Author Topic: Bass harmonica question- single vs double reed tone.  (Read 967 times)

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Offline BeauKim

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Bass harmonica question- single vs double reed tone.
« on: July 13, 2018, 05:20:30 PM »
Hi George and anyone else,

I have both Hohner types, a 268 double reed and a 264 single reed bass.  I love how different they sound.  At first, I thought the 264 wouldn't project very well and be much harder to play than the double bass but that doesn't appear to be the case for me. 
I think the:
single reed bass sounds closer to a bass clarinet and is mellower, sounds more like a 'real' bass instrument, the lower notes are a little less agile, has a smoother sound overall

double reed bass is more unique sounding with a metallic bite, brightness because of the starter reed, is more responsive in the low register, and has a growl.   

I have a recording of the Stagg McMann trio where the bassist switched to a single reed bass for part of the song.  I think it was used during a more delicate and quiet section, really emulating a bowed upright bass or cello. 

I know that microphones and some playing technique can help smooth out the sound of the double reed bass.  Have you switched between the two types of basses for having a different tone color?  Any other thoughts on these bass types?  Thank you!

Offline George Miklas

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    • Dr. George Miklas, Harmonica Performer, Entertainer, Repair Tech, Hohner Dealer, Scholar, and Author of “Harmonica Pedagogy for the Full Inclusion Music Classroom”
Re: Bass harmonica question- single vs double reed tone.
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2018, 05:40:01 PM »
For a long time I used a microphone technique which primarily picked up the low octave reed of the double bass.  While this technique allowed for direct amplification of the fundamental pitch, the sound still have full spectrum of overtone partials.

The microphone was an adapted Shure 315 Ribbon Mic, mounted on a chest plate. This was the typical mic set up for the Harmonicats in the 60s through 90s.

As far as switching... well I have never done it on a live stage.

George  Harmonica Specialist & Aficionado; Scholar, Educator, Performer, Repair; Harmonica Bands and Solo Concerti