[Harp-L] Re. Powerbenders, powerdraw tunings, and Sub30s...

Thanks to Eric for your queries: “…should I be considering a powerdraw
tuned harp first, and then *graduate *to a powerbender? Or will I be fine
with jumping straight to the powerbender? - What are the fundamental
differences between the powerbenders and the sub30s?” To answer:

PowerDraw is a combination of Richter (holes 1-6) and PowerBender (7-10). If
you’re comfortable with holes 1-6 as they are, the PowerDraw is the easiest
choice, as it only alters the top end. You can simply tack soulful high-end
draw bending riffs to the stuff you already know lower down.

PowerBender is more of a commitment, as you have to re-learn the middle
octave too. The advantage is that you get all the middle octave overblows as
simple draw bends.

As Gnarley says, the SUB30 is a model, not a tuning. It comes in stock
Richter, and the extra bending means you can stick entirely with the
familiar Richter tuning but get all the bends available in PowerBender (and
more) - though in a different way. You can hear the flavour of the new
bending ability on this video:


However, like any harmonica, the SUB30 can be tuned to other tunings. I play
mine in PowerBender and Paddy Solo so far. You can hear a custom SUB30 in
PowerBender tuning (key of A) on the second track in the playlist on this
page (from 3:53):


I think the advent of the triple-reed harp type (of which the SUB30 is the
first) will mean in future that there is less incentive for players to try
alternate tunings for extra bending, as they can now get all the extra
chromatic notes and flavours they want by simple bending expression on the
stock Richter tuning. Personally I still like my alternate tunings because
of the note layout (all draws higher than all blows), but if you’re
familiar with Richter and want extra bends, the SUB30 is the simplest
option. It’s currently more expensive than  standard harps, only comes in
three keys, and benefits from hand customisation to make playability and
response comparable to a normal twin-reed harp, but if money is not an
important issue, custom options are available.

I guess this hasn’t given you a categorical answer to your question “Which
harp shall I buy?”. There is no simple answer! But I hope it’s given you
more information so you can make that decision for yourself.

Brendan Power

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