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Hohner MB Crossover/ Compromise Tuning

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Andrew T
May 01, 2010 12:07 AM GMT

Just bought my first Marine Band Crossover and my immediate review of it is quite positive. Although I'm taking it easy until the reeds have broken in, I have a good first impression of the sound, feel, and look of the instrument. One of the selling specifics on it is compromise tuning. I've read up on that a bit before but i could use a refresher. What do you guys think of compromise tuning vs the normal (equal tempered) tuning? Tell me more about if you could. Also have any of you owned or played a MB Crossover harp? If so let me know your thoughts and experiences and if not, I feel comfortable recommending it to those willing to spend $60 on a harp. Feedback appreciated as always :) Thanx


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Comments (4)

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May 01, 2010 6:49 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

It depends on what you as a musician want to do. Today, there are far more ET tuned harps than those tuned to a comprimise or JI tuning. Back 20 years ago, there was no such thing as comprimise tuning and the vast majority of harps were tuned to 7LJI, with some tuned to 19LJI.

ET is cool if you play ZERO chords and double stops and play past 3rd position a lot, and it is a tuning favored by many OB plyers. The drawback is that the chords sound rough as hell, some people who like that sound may call it a shimmer, but it is not a true shimmer. Just intonation has a pefectly smooth chord because certain notes in the scale are either sharpened or flatted to achieve that and if you don't play past 3rd, this should be OK.

Comprimise tuning is to get somewhere in between so that the chord doesn't sound anywhere near as rough as equal tuning, but not as smooth as just so that there's more versatlity in terms of positions. Pat Missin's site has sound files so you can hear the difference between the sound of equal and just for both chords and double stops on a key of C diatonic.

if you're gonna play the classic blues stuff (both Walters and Sonny Boys, Butterfield, etc), old timey music or Americana, then you will want the JI tuned harp because that's the tunng that was stock back then and when you hear how the chords/double stops sound, it will be obvious.

If you type in the search box here, "Diatonic Harmonica Tunings - An Update," you'll find a complete list of tunings used on diatonic harmonicas and any model you don't see listed is tuned to equal tuning.

The ultimate choice is yours based on what you want to do or need. There are some players who have sets of diatonics both in just as well as equal for different purposes.

May 01, 2010 8:55 PM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

What about Marine Bands (1896), Special 20s. Hohner Blues Harps, etc.? Are those all ET?

May 02, 2010 12:43 PM GMT
Steven T Replied:

Marine Bands (1896), Special 20s, Hohner Blues Harps are all JI tuned harps. I think the first Hohner harp that was in equal tempered tuning was "The Golden Melody". The Golden Melody is great for melody playing (pop etc.) but I never liked its sound for blues. The past months I bought a couple MB crossover harps and I really, really like them. They have a bright sound, it's air-tightthanks to thebamboo comb.In the past I always tuned my harmonicas to a compromise tuning, so now I can play them out of the box.

And thank you mister Barbeque Bob for your nice explanation on different tunings.

Steven Troch

Belgium, Europe

May 02, 2010 7:43 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Hohner diatonics haveNOT been tuned to Just Intonation since 1992 and if you check my post here on Harmonica Spacewhich lists all the diatonic harp tunings at this link here, making sure you read everything carefully, since 1992, Hohner has used two different comprimise tunings, one for the Marine Band/Special 20's, and another one for the MS series, which includes the MS Blues Harp as well. The Marine Band Crossover tuning is also listed there and it is also a comprimise tuning but entirely different.

The Golden Melody has always been tuned to ET, and the only other diatonics from Hohner that are/were tuned to ET other than that model were the Marine Band Soloist/School Band model (which was tuned like a chromatic without a slide, and discontined in 1975) and the 364S (which was it's replacement since its introduction back in 1982). However, the 365SBS is the Steve Baker model, which is a completely different animal and many players not being detail observant tend to think those two models are the same, but they're not.

Outside of the GM and the MB Soloist/School Band/364S models, from the very beginning until 1985, Hohner diatonics were tuned to 7 Limit Just Intonation, then from 1985-1992, they were tuned to 19 Limit Just Intonation. Since the introduction of the MS series in 1992, they have abandoned JI and have been using comprimise tunings only.

Here's the link to Pat Missin's site that has information on tunings, including the sound files and links:

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