SEYDEL SALES & SERVICE

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Full Service Seydel Sales Dealer

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I am a full-service Seydel dealer and sell all Seydel diatonic and chromatic harmonicas.  I am also the authorized Seydel repair technician for Seydel diatonic and chromatic harmonicas.

My specialty is individualized and personal service with a goal of getting you the player into the right Seydel harmonica.  My customers  appreciate the individual attention and responsiveness I provide and that is my specialty.  If you have questions and are considering a Seydel purchase feel free to contact me.   Due to a high volume, I find that I am best able to serve customers via email.

Although my prices are generally in line with other Seydel dealers, you may find they are slightly higher in some cases.  My established customers appreciate the value in personal attention and find that their transactional cost is actually lower when they have someone looking out for their interest. I like to provide my customers with options that might not otherwise be available.  This includes economical harmonica configurations, tunings, temperament and choices that are specific to their playing.  My customers include stage performers, recording artists, music instructors, and those who play for the enjoyment.

I am frequently asked what harmonicas I stock or have available.  My inventory changes daily as I receive and fill orders daily. However, if Seydel sells it I either have it or will have it within days. As a way to insure my customers get exactly what they need, I accept orders by email instead of drop-down menu format.  This allows me the satisfaction of developing a relationship with my customers and guarantees  I am in tune with their needs. It is not quite as easy as pressing a button and placing an order, but it is much easier than purchasing the wrong harmonica and being dissatisfied.  There is plenty of good information on my web site.  If you find this information to be helpful, I would appreciate your business. I accept Paypal, credit cards, and personal checks.  Generally, I do not invoice until the harp is ready to ship.

Thank you for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from you.

Greg

greg@1623customharmonicas.com

Melody Maker Tuning

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Melody Maker Tuning for the diatonic harmonica is likely the most misunderstood and incorrectly described of the alternate tuning approaches.  Made popular by Lee Oskar Harmonicas, Melody Maker tuning merely adds one (1) additional adjusted note to Country Tuning.  It is most likely named because it brings distinctive melody playing in range of the 2nd position/cross harp player without the need for bends or overblows.

In 2nd position, our root note is on the 2 draw.  In standard tuning, the 3 blow note is a duplicate of 2 draw.  Hitting the 2nd note of the major scale requires a draw bend on the 3 hole.  Hitting the 7th note of the scale requires an overblow at hole 5. Melody Maker Tuning involves raising the 3 hole blow note 1 whole step and raising the 5 draw note 1/2 step, allowing for the complete major scale without the need for either technique.

Melody Maker Tuning is strictly for 2nd position play and it is for songs that follow a major scale structure.  Although one could in theory play a blues or minor scale using Melody Maker Tuning, that is not the intent.  The tuning is designed for hymns, some jazz standards, folk songs, and great for bluegrass.

It is important to note that because the 3 blow note is raised 1 whole step, the blow chord players use for vamping and accompaniment is lost.  This blow chord represents the IV chord in the progression.  The tuning layout for a Melody Maker tuned diatonic is shown here.

1    2    3   4     5    6    7    8    9   10

C    E   A   C    E    G     C    E    G   C      BLOW  (Top Plate)

D    G   B   D   F#   A    B    D   F    A      DRAW  (Bottom Plate)

In the video below, I discuss and demonstrate the use of Melody Maker Tuning using the song Save the Last Dance for Me.

I further demonstrate Melody Maker Tuning in the subsequent video where I play the Irish fiddle classic Whiskey Before Breakfast.

For more information on Melody Maker Tuning and to purchase a Melody Maker Tuning Seydel harmonica, email me at greg@1623customharmonicas.com

Country Tuning

Country tuning is easily one of the most useful and versatile alternate tunings for the diatonic harmonica.  Hardly limited to country music, it derives its name because the great country harp player Charlie McCoy used it on so many Nashville recordings.  It comes in handy when a player needs to play a melodic or major sounding musical phrase and is probably just as suited to jazz standards, hymns, and common folk songs as country music.

Although in 2nd position (Cross Harp), the player has access to a rage of useful notes, the major 7th can only be played using an overblow at hole #5.   Try playing the major scale from 2 draw to 6 blow and it becomes much more obvious.  The workaround is called Country Tuning and is accomplished by simply tuning the 5 draw up 1/2 step.  This one very minor change brings a huge number of melodies within reach of the 2nd position/cross harp player.

The Country Tuning layout for a (C) harmonica would be as follows:

1    2    3   4     5    6    7    8    9   10

C    E   G   C    E    G     C    E    G   C      BLOW  (Top Plate)

D    G   B   D   F#   A    B    D   F    A      DRAW  (Bottom Plate)

In the video below, I demonstrate Country Tuning by playing parts of the country classic Crazy on both a Standard Tuned diatonic, as well as a Country Tuned diatonic.   For more information on Country Tuning or to purchase a Country Tuned Seydel diatonic harmonica, contact me at greg@1623customharmonicas.com

To Wonder? Why The Saxony, Of Course

For decades, he as entertained millions with hit hit after hit. Undisputedly one of the most influential and heard musicians over the past 40 years. Timeless music that appeals to fans of all genre, he writes, sings, composes, and is a fantastic instrumentalist.  To the harmonica world, he is even more.  Arguably one of the best living chromatic harmonica players his playing extends well beyond contemporary jazz and into a soulful sound that is loved by his fans.  Currently on tour, Stevie Wonder played to a packed stadium at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.  The staff a Barclays went looking for the perfect gift to present him on the night of the show,  Their search brought them to 16:23 Harmonicas for ideas.  The answer was obvious; The Seydel Saxony. An amazing chromatic harmonica hand built by German craftsmen among the greatest in the world.  There are many great chromatic harmonicas on the market, but April 12, 2015, the choice was clear and this Seydel Saxony went into the hands of Stevie Wonder.  At 16:23, we were honored to be the provider of this great instrument to one of the finest performers of our time.

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Basic Info For The New Seydel Chromatic Owner

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If you are new to the chromatic harmonica or are considering the purchase of a Seydel chromatic, this article is for you.  The chromatic is a great instrument and the ability to hit every note on the scale means fewer struggles on bent notes, overblows, and other uniquely diatonic harmonica techniques. But before taking off on a chromatic harmonica journey, the player should accept a basic concept that every experienced chromatic player will state.  All chromatic harmonicas – even new ones – require some simple maintenance. There is no way to enjoy playing the chromatic harmonica unless you are willing perform basic and simple troubleshooting and repair techniques.  You should familiarize yourself with basic troubleshooting and the associated fixes before you play that first note on your new chromatic.

The chromatic harmonica is a complex design of reeds similar to a diatonic harmonica with some very key differences. Unlike the diatonic harmonica, the chromatic has side-by-side reeds as opposed to over and under reeds.   Because the reeds sit side-by-side, some air used to propel a reed is wasted through the slot of the non-sounding reed. The solution to this is a wind saver which is also referred to as a valve.  A wind saver is a strip of synthetic material that covers the slot on the opposite side of a reed. This material acts as a 1-way stopper that prevents air from entering the slot from the wrong direction.

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The wind savers  which are made from a 2-ply synthetic material are the headache of every human that has ever blown a chromatic harmonica.  A variety of factors – namely moisture – cause these wind savers to make annoying noises when the harmonica is played.  Best described as a popping or buzzing noise, the wind savers become slightly moist and weighted causing them to slam down on the reed plate while vibrating. Moisture on the wind savers accumulates because you have a synthetic material that sits atop a metal surface. Rapid changes in outside temperature compounded by moist air from the players breath cause condensation like reactions on the wind saver and reed plate surface.  Many times this is so significant that it will even keep a reed from playing.  This is just as likely to happen on a brand new chromatic as a used one.   Fortunately, the moisture built up on the reed plate surface and wind saver will eventually evaporate.  Experienced chromatic players use a technique called “warming” to prevent excess condensation from forming inside the harmonica. Many will hold the harp up against their body for a few moments before playing, especially when it has been exposed to cooler temperatures.  The harmonica should be played at a temperature between the temperature of the human body and room temperature to reduce excess condensation from building up on the reed plates.

New chromatic players should also be aware that blow and especially draw notes on a chromatic will not respond like the notes on a diatonic.  An improperly played diatonic harmonica will still generally play because the reeds can actually work together to produce a sound.  The wind saver design on a chromatic prevents this.  The new chromatic player should play with an open oral cavity and concentrate on producing an even column of air that is parallel to the reeds.  It is not uncommon for diatonic players to be unable to produce clear tones on a chromatic because they habitually play using diatonic techniques.

In addition to dealing with the occasional wind saver problem, the chromatic harmonica player will need to become familiar with the operation of the mouthpiece and slide mechanism.  Inside the mouthpiece and slide you have several pieces of moving metal which come into contact with each other creating friction. Moisture from the air and your breath will provide some lubrication to the slide assembly.  However, this moisture will also attract dust which will increase the friction. Additionally, particles of saliva from your breath will remain on the slide and begin to dry immediately after you stop playing.   The effects of dried saliva will be most noticeable on expensive harmonicas because the slide mechanisms are built to the highest tolerances. This can be so significant that in some cases the slide will be locked or frozen.    To deal with this, there are two (2) tensioner screws on the front of the chromatic.  All good chromatic players have a phillips head screwdriver handy and will make micro-adjustments to these screws when their slide starts catching or locking.  The goal is to have these screws as tight as possible to insure a snug fit while allowing the slide assembly to move freely.  In addition to making adjustments to the slide tensioner screws, chromatic players should rinse excess remaining saliva and any accumulated debris by soaking the slide assembly in a sauce pan of water.  The video demonstrations below show some basic slide maintenance.

 

As you begin your chromatic journey, you should also learn to perform basic troubleshooting and maintenance. Just as a new car owner has to adjust his seats and a marksman adjusts his sights, a chromatic player should be comfortable making slight adjustments.  The video below is a more detailed demonstration on basic chromatic disassembly.

 

If you have found this article to be helpful and are considering the purchase of a new Seydel chromatic, I would like to help you make the right choice.  I am a full service Seydel dealer and am also the factory technician for Seydel. I can help you with many of the common chromatic nuances and  I can also service your Seydel chromatic when the more serious problems arise.  Feel free to email me at greg@1623customharmonicas.com.  Thanks for stopping by! Greg

 

The Seydel Saxony

At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, we sell all Seydel harmonicas, including the Seydel Saxony.  The Saxony is a top quality professional chromatic that defines the sound of many great players.  Listen to jazz keyboard and chromatic player Neil Adler play the Saxony.   Email me at greg@1623customharmonicas.com so I can guide you through your Saxony purchase.

 

 

Overblow Playing (OB/OD)

If you spend any time at all on harmonica related forums or social media, you will see endless discussion on the topic of overblow and overdraw (OB/OD) playing. Yet, in spite of the discussion there is still confusion on the technique and many players will incorrectly classify themselves as overblow players.  Although there are some early blues harmonica recordings where an overblow was played, the technique was developed and popularized by harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy.  As he is also a saxophone player, he borrowed the name from a technique used by saxophonists and it has stuck. Many agree this nomenclature is technically not correct.  My references will refer to it as overblow/overdraw or OB/OD.

On a standard diatonic harmonica, there are missing notes.  In other words, the reeds are designed to play a fixed number of pitches when set into motion by a column of air.  However, when the reeds interact in unison, intermediate pitches will sound. This most commonly happens in a “bend”.  A bend is where the player finds a pitch somewhere between the highest and lowest reed in the slot.  So for example on a (C) harmonica, the blow #4 is a C and the draw #4 is a D so a player can bend the D note down and find any pitch range in between the two. Bending is typically referred to as a “draw bend” in holes 1-6 where the higher pitch reed is on top and the lower pitch reed is on bottom.

In holes 7-10, the higher pitch reed is on the top.  A player can still bend the note but must use what is called a “blow bend”. This is where the confusion on OB/OD playing comes in.  Many players incorrectly refer to blow bends as “overblow”.

The OVERBLOW is actually a technique where the player causes the blow reed to enter the reed slot and freeze up.  When this happens, air passes by the draw reed which then begins to sound.  The resulting pitch is produced by the draw reed is about 1/2 step above the pitch of the draw reed. The OVERDRAW is simply the same except it happens in reverse.  The draw reed is locked into the slot and the blow reed sounds in the pitch range 1/2 step above the pitch set for the draw reed.

On a (C) harp:

4 BLOW – Pitch is (C)

4 DRAW Bend – Pitch is C#

4 DRAW – Pitch is D

4 OVERBLOW – Pitch is Eb

Although the OB/OD technique is discussed continuously on internet forums, very few players are able to use the technique effectively. Many are able to produce OB/OD notes in isolated instances, but using these notes in performance is much more difficult.  Placing the technique within a passage of a musical piece requires the player to extensively train the muscles in the mouth and jaw as well as have a strong sense of pitch.  Using the technique with any effectiveness can take years of practice. However, it opens up endless possibilities for the player, most notably the ability to play the major 7th in 2nd position (5 overblow)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMFQZSRxBeY

There is fierce debate on all aspects of OB/OD playing and how best to achieve it.  Most significant is the topic of “out of the box” or stock harmonicas verses “customized harmonicas.”  In reality, there are many production harmonicas can be played using the OB/OD technique.   Generally speaking, an average production harmonica in the central keys of (Bb) to (C) will allow a player to produce an OB on 6 and occasionally 4.  However, as we move further away from these keys and as we seek to OB/OD on other notes such as 5 OB and 7 OD, the player proficiency begins be contingent on the harmonica set-up.  The link is to a video I published showing the OB/OD techniques on stock Seydel 1847.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZXgFa_l0hU&list=UUjpVooM-96JLsBVLc9unkPg

To produce an OB, the player has to be able to lock the reed into the slot so it will not vibrate. Therefore, the easiest way to accomplish this is to manually change the reed gap so that it sits closer to the reed plate and consequently, the slot. The less distance the reed has to travel, the less effort is required to lock it into the slot.  However, this becomes complex because we still need the reed to sound when not playing the OB.  This is where the tricky part comes in and there is a sub-industry within the world of harmonica technicians who specialize adjusting the harmonica for the OB/OD technique.  The following videos, although somewhat dated, show some basic techniques for those who want to perform basic adjustments to their reed gaps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1P_OdZiAUk&list=UUB__Gd0rWQVFdSQ6_K2N1RA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQYvvla7lfQ

I encourage players who desire to learn the OB/OD techniques to consider that proficiency will take years of practice. A player can make limited progress quickly with the right practice and a good instructor.  However, the great OB/OD players such as Howard Levy, Sandy Weltman, Jason Ricci, Carlos Del Junco and many others reached their level of playing not because they owned an expensive harmonica, but because they practiced endless hours on drills, scales, and arpeggios developing muscle control, a good ear, and the coordination between the two.  As an aside, it is also important to note that many of the finest and highest earning harmonica players in the world do not incorporate OB/OD into their playing.

At 16:23 Custom Harmonicas, I am able to adjust harmonicas for OB/OD.   Recently, I have begun building special Seydel harmonicas for the serious OB/OD player and student. This involves a very tedious and time consuming process where I re-tune every reed on the harp down 1/2 step.  I do this with a special polisher.  The result is a very responsive harp that will produce solid OB/OD on all notes provide the player has proper technique.   I do believe though that you can begin to learn the technique on a stock harmonica.

If you are currently an OB/OD player or you seek to begin this journey, and you have found this article helpful, I would love to have your business.  Feel free to contact me to place an order or ask a question at greg@1623customharmonicas.com.

Below is sample of the Christmas song God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman played on a Seydel Session Steel (D).  This particular harp was retuned down to (D) from (Eb).  The piece requires the 6 OB and it is played in 3rd position.

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