Author Topic: Alternate tunings - the problems  (Read 7687 times)

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Offline streetlegal

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Alternate tunings - the problems
« on: May 08, 2012, 06:37:28 AM »
I've been thinking about the problems that are associated with changing layouts to achieve, for example the augmented wholetone tuning. The problem - even for the Seydel and Hohner workshops - is that they are working with standard reedplates, with standard slot sizes along with their standard reeds. This means that the alternate tuning reedplates are really compromise re-tunes - and not alternate tuning of equivalent quality to their standard solo-tuned plates.

To achieve an augmented wholetone tuned Chromatic of equal quality to a solo tuned harmonica, it would be necessary to make special reedplates, with the slots custom made to accommodate the correctly pitched reed in the augmented  position, without compromising the performance of the reeds. I think that tuning a reed up or down one semi-tone is ok - but beyond that the response of the reeds will not be so good.

This is a problem, because I really like the idea of the augmented wholetone layout - but things are never as simple as they first appear.

Offline Grizzly

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2012, 08:21:34 AM »
Be aware of this: all the reedplates for a CX 12 black are identical. Exception: the Tenor, which has unadvertised thicker reedplates. But the slots are the same. The differences in pitch are from the reeds—thickness, especially at the tips of the longer reeds. Slots have nothing to do with it.

The standard 270 has shorter slots; but all the rest of the line have identical long slot reedplates. Again, the difference is in the reeds.

I would assume that Suzuki and Seydel follow the same protocol. From a manufacturing standpoint, it only makes sense.

Alternate tunings, whether retuning  the reeds themselves or replacing them, are limited only to what the manufacturers say will work or not. In all, however, at least with Hohner, there is a whole octave to play with: standard C solo tuning v. tenor tuning.

This is a non-issue.

Tom
working on my second 10,000!

Offline streetlegal

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2012, 04:57:21 AM »
Sorry Tom - I can't see it like that. Individual reeds are specially milled precisely to fit individual slots on the reedplates. That means for example a C reed is made to a precise length and weight to match its particular slot in the solo tuned reedplate layout.

Now in the case of an augmented/wholetone layout the fifth hole blow reed, for example, must change from a C reed to an E reed. That's two wholetones up - a pretty steep pitch inflation. The E reed will be too short for the C slot so a lower pitched reed must be selected to fit and then brought up to pitch by removing metal to make it lighter. It seems to me that this is a compromise that is bound to have an effect on playing response - if precisely milled reeds are as important as the makers always say that they are.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 05:00:50 AM by streetlegal »

Offline Grizzly

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2012, 08:42:15 AM »
You're talking about going up in pitch, right? That could be a problem with Hohner and Suzuki, where they don't even make reeds in corresponding slots for anything above a C chromatic. But Seydel does offer chromatics above the standard C, all the way up to F. It would take a little research to determine if their reedplates for those higher keys differ from standard; but if they don't, I stand by what I said.

Certainly, going the other direction (flatter), the reedplates accommodate a whole octave range of factory-milled reeds. My CX 12 Tenor and my CX 12 Gold are equally at home with identical reedplates.

Tom
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Offline streetlegal

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2012, 10:34:28 AM »
That's an interesting point - I didn't think that the C Tenor would have exactly the same reedplates and slot lengths as the standard C CX12. So perhaps I am worrying too much about this - I suppose I will need to experiment. At some point I will just try a straightforward re-tune of a solo tuned Swan, sharpening all of the reeds to make it augmented/wholetone.

I suppose I was thinking about how a Chromatic would be factory made if augmented was the standard tuning system. In that case reedplates would be made with different slot lengths, specifically to accommodate the augmented layout.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 10:41:33 AM by streetlegal »

Offline Grizzly

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2012, 12:29:10 PM »


I suppose I was thinking about how a Chromatic would be factory made if augmented was the standard tuning system. In that case reedplates would be made with different slot lengths, specifically to accommodate the augmented layout.
That's an interesting observation. If putting a longer range of pitches onto the same number of slots that a solo tuned harmonica has, it might benefit from an adjustment in slot length. However, length is somewhat forgiving, considering current manufacturing practice of using one set of reedplates for every key.

Tom
working on my second 10,000!

roady43

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2012, 01:38:42 PM »
Absolutely correct Tom, I agree 100% with all what you say.

On my augmented harmonicas only original Hohner reeds are mounted (unmodified except for B2). Fitting Hohner reeds up to F#7 are even available for the highest slots (e.g. for hole 16 of a 280 or hole 14 of MK reedplates). They come from reeds fitting some high diatonic harps. The range of my MK is more than 4.5 octaves (B2 to F#7) and my 12 holers go from Eb3 to D7 and I can't feel any disadvantage compared with normal solo tuned harmonicas.

Remember that CX 12 and 270 exist in nearly any desired tonality. It would not make sense to have different sized slots for each of them. The compromise which was made to adapt all physical needs was AFAIK with the introduction of the "long slot" layout (after "medium slot" size for the 64 series). I doubt that individually sized slots for augmented tuning would make a very big beneficial difference. Although the layout might be not the same if augmented would have become standard lets say 100 years ago I still think it would be marginal... The benefits of adaptable reed dimensions (size and weight) have a very large and quite impressive potential and I think to exceed the boundaries of what is physically feasible is far from what harmonicas demand.

Very low reeds of accordions are not as long as one would expect them to be (gradually in relation to the upper reeds) but are weighted with solder just to keep the instruments in reasonable/playable size etc.


roady43

Chrotrane

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2012, 03:08:48 PM »
The range of my MK is more than 4.5 octaves (B2 to F#7) and my 12 holers go from Eb3 to D7 and I can't feel any disadvantage compared with normal solo tuned harmonicas.
Oh my god, that's the b a half step below the lowest on a 64 right? that means you've tuned that read down a b6.
When I retuned my MK to Gb dimi, I actually started out tuning it to Eb instead of Gb, I only tuned down the top plate or the bottom plate, while I left the other as it was, that way I could test whether the difference was too noticeable.
I certainly found it made the harp considerably more heavy, so I decided on the Gb instead.

Very low reeds of accordions are not as long as one would expect them to be (gradually in relation to the upper reeds) but are weighted with solder just to keep the instruments in reasonable/playable size etc.
Is that a fact, I thought it was just us who fooled around with solder like that, I actually own one but I've never taken it apart.

Offline Grizzly

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2012, 03:24:02 PM »
Different slot length protocols don't have to be an exorbitant  proposition. If it's a matter of just shifting over one slot for every whole tone or third, the punching fixture could have all the punches necessary, with the end ones removable, and indexed on the bed left to right to get to the desired set of slots. The big stopper would be the cost of initial tooling, and setup (labor) costs in production.

It's easier to make one size fits all.

Tom
working on my second 10,000!

roady43

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2012, 07:34:40 PM »
The range of my MK is more than 4.5 octaves (B2 to F#7) and my 12 holers go from Eb3 to D7 and I can't feel any disadvantage compared with normal solo tuned harmonicas.
Oh my god, that's the b a half step below the lowest on a 64 right? that means you've tuned that read down a b6.
When I retuned my MK to Gb dimi, I actually started out tuning it to Eb instead of Gb, I only tuned down the top plate or the bottom plate, while I left the other as it was, that way I could test whether the difference was too noticeable.
I certainly found it made the harp considerably more heavy, so I decided on the Gb instead.

Very low reeds of accordions are not as long as one would expect them to be (gradually in relation to the upper reeds) but are weighted with solder just to keep the instruments in reasonable/playable size etc.
Is that a fact, I thought it was just us who fooled around with solder like that, I actually own one but I've never taken it apart.

The lowest reed that Hohner makes fitting the slots of hole 1 of the MK is D3. So I only had to "retune" 3 reeds, the lowest by a minor third (3 semitones). When I ordered my augmented tuned MK reedplates, I noted 4 times D3 for hole 1 (otherwise they wouldn't have accepeted it). So in fact I had to retune 3 reeds, all other 53 were available and came in perfect 442 Hz corresponding pitch. Before I knew D3 existed for hole 1 of the MK, I just took four G3 reeds which I tuned down. It worked well but reeds of correct origial pitch always are preferable...

roady43

jazmaan

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Re: Alternate tunings - the problems
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2013, 09:44:18 PM »
You all should read the similar discussion that was going on in the Fourkey topic.  Roger knows more about this issue than I do, so maybe he'll jump in.