Overblows, valves & chromaticity

Sorry, Dick! Yes I am overblowing/drawing Lee Oskars perfectly
happily. It's not quite as easy as on a Hohner, because the reed
dimensions and profile aren't the same, which is what sets up the
squeaks and whistles - however I've found that by adjusting the reed
gaps (setting them slightly closer) I can get overblows that are
perfectly reliable. Even having done that you still have to get the
pressure exactly right when you attack the note, but it's not too tough
to adapt to this provided you're self-critical enough and work on
getting them to come in in tune. It's quite likely that you can't
change the pitch of the overblow over quite the same range as on a
Hohner, but I haven't bothered to check that out yet. Steve Baker's
book has a very good exposition of the physics involved in bends and
overblows - it's worth understanding what's going on in that harp,
believe me!
	As far as valves are concerned, I think David is being a little
sweeping in his condemnation. It *is* difficult to get used to them,
especially if you're used to overblowing, but there shouldn't be any
more difficulty involved in getting a valved blow bend to play in tune
than in getting an unvalved blow bend to play in tune. My worry with
valving for blow bends has always been that the *tonal* quality of the
note you get can stick out like a sore thumb if you're not careful -
they have a tendency to sound kinda muffled to me. On the other hand,
they enable you to do things you can't do using overblows. For
instance, on a C harp, there is *no way* you can "slide" an Eb up to an
E natural using the overblown Eb - first you have to bend the overblow
up the best part of a semitone, then change holes .... With valves it's
a snap. In common with just about everyone else in the world, I've
always had trouble with the one hole overblow, even on Hank Bahnson's
overblow harp - a valve on the 2 hole is the solution if you
absolutely *have* to get that note.
	On the other hand, I agree that the Suzukis are way
overpriced, and it's not too tough to fit the valves yourself, if you
can get hold of them - I guess Farrell probably does them, and I'm sure
there used to be a guy who sold sheets of valve material that you just
cut valves out from - maybe someone (Jack Ely?) will remember who it
	I'd like to share the following layout / setup - what do people
think? I should stress that it's aimed more at melodic/jazz playing
than straight blues ...... start out with a C harp, planning to play
in G.

Blow  | C  | E  | G  | C  | E  | G  | C  | Ev | Gv | C  |
Draw  | D  | Gv | B  | D  | F#v| A  | B  | D  | F# | A  |

	v means there's a valve on this reed - giving all the Eb's as
blow bends, top octave draw bends for C# and F - all F's are draw bends
- all C#'s are draw bends. You could take this one stage further by
tuning the 7 hole B down to Bb, and the B would still be available as a
blow bend - but I think you lose more than you gain. Looking at it, it
might be worth making the 2 hole draw an F#, if only for the sake of
consistency .......... It's a compromise - of course it is, but I find
it works very well for some things - without the valves I believe
Hohner began to market this as "Country Tuning"(?), and Lee Oskar's
Melody Maker is based on this layout as well.

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