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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Hohner Pentaharp (alternate tuning)
Hohner Pentaharp (alternate tuning)
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IaNerd
84 posts
Oct 08, 2021
2:41 AM
https://pentaharp.com/
Evets
15 posts
Oct 08, 2021
7:02 AM
Thanks for the link.
FYI,
David Barrett has a Hohner PentaHarp Lesson here (paid membership required).
https://www.bluesharmonica.com/lessons/hohner_pentaharp
snowman
714 posts
Oct 08, 2021
8:49 AM
Just ordered one to try
Im very open minded.

Been playin with a rack for 40 years +. I use Nat minor on Thrill is gone-I shot the the Sheriff-Summertime- Mr Magic--- many more.

When the I chord and IV chord are minor, playing with a rack it sounds much smoother playing a "nat Minor harp" not as many avoid notes.

Looking forward to trying it.

Last Edited by snowman on Oct 08, 2021 8:52 AM
Sloppy1
55 posts
Oct 08, 2021
9:48 AM
To me the pentaharp seems to be a copy of the ED harmonica tuning concept. I know Brendan Power said the ED tuning was based off a tuning he had. I really like the ED tuning, ED as easy diatonic. They should have came up with a better name. Nobody seemed too enthused about the ED tuning but the pentaharp seems to be causing a stir.
IaNerd
85 posts
Oct 08, 2021
11:19 AM
According to Andrew Zajac:
"In Pat Missin's Altered States list of altered tunings, this tuning is 11.15, "Blues Scale Tuning" which has been known since the 90s."

I have tried EDHarmonica and did not care for it personally. Plus I feel that its marketing as a harp for (among others) beginners was completely wrong.

I do think that this penta (actually hexa) tuning has enormous potential for newbies and pros alike.

For the record, I have no affiliation with Hohner or any harp sellers.
Sloppy1
56 posts
Oct 08, 2021
12:03 PM
I dont doubt you laNerd.my comparison to the ED tuning is based on the breath pattern and that you get octave splits on every hole. I could not get anywhere with regular richter tuning. I found ED harp marketing to be right on,I think it is great for beginners. Their problem is with the easttop harp they were selling on amazon. The harp was cheap in price and plays real well, but a lot of people buying harps on amazon dont realize they were buying a non standard tuning. They werre buying songbooks ect that would not work with that harp.
Gnarly
3001 posts
Oct 08, 2021
5:31 PM
I made one, was unimpressed.
Just tried changing holes 2 and 5 (I didn’t do the top octave) so now the tuning is | A c | D f | E g |, minor third bends on every hole and the chords are A sus and C sus.
Still not a believer.
Should be a winner when I need to build a Spanish tuned harp tho.
After you guys decide this tuning is not for you, let me know, I’m up for trades.
agarner
89 posts
Oct 11, 2021
6:48 PM
Having not played this tuning I cannot attest to its playability. When I originally saw the Pentaharp there was doubt about it's efficacy.

But have you heard Ronnie Shellist's most recent trials in 10th position? It sounds really pure and emotive. It has a place for sure.
IaNerd
86 posts
Oct 12, 2021
6:15 AM
Shellist on PentaHarp in 10th position:

https://youtu.be/PR_TbaGUwdI

https://youtu.be/2n9jOreQcUU
ted burke
927 posts
Oct 12, 2021
10:28 AM
mine should get here today. looking forward to giving it a go.
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www.ted-burke.com
IaNerd
87 posts
Oct 12, 2021
11:38 AM
I think (not sure) that by playing a minor pentatonic harp in 10th position (as discussed above), Shellist is using the same notes but now as a *major* pentatonic scale. The second note of the minor pentatonic scale becomes the first note of the major pentatonic scale.

But this is actually a hexatonic harp. The flat fifth "blue note" of the minor pentatonic scale becomes the flat third "blue note" of the major pentatonic scale. In other words, it's the same tone but in a different relative position.

Last Edited by IaNerd on Oct 12, 2021 12:15 PM
Philosofy
956 posts
Oct 13, 2021
2:59 PM
Are there chords?
IaNerd
88 posts
Oct 13, 2021
3:19 PM
In the blow layer there are dyads of the I chord and the IV chord. Actually, both of these dyads are power chords, and can therefore also imply i and iv chords -- because they lack their thirds. These note pairs could be played simultaneously or as warbles.

There might be more but that's all I see.

Last Edited by IaNerd on Oct 13, 2021 9:50 PM
DS200
14 posts
Oct 15, 2021
5:02 PM
Cool addition to the progressive line.
The main thing for me is a bendable flat third in all octaves (right? or did I hear wrong)

One disadvantage to OBing is that you can't really play them really soft (Maybe in a super custom harp, but then the notes choke with expressive tongue slaps a la SBW) so this harp seems to be pretty cool.

I don't see myself buying a set of these, but probably an A of this Pentaharp kept in the car for traffic light exploration- should be cool and musically educational.

I'm interested to see what you guys think this harp is LACKING vs 19 limit richter.

Last Edited by DS200 on Oct 15, 2021 5:04 PM
IaNerd
89 posts
Oct 15, 2021
5:08 PM
Re: "LACKING" --

Proper I and IV chords. A bendable tonic. The warbles/trills involving 3-4 and 4-5.

Let's keep in mind, though, that this is not an either/or situation. A person can use Richter *and* an alternate tuning -- even in the same tune.

Last Edited by IaNerd on Oct 16, 2021 7:05 AM
Rishió
32 posts
May 02, 2022
8:40 AM
Regarding PentaHarp - I’ve been using ED tuning exclusively for the past few years and I love it - no regrets. I do find striking similarity between ED and PentaHarp. I personally prefer the layout of ED. PentaHarp and ED both start 3 octaves lower than standard richter, which is nice, but PentaHarp extends 1 semitone higher than ED, which is not a big deal for me because I rarely use the highest note. ED can bend every draw note by a semitone, but holes 3, 6, and 9 by two semitones. PentHarp cannot bend hole 2, 5, and 8 which would frustrate me, every other hole can bend 2 semitones, which can be tricky when playing in other positions. Hole 3, 6, and 9 are exactly the same on both tunings, and the other holes are very close. ED can play other nearby keys in Pentatonic scales with less bends than the PentaHarp. I really find the ED tuning to be a better general purpose tuning and more intuitive than PentaHarp, though I haven’t explored PentaHarp deeply. That said, I hope PentaHarp becomes popular because it should be pretty easy to convert a PentaHarp to ED since they are really close to each other with 3 reeds per octave tuned down 1 or 2 semitones. If harp designs become optimized around PentaHarp, my own ED tuning benefits as well! All keys are available in ED tuning if you buy from Seydel Harmonicas. I would say one more thing. ED has the worst name, PentaHarp is alright, but PowerBender has the coolest name of all!

Richter in C Maj
C E G C E G C E G C
D G B D F A B D F A

PentaHarp in C Maj / A Min (lowercase e means EFlat)
A D E A D E A D E A
C e G C e G C e G C

ED in C Maj / A Min
A C E A C E A C E A
B D G B D G B D G B

Last Edited by Rishió on May 02, 2022 11:49 AM
Hakan
628 posts
May 02, 2022
10:53 AM
I got my PentaHarp last week and I really, really don't like it.

I like to play straight boogie/rock/blues and it wasn't any good for me. It was difficult for me to play just draw notes all the time. If I played a blow note here and there it sounded weird and if I played splits and chords it sounded like something from the Ming dynasty. Now of course that is not necessarily a bad thing.

But maybe it's good for you. Ted Burke had done some very nice jazzy blues videos with PentaHarp. Ronnie Shellist had some nice PentaHarp videos too, but the feeling in his music in those videos he could have reached with regular blues harps too, in my humble opinion.

So I am putting this PentaHarp in a special bag next to Seydel Will Wilde tuning and Lee Oskar harmonic minor tuning. But now I have tried them and that was worth something!
ted burke
938 posts
May 02, 2022
4:05 PM
I own two Pentaharps and I've been amazed by what you're able to do with them.





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www.ted-burke.com

Last Edited by ted burke on May 02, 2022 4:07 PM
snowman
764 posts
May 02, 2022
5:12 PM
when i find mine ----I'l sell cheap if u want to try---otherwise its back up reads--just dont care for it---i love nat minor and melody makers when theres a Maj7 chord involved---but this just didn't work for me.
Rishió
33 posts
May 02, 2022
8:00 PM
Nice Ted! How do you find the 6 hole single and double bends? I find that particular bend troublesome to hold cleanly on ED Tuning, and that hole is tuned exactly the same way in PentaHarp.
ted burke
939 posts
May 03, 2022
9:09 AM
Rishio: On the Pentaharp, on both the C and the E, the 6 draw bend isn't as easy as I'd like. I like that the higher notes are available for blow bends and that they give a wonderful clarinet-New Orleans sound to what I'm doing, but the notes are a might stiff, including 6 draw. I have to concentrate more on execution to play the notes the way I want them to sound. I have to work for it, but then again this challenge has expanded the way I think about improvising,
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www.ted-burke.com
WinslowYerxa
1755 posts
May 03, 2022
9:37 AM
I find that PentaHarps can benefit from setup for smoother control of draw bending. I don't think the factory people know yet how to dial that in (and I also suspect that the initial run of them was a trial balloon from the point of view of whether it would even sell).

I've set up my PentaHarps for smoother bending; it helps.
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WinslowYerxa
1756 posts
May 03, 2022
9:48 AM
Here's tenth position blues on a C PentaHarp played in Eb.

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Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition with tons of new stuff

Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on May 16, 2022 10:19 AM
ted burke
940 posts
May 03, 2022
9:56 AM
WINSLOW: So fine!
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www.ted-burke.com
Rishió
34 posts
May 03, 2022
9:39 PM
Can you expand on that Winslow? I imagine that hohner just moves reeds around so not sure what there is to do to smoothen bends. Draw 6 seems to be a fundamentally difficult draw on the PentaHarp, as it is on the ED where it is laid out exactly the same way. There is something about the physics of this tuning that makes that bend difficult, I would say. I’m curious why since I have several ED harps and have worked incredibly hard on getting that bend.
Gnarly
3039 posts
May 04, 2022
5:46 AM
I might try retuning this Harmonica to an augmented, minor third intervals on every hole.
WinslowYerxa
1757 posts
May 04, 2022
10:39 AM
@Rishiò -

I don't think Hohner moves reeds around, at least not in the sense of moving them from one hole to another. If you compare a Special 20 reedplate to a PentaHarp reedplate in the same key, the reeds would be the same width and length, just with different tip thickness profiles to achieve the desired pitch.

In any given blow-draw pair, ease and flexibility of bends (though not, of course, actual bending range) is a matter of the relative profiling for both reeds. Default profiling on standard tuning works pretty well for the bendability we're all accustomed to, but when those relationships change, the dynamics of interaction, if profiles are left unchanged, may not favor the new set of possibilities.

For instance, Draw 6 in standard tuning bends only one semitone. In PentaHarp tuning, it bends two semitones. With no adjustment to account for this, it may not bend as smoothly. Adjusting the reed profiles may help make the bend work more smoothly.

I experienced this after starting out on a Frankenharp of a C MS harp hacked into a partial PentaHarp (the retuning above Hole 6 was too extreme and I didn't attempt it). That's the harp I used for PentaHarp Slow Drag. Later, when I acquired a production C PentaHarp, I found that the bends weren't as smooth in the place where the bend on the PentaHarp was wider than on standard tuning, and I found that with some profile adjustment, it could be improved.

----------
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Check out my blog and other goodies at winslowyerxa.com
Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition with tons of new stuff

Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on May 16, 2022 10:20 AM
WinslowYerxa
1758 posts
May 04, 2022
11:49 AM
Here's another tune, Chat à Lune, played on a stock C PentaHarp. You can hear that at times the Draw 6 bend doesn't feel like it's all the way in control, as it wants to dive to the bottom of the bend when all I want is the one-semitone bend. I fixed this later with some profile adjustment. What precisely did I do? I dunno, I just made adjustments until I liked how it played.


----------
Harmonica lessons with one of the world's foremost experts
Check out my blog and other goodies at winslowyerxa.com
Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition with tons of new stuff

Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on May 04, 2022 11:50 AM
Rishió
35 posts
May 04, 2022
10:38 PM

Last Edited by Rishió on May 05, 2022 5:38 PM


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