[Harp-L] Seydel re-ups Double Richter (SBS tuning)

philharpn@xxxxx philharpn@xxxxx
Thu May 25 22:59:06 EDT 2017

I see that Seydel is promoting its Solist Pro 12 Steel  model in its May 2017 newsletter from C.A. SEYDEL SOHNE. I own one in the key  C that I  paid for myself . I don't know who came up with the idea of converting the solo tuned harmonica to double Richter tuning. But I do remember that I first learned about it in Steve Baker's "Harp Handbook."

Seydel says that for nearly a decade it has offered  "this 12-holer which comes with an Extra-Richter Low Octave giving the player the option to play in the regular pitch range of a usual 10-hole harmonica plus a punchy accompaniment in the low register." Seydel's statement is the first time I've seen anyone mentioned tongue blocking ("punchy accompaniment in the low register." 
The Seydel Soloist Pro 12 is about as thick and deep as the standard 10-hole harmonica and only two holes longer. So ergonomically, it fits in the hand a lot more readily than the giant 14-hole Marine Band.

Basically, this tuning/layout allows two octaves of bending on the first 6 holes -- not just the first three. Being an impulse buyer, I purchased the 5 (?) keys available C, D, F,  G and A probably about the time they came out in 2013 (Hohner video). I misfiled my C SBS but I was able to purchase a replacement recently. The harp is out of production but some dealer's still have new old stock on hand--which is how I purchased mine. 

The SBS is based is based on the 14-hole Marine Band, which has the size of a chromatic. This big honking harmonica was never wildly popular no doubt due to its size. It is a lot larger than the average diatonic and with a wooden comb, probably very difficult for the average harmonica player to use. Although, some people may have discovered the similarity to the Vamper that Sonny Boy II used.

I put my five SBS harps in a drawer and left them there because I couldn't figure out what to do with them. At the time, I could not tongue block--despite repeated attempts to figure it out. It was only when I learned how to play octaves from one of David Barrett's books during the course of my tenure as contributing editor for 17 years of American Harmonica Newsmagazine that ceased publication in 2005.

Once I discovered that tongue blocking was more related to corner switching -- used by chromatic plays to switch from left embouchure to right embouchure. I looked at the drawings and could never figure out where the tongue went. That is the wrong approach to tongue blocking. The trick is to play out of the right corner of the mouth with the bass notes on the left like a piano.

Once I got this down, I was able to Saints and just about anything else that used the C and G/G7 chords.

The  problem with conventional tongue blocking that there are no notes to block on the 1st hole and only 1 note on the 2ne hole and two notes on the 3rd hole.

With the advent of the SBS/ DOUBLE Richter layout, it is now (and has been since 2013) possible to actually  effectively tongue block holes 1, 2 and 3. Also, there are the bends on the additional three bottom holes. 

Keep on harpin


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