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 Post subject: Tremolo harmonicas
PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 4:43 am 
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Cheapie Chinese ones are just that - cheapies and best avoided. They don't come in tune and they won't stay in tune if you adjust them.

I don't know too much about all the different makes but I do know that most good tremolo players stick with three makes, Suzuki, Tombo and Hohner. The Suzuki Humming Tremolo is available, among other keys, in D and G (which is what you want) as far as I know, but I've never had one. The Tombo Band Deluxe is available in a wide range of keys and is widely-respected by those who know a lot better than I do. The Hohner to go for is the Echo tremolo. These come in different lengths and different keys and you can get single-sided or double-sided ones. The double-sided ones are, in effect, two harmonicas in different keys back-to-back.. The D/G is obviously the most useful for Irish but they are not always easy to track down. The A/D is handy at times too. There are several objection to the Hohners. First, for reasons best known to Hohner, they are tuned at the low end the same as blues harps, so there are notes missing that you'll have to put back by retuning (awkward - there are pairs of reeds here don't forget!). Second, they are not tuned to equal temperament, which you can fix yourself if you're good at retuning, but it's a major hassle. I don't like the tuning they come in at all - certain notes sound flat to my ear. Third, they have wooden combs that are fragile. Fourth, in time-honoured Hohner 19th century fashion, the whole shebang is nailed, not screwed, together, which makes dismantling and (especially) reassembling a real pain.. In spite of all this I have a soft spot for the Hohner sound....

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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 9:19 am 
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Steve, thanks for the informative post. I totally agree with you on the Chinese tremolos- I've heard they have plastic reeds! They sound like crap and blow out in a matter of days. Disposable. The lower-end Hohner tremolos aren't very good either, IMHO. I really like the Suzuki Tremolos a lot. I have a 'G' but I really need a 'D'. I also really like the Hohner Comet, although it's technically not a tremolo but an octave harp- it's like a 12-string guitar in a harmonica. I really need to get one of these in a 'D'. I'm not sure if the Tombos are available in the U.S., I haven't seen them, only the Lee Oskars, which don't come in tremolos.


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 9:30 am 
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Bartleby wrote:
I'm not sure if the Tombos are available in the U.S., I haven't seen them, only the Lee Oskars, which don't come in tremolos.


AFAIK the Tombo Band harps are not available in the states, there's a couple places you can order them online from the UK but with the shipping and exchange rate they were very pricey last i checked.

There's some samples of them being played on Bruno Kowalcyk's site, they sound really good but then again a lot of it is probably the player rather than the harp.

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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 11:53 am 
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rh, thanks for the info- I didn't think I'd seen the Tombos here in the U.S. I'm looking for a G, D, or A chromatic right now if anyone has one they'd like to trade. I have some new Suzuki tremolos to trade, and I'd be willing to pay boot. It's amazing how hard it is to get chromatics in any key besides 'C'. I own a small music store, and although most distributors list chromatic G's in their catalog, they never have them in stock.


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 12:09 pm 
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have you tried Hering? they do chroms in those keys, also some people get them in B and flip the slide to get a gobiron version of a B/C box... Farrell's used to take an F# reedplate off the F chrom and a G reedplate from the G chrom and make an F#/G (similar to C#/D but played out of 2nd position).

http://www.heringusa.com/catalog/catalog.asp?s=1

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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 4:50 pm 
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Don't quote me on this but I think Lee Oskar has some kind of deal going which precludes Tombos being sold in the US. As US prices are always much cheaper for harmonicas than anywhere else, and you'd have to import the Tombo tremolos, I can see that prices would be a big disincentive to US buyers. An odd situation really. :-?

Bruno is a great player. He plays all manner of harps in a tasteful and stylish way but ITM is not really his main field!

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"Last night, among his fellow roughs,
He jested, quaff'd and swore."

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the lord of the dance, said he!


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 11:18 am 
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Ive got a couple of Hohner Echo tremelo harmonicas ...

The Echo G - harp is nice ,plays nicely and sounds ok, especially if you consider the cheap price ...

Then I bought a D- tremelo Echo harp , but it's more of a disappointment
on the bottom end .... plays kinda constipated on the low end


I like to use these tremelo harmonicas when the girls in our show do the Irish stepdancing .... kind of gives that Irish-box sound :)


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 11:37 am 
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Feo wrote:
Ive got a couple of Hohner Echo tremelo harmonicas ...

The Echo G - harp is nice ,plays nicely and sounds ok, especially if you consider the cheap price ...

Then I bought a D- tremelo Echo harp , but it's more of a disappointment
on the bottom end .... plays kinda constipated on the low end




Maybe it just needs opening up for minor tweaking (those confounded nails though... :evil: ). Do the reeds actually all sound? Maybe you're not happy with the degree of tremolo. All adjustable. I must admit that I don't use the bottom octave too much. The pitch of a D Echo is similar to a low D blues harp anyway.

_________________
"Last night, among his fellow roughs,
He jested, quaff'd and swore."

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the lord of the dance, said he!


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 11:47 am 
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rh wrote:
have you tried Hering? they do chroms in those keys, also some people get them in B and flip the slide to get a gobiron version of a B/C box... Farrell's used to take an F# reedplate off the F chrom and a G reedplate from the G chrom and make an F#/G (similar to C#/D but played out of 2nd position).

http://www.heringusa.com/catalog/catalog.asp?s=1


My chromatic harmonica friend plays Irish music on a 12-hole Hering F# that he flipped the slide on, thus making it a G harmonica that plays a half-step down when you press the slide. He says this is much more convenient than the B/C arrangement, which requires a lot of odd work for both slide and breath.

Important to note: while you can flip the slides on Herings fairly easily, Suzuki chromatics do not allow this at all. I have no experience with Hohner chromatics.

Now back to your discussion about tremolos. :)

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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 3:14 pm 
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You can flip the slide over in Hohners if you want. I honestly don't know why people bother with all this. Whatever instrument you play in ITM there are some limitations when it comes to ornamentation. But you live with 'em and enjoy what you've got! Some otherwise great and oft-recorded harmonica players are obsessed with getting the right ornaments, so they get special-tuned harps, flip their slides, etc. etc. The result is then, often, the tail wagging the dog. The ornamentation sounds heavy and self-conscious. You can do little cuts, triplets, bends and fake rolls that all sound just great if you do them well on just an ordinary, out-of-the-box harp. Good solid tempo and rock-steady rhythm, allied to nice "lift," are the keys to good harp-playing in ITM just as with all other instruments.

_________________
"Last night, among his fellow roughs,
He jested, quaff'd and swore."

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the lord of the dance, said he!


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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 8:25 am 
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SteveShaw wrote:
Feo wrote:
Ive got a couple of Hohner Echo tremelo harmonicas ...

The Echo G - harp is nice ,plays nicely and sounds ok, especially if you consider the cheap price ...

Then I bought a D- tremelo Echo harp , but it's more of a disappointment
on the bottom end .... plays kinda constipated on the low end




Maybe it just needs opening up for minor tweaking (those confounded nails though... :evil: ). Do the reeds actually all sound? Maybe you're not happy with the degree of tremolo. All adjustable. I must admit that I don't use the bottom octave too much. The pitch of a D Echo is similar to a low D blues harp anyway.


Yes, the lower reeds on my D-Echo Celeste make sound but take alot of air and effort ... I should take it apart and see what's going on :-) You know Steve, I really appreciate your website about Irish harmonica and it inspired me to start working on my 10-hole harmonicas- I took them apart and Paddy-Richtered the 3-blow hole ...so now my 10 hole diatonics are becoming useful for Irish tunes ...I mainly use the tremelos for the step-dancer routine, but prefer the drier tone of the single reed diatonics.

I would like to get brave an try an XB-40 but have some reservations ...
I read somewhere that Rick Epping does some re-tuning on his XB-40 to play Irish tunes....So I am leary about buying a $100 harmonica and risk trying to re-tune it myself,especially if Im not sure exactly what notes/reed to change. I wish that we could buy an XB-40 already tuned for Irish music ... or maybe a stock XB-40 will work ? I don't know ...
Have you figured yours out yet ??

My practise harmonica right now is a $ 5 dollar Hohner American Ace , that I Paddy-richtered ...little sucker works fine ...

Now Im trying to figure out which key I should learn to read sheet music with the harmonica, lol .. these are great little instruments...


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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 2:18 pm 
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Feo wrote:
SteveShaw wrote:
Feo wrote:
Ive got a couple of Hohner Echo tremelo harmonicas ...

The Echo G - harp is nice ,plays nicely and sounds ok, especially if you consider the cheap price ...

Then I bought a D- tremelo Echo harp , but it's more of a disappointment
on the bottom end .... plays kinda constipated on the low end




Maybe it just needs opening up for minor tweaking (those confounded nails though... :evil: ). Do the reeds actually all sound? Maybe you're not happy with the degree of tremolo. All adjustable. I must admit that I don't use the bottom octave too much. The pitch of a D Echo is similar to a low D blues harp anyway.


Yes, the lower reeds on my D-Echo Celeste make sound but take alot of air and effort ... I should take it apart and see what's going on :-) You know Steve, I really appreciate your website about Irish harmonica and it inspired me to start working on my 10-hole harmonicas- I took them apart and Paddy-Richtered the 3-blow hole ...so now my 10 hole diatonics are becoming useful for Irish tunes ...I mainly use the tremelos for the step-dancer routine, but prefer the drier tone of the single reed diatonics.

I would like to get brave an try an XB-40 but have some reservations ...
I read somewhere that Rick Epping does some re-tuning on his XB-40 to play Irish tunes....So I am leary about buying a $100 harmonica and risk trying to re-tune it myself,especially if Im not sure exactly what notes/reed to change. I wish that we could buy an XB-40 already tuned for Irish music ... or maybe a stock XB-40 will work ? I don't know ...
Have you figured yours out yet ??

My practise harmonica right now is a $ 5 dollar Hohner American Ace , that I Paddy-richtered ...little sucker works fine ...

Now Im trying to figure out which key I should learn to read sheet music with the harmonica, lol .. these are great little instruments...


Sorry, mate, I've just realised I owe you a PM! :oops: When I refer to Echos it isn't the Echo Celeste, which I've never had but have heard that they're not really in the same league as the regular Echos. As for the XB40s, I have two (in G and low D) and I'm not overly keen on either, especially the low D. You can retune to Paddy Richter as with any other harp (I just tuned the sounding reed and left the auxiliary reed alone). If you go the 3-blow route for this there's a fair amount of dismantling to do. If you do the 2-draw, like me, it isn't too difficult. I'll write off-list shortly!

_________________
"Last night, among his fellow roughs,
He jested, quaff'd and swore."

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the lord of the dance, said he!


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 7:56 am 
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You know, I haven't played my Echo celeste tremellos for alittle while... I've been mostly playing my paddy-richtored 10-hole since I re-tuned them .... yesterday after posting here I dug out my Celeste tremellos for a try ....wow, I couldn't believe how much more air they took to play then the 10 holes ! The 10-hole diatonics are spoiling me with their easy playing.. You must have to use 3 times more air to play my Celeste tremellos ! No wonder that a fellow band member of mine, who also bought a celeste, was teasing me while I was playing mine for the dancers... he kept saying, " you're blow'in yer brains out over there , lad " LOL


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