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Is anyone else a fan of comprimise tuning?

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Chris C
Nov 20, 2009 2:51 AM GMT

I have been playing Hohners for years. Mainly Special 20s, ProHarps and the MS equivelents.

I started my harp life as a lip purser and it is still the bedrock of my playing. I have done some nice recordings like that.But some years ago chordal playing strated to creep in to my approach. More recently I have embraced Tounge blocking and am now working on TB on both sides of my tounge.

I am sure this journey will sound familiar to many of you. It stikes me that the catalyst for the changes in aproach I have seen have a lot to do with the flexability of compromise tunings I have been playing for years. Does anyone agree?

If I was asked what tuning I wanted a custom harp in (One day soon I hope) I would probably say Compromise tuning. I don't now exactly which Comprimise tuning is best?


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Comments (14)

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Nov 20, 2009 2:55 AM GMT
Chris C Replied:

And there is a prize for the person who can spell compromise the most number of different ways in a post.


Nov 20, 2009 4:09 AM GMT
jon s Replied:

i dont care much for compromise. im strickly a marine band guy. well its not that i dont care much for compremise but i prefer the sound of JI as to compramise. comprimise. lol


Nov 20, 2009 6:41 AM GMT
Chris C Replied:

I know things have changed now but I have never been able to get in to the whole wooden combs swelling thing on the marine bands. I remember thinking when I started that if the ledgends of yesteryear where alive today they would probably play Special 20s and not Marine Bands. A big assumption I know. I was just beginning.Jon s are you a tounge blocker?


Nov 20, 2009 10:28 AM GMT
jon s Replied:

well i seal all my combs so they dont swell at all. iv thought about that too what they would be playing if they were alive today. no im not a tounge blocker. only for certain effects and what not.


Nov 20, 2009 1:13 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

It all depends on what you want to do as well as personal taste. For a more tradtional blues, I prefer 7 limit just intonation or 19 limit just intonation, tho the latter gives you more options in terms of positons, especially past 3rd position. For other genres, it's more wide open, largely depending on what's needed. The one bad thing about the comprimise tunings, especially the ones Hohner uses, is that unlike equal or just, the tuning has been royally inconsistent from harp to harp. With equal it's the octaves that have to be right and everything is at 0 cents on a tuner (and the default tuning on all tuners is in equal temperament). With just, not only do you have to listen to the octaves, but also the other notes in the chords as well so that you don't hear any wavering or beating when they're played. Comprimise is trying to get the better of both worlds, tho it'll never please everyone but that is also true with any tuning, meaning that's there always gonna be a tradeoff somewhere.

I play both with TB as well as pucker, often changing in mid-phrase and knowing both comes in handy.

Take a look a the tuning charts I posted and then you may figure out what you want. Remember: one size doesn't fit all.


Nov 20, 2009 11:48 PM GMT
Chris C Replied:

All true Bob. My point is that not many people point to compromise and say they like it. What I like I think is that you can mix your aproaches (TB, pucker and Chord) as you say mid-phrasewithout awkwardness.

True you dont get the full advantage of the rich chords in JI or the perfect intonation in the classic sense of ET but it is an alrounder. Do you find you have to be carefull mixing your approaches in JI?

I do take your point about inconsistency. I thought that was a function just of Honher manufacture and not of compromise tuning.


Nov 21, 2009 1:58 AM GMT
J Replied:

Compramize, comprise,compost,compremess........do I win?


Nov 21, 2009 3:04 AM GMT
Chris C Replied:

Help out a dyslexic harp brother (not a joke). What is the right spelling. Compromise?


Nov 21, 2009 5:27 AM GMT
Kingley Replied:

It all depends on what I'm playing. If it's classic Chicago style then I prefer 7 limit JI. If it's a more modern style then I prefer 19 limit JI. The only compromised tuning I really liked was the one Steve Baker recommended in his Harp Handboook, which I believe the Crossovers are tuned to.


Nov 22, 2009 1:05 AM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

My question is for those who half-Valve there harps, such as Brendan Powers or PT Gazell. IsCompromisetuning good if you are half-valving?

On the flip side, is compromise tuning good for over blowing?

It would seem to me, that over blowers would prefer Equal tuning. But I'm not an over blower, so I really don't know.


Dec 02, 2009 8:41 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

I tune all my harps enough complex. Starting point is equal tuning. So if I'm not lazy I tune that way: The base tuning for first octave is around 443 Hz, for second octave is 442 Hz and for third octave to 441 Hz (or slightly higher, closer to 442). It's important that base tuning for lower note in octave split have to be slightly higher than base tuning for higher note in octave split.The reason is I've noticed that slightly diminished (by 5-10 cents) octave sounds much better, than slightly augment. And lower reeds go lower with hard attack, than higher reeds.

To provide good chords it’s better to tune thirds for any chord a bit lower than 1 and 3 tones. So I tune 2, 5, 8 blow and 3, 7 draw 5-10 cents lower than other reeds. For Golden Melody I usually tune them down.

By the way I hate when 5 and 9 draw is flat, I usually tune them up to 0 cents for Special 20.


Dec 02, 2009 9:13 PM GMT
Joe L Replied:

I can honestly say that I've never really thought about it.


Dec 02, 2009 11:23 PM GMT
Chris C Replied:

V. Interesting Boris, Did you learn this approach off some one or experiment till you found it?


Dec 03, 2009 3:04 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

This is mostly my experience and ears. I've noticed (and heard about it) that reeds go a bit flat when playing harder. So it's the reason why harmonicas are usually tuned higher (442 Hz mostly, but Herings are sometimes tuned up to 446 and they are noticeably too sharp). So but it’s rarely noted that the lower reed the flatter it goes while playing harder. Blow reed in the first octave can go flat more than 15 cents (if plays blues player with hard attack), otherwise for the second octave blow reed hardly goes deeper than 10 cent, and for 3rd octave (if not using blow bendling!) it usually goes flat about 5 cents. So If you want clean octave splits all over 3 octaves tune higher reeds a bit flatter (not flatter than 441Hz base tuning!). Lowering thirds is standard technique for compromise and JI tunings. The only thing is I can’t understand what the hell 5 an 9 draw have to be slightly flat, as 4-th tone for first position is more useful note than 2-5 octave (7th) split.



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