12-hole special tunings
Description of the initial standard tunings for 12-hole instruments
Please note: we recommend you choose a low key (e.g. Low C or Low D) to start of the configuration!
The mother of all tunings for the10 hole diatonic harmonicas, Richter tuning is by far the most common. It is suited for playing melodies with chords in the 1st position though most Blues/Rock players use the Cross Position (or 2nd position). Bends and overblows can be used to reach the entire chromatic scale across the whole range of the instrument. This tuning is available as a standard product in the >eShop!
Solo tuning is mostly used on chromatic harmonicas though it can also be found in some traditional Folk models. The ‘middle octave’ of the Richter tuning (the four holes corresponding to one major diatonic scale) is repeated across the entire range of the harmonica, resulting in the characteristic repetition of the tonic note at the end of one octave and the beginning of the next. In modern playing styles this tuning can be used for pieces in minor keys played in the 3rd position. This tuning is available as a standard product (e.g. >Chromatic DeLuxe , >Solist Pro 12) in the eShop!
Richter (Low Octave)
This tuning is exactly the same as used on the Solist Pro 12 (Low Oct) in the webshop, which are provided there in the most common. In fact it is a standard Richter tuned harmonica in holes 4-9 but with an additional low Richter octave in holes 1-3. It can be used for accompaniment and rhythm playing in both the standard and the low register on a single instrument.
Melodic Maker (Low Octave)
This tuning is the combination of Country
and Paddy Richter tunings; the notes are raised in pitch in channels 5 and 9.
In addition, the blow note in channel 3 is one whole tone higher than the equivalent
note in Richter tuning. Many melodies normally only playable using bends or overblows
become easily playable with the Melodic Maker tuning. This tuning is available
as a standard product in the eShop!
Paddy Richter (Low Octave)
Only one note is altered in this special tuning which is very useful for playing Irish Folk: the 3 blow note is tuned one semitone higher than on the standard Richter. In the 12-hole variant (Low Octave) the lower notes in 1-3 are tuned as holes 4-6 but one octave lower.
The major scale can be played simply by alternating draws and blows (no note bending is required). On a Circular tuned harmonica up to 12 different chords can be played depending upon which channels are played at a time. Therefore it's not so easy to label this tuning correctly. The first note in channel one blow is the key displayed on the harp, though the major scale is playable 5 semitones (a fourth) higher than the key the harp is labelled in. In the 12-hole variant (Low Octave) the lower notes in 1-3 are tuned as holes 4-6 but one octave lower.
Country (Low Octave)
Bebop tuning adds an extra note to the standard solo tuning: for example, on a C major harmonica, the tuning provides the additional Bb which, in doing so, removes the doubled tonics of a standard solo tuning. Bebop tuning is mostly used on chromatic harmonicas and some jazz players like it very much (e. g. Bill Barrett). This tuning is not available as a standard tuning in the eShop!
The tuning is very useful for improvising over several chord structures and, if you are familiar with bending, you are also able to play chromatically so that one is not restricted to the Blues scale. Learning only four different scale patterns, it is possible to cover all keys with one harmonica. The notes are arranged as diminished chords. This tuning is not available as a standard tuning in the eShop!
This tuning comes from France through Eric Chafer, a very skilled Folk harmonica player. With this tuning one is able to play full chromatic scales using only draw bends to reach the missing notes. The chords sound a little bit oriental or Spanish. This tuning is not available as a standard tuning in the eShop!
The Whole Tone Tuning is similar to Augmented except that it starts with Ab rather than E (the name referring to the intervals between the blow notes in the Augmented tuning). However, the draw notes are all one semitone lower than the Augmented, so that you have to use an overblow in every channel to be able to play fully chromatically. One needs to learn only 4 patterns to play in every key using a single harmonica. If one blows and draws alternately, one gets the ‘whole tone’ scale. This tuning is not available as a standard tuning in the eShop!
Harmonic Minor (Low Octave)
The harmonic minor scale is derived from the natural minor scale. However, in contrast to the natural minor scale, the seventh note of the harmonic minor scale is raised by one semitone which, put technically, builds an artificial guiding note which leads to the next semitone. All melodies you play intuitively on this harmonica sound like Tango or Klezmar music and thus the tuning offers many new ideas to the player. In the 12-hole variant (Low Octave) the lower notes in 1-3 are tuned as holes 4-6 but one octave lower.
The natural minor scale uses the same notes as the corresponding major scale, e.g. the A natural minor scale (ABCDEFGA) uses the same notes as the C major scale (CDEFGABC). This scale sounds somewhat "sad" and all melodies played on this harmonica will sound with a minor flavour. Both the blow and draw chords are minor chords. The tuning allows you to play minor tunes intuitively with this tuning. In the configurator it is labeled in the 1st position (1 blow = key of the harp), though we normally label it in the 2nd position! In the 12-hole variant (Low Octave) the lower notes in 1-3 are tuned as holes 4-6 but one octave lower.
This tuning varaint is very useful if you are already familiar with playing Blues in holes 1-3(4) also using all the bending notes. In this variant the so called "Richter Octave" (holes 1-3 of a Richter harmonica) are repeated 4 times in a row. It is therefore possible to play all melodies which are usually played in holes 1-3 in the same way in holes 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12 without changing the breathing patterns. Additionally all octaves are playable! If you are able to overblow it is very easy to play this variant fully chromatically (with overblows in holes 1, 4, 7 and 10)
Easy 3rd / Do it! (by Dale King) - (Low Octave)
This tuning is the ideal alternative to play pieces in minor keys, because you can easily play pieces in the third position without needing to use the double bends which are required to play the dorian scale on a standard Richter harmonica! The draw chord becomes the minor chord (D F A D, on a harmonica in C) of the 3rd position instead of major chord (D G H D, on a harmonica in C) of the 2nd position. Believe it or not, this is the most intuitive way to simply play in minor keys. This is not only interesting in a Rock/Blues context but also useful for many Irish Folk pieces which can now be played with a full chord accompaniment! Because of the available chords (D-minor and C-major) the Easy 3rd-variant also could be named "The Reaggae harp";-). In the 12-hole variant (Low Octave) the lower notes in 1-3 are tuned as holes 4-6 but one octave lower. Originaly this tuning is based on an idea of Dale King, an American harmonica player, living in Germany.
In this tuning variant the standard Richter system is expanded both upwards and downwards. The standard tuned Richter layout is present in holes 2-11 and you can reach additional notes below (hole 1) and above (hole 12)! So if you choose G as the key, a C-harmonica will be displayed!!!!!
Richter BBB (Bye bye bird)
This is exactly the same tuning variant which was used by Blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson in his version of "Bye bye bird" (in LC or LD; >Youtube).