Finetuning / temperament

The Standard Richter-tuning can be called the "mother of all harmonica tunings" (example: key of C):

Standard Richter tuning in C

blow C4 E4 G4 C5 E5 G5 C6 E6 G6 C7
hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
draw D4 G4 B4 D5 F5 A5 B5 D6 F6 A6


The note layout is very flexible and thus suited for music of many different styles.

Besides the general note layout of the harmonica, which is the so called >Richter-tuning present on all of our instruments from the Blues series, harmonicas can be tuned to different temperaments. A modern harmonica must be a versatile instrument and has to fit into many musical styles. That is why we tune our serial models according to the so called "Compromised tuning". This tuning is very well suited for playing the harmonica in the first three (and most important) positions.

If you think of a harmonica in C these are G-major (2nd pos., Blues) or D-minor (3rd pos. Blues/Funk/Irish folk) or simply the 1st position (traditional music, Blues).


The pitch of the single notes of the scale is "fine-tuned" - that means that some notes of the scale are tuned with well defined deviations from the basic frequency (443 Hz). That is why chords still sound "OK" and all notes sound in the right pitch if played in the different keys given above:

Compromized tuning for playing in 2nd and 3rd position (SEYDEL's standard for all Blues instruments)

blow 0 -14 2 0 -14 2 0 -14 2 0
hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
draw 4 2 -12 4 -2 6 -12 4 -2 6

divergence in cents


If you divide an octave into 12 equal parts you will get the equal temperament:

12-tone equal temperament (12-TET)

blow 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
draw 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

divergence in cents


This temperament (or fine-tuning) is suited especially for single note playing, because dissonances occur if one plays chords. These instruments are suited best for players who play the harmonica in many different positions (e.g. in Jazz) and do use the Overblow-technique.

If a player sticks to the 1st position to nearly 100 % (C-harmonica in C and G), then another temperament is the better choice: With the so called Just intonation (JI) chords (C and G) and the notes major scale (C) do sound without any dissonances.


small:equal temperament (12 TET)        small:just intonation


The harmonica originally was designed to play Folk-music - for a better "sonority" many diatonic instruments are tuned to the so called "Just intonation".

In contrast to the approved Compromised-tuning, which is the default on all of our Blues-series models and which is very well suited to play Blues/Pop/Jazz in the 2nd and 3rd position you can order the traditional "Just intonation" to be applied to your instrument.

In this temperament some notes of the major scale are slightly tuned different compared to the compromised tuning, thus resulting in a very full chord sound, that is appreciated by many folk musicians and loved by many Blues-purists (mainly the thirds and fifth of the blow- and the minor seventh of the draw chord are affected).

Any maker has got his own "tuning system" - we tune these instruments according to the traditional SEYDEL-just system which was replaced by the compromised tuning nowadays.


Tip: More knowledge on tuning systems and temperaments can be found >here and for those of you who like to get very detailed info: click >here.



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