Melody Maker Tuning for the diatonic harmonica is likely the most misunderstood and incorrectly described of the alternate tuning approaches. Made popular by Lee Oskar Harmonicas, Melody Maker tuning merely adds one (1) additional adjusted note to Country Tuning. It is most likely named because it brings distinctive melody playing in range of the 2nd position/cross harp player without the need for bends or overblows.
In 2nd position, our root note is on the 2 draw. In standard tuning, the 3 blow note is a duplicate of 2 draw. Hitting the 2nd note of the major scale requires a draw bend on the 3 hole. Hitting the 7th note of the scale requires an overblow at hole 5. Melody Maker Tuning involves raising the 3 hole blow note 1 whole step and raising the 5 draw note 1/2 step, allowing for the complete major scale without the need for either technique.
Melody Maker Tuning is strictly for 2nd position play and it is for songs that follow a major scale structure. Although one could in theory play a blues or minor scale using Melody Maker Tuning, that is not the intent. The tuning is designed for hymns, some jazz standards, folk songs, and great for bluegrass.
It is important to note that because the 3 blow note is raised 1 whole step, the blow chord players use for vamping and accompaniment is lost. This blow chord represents the IV chord in the progression. The tuning layout for a Melody Maker tuned diatonic is shown here.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
C E A C E G C E G C BLOW (Top Plate)
D G B D F# A B D F A DRAW (Bottom Plate)
In the video below, I discuss and demonstrate the use of Melody Maker Tuning using the song Save the Last Dance for Me.
I further demonstrate Melody Maker Tuning in the subsequent video where I play the Irish fiddle classic Whiskey