07 AM
Millman, I would disagree about high end playing. As long as you use soft breath force the top end sounds nice all the way up to a D harp and is a very welcome change from the same old 1-6 hole licks.
“River Hip Momma” by musselwhite is a good example.

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