I started experimenting with valving a Suzuki promaster in C. So long the experiment has been quite good and, so far, I find it's easir to hit the missing notes than with ovrblows. Somehow I find them easir to hit them in pitch than overs and have a more "natural" sound. I'm not an overblow expert of course.
However one thing I noticed is that the reed where you put the valve seems to be less efficient. For example after putting the valve in the 5 hole draw, I noticed that I can't play the 5 hole draw as confortably as before. SOmehow the note sounds softer and lacks brightness (it's opaque). I'm not talking about a "little" difference, I'm talking about that the 2/5 draw octave doesn't sound as godd a before as the F note is not so present. The reed somes so airtight that loses responsiveness.
It this normal? is this supossed to happen when you valve a harp or there is something I'm missing?
Thanks for yor help ---------- With some latin flavour for you, chico!! :P
Last Edited by on Nov 28, 2010 5:12 PM
Hi Sorin, first of all, thanks for your answer. I made the valves myself using a 3m tapes for notes. Similar to these http://www.sowpr.com/catalog/images/MMM6705AF2_1_2.jpg but from 3m
I did as you said and I noticed an improvement. However I would have to work a bit harder as I did the gapping really quick.
Is there any other tip that you want to tell me? I saw that PT gazell recomendend ultrasuede but I have no idea how to get that material in my country (Argentina), also ordering some valves would be quite expensive because of shipping plus customs!
So far I would like to try home made valves.
If you have a good picture of a vlaved harp it owuld be of great help. I don't mean a promotional picture of a Seydel or a Promaster 350V, I mean a "real" harp valved.
Thanks in advance
I'm starting to love valved harps.
---------- With some latin flavour for you, chico!! :P
Camilo I have zero experience with valved harps , my answer was based on the PT Gazell's explanation of his set up , here's the pdf where he talks about it : Half valves . Camilo , I might order a set of valves from Seydel , and when I do I promise I will send you a set ( they sell valves in sets of 3, enough for half valving 3 diatonics) .
Camilo, is the 3M material made of paper like the PostIts you show? If so, I don't think they will last long and they might start to stick when they get wet with condensation.
The ultrasuede material has some magical properties for half-valving a diatonic. They are "floppy" so they don't work without special treatments on a chromatic. That's because valves on the bottom of the reed plates are pulled down (and thence open) by gravity. When you valve a diatonic all the valves are on the top side of the reed plates so gravity actually helps them fall back into position. Also, the actual material itself is perfect for valving. It is porous, absorbent and very resilient. It is also a bit "rough" on the surface so it doesn't present a lot of surface area that would contribute to sticking. Very valve-friendly stuff! It would be worth a long search to find some because many decades of experimenting with different valve materials has lead to its discovery. Scour the local fabric shops or Google to find some ultrasuede material in your area. I Googled 'ultrasuede Argentina' and had many hits. You'd have to find one that fits your circumstance.
As to answering your question, no, your unvalved bends(1-6 draw and 7-10 blow) are unchanged in playability and tone. It's the valved bends (1-6 blow and 7-10 draw) that sound a bit different because they are single-reed bends as the opposite reed cannot interact to contribute to the sound (where it can with an unvalved bend). Perhaps you jostled the reed when you installed the valve? Suzuki reeds are welded so they shouldn't become misaligned in the slot unless the read itself is damaged, but you might have accidentally reset the gap. As sorin suggested a valved harp might have to have wider gaps than usual to play at its best. You'll have to experiment with gapping to suit your style of playing.
A subtle feature of the way PT taught me to half-valve is that he trims the valves a mm or two short of the end of the reed slot (depending on the reed's length). He claims that makes the bends easier to initiate and control and that the valved reed bends sound a bit more like an unvalved vend as the opposite reed is actuated a small amount instead of being blocked completely by the valve. I defer to the master on that one, but it's something you might experiment with.
So, Camilo, experimenting with your material is fine. I'm not trying to stifle your creativity. But if you want to "cut to the chase" and get right to exploring the wonders of playing a nicely half-valved harp, my advice is to take advantage of years of research by seasoned pros (namely Brendan Power and PT Gazell), and keep lookng for ultrasuede. It's the right solution for half-valving a diatonic, no question about it.
Sorin, It would be great if you did that, but of course no pressure ;)
Mlefree thanks a lot for all your info, so far I'm experimenting but for telling you the truth I¡m really excited by all the capabilities. Even if I started "overblowing" three eyars ago I always tought it was quite difficult to get a "pleaseant" sound. It sounded to harsh for my ears. Also play them in tune and on "demand" seems to me difficult to this day.
Even if I never went in the take-overbloes-to-the-last-consequence approach, I still tought that without a proper gapped harp there are very difficult to get.
Even if I custom my harps I still can get them with so much ease as I would love.
On the other hand, Half valving seems for me, at this moment, the way to go. You can bend them from a natural note (wich make them great for blues) and I guess with good practice you can sustain them like another bent note. Setting them takes less time than doing a full custom to a harp (gapping, embossing etc...) And the buzzing problem so far doesn't seem to terrible.
Of course, nothing is perfect, they have a distinct sound, but to my ears it's more similar to regular bends than overblows. (I'm completely subjetive in my appreciation of course)
I recorded minutes ago a test with my half valded harp. It was a second take. Please excuse the lyrics of the butterfield song, I really don't know them, it was just for testing
This is a like a way for me of saying thank you guys for lending me a hand and taking your time for answering me.
PS: I'll keep looking for Ultrasuede as it seems far superior. Thanks for the hints Mlfree. I'll tell you if I find it.
---------- With some latin flavour for you, chico!! :P
Last Edited by on Nov 29, 2010 5:52 PM
I got the valves today--I'm too busy for the next few days to get them installed and get to trying them out--but I've got a brand new MB Ab earmarked for it.
The material is pretty much the same as the ultrasuede I got at the craft store--except it's about half as thick. It would be easy enough to make these little suckers if I could find the right material. But I'm glad I bought them--just to see what the factory idea of them is.
They are also a lot narrower than I had cut mine--and the thicker material just couldn't move around enough to move right. It will be fun to try them out. They come very nicely packaged in a 20-compartment plastic bag--so you can just start at the draw end and move through them--the blow ones are on the top of the package. Doesn't look like rocket science at all--unlike embossing and reed profiling. . . ----------
A couple more notes re: ultrasuede valves. Use an inexpensive rotary cutter to cut them, also available at a fabric store. You can get a small green mat to cut them on to protect your tabletop. Scissors will make them curl. If you know a seamstress, ask her to cut a few strips for you with her rotary cutter (no seamstress worth her salt would loan her cutting tools). Then you can cut the longer strips to length as needed. A few long strips will last a lifetime.
Ultrsuede does indeed come in many thicknesses. The thickness I use is ~1.0mm (uncompressed), the thickness that matched up with that which PT used when he showed me how to make ultrasuede valves.
There are also different manufacturers that make ultrasuede. They have differnent "naps" to the surface as well as different thicknesses. The one I use is of "medium" nap (not too "hairy"). Color is unimportant.