Play in any acoustic setting and you no doubt have the issue of being heard above the guitars when playing 2nd position (Cross) in (D) or (E). We’ve all been there and noticed that the harp is playing at exactly the same range as the other instruments and hearing yourself play is next to impossible and forget others hearing you. This has been one of the reasons harmonica companies occasionally produce High A and High G harmonicas. Seydel still has both in production although only in brass reed models. The reason for this is that a given reed length can only be made to produce a finite number of pitches. The pitch range of a reed is significantly smaller on stainless steel and hence, the higher octave harps are not produced in stainless. There is a very workable solution to this using what is called a “shift”. Shift tuning merely moves the notes over to the right or left 1 hole into the usable pitch range. For example, a typical diatonic (G) harp is laid out as follows.
G B D G B D G B D G BLOW
A D F# A C E F# A C E DRAW
These pitch ranges are not available in stainless steel an octave higher.
However, we can shift all the notes over 1 hole and get into the workable range. Of course, the layout is slightly different, but it still follows the same basic pattern. You lose the notes on the 10 hole, but at that octave those would be too piercing, anyhow. The other advantage is the additional notes added on hole 1 fit perfectly for 2nd position play. Under this tuning scheme, the player gets a full 3 octaves of 2nd position.
The shifted layout would be as follows:
D G B D G B D G B D BLOW
F# A D F# A C E F# A C DRAW
Listen to a sound sample of a little informal jam using a HIGH A 1847 that has been shift tuned.
This is a great option for those needing a higher octave harp in bluegrass, country, and other acoustic type settings. It takes only a few minutes to figure out the layout. I can build this type of harp in the 1847 for about $110. Contact me for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org. See below for a video demonstration.