Re: [Harp-L] raising a reed's pitch
The figure of A=480hz was a bit high, right. That's because it was a typo. I meant to say A=460 hz. I could only say it was very sharp. The reference pitch came from an ear far better than mine, Wally Peterman and I think he was guessing. But when it comes to audio, a Wally Peterman guess is as good as spectral analysis.
I've gotten a lot of e-mails off list about this, far more than when I originally brought it up in its own thread.
You can figure this stuff out by listening to it. You can hear these things. If you've embossed a lot of harps, you can hear embossed tone, it hits you like a brick. If you have made specific changes in reed profile, you can recognize those changes in tone when you hear it on something else. If you've tuned a G harp down to Low F, you know what that sounds like when you take a reed of a higher key and tune it to a lower one.
Leo is playing, if memory serves me correct, it's been a while since I've thought about this, or analyzed it, but I believe that he is playing a G 270 with leather valves. I believe that the harmonica started off life as a A chromatic and he tuned it down, but I don't know the key for sure. I can say for sure that it used to be higher. It's not a G that he detuned and then retuned. It doesn't have that tone. The tips of the reeds are still pretty thick to the point I think he may have put solder on the tips. You can hear that tone.
He's also done something to the slide. I don't know what. But that slide is air tight. You can hear it.
I've heard customized stuff in a lot of the Borrah Minnevitch stuff from the 1930s, back when Leo was a member, but the recordings weren't good enough that I could really say "Here it is!" and expect folks to hear it - but the quality on this LP is really good and I feel its good enough I can come forward with this stuff. If you remember the story about Ernie Morris, he had this cool vibrato that Borrah heard and snatched Ernie's harmonica away, took it apart and tried to reverse engineer it. Borrah couldn't figure it out, Ernie just had a cool vibratto. But the reason Borrah snatched it immediately, it was his first thought upon hearing it, was they were playing some really pimped out harmonicas and that was one of their best-kept secrets. Leo Diamond was pimping out the Rascals harmonicas, as was Leo Friedman, I believe. I've always contended they were as smart as we, were techs just like us -the main difference being they were better at keeping
secrets - I was really glad when I got this LP, it gave me a chance to demonstrate that fact.
I don't think the Rascals were playing harps like this after Leo Diamond left the band. I don't hear it afterwards. I don't get the impression that it was going on when Al Smith was a rascal, or the Sgro Bros. I've never asked Al about it, but I've asked Tony Sgro and I don't think they were playing very customized stuff. I think Leo Diamond was behind all that.
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