No the PowerDraw (PD) and Wilde Tuned (WT) are different. Although both are identical from +1 (blow 1) until -5 (draw 5). So for the -(45) warble/trill there is no difference. Only holes 6 & 7 are different between the two. I will explain the difference using a C major tuned harp as my example.
PD hole 6 : +6 is G / -6 is A (so your hole 6 is like on all typical blues harps)
WT hole 6: +6 is E / -6 is G (root note is -6 and you can bend it to F# and even down to F)
PD hole 7 : +7 is A / -7 is B (so A occurs twice up here: -6 and +7)
WT hole 7: +7 is G / -7 is B (now G occures twice and -7 can be bent to Bb, A & Ab)
Thinking about it is one thing, actually playing them is the only real way to appreciate what you can do with them. It is really great to be able to bend the G at -6 on the WT harp (as well as on the PowerBender harp, although there +6 is F rather than E). This is reason enough for me to prefer the WT to the PD harp.
The ability to bend the WT harp’s -7 the same number of steps as -3 is also very appealing, however I personally find it rather difficult to accurately hit the A & Ab at -7 (plus, their high pitch is rather annoying compared to simply playing a bendable -6 or a (non-bendable) +7 for the A on a PD harp (both of which have better tone quality for the A than the -7 double bend for the A on a WT harp).
I had already mentioned in another post that I do not use the -(45) warble very often and I like the ability to bend the E to an Eb at hole draw 5 that you get on the PowerBender harp. So that is my main reason for my personal ranking of these 3 harps as:
Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to note the differences between the PD and WT tuning. It seems like for all of these tuning the lower keys (G-Bb kind of range) would probably be the best sounding as the high draws bends probably don’t sound good, say on an F harp. LOL. But who knows. I’m so excited to dip my toes into these alternate tuning harmonica waters!
Thanks again, Slim. This thread is becoming quite a nice compendium on the subject, thanks in no small part to you, my friend!!!
You are very welcome, @Luke – and you are correct (in my opinion): the tunings from Bb and lower produce the best bending tone quality in the upper (hole 7 and higher) range. I have a Seydel 1847 PowerBender (PB) – not PD – in low F that is really sounding good up there.
And I should add that my 1847 Wilde-tuned harp in A is also excellent !!!
I was mentioning to @drexellkleber that if I were playing Heard it in a Love Song I would probably choose a G harmonica or a D Melody Maker, and he asked me what’s the deal with the Melody Maker and why I might choose that harp? I thought I’d respond to that question here to keep things tidy.
The normal tonality of 2nd position is best described as Mixolydian, which simply means that it’s like a regular major scale with a Major 3rd, but the 7th degree is lowered by half-step.
So on a G harmonica, if we are playing in the key of D and we want to play the MAJOR 7 which is a C#, we can do down low on the -2’, and up high on the 9’, but in the middle octave the -5 is a natural C, the MINOR 7, and the ONLY way to get the C# which is the MAJOR 7 is to play an overblow on hole 5, which is a super advanced technique that few people can do well.
SOOOO, the Melody Maker is tuned where the -5 IS the C#/MAJOR 7. If you want the C natural theory, you can bend down the -5’, but normally it plays like you’re playing a D major scale.
ALSO, the 3 blow plays the MAJOR 2ND, which is E in the key of D, the note we would normally have to do the challenging -3" to be able to play.
And that’s basic scoop on the Melody Maker tuning. Hope that helps!
That’s great stuff Luke. Way over my head…lol…but great. My son is a professional tuba player so I’ll have him explain the details to me.
On the practical side, I bought a LO melody maker. In D since you tabbed it out in D. Should I have bought the MM in G and played it the way you tabbed it? Is the MM interchangeable with my other Hohner harps or will the different tuning of 5 draw cause some songs to sound wrong.
I’ve also been working on Jesu Joy of Man’s Desire. Pretty simple. All single notes. Will the MM be a better harp for that song? I read somewhere that the MM is best for single notes, tho better for draw notes than blow and Jesu is about 50/50 blow/draw.
Hey Drexel - the Melody Makers are labeled in 2nd position. So you got the right harp. A D melody maker is the the same basic harmonica as a standard G harmonica, with a few tuning variations.
The Melody Maker will sound wrong if you’re reading tab for a regular harmonica.
3 blow on the Melody Maker is -3" on a standard.
-5 is half-step higher on Melody Maker than on standard.
No I think straight harp is best for classical music. Melody Maker is good when you wanna add some jazz or soul to a melody with a major tonality. It’s also really good for country, soul, Motown, and reggae.
I have a question about the “Melody Maker” Tuning. It is probably not a great question, but I have played enough that I can take MANY songs and play them ‘by ear’, as my body responds to the note sequences and just pretty much plays the proper note by habit. I have about 3 harps that I really like, 2 g’s (special 20, Bushman) and 1 LC (LO). My other harps are cheepies, all in key of C (which is too high for my taste). I play mostly in 2nd position, where there are not that many changes to the notes (two F#‘s, one of which is bendable to F, the other (hole 9) not bendable. However, if I start relearning the key sequence, I will probably make my 3 harps (and about $150.00) obsolete. I really don’t know if I can relearn all my usual tabs with new tab sequences, but I can’t really see trying to play 2 different “octaves”. And, I believe that the "melody maker’ has different hole values than any of the Seydel, Bushmaker, or Hohner “special tunings” It is really like learning a new keyboard setup on a piano…What are your thoughts on that?
God Bless You
, but play others in position 1. Would getting a ‘melody maker’ (as I am tired of struggling with
I’ve been playing a lot of minor key blues lately and looked hard at minor tuned harps. As Luke says in the opening to this list, it’s a rabbit hole!
My poor old brain has enough trouble finding its way around the normal 10 hole diatonic, and extending that to a 16 hole chromatic and a 29 hole bass has kept the brain busy. My compact chord harmonica is a bridge too far just now!
So rather than buy more harmonicas and have to figure out the note layout for every different harmonica, I have been focussing in playing in different positions (and sometimes using Lo octave harps as well) to get the notes that work for the minor tunes. At least that way the same note is in the same hole!
So I’m managing to avoid shopping for yet more harps!
I know just what you mean. Many of my favorite songs were written by Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, and the like. So many are just not suitable for a diatonic, especially when my bends are very hard and usually off key. So I bought a Chromatic. The problem is that my mind has learned how to move from note to note on a diatonic, and doesn’t want to change its path on the chromatic, and it doesn’t help that I also have to push the slide, so I pretty much abandoned the chromatic and am just trying to get better on the good old diatonic! Good luck to you!
Hey Poppo - the chromatic is laid out like holes 4-7 on the diatonic. On a 12-hole chromatic the same note layout is on holes 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Each one of those octaves has the same pattern as holes 4-7 on a diatonic. The part that’s kinda weird is 4&5 are the same note and 8&9 are the same note.
Now, I should back up and say I don’t really play chromatic. I’m a huge fan of the diatonic harp. But I understand your frustration with the repertoire you love containing notes that can’t be accessed on the diatonic. This is a conundrum.
The Melody Maker is a really cool tuning, but there are still notes that can’t be accessed on it - just different notes! LOL.
Do you play in 2nd position a lot? The best way I can describe the melody maker is that playing in 2nd position is major. If your budget is not super-tight, I kinda think you should buy one and play with it and see what you think.
It wil NOT make your other harps obsolete. LMK your thoughts.
Yes, I have a chromatic. I really don’t pay any attention to positions. I have absolutely no desire to play with anyone else or play for anyone else except possibly my wife, daughter, or grandson. Since I have no real bending abilities, I usually just try playing a song from memory. I adjust the position to see if I can play it without requiring any bends. If I cannot do that and cannot find a tab online, I use a virtual piano to create a copy of the music and, if necessary I transpose to a key I can transfer to harmonica tabs. I have probably 80 or so songs tabbed for diatonic (most of those I can play from memory and just need to know the starting note) and another 50 or 60 tabbed for chromatic. I however seldom practice the chromatic, preferring to improve my playing on the diatonic to trying to play the chromatic while reading the tabs. My big wish is that I could practice more, but that is not in the cards.
Hey @Slim I went and revisited your post explaining difference between PowerBender and Wilde Tuned because I’ve had a PowerBender for awhile, and at first it was so confusing to me (but now I’m starting to make a bit more progress finding my way around it.)
Based on your explanations of the differences between PB and WT, for my personal style I think I’d like to try the Wilde Tuning. You know what a big fan I am of the -45 warble! The fact that he’s playing the Freebird solo on the Wilde Tuning is intriguing to me. That’s a very “guitaristic” solo so being a guitar player myself, I think it might be an intuitive movement from guitar to harp stuff?
Funny that you wrote this because I was about to compose a message to you about this very topic! And my recommendation for you was going to be the Wilde Tuned harp!! And for exactly the reasons you mention.
This harp is really intuitive with holes 6, 7 & 8 exactly like holes 2, 3 & 4 – for both draw and blow!!! So all of your licks from holes 2, 3 & 4 can be played up at 6, 7 & 8 without any changes in your breathing or bending patterns!
In addition, essentially all of the notes that are important for 2nd position blues are (on this harp) bendable draw notes – all the way up to hole 10!
One thing that I will say, however, is that the higher tuned harps (D and upwards, and for me even C) I do not recommend because it becomes rapidly more difficult to do the draw bends in the holes 7-10 (C and higher tuned harps) and because of the shrillness of the bends in the top octave (for D and above harps). But for Bb on down: these are terrific harps!
I also strongly recommend the Wild-Tuned harps with the 1847 Classic wood combs over the less expensive Session Steel models with plastic combs. Although the only difference is the comb and cover plates, I find the sound and playability of the 1847 models are more than worth the price difference. The holes in the 1847 are also somewhat wider with their vertical side walls curved slightly outwards (to the left and right) and the 1847 cover plates project the sound better as well. These differences seem to be responsible for the improved tonal quality in the 1847-based models.
So, Luke, I would really like to hear your evaluation of a Wild-Tuned harp (even if it is only the Session Steel model) – although my personal choice has already been made.
A few weeks ago, I was gifted a Golden Bird harmonica from my teacher, Todd Parrott. What made it really special was that it featured his signature tuning, which had the 7 draw tuned a half step down. It was my first experience with an alternate tuned harmonica. I find it really useful if you want to play the minor pentatonic scale without having to need the 6 overblow on a standard richter tuned harp. You can still make these overblow and overdraw to make the missing notes like in this video right here.
@KeroroRinChou , I think in some ways, depending on your goals, being a raw beginner is an advantage when exploring alternate tunings.
I imagine it would be harder to appreciate them once you’re used to standard tuning. I’d certainly have a lot of trouble if 2 or more guitar strings were tuned flatter or sharper than usual.
It’s something that interests me a lot.
With the crowd I’ve always hung around with, me trying to become a traditional blues harp player would be redundant.
I need the techniques, but I have different goals, and want to find the tunings that let me play more instinctively.
Yeah I’ve been playing guitar for even longer than harmonica, and at this point, after decades, I’m comfortable playing in Drop D, Open G tuning DGDGBD, open Gm tuning DGDGBbD, open E tuning EBEG#BE, open C tuning CGCGCE… It didn’t.happen overnight.
Similarly, on the harmonica I’m comfy with Melody Maker, Natural Minor, Harmonica Minor, and I’m starting to get comfy with Wilde Rock Tuning.
I want to tune one of my harps to contry tuning which is only -5 sharp, so that you can play major scale in 2nd position - but whereas the the Lee Oskar Melody Maker you play 3 for the major 2nd interval, I rather enjoy the expressiveness of the -3". So wanting to explore this for songs like Over the Rainbow and Georgia on My Mind.
Other than that, @KeroroRinChou I also want to tune one of my harps to Parrot tuning! Really looking forward to checking that out.
I’m not necessarily a beginner, I’m basically pro-experimental. Even though I play a bit like Terry McMillan, I like to experiment with my harps and see what kind of sounds they over like with different tunings and such.