Header Graphic
Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > play to 432 Hz ?
play to 432 Hz   ?
Login  |  Register
Page: 1

Roy Ale
5 posts
Jul 08, 2024
3:10 PM
When a guitar player and bass player tune to 432 Hz , can i play the harps i already have ? maybe figure out what harp to play / would that be 1/2 step ?like E Flat tuning , or do i need harps tuned to 432 Hz ?
3155 posts
Jul 08, 2024
5:05 PM
You have to tune down, 432 is “in the cracks”.
I have done this for a customer.
Roy Ale
6 posts
Jul 08, 2024
5:27 PM
Gnarly Thanks for your input , good to know .
22 posts
Jul 09, 2024
3:11 AM
I have a Seydel harp in 432hz. One of the cool things about the Seydel site is that you can choose the base frequency as well as the tuning.

Oh how I wish the Hohner site worked the same way...
Roy Ale
7 posts
Jul 09, 2024
7:28 AM
bandini , for me this 432Hz tuning has just come up so i had not looked for this option to buy a 432 Hz tuned harp from Seydel . good to know , thanks
3722 posts
Jul 09, 2024
8:15 AM
If you want a harp tuned 1/2 step flat, your options are to either get a harp that's tuned 1/2 step flatter than the key you're playing in or have it retuned to a standard pitch of A415. If you're playing with a band that's tuned to A440, you're going to sound horribly out of tune unless the band retunes to the way your are tuned to.

Many decades, standard pitch varied quite a bit from country to country but for about the last 40 years, A440 is pretty much the worldwide standard.
Barbeque Bob Maglinte
Boston, MA
CD available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbmaglinte
3156 posts
Jul 09, 2024
8:30 AM
When I did them, I turned them a few cents sharp, since players depress the pitch when they play.
I probably tuned it to Just as well, that’s been my preference lately.
10444 posts
Jul 09, 2024
9:35 AM
It's much easier to get the guitar player to tune up.

432 frustrates me. Every time I see it someone is making some new cosmic claim about it and the science or history it's based on never checks out. I mean, you can do it if you want, but at the end of the day it's just going to make it harder to play with other musicians. 432 does not vibrate at some cosmis frequency, it was never a historical standard.

Thread Organizer (A list of all sorts of useful threads)

First Post- May 8, 2009
24 posts
Jul 09, 2024
10:30 AM
The "cosmic" aspect aside, it seems logical to me that anything tuned down will sound "better" - just the way a guitar downtuned to Eb SRV style will always sound deeper, more resonant, etc. when compared with a guitar in standard tuning. Works the same with anything that involves vibration.

So yeah, it's kinda fun to play in 432 with others who are also tuned to that, but of course the obvious prob from a "jam" perspective is that most people are in 440 or even higher these days.

I just mainly use my 432 harp to play solo - it's super fun to play.
Roy Ale
8 posts
Jul 11, 2024
3:46 PM
Thanks for all the input , this gives me a better understanding of my options for groups that want to be in 432 Hz . i have a collection of turners , when i retune a guitar to 432 , and then check it with other tuners set at 440 it looks to me like 432 Hz is 30 cents flat from 440 . so same note just 30 cents flat .
7121 posts
Jul 12, 2024
12:07 AM
Yeah it’s halfway to in-between.

Given that harps are mostly tuned to 443 or 442, in order to stand a chance of being in tune with a band tuned to 440, you’d need to get the harps tuned to 434-435 ish.
The number of cents from one standard to another varies with the actual pitch of the notes. I use a rough estimate of 4 cents per degree hertz but it doesn’t really work like that.
Out of the factory though, I’ve seen harps at 444, 445. I’ve seen the high end of some coming in at 449.
You can tune a harp, but it’s just the nature of the thing that they usually end up playing a bit flatter. So even though you tune it as carefully as possible, it’s always gonna be close at best unless you play it in those perfect conditions you had when tuning.

If you use a lot of air when playing, you’ll flat the notes. You’ll probably flat the draw notes more than the blow notes, and you’ll probably flat the longer reeds more than the shorter reeds.
If you get the reeds wet because of condensation or some other source of moisture, they’ll play flatter too. The smaller reeds will be affected more dramatically than the larger reeds.
In winter I always have a hair dryer at the ready when I’m tuning, because I live in one of these notoriously cold Australian houses and my breath will condense on the reeds unless I warm them first.

When we tune reeds, usually we try for a quiet warm environment and play with as little air as possible and strive for octaves and chords to play nicely. But then when we play we often don’t really have much control of the environment, and probably strive to play with lots of dynamics. So tuning is always about having a good place to start in the hope that we don’t sound too horribly out of tune.
2360 posts
Jul 12, 2024
6:59 AM
It seems to me that if tuning instruments lower to 432hz improves the sound (which I question), then tuning a full half step lower ala Stevie Ray would better serve the sound.

I dismiss the cosmic aspect pretensions of tuning to 432hz.

Intervals are all relative, regardless of reference pitch choice. Regarding chords and single notes, tuning for Just Intonation for better chords makes sense, as does tuning for Equal Intonation for single note playing. Compromise Intonation makes both chords and single notes work, but only adequately, not optimally.

Tuning to 432hz makes no musical sense in this day and age. The standard has evolved to 440hz.

I think that if a band chooses to tune to 432hz in this time when 440hz is the standard that they either have succumbed to mysticism, or they really would prefer to play without harmonica players intruding.

Take the hint! Don't spend money on harps tuned to an intermediate pitch.

Rather than investing in another set of harps tuned to 434hz I think a harmonica player should let the 432hz band play without harmonica (or other non-adjustable tuned instruments like a real piano, steel drums, xylophone, vibraphone, etc.

Sometimes some bands would prefer that harp players not participate in their music.

Take the hint!

Doug S.

Last Edited by dougharps on Jul 12, 2024 7:01 AM
3158 posts
Jul 12, 2024
9:48 AM
Well, if they are making money and want you in the band, go for it!
I personally didn’t get any revelations from retuning the harps I did for the customer.
2361 posts
Jul 12, 2024
10:39 AM
Gary, how much would it cost for a set of 432Hz professional quality harps?

Roy Ale, how much money is this band pulling in with their 432Hz intermediate tuning? Do they really want you on board playing harp enough for you to purchase a set of specially made 432H (434Hz) harmonicas?

This is a business decision. If you buy harps tuned to this reference pitch you have made an investment in harps for playing only with groups tuned to 432Hz or by yourself.

Is the potential reward worth the investment?

Are there other musicians playing regular tuning that you could play with using standard pitch harps?

Doug S.
3159 posts
Jul 12, 2024
4:14 PM
Looks like I did it last time for $35 each—very reasonable!
He probably doesn’t need all 12 keys— but maybe he does!

Post a Message

(8192 Characters Left)

Modern Blues Harmonica supports

§The Jazz Foundation of America


§The Innocence Project




ADAM GUSSOW is an official endorser for HOHNER HARMONICAS