RE: Steve Baker Special
- Subject: RE: Steve Baker Special
- From: "Michelle LeFree" <mlefree@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 11:15:42 -0600
Both Jp and Mojo repsonded to my query about the apparently disjoint note
layout of the SBS:
> >Mojo, it seems like the octave jump at the lower end of the SBS would
> >confuse me. Doesn't it sound strange if you try to "gliss" or slide up
> >across holes three and four?
> i don't know about Ken, but i just think of the bottom three holes on the
> SBS as an extension of an otherwise regular diatonic. meaning, i tend to
> play it using the 5 draw as "home base" (since it's the same as 2 draw on
> MB). the "left hand side" (bottom 3 holes) come in handy though for low
> octaves and for chugging, or, like i said before, to make blues-scale runs
> all the way down another octave (which is really easy. draw 4 on the SBS
> like draw 4 on an MB, but an octave higher -- say, in 2nd pos: d4, d4',
> d3', 2' is just like on a MB, only an octave lower.) to me, it's the
> extension leftward of a regular harp! and though i guess i've never tried
> gliss across holes, 3&4 it should be just like on a regular MB, only...
> well, you know ;)
Yes! I discovered how the 365 can be played as a middle C MB in the way you
describe, and that doing so allows you to drop down lower than the usual
root note of the 10 holer and dig up some great harmonies and octaves, etc.
And, chugging with the low holes of these low-keyed harps adds a whole new
dimension to many songs. It's a gas, too! The reason I asked about glisses
is that I love to go way down low and do a longer than usual gliss, stopping
at what would be hole 6 or 7 on a 10-holer. Great affect!
Then Ken added:
> Yes, the SBS does take a little getting used to,
> but adapting to the harp was MUCH easier than I'd
> imagined, and the cool licks you can create are
> well worth the effort. You can launch into a
> "regular" harp lick (centered around the second
> octave G), and when you get to the IV chord you
> move your run ~downward~ into the darker octave.
> Very slick sounding.
Gotta try that! I was going the other direction (glissing up) as I
mentioned to Jp, above.
> Regarding the call-and response thing. One thing
> I'll do with the SBS is to plant my thumb over the
> harp up around hole 9 somewhere, so I can jump
> confidently (when my cheek hits my thumb I know my
> mouth is right over the meat of the "regular"
> C-harp part of the harp -- hole 5-draw G). Makes
> that jumping around much easier.
Now that I'm sensitized to it, I'm noticing more and more that many of the
great players use(d) this kind of thumb over the hole-side of the harp grip.
In his Masterclass CD set, Jerry Portnoy points out the very same "stop"
effect it has in finding notes as you describe. I have found what amounts a
double-sided thumb-stop grip on the 365 handy (no pun intended ;) when I'm
playing higher positions. I can't cup the whole length of the thing at one
time anyway, nor do I use the full range of the notes on any given song.
You can always get your thumb out of the way when you want to go beyond the
limit it presents. Also, the thumb around the hole-side grip makes for a
pretty effective cup.
> > I imagine you can do some nice tongue-block
> > effects and octaves down there with that
> > disjoint layout, tho'.
> It may sound funny, but the layout never really
> seemed disjointed to me. Not like those first four
> holes threw me when I first picked up a diatonic!
> The thing is kind of intuitive to anyone with
> diatonic experience.
I would imagine that once you get it in your mouth, it sorts itself out
quickly. But, it's near impossible for me to "get" the layout of a harp
without blowin' it a bit. That's why your and Jp's descriptions are so
helpful to me.
> And Yes! The low-end octaves are KILLER!
> SBS Tuning:
> BLOW C E G C E G C E G C E G C E
> HOLE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
> DRAW D G B D G B D F A B D F A B
> If you'll notice, you get low-end draw-octaves on
> D, G and B. Can't get that with the 364/365. They
> only offer a low-end draw octave on D.
> Not trying to talk you into anything, Michelle,
> just trying to answer your "what makes the SBS
> special/different/better/worth the money" question.
You don't have to talk me into anything, Ken. Once you understand the SBS,
it's completely natural to want one!
> One more thing. Regarding Sonny Boy II and his
> song, Bye Bye Bird. In at least one version I have
> of that song, he switches harps mid-song to wail on
> a regular C harp, then switches back to his 364 to
> close the song. No need to switch harps with the
I have that version, too. The song is a classic and it sounds like the SBS
was made for it.
Thanks for the information and insights, gents! I've already carved out a
slot for an SBS in my gig case... Obviously, I should have consulted harp-l
before I chose the 365. Oh, well. Can't have too many harps, eh?
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