Bass Harmonica

Anything apart from the two mainstream default harmonicas (Solo-tuned fully-valved chromatic, and un-valved Richter 10-hole diatonic). Alternate tunings, different construction, new functionality, interesting old designs, wishful-thinking... whatever!
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CrawfordEs
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Bass Harmonica

Post by CrawfordEs » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:25 pm

It seems to me that Bass harps in general are neglected, overlooked, and underused.
Hopefully now with advances like Suzuki and Easttops octave basses, Tombo and Easttop's pocket basses, Brendan's new slider mouthpiece for the Suzuki and Hohner harps, Low Low harps, and even the Lucky 13 we can see some good low octave work on harmonicas. It seems the potential is there for a skilled player (not me 😕) to use them like a cello or a trombone or even a good upright jazz bass.
I've heard haunting Melodies played beautifully on a Cello and Bowed Double Bass.
Yo-Yo Ma did some great work with his Silk Road project. Harmonicas are at least as expressive and could be retuned to make some things flow better. Maybe a diatonic layout ( something like 4 key, or even Paddy Richter) would restrict chromatic playing, but it could increase fluidity and playability.
I took apart a couple of Huang Octave Basses and made a comb for a blow/draw Bass. I left the blow notes as is, but retuned the draw notes in each hole to a semitone flat, except the C and F which I left to allow blow/ draw enharmonics.
I'm still not happy with my valves in the lowest few holes yet.

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Brendan
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Re: Bass Harmonica

Post by Brendan » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:16 am

The bassier ranges are certainly nice-sounding, but the usual way we get expression on a harmonica - via embouchure-induced pitch bending - cannot be used once you get below a certain point. Our mouths and tongues are simply not big enough to make the chamber alterations required.

That would make low melody harmonicas less expressive than the cello for example, as it can slide notes and get true vibrato from top to bottom. But I agree it's still nice to play low free reeds with straight tones anyway.

I've made a couple of experimental harmonicas using low reed blocks from accordions, and they sound sweet. Getting blocks in the right note combinations to make a harmonica scale is a bit trickier, and they can be quite expensive. Thanks for the reminder - I've been meaning to revisit that idea in light of new skills :-)

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triona
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Re: Bass Harmonica

Post by triona » Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:22 am

Brendan wrote:
Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:16 am
I've made a couple of experimental harmonicas using low reed blocks from accordions, and they sound sweet. Getting blocks in the right note combinations to make a harmonica scale is a bit trickier, and they can be quite expensive. Thanks for the reminder - I've been meaning to revisit that idea in light of new skills :-)

If you should not know this already:
For high end reed plates (brass or steel reeds), custom made, at reasonable costs you might ask here http://www.harmonikas.cz/en
Ask for Mr. Titlbach (senior chief of the company). Besides Czech he can speak German, maybe some English too. In the case of possible language problems I could help you.

For example a 10 reed plate in bariton / bass range (custom tuned and designed, with steel reeds) Mr. Titlbach estimated at about 20 €, talking about small manufacturing series or prototypes.
They do helicon basses (as used in Styrian hand harmonicas) and steel reed plates for renowned harmonica manufacturers (bluesharp type) too.


dear greetings
triona
Aw, Thou beloved, do hearken to the Banshee's lonely croon!
sinn féin - ça ira !
Cad é sin do'n té sin nach mbaineann sin dó


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1yI3H ... 9ktgzTR2qg

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