Seydel has just released its newest harmonica, the Symphony Grand Chromatic 16 hole model. Sales have exceeded all expectations and great reviews are pouring in. In just weeks the Seydel Symphony Grand has established itself as the premier chromatic harmonica on the market.
An understanding of the chromatic harmonica is necessary to fully appreciate the design and manufacturing characteristics that have gone into the Symphony Grand Chromatic and why it has become so popular with accomplished players.
The chromatic harmonica - unlike its free reed cousin the diatonic - is specifically made to modulate through key changes. In other words the purpose of the chromatic harmonica is to allow the player to effortlessly navigate complex chord progressions and key changes in serious musical passages. This is most often associated with jazz and classical music, but it actually happens frequently in popular music, as well.
Building a harmonica that produces evenly sounding - on pitch- notes in the chromatic scale is an engineering challenge. The chromatic harmonica has several parts that move simultaneously and interact with each other. These parts require regular maintenance and care. Many a chromatic harmonica has become a paperweight because of a minor uncorrected maintenance issue. With the Symphony Grand Chromatic, Seydel has gone a long way towards making a chromatic harmonica that is reliable but also amazingly simple to maintain.
Starting with the covers, Seydel has added built in supports so no more of those annoying crushed and bent covers. Notice the open style back with bracing.
Additionally Seydel designed this chromatic so that it can be very effortlessly disassembled with just a single standard Phillip's head screwdriver. Remember all those stripped POZI style binding screws?
The covers on the Symphony actually screw on independently so you can remove just the top or bottom plate. You can forget about those gender screws that required three hands just to re-attach the covers. The independent cover assembly means you can remove just 1 cover and set the Symphony down without mashing the valves and the reeds on the opposite side.
Once the covers are off, the player has access to all of the reeds and half of the valves. Easily 50% of all maintenance issues can be corrected at this point of disassembly and it takes less than 2 minutes to get there.
The Symphony Grand Chromatic reed plates actually sit inside the comb. This creates an unusually air tight fit and also eliminates any chance for the common alignment problems during re-assembly. The standard Phillip's head screws attach directly to the comb. The reed plates sit flush against the mouthpiece rail but there are no issues fitting them and once the plates are inside the recessed comb, everything is perfectly aligned.
Moving to the mouthpiece and slide assembly, the most obvious design feature is clearly the unexposed mouthpiece attachment screws. The mouthpiece front is completely smooth with no visible fasteners. This makes for very comfortable and smooth play.
Adjustment and assembly of the mouthpiece starts at the back with the screws running through the comb and into threaded holes that are on the underside of the mouthpiece. This is an ingenious design that not only makes the mouthpiece smoother across the front, but makes it easier to install bumpers.
Note the threaded hole in the mouthpiece for the screw. The milled groove above the screw hole is clearance for the slide spring. While on the subject of the spring, note that it is on the left side of the harmonica opposite of the button.
Here is the complete slide assembly disassembled. The H-bar is part of the actual mouthpiece and not a separate component. The pictured mouthpiece is the half-moon version that comes stock on the Symphony acrylic.
The slide and mouthpiece assembly still uses the H-bar concept and the player can expect extremely smooth and quiet slide operation when properly maintained. The slide mechanism is designed for the advanced player who needs to navigate extremely fast passages with no catching or delay in slide function.
Here is the completely disassembled Symphony. Simple re-assembly takes takes only a few minutes and is fool-proof.
The enemy of a properly functioning chromatic harmonica is excess condensation buildup. Moisture attracts dust and this combination clogs the delicate parts inside the chromatic. Some of this is natural and unavoidable, but historically players have reduced excess
moisture buildup by insuring their chromatic harmonica is close to their body temperature before playing. The great players were known to pull their chromatic from their breast pocket on their suit right as they entered the stage. Seydel has come up with a heated storage case for the Symphony, applying an old concept with a new an innovative idea. The heated case will bring the chromatic to an ideal temperature using a heating element and USB power supply that fits inside the case.
The Seydel Symphony Grand Chromatic is on its way to becoming the most sought after chromatic harmonica by serious players and students of the instrument. Purchasers of the Symphony can expect Seydel's outstanding customer service and commitment to excellence.
I am a qualified Seydel dealer as well as Seydel's technical service repair representative. I am available to answer questions and provide expert technical service on your Symphony chromatic.
I can be contacted by email here for additional questions.