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When not to use a half-valved chromatic?

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:51 pm
by harpdog123
I'm always asking the question "Which harmonica is going to create the best final effect?" So, when would a half-valved chromatic harmonica not be the best choice? (Or is it always the best choice?)

David Pearce

Re: When not to use a half-valved chromatic?

Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:12 pm
by winslowyerxa
For me, half valving makes tone inconsistent between valved and non-valved reeds. So for me, a half-valved chromatic would only come into play when the sound of dual-reed bends is more important than consistent tonal quality. Which for me is rare; I can bend farther on a valved reed than on dual-reed combinations in standard tuning, so bending range isn't an issue.

Re: When not to use a half-valved chromatic?

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:28 pm
by Felix
Also half-valving makes speedplaying with mouth-breathing harder to controll.

Re: When not to use a half-valved chromatic?

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:19 am
by Paris
I think that a half-valved chromatic is the best choice when you are using a "power chromatic tuning". This tuning allows for draw bends on every hole and takes full advantage of the half valving. Also makes getting true(pitch-bending) vibrato a lot easier in my opinion.

I play half valved Suzuki scx-48's in PC tuning and I don't notice any tone inconsistency, especially when I reduce the blow reed gaps to there minimum.

Re: When not to use a half-valved chromatic?

Posted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:53 am
by Brendan
Winslow: Yes, valved bending as on a stock fully-valved chrom gives you big bends, but not easily CONTROLLABLE bends. There is not a single chrom player i know who uses valved bending to get sustained notes. They just use them for colour and inflection.

Nice - but nothing like the expression and bending pitch control from interactive reed bending, as on a half-valved chrom. And as for the difference in sound between valved blows and un-valved draws: if your chrom/ slider assembly is very airtight and you have the blow reed gaps minimised,it is negligable to the point of being virtually unnoticeable. Add embossing and the difference in sound only gets smaller.

If there was that big difference in sound between valved and un-valved notes that you describe, I wouldn't play half-valved chroms and diatonics. But honestly there isn't. I'd bet that most people would not be able to tell a draw from a blow on my harps if I sustain a long note. Of course as soon as I bend they'd know - because my draw bends sound expressive and fully under control, unlike the short bend-ups and bend-downs that are possible on normal chroms.

I know I'm in a minority choosing to play half-valved chroms, but I'd suggest that any chrom player who really explores a well set-up half-valved chrom would never go back to full valving after they'd felt the ebenfits of all the extra bending expression and the new phrasing possibilities that arise from the Bend Enharmonics (notes available in normal way or with bends).

To me the ideal chrom is one where interactive-reed bending is possible on ALL notes, not just the draws. I've tried making this instrument, and have achieved proof-of-principle with the X-Reed Chromatic, shown here:

http://www.brendan-power.com/harmonicas-twin.php

But it's too big and bulky. I'm still working to make it smaller and more user-friendly.

Re: When not to use a half-valved chromatic?

Posted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:15 pm
by harpdog123
So Brendan, are you saying that if you had a chromatic that was optimized for half-valving you would always play half-valved? Even in solo tuning? Are there times when you feel like a fully valved chromatic is a better choice?


David Pearce