SAMPLER-Tutorial with many Sound Examples




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Dear harmonica player!

Thank you for your interest in the Seydel SAMPLER. Whatever your musical genre, this harmonica combines the features and playability with which you are already familiar, so you can start playing right away. Instead of a single harp, you now hold two harmonicas in your hands, opening opportunities previously unavailable in a single instrument.

This short workshop is designed to help you understand this unique instrument and how you can explore your musical creativity by playing it!
We wish you all the best as you explore musically with the Seydel SAMPLER!

The Seydel Team


What makes the SAMPLER a unique instrument?

The SAMPLER combines the ease of playability of the chromatic harmonica with the advantage of a double-sided harmonica, allowing you to play in C-Major or G-Major (D-Major or A-Major in third position). The solo-tuning is ideal for playing melodies using all notes of the major scale over a full three-octave range. Combining pure melody with full, rich chords is now easily accomplished with the SAMPLER.


small: 1 Melody and chords

When the slider is held in, you are playing in the key of G. When you release the slider, you are playing in the key of C on the very same instrument! This allows you to play pieces in G with the necessary chords (Tonic G / Subdominant C / Dominant D) just as with our double-sided models like the Seydel Mountain Harp. Melodies in the key of G (E-Minor), C (A-Minor) are easily played on the same instrument by use of the slider making the change between keys instant!

>Introduction - SAMPLER in C/G


Locking device for the slider of the SAMPLER


The SAMPLER is the perfect way for blues harmonica players to explore new possibilities. Improvisation in minor pieces, (chromatic Blues) is possible by playing the SAMPLER in A- and D-Minor in third position with the addition of the classic “fat” blues tone.

And what is best: The SAMPLER offers flexibility and still allows you to bend important notes. The harmonica is half-valved, enabling bending just as you would on a standard diatonic harmonica. This opens a door to creativity and expressiveness in your playing. Instantly switch between A- and D-Minor simply by pressing or releasing the slider.


small: 2 Blues-Lick


Differences between the SAMPLER and a Chromatic Harmonica

Chromatic harmonicas are often played in folk and pop music because of their ability to play simple melodies. When compared to most tremolo or octave instruments, tone response and control of air consumption are more effective on a chromatic harmonica. Many chromatic harmonica players do not fully utilize the slider that raises the notes for a semi-tone and the instrument is played in C-major, the standard key for a chromatic harmonica.

Mastering the chromatic harmonica, playing fluently in all 12 keys on one instrument, requires musical knowledge and considerable practice. Because of this, few players utilize the full capabilities of a chromatic harmonica.

Note that the SAMPLER cannot be played fully chromatically without using bent notes. The SAMPLER is neither a tremolo nor an octave harmonica. It is a more flexible variation of a diatonic harmonica, with the brilliant, bright sound of a chromatic harmonica, such as the SEYDEL SAXONY.

Holding and Playing the SAMPLER

Hold the instrument with your left hand (best) - the low notes should be on the left side. The slider can be pressed with the pointing finger or the thumb of the right hand.


Getting individual notes out of the instrument - pucker (A) vs. tongue-block technique (B)

Clean melodies depend on clean single notes.

As a first step try to find a relaxed "mouth shape"(embochure) that is similar to whisteling - a good start is whistling a low note and afterwards to play a note on the harmonica using the same kind of breathing. This playing technique is also called "puckering". If you play low notes you should provide them a bigger cavity for making them sound full and loud. The embouchure is then similar to vocalising a deep "U".

Playing high notes on the harmonica requires the same attention to embouchure. Speak the letters “a” and “e” to feel the shape of the mouth cavity and tongue position. In both cases the same is true for both blow notes and draw notes. Most importantly, remember to breathe through the instrument using your diaphragm. Deep, controlled breathing allows you to deliver a deep, full tone.

Your embouchure, the shape of the mouth cavity in combination with the position of your lips, tongue, and teeth, affects the tone of the instrument. You form a functional unity with the harmonica.

Left: Mouth cavity for playing low notes (vowel sound “U”); Middle: Mouth cavity for medium-pitched notes (vowel sound “A”); Right: Mouth cavity shape for playing high-pitched notes (vowel sound “E”)


Tongue blocking is another technique for playing single notes whereby you cover some of the holes with your tongue and allow airflow between the edge of the tongue and the side of our mouth. This allows you to play single notes with accompaniment (chords). The tongue can be lifted and slapped back onto the holes producing a rhythm and percussiveness. It is possible to play with the tongue blocking technique to block two, three, and even four holes.

Puckering and tongue blocking complement each other and it is best to practice both techniques to fully utilize the harmonica and bring a professional sound to your playing.


Playing Melodies on the SAMPLER

The SAMPLER is solo-tuned (equal temperament) which is the most common tuning for chromatic harmonicas and some of the tremolo models. For details see the note layout at the end of this text. The solo-tuning offers three full octaves of all notes in the key of C-Major or G-Major (D-Minor or A-Minor in third position).
The solo-tuning provides all of the eighth-notes of the major scale repeated in holes 1–4, 5–8, and 9–12. This allows you to play many melodies in three different pitches with all of the necessary notes.


1st Position:

Notes for pieces in C-Major (——|)         C D E F G A B C


small: 3 Major scale in C - pucker and tongueblock

Notes for pieces in G-Major (—|)           G A B C D E F# G


small: 4 Major scale in C - pucker and tongueblock


Tabs (lower register)     1 -1 2 -2 3 -3 -4 4

Tabs (middle register)   5 -5 6 -6 7 -7 -8 8

Tabs (upper register)    9 -9 10 -10 11 -11 -12 12


Explanation of the tabs: e.g. 2 = hole 2 blow, -1 = hole 1 draw


When the slider is depressed, you are playing in the key of G-Major (A-Minor in third position). If the slider is released, you are playing in the key of C-Major (D-Minor in third position). This makes the SAMPLER like holding two complete instruments.

Here are the tabs of two very popular melodies and the appropriate playalong-tracks:


Amazing Grace (1st position)

small: 5 Playalong in C

3   4    4           6    -5 5 6 -5 5 -3 3
A-maz-i-ng Grace! How sweet the sound!

3    4 4 6   -5   5 6 -5 6 7
That saved a wretch like me!


6   7     7     6   -5 5 6 -5 5 -3 3
I once wa-s lost, but now a-m found;

3   4     4    6 -5 5 6 -5 4

Was blind, but now I see.


Summertime (in A-Minor, 4th position)

small: 6 Playalong in A-Minor

6      5      6


-5    5  -5  6  5 -3  2
And the liv-in' is eas-y

6     5   -5   -5
Fish are jump-in'

4     -3  4   -3   4 -4
And the cot-ton is high

6    5     6     6    6
Oh your dad-dy's rich

-5   5     -5      6       5    -3    2
And your mam-ma's good look-in'

2    3    2   3 -3 4
So hush lit-tle ba-by

6   -5  4    -3
Don't you cry

Playing Accompaniment with the SAMPLER

Since the SAMPLER is virtually two instruments, it is possible to accompany a sung melody using full chords that are not available on a single instrument.

Many melodies require three chords for accompaniment, namely the tonic chord (I, 1st step of the scale), the subdominant chord (IV, 4th step of the scale), and the dominant chord (V, 5th step of the scale). A solo-tuned harmonica usually offers the tonic (blow) chord. The draw chord is related to the dominant chord. This Minor 6th chord does not sound as sweet as a pure major dominant chord.


Playing Along to Pieces in G-major:

Pieces in G-major (A-major in third position) can be played with the slider depressed.

If you play the blow notes on three adjoining holes simultaneously, you will hear the G-major chord (tonic). If you release the slider while blowing on the same holes you will hear the subdominant chord (C-major). This chord is not available on other solo-tuned instruments. It is a “native” major-dominant chord. This dominant chord can be played with the slider pressed and then drawing on the same holes. This is not a true major dominant chord, but rather a minor 6th chord, that sounds slightly off from what you might expect. The true dominant chord is the D-major chord. You can produce a clear accompaniment by using the pure root notes with the slider released (the D in 1-5-9 draw).


small: 7 Accompaniment in G, C and D


Playing Along to Pieces in C-major:

To play the SAMPLER in C-major, start with the slider released and blow. You will be able to obtain the true major dominant chord in G by pressing the slider.

If the song requires the subdominant chord (F-major) you can find the root note F in in 2 / 6 / 10 draw with the slider released. The adjoining note on the right is the A and this note is also part of the F-major chord - so you can accompany the subdominant by playing the double notes F and A.


small: 8 Accompaniment in C, F and G


(Minor-)Blues on the SAMPLER

Blues pieces in minor keys or swing pieces in the major are often played on chromatic harmonicas. The slider that raises the tones for a semi-note on a chromatic harmonica is rarely used in traditional blues.


The typical fat, chromatic sound is produced by playing octaves or other intervals with the splitting technique. Split notes are played by blocking one, two or three holes in the center, allowing airflow through the holes on either side of the tongue. This produces a full sound and is also well-suited to playing intervals in folk melodies.


small: 9 Blues lick using the 'Splitting'-technique


The splitting technique allows you to play octaves by covering three holes with the mouth and blocking the three center holes with your tongue, then allowing the air to flow through the single holes to the left and to the right. Other intervals are available by the same technique but by blocking more or less holes in the center with your tongue.


An example of a chromatic blues harmonica piece is >"Blues in the Dark" played by the legendary Georg Harmonica Smith.
He uses a standard C/C#-tuned chromatic harmonica, with the slider depressed all the time to play the song in Eb-minor.

Chicago blues legend, Little Walter, discovered very early that blues can be played on a chromatic harmonica and many of his recordings demonstrate his amazing ability to play in 3rd position on a Chromatic.

The minor VI chord with the Dorian scale delivers a jazz-like sound. The solo-tuned chromatic harmonica is well-suited for playing swingy, jazz/blues numbers and minor blues pieces. Amplifying that sound through a blues harmonica microphone and an amplifier will deliver the classic punch and tone that elevates the humble harmonica to new levels.

The SAMPLER allows you to improvise in two keys that are common in blues pieces. If the slider is depressed, you can play in the key of A-minor. When the slider is released, you are playing in the key of D-minor. If you were to do this on a standard 10-hole diatonic harmonica, you would be playing in the third position (also called double crossed on a diatonic). All of the notes in the blues scale are playable. Play two or three notes at once for the classic, fat tone, especially when playing amplified using reverb!


Bending Notes on the SAMPLER

The SAMPLER is a half-valved instrument. The blow reeds are not valved. Some draw notes can be bent using the bending technique. Bending is a very important technique, allowing you to be expressive in your improvisation. When you master the bending technique, you will be able to play all of the notes of the blues scale, complementing the 'chromatic' blues sound of the SAMPLER.


Slider pressed (G-major)

small: 10 Bending-notes in G


blow              G B D F#

draw              A C E G

draw-bending Ab ~ Eb ~


Slider released (C-major)

small: 11 Bending-notes in C

blow               C E G C

draw              D F A B

draw-bending Db ~ Ab ~


Please note: With practice you will learn to bend down the blow notes, allowing you to play all of the chromatic scale. When you blow bend on the SAMPLER, one of the two reeds in the single hole is actuated (due to half-valving). These notes may sound thin and are more difficult to control than the double-reed draw bends.


Playing Blues in A-minor on the SAMPLER

If you start a solo with the slider depressed, you are playing in A-minor (tonic chord, 1st step of the scale). The root note of the 3rd position is A in holes 1, 5, and 9. All notes of the A-minor blues scale are available.

Playing in the subdominant chord, D-minor (4th step of the scale) requires that you have the slider depressed. You will be able to improvise with all suited notes of the D-minor blues scale.

To play the dominant chord (mostly E-major, 9th measure of the 12-bar blues) you must depress the slider and play around the root notes of the dominant chord in the draw holes of 3, 7, and 11.


Blues Scale in in 3rd position:

Notes for pieces in A (major or minor) (—|)    A C D Eb E G A

small: 12 Blues-scale in A-minor

Notes for pieces in D (major or minor) (——|) D F G Ab A C D

small: 13 Blues-scale in D-minor

Tabs (lowe register)             -1 -2 3 -3' 3 4 -5

Tabs (middle register)          -5 -6 7 -7' -7 8 -9

Tabs (upper register)          -9 -10 11 -11' 12


Explanation of the tabs: 2 = hole 2 blow, -1 = blow 1 draw, -3' = hole 3 draw with bending


Sometimes the dominant chord is raised one semi-note (F-major, 9th measure of the 12-bar blues scale). The F is available when the slider is depressed and you draw on holes 2, 6, and 10. The notes on the right can be played at the same time as an option.


small: 14 Blues-playalong 1 in A-minor: slow


small: 15 Blues-playalong 2 in A-major: fast

>Demonstration: Slow Blues in A-minor on a SAMPLER in C/G


Playing Blues in D-minor on the SAMPLER

If you start your solo with the slider depressed, you are playing in D-minor (I, 1st step of the scale). The root note of the 3rd position is D in holes 1, 5, and 9. All notes of the D-minor blues scale are available.

If the song reaches the subdominant chord, G-minor (IV, 4th step of the scale), release the slider and improvise using the same scale you used to play along with the tonic chord.

When you reach the dominant chord (V, A-major, 9th measure of the 12 bar blues scale) depress the slider to play along in the dominant chord, A-minor, using the notes of the A-minor blues scale.


small: 16 Blues-playalong 3 in D-minor: slow


small: 17 Blues-playalong 4 in D-Major: fast


Some words about "Chromatic Blues"

On a standard solo-tuned chromatic (C/C#) changing the key of the scale like described above is not easy - the slider of a chromatic harmonica raises the tones for a semi-note and the player has to learn a new pattern for playing in another key. If you listen to pieces played in D-minor or Eb-minor, you will hear this.

For this reason, the slider of a chromatic harmonica is rarely used in traditional blues harmonica music. In cases where the chromatic harmonica is played, the slider is typically used only for effect or for leading over from one main scale note to another.

The SAMPLER differs from a standard chromatic harmonica by offering a new approach. The second, built-in key allows you to change the pitch of the scale during your playing without thinking about a new hole pattern. It brings the simplicity of the 10-hole diatonic, where every key has the same hole pattern, but is a different key, with instant changeover ability.

It also allows you to incorporate bending to bring expressive semi-notes into your playing, just as if you were playing a 10-hole diatonic harmonica.


Playing Irish Folk on the SAMPLER

Irish folk music is often played in the key of D because of the common use of fiddles. The SAMPLER is the instrument of choice for this type of music because it gives you the capability to play using its D/A variant. To play in D-major, you will play with the slider released. If you switch to the dominant chord (A-major), depress the slider to make full chord accompaniment easy and instant!

Melodies in A-major are played while the slider is depressed as well. In this case, the subdominant chord (D-major) is available by playing blow notes with the slider released.

Traditional folk pieces such as “What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?” and “Scarborough Faire” retain their signature folk sound and feel when played on the SAMPLER in the Dorian mode. This method of playing is similar to playing blues in the 3rd position.

You can play along with folk pieces in E-minor (slider released) or in B-minor (slider depressed) as the root notes are available in the 1, 5, and 9 draw holes.


3rd position (dorian):

Notes for pieces in D-dorian (——|)     D E F G A B C D

small: 18 Dorian scale in D

Notes for pieces in A-dorian) (—|)       A B C D E F# G A

small: 19 Dorian scale in A


Tabs (lower register)        -1 2 -2 3 -3 -4 5 -5

Tabs (middle register)      -5 6 -6 7 -7 -8 8 -9


The SAMPLER is also available in the key combination of G/D, those two keys that are the most famous keys for playing traditional Irish Folk pieces - it is possible to play in the keys of D, G, Am, Em and Bm on the >SAMPLER for Irish Folk. 

SEYDEL endorser  >Mat Walklate recorded some nice Irish jigs and reels and a video with the new "Irish variant" of the SAMPLER G|D - available on the >product page.


Playing Minor-key Pieces

You can play minor pieces in 3rd position as described, or you can make use of the SAMPLER’s versatility since all of the notes of the major scale are used in the natural minor scale (the relative minor key). The C/G SAMPLER provides A-minor/C-minor with the slider released and E-minor/G-major with the slider depressed. The available notes are the same as those in the relative major scales. The root note is found in the 3, 7, and 11 draw holes.

The (minor) Blues scale is also available but the blow note in hole 6 (9) must be bent down with a blowbending).


4th position (Natural minor scale):


Available notes for pieces in A-minor (——|)     A B C D E F G A

small: 20 Natural minor scale in A


Available notes for pieces in E-minor) (—|)      E F# G A B C  D E

small: 21 Natural minor scale in E

Tabs                             -3 -4 4 -5 6 -6 7 -7



Available notes for Blues in A-Moll (——|)         A C D Eb E G A

small: 22 Blues-Skala in A


Available notes for BluesBlues in E-Moll) (—|)   E G A Bb B D E

small: 23 Blues-Skala in E

Tabs                              -3 4 -5 6' 6 7 -7




Tone table / Note layout - SEYDEL SAMPLER

Keys of C / G



Keys of D / A


>Hands-on the SAMPLER's slide lock

> More tips for maintenance

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