Info worth knowing

FAQ - frequently asked questions - please click a question:

Which harmonica should I buy - what is the best instrument for a beginner?

 

In general there are four different types of harmonicas, namely Blues, Chromatic, Tremolo and Oktave-models. Each of these are suited for different musical styles.

Especially beginners should be especially aware of the fact that their first instrument should be a good one. Buying cheap like with other products can lead to frustration or, even worse to giving up learning a new musical instrument.

All SEYDEL Harmonicas are high-grade instruments - made in Germany - those with stainless steel reeds have the best price-performance ratio.

>Here you will be forwarded to the HARPFINDER that offers a lot of sound examples and detailed descriptions of all four harmonica categories

 

Why are Stainless Steel reeds superior to those made of brass?

 

Seen from a technical point of view harmonica reeds are springs and stainless steel is a better spring material than brass. The upper load limit and the spring momentum is higher than with brass and this has thoroughly positve effects on the dynamic range of the sound, the tuning stability and the durability of our models with stainless steel reeds.

The reed response of stainless steel reeds is nearly identical to those of brass reeds, however the sound has a higher proportion of overtones.

>Here you will find a sound comparison measurement between brass and stainless steel reeds

 

Is there a model on which it is more easy than on an other to play single notes?

 

All of the harmonica combs from the Blues series have the same hole spacing and all of them are suited for beginners. On the low and high models from the 1847 series the thickness of the comb is a little bit different (1mm) compared to the standard keys. So there is no Blues model that is especially suited for playing individual notes easier than on another model!

Playing individual notes should not be fatiguing. The lipps should be pursed effortlessly. The shape/embouchure is similar to whistling a low note: the lower jaw is a little bit opened and the resulting "lip setting" can be watched in a mirror: the "aperture" is suited wel for playing a single note. This technique is called "pucker embouchure".

The harmonica is then placed on the lower lip and the note "is breathed" (the mouth cavity forms an "ouh" or an "uh" shape, do not puff the air, just breath!). If you still hear two notes the instrument can be relocated to the left or the right rather than contracting the lip muscles even more. They should stay relaxed and so do not rehearse too long. Instead of playing for half an hour at one push, you'd better play five times for five minutes with a one minute pause in between.

After a while you will not think about you embouchure any more! You can rely on this fact, so give yourself the patience needed to master this technique.

 

How to play bending notes?
  • a workshop about bending can be found >here
  • find out what happens to the reeds while you bend a note >here

What does an "L" or an "H" added to the key label indicate?
  • an L added to the key indicates, that the instrument is tuned a full octave lower than the standard instrument, e.g. LC = Low C 
  • a double LL indicates that the instrument is tuned two full octaves lower than usual, e.g. LLE = double Low E. In the key of E there exist three different instruments, namely the standard E, the Low E (LE) and the LowLow E (LLE)
  • an H added to the key label indicates that the the instrument is tuned one full octave higher than the standard key, e.g. HA, or High A

Eine Overview of the complete key range of all SEYDEL harmonicasg can be found >here.

What is a fine tuning or temperament?
  • The fine tuning or temperament describes the way an instrument is (very slightly) tuned differently from the "mathematical correct" pitch. Most of our instruments are delivered in the so called "Compromised"-tuning. This tuning provides a nicely sounding chord plus the oportunity to play melodies in the right pitch. We offer other tuning systems on demand.

How we tune exactly can be found >here.

Why bending notes have different pitch ranges and which effect has pitch and valving effect on bending?

 

Bending notes: the bending pitch range of a note (draw or blow) depends on the interval the reeds within one hole are tuned in. E.g. if they are tuned to a third with 4 semi-tones, like in 3 draw on a Richter harmonica, you can bend down and reach the semi-otes in between this interval - take hole 3 on a C-harmonica:

If the draw note is a B and the blow note is a G, you will be able to play the Bb the A, the Ab as bending notes. In hole 2 however the pitch of the draw and blow note is only 3 semi-tones apart: blow 2 = E and draw 2 = G. Therefore you have only two draw bending notes in hole 2, namely the F# and the F. In 1 blow you find a C in 1 draw there is a D. The resulting bending note is a Db/C#.

In the lower registers (1-6) all draw notes are higher in tune than the corresponding blow notes (in one hole!). That is why you get draw bendings. In holes 7-10 it is vice versa, so you will get blow bends only, following the same principle of the "dual reed bending".

Valving: If you cover a draw reed with a valve, eg in 1 to 4, you can still get the usual draw bendings like described above. However if you blow a note the valve closes the draw reed and you can get out a so called "single reed bending" (the valve prevents the interaction of the two reeds). The pitch range is a semi-tone maximum.

Low harmonicas with valves: On nearly all of our low harmonicas that have valves on the lower draw reeds, it is theoretically possible to get both, the usual draw dual-note bending notes and the addional single-note blow bendings in each hole. In practice one problem remains: You have to build a really large mouth cavity for producing the bent notes. Very low bending notes physically need a long air-coumn to alter their frequency. This is physically rescricted to the player's ability to form a huge mouth cavity.

If you are starting with bending you better use a Bb a C or a D harmonica to get the best results - after a while you will also learn lower tuned harmonicas - step-by-step!

>Here you will find even more info about half and full valving

 

SEYDEL's Virtual Harmonica

SEYDEL's Virtual Harmonica

Incredible, but true: there are 38 tones on a Blue harmonica
Hands-on workshops

Hands-on workshops

Repair, adjustment and playing technique
Tremolo tunings

Tremolo tunings

Tuning-tables of all SEYDEL Tremolo variants
Pitch range of harmonicas

Pitch range of harmonicas

Sound examples of our (Blues-) harmonicas ranging from double LowE (LLE) to High Bb (HBb)

Tonal range of our (Blues-) harmonicas ranging from double LowE (LLE) to High Bb (HBb)

About special tunings

About special tunings

Configured harmonicas and detailed descriptions of some useful special tunings
SEYDEL TabTool Online

SEYDEL TabTool Online

Tab notation for harmonica - convert and transpose with a view clicks
Tip of the week

Tip of the week

Here you will find a lot of tips and tricks about technique and playing harmonica
12-hole special tunings

12-hole special tunings

Description of the initial standard tunings for 12-hole instruments
Apps for Smartphones

Apps for Smartphones

Harper's Little Helpers - Apps for your smartphone
Finetuning / temperament

Finetuning / temperament

What is a tuning system?
Valving

Valving

Valving / Half-valving (Richter models or Chroms)
Blues series - compatibilities

Blues series - compatibilities

What part fits which model?
Elaborate list of alternate tunings

Elaborate list of alternate tunings

Elaborate lists of many special tunings
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