Author Topic: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.  (Read 8277 times)

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swing604

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Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« on: January 20, 2011, 05:39:30 PM »
This post recently caught my attention on another thread concerning Orchestra/MK tuned 12 hole chromatics;

Quote
I haven't played a Saxony in orchestra tuning, but I have a CX 12 that's tuned that way.  I find the MK or Orchestra tuning convenient, but because the reeds are shorter that than they are in 56/14 hole instrument, the response is inferior.  The 14 hole harps have the advantage of ideal reed length throughout.

Also, it might help to realize that the 14 hole harp has the same range as a violin. There are so many tunes that require the low B below C that for Jazz it's pretty essential -  it seems like Toots changes the key to avoid needing the low B (for example "Shadow of your smile"), but I find it impractical to do that, as sitting in with jazz bands they often play things in the most common key for the tune.

Doug

I'm currently awaiting a set of G reed plates for both my CX-12 & SCX48, both of which I was planning on retuning to half valved G diminished. I figured Key of G would be ideal for both it's range & "Jazz friendly" enharmonic notes. I'd thought about a 14 holer but I never really use those highest 2 holes. My main question is; Compared to a standard C tuned CX12 or SCX48, would the reed response be significantly compromised if converted to G plates? I play Jazz. I know the CX12's slot lengths are equivalent to a long slot 270 (I haven't checked on the SCX's slot lengths). I'm trying to determine the best balance of range, "Jazz friendly" diminished note layout & optimum reed response before I do all the work :). I'm now wondering if Maybe Bb diminished would be a better compromise. It seems I'd have better reed response but I'd lose a bit of lower range. Any thoughts on this are most welcome.

Jeff.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 01:34:53 AM by swing604 »

roady43

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2011, 09:00:40 PM »
The original Hohner reeds on my augmented tuned CX-12, 270, Chromettas etc. cover a huge range starting at D#3. This is nearly an octave below C4 (middle C). I claim the tonal quality of my instruments to be at least the same if not better than on an out of the box 280 in C. When I retuned a 260 (short slot!) down to G3 using solder, I experienced some loss in volume and response (but sounding warm and mellow). Doing the same on long slot reeds probably won't be as much notable.

But if I understand correctly what you intend to do with the G reedplates (transforming them to diminished), the lowest reeds will not be touched. So there should be no problems. Tuning the G up to Bb is much more tricky and I wouldn't recommend it if not absolutely necessary. On my experience the SCX reeds have same dimensions as the Hohner but not sure if they have the same pitch (Herings for example are just switched by 1 hole). I had to replace a reed on a SCX56 once and I took a Hohner reed and it worked well. If I remember correctly it had not to be retuned (except for standard finetuning).

roady43

swing604

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2011, 09:21:03 PM »
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Tuning the G up to Bb is much more tricky and I wouldn't recommend it if not absolutely necessary.

Thanks for the info Roady43. If I were to make a CX12, Bb diminished chromatic, I would start with Bb plates (much less work  :))& in the case of the Suzuki, A or C since thats what's available although, I'm not sure if in this case, it would be better to tune up or down? While I'll most likely just go ahead & retune the CX12 set of G reedplates to G diminished, a while ago, I didn't heed the SlideMeister voices of experience &  I undertook what turned out to be a disappointing half valved 270 diminished conversion. Live & learn. I figure it doesn't hurt to get a few second opinions.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 01:44:23 AM by swing604 »

Offline Jason Rogers

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2011, 11:48:53 AM »
As far as choosing a range that is best for jazz (Bb or G vs. C or A), that's an interesting question.  I play the key of A most commonly, and I rarely find myself wishing I had lower notes.  The one time I might miss lower notes would be if I'm learning a solo off a record, but when it comes time to play live, the key of A seems satisfactory 99% of the time.  I think I would very much miss the A, Bb, B if I switched to the key of C, however.  Bottom line, I don't think you can go wrong with a Bb or a G.

As far as enharmonics that are best for jazz, my take is that the keys that have a small advantage - due to enharmonics and the combination of the 2 basic dimi scales (Whole/Half and Half/Whole) - on a key of G or Bb dimi would be:

D, F, Ab and B Major (including ii-V-Is). 
D-, F-, Ab- and B- (including iim7b5, V7, i)
G, Bb, Db or E pentatonics, minor pentatonics and blues scales are convenient. 
basic bluesy patterns work well over C7, Eb7, Gb7, and A7 chords

Those same keys on an A or C dimi would be:
Db, E, G, and Bb Major. 
Db-, E-, G-, and Bb-
A, C, Eb and Gb pentatonics, minor pentatonics, blues scales
F7, Ab7, B7, and D7

Anyway, this is just my opinion, I'm sure you have your own and will discover plenty more.

Quote
in the case of the Suzuki, A or C since thats what's available although, I'm not sure if in this case, it would be better to tune up or down?

If you wanted a Bb dimi, then I think you'd want to start with A plates as opposed to C.  I usually take the route of retuning from A Maj to A dimi (same key plates), but have heard that Gnarly has done half-step-up retuning to dimi.
 
Maybe Gnarly will confirm the half step up tuning...
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 04:36:40 PM by chespernevins »

Offline Eugene Ryan

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2011, 11:58:28 AM »
As Jason says, if you transcribe from records, you may need/want lower notes.  If you're into jazz and need to transcribe from a tenor sax, even the range of a 64 may not be enough if you want to play in the same octaves as the sax - but again, for most of the time, you won't go wrong with a G3 dim - I'd recommend that over the Bb3.   It will also lead you to be able to do retuning on more models of harmonicas, with the 56 model being available where one in G major is not...

What Jason says about the keys and scales that have advantages due to enharmonics is very true.  :)
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 12:02:38 PM by Eugene Ryan »

swing604

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2011, 04:03:09 PM »
Thanks Jason & Eugene for the great info, I was hoping you guys would chime in. Given the symmetrical nature of any diminished tuned chromatic I guess the advantages of selecting enharmonics are quite, as Chespernevins put it, "small" & perhaps not really worth nitpicking over. I really like the idea of learning & sticking with one key layout of diminished chromatic for most musical purposes. With your comments & the nice extended lower range in mind , I think a G it shall be!  :)
   
Jeff.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 04:46:51 PM by swing604 »

Offline Jason Rogers

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2011, 04:41:26 PM »
Good luck with it Jeff!  Have fun and let us know how it's going!

Offline Gnarly He Man

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2011, 02:57:36 AM »
Quote
in the case of the Suzuki, A or C since thats what's available although, I'm not sure if in this case, it would be better to tune up or down?
If you wanted a Bb dimi, then I think you'd want to start with A plates as opposed to C.  I usually take the route of retuning from A Maj to A dimi (same key plates), but have heard that Gnarly has done half-step-up retuning to dimi.
Maybe Gnarly will confirm the half step up tuning...
Right, you could tune A up to Bb dimi or down from C.
I used to prefer raising pitch to lowering it, before I started using silver solder.
Attached is a chart for a retune from A to Bb dimi.

swing604

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2011, 08:48:02 PM »
Thanks again Gnarly!

Offline Gnarly He Man

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2011, 11:38:01 PM »
And again, you are more than welcome--I am glad to help!

roady43

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2011, 10:12:57 AM »
Thanks Jason & Eugene for the great info, I was hoping you guys would chime in. Given the symmetrical nature of any diminished tuned chromatic I guess the advantages of selecting enharmonics are quite, as Chespernevins put it, "small" & perhaps not really worth nitpicking over. I really like the idea of learning & sticking with one key layout of diminished chromatic for most musical purposes. With your comments & the nice extended lower range in mind , I think a G it shall be!  :)
   
Jeff.


If ever I would have (had) to chose diminished tuning, it would have to start from G3. My repertoire origin mainly is violin music, so the G is a MUST!

roady43

swing604

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2011, 04:06:59 PM »
I thought I'd post a follow up for anyone who may be interested in this mod. I've now converted 2 SCX48's & 1 CX12 to G half valved diminished (with one more CX12 in G "HVD" to come) & I'm (so far) pleased with the results. I have to agree with Gnarly that a 12 hole starting in G is an ideal layout & I don't find myself missing those two top hole notes in the least. It's now really nice practicing through my Aebersold books & not having to constantly transpose up an octave. The downside of this mod is, as Wendellfiddler has pointed out, that the volume, dynamic range & responsiveness of the reeds are slightly compromised due to the shorter than optimum (for the pitch) reed lengths. I did a direct comparison to one of my SCX48's outfitted with my original key of C half valved diminished plates before reaching this conclusion. I have found though, that careful gapping really does seem to minimize much of this effect & the lowest notes on both the CX12 & SCX48 respond very well to half valving, perhaps due to the shorter reed lengths. All factors considered, it's a really nice layout & well worth the effort. I replaced all inside valves with the Timler/Seydel "dimpled" valves with noticeably improved (less valve noise) results. I have a feeling that if I half valved a SCX56, I might need to fully valve the first 2 holes due to the longer reed lengths, although I may be wrong in this guess. All of the SCX range seem to be really airtight.

Jeff.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 04:25:17 PM by swing604 »

roady43

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2011, 06:24:57 PM »
... I've now converted 2 SCX48's & 1 CX12 to G half valved diminished (with one more CX12 in G "HVD" to come) & I'm (so far) pleased with the results...
... The downside of this mod is, as Wendellfiddler has pointed out, that the volume, dynamic range & responsiveness of the reeds are slightly compromised due to the shorter than optimum (for the pitch) reed lengths. I did a direct comparison to one of my SCX48's outfitted with my original key of C half valved diminished plates before reaching this conclusion....

Jeff.

As mentioned above, when I re-tuned a 260 (short slot!) down to G3 using solder, I experienced some loss in volume and response (but sounding warm and mellow). Doing the same on long slot reeds probably won't be as much notable.

Using solder has the result, that the reed becomes very hot. This might have an influence on the atomic structure of the metal. I can imagine that reeds get a bit lame by this process. Just speculating...

Using fitting (new Hohner) reeds for each slot on my augmented harmonicas gives me at least the same sound quality as on out-of-the-box standart tuned harmonicas. The shorter reed length has no negative influence on the volume, dynamic range & responsiveness on my instruments.*) In relation to longer reeds of the same pitch, shorter reeds produce louder overtones in a frequency range, where the human ear is very sensitive. This can be very effective and helpfull when playing non amplified against a big symphony orchestra. Listen the attached clip: Hohner Meisterklasse in augmented tuning, there where about 50 people in the orchestra. When playing all together you still can hear the harmonica (I was standing just in front of the orchestra and the microphone was positioned about 5 meters away from us).

roady43

*)only exception when I have to use solder to tune reeds down, which is only the case for the lowest reeds of the MK.

swing604

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2011, 09:00:53 PM »
Quote
The shorter reed length has no negative influence on the volume, dynamic range & responsiveness on my instruments.*) In relation to longer reeds of the same pitch, shorter reeds produce louder overtones in a frequency range, where the human ear is very sensitive.

Thanks for this observation & sound clip Roady, as the soldering is most likely a big part of the tonal change, although I find the tonal/ dynamic range/ responsiveness change to be quite acceptable to my ears at least.  It might be interesting to take the plunge & try swapping reeds on the "soon to be arriving" CX12, G reedplates instead of using solder although, to be honest, I actually don't mind the slightly warmer sound solder can impart. Before harponline closed shop, I bought one of Mr Timler's 280 reed sets (the older version) & his reed screws, bolts, reamer, driver & reed removal tool but I've yet to use most of them. It would be interesting to see if I've got the right reeds already ( I've got a few various "donor plates" as well). I also play acoustic guitar & it's interesting to note that many players prefer "short scale" Gibson acoustics over Martin "long scale" acoustics due to same tonal characteristics you describe in your post.

Jeff.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 09:23:52 PM by swing604 »

swing604

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2011, 11:40:51 PM »
Quote
The shorter reed length has no negative influence on the volume, dynamic range & responsiveness on my instruments.*)

My conclusion of reduced reed response/ dynamic range & volume due to shorter reeds vs longer reeds was based on a direct comparison of 2 identically set up chromatics, both with soldered reeds with the only difference being one was in C dimi & the other in G dimi. There was a minor but noticeable reduction on reed response, dynamic range & volume in the lower pitched G instrument. Maybe there was some other reason that I may have overlooked accounting for the difference. I know that guitars & harmonicas are different instruments but It is interesting to note that in general, short scale guitars (like most Gibson's) have reduced acoustic volume, dynamic range & response compared to longer scale guitars (most Fender & Martin's). In most cases these "reductions" are not at all thought to be disadvantages because short scale instruments are, in general, a bit easier to play & have a very sweet tone. Apples & oranges.

Jeff.

triggerfinger

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2011, 01:47:38 AM »
Nice work Roady! Moving. You captured the feeling.

JoeDeF

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Re: Optimum "Jazz" Diminished tuning layout for SCX48 & CX12.
« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2011, 03:38:03 AM »
This can be very effective and helpfull when playing non amplified against a big symphony orchestra. Listen the attached clip: Hohner Meisterklasse in augmented tuning, there where about 50 people in the orchestra. When playing all together you still can hear the harmonica (I was standing just in front of the orchestra and the microphone was positioned about 5 meters away from us).

Hi Roady,

I really enjoyed this clip!  Very nice!

Thanks for sharing,

Joe