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Playing Chromatically

Beta Harp: The Seydel 1847 customized by Ben Bouman

European price: 140 euros (overblow setup), 110 euros (standard setup), plus postage at http://www.beta-harps.com/

BbHarpCote.jpg

 

Tested model: Bb Harp in Bb (overblow setup)

The 1847 is an excellent factory harp. Actually it is my preferred harp, thanks to its stainless steel reeds and its good construction.


Nevertheless, it has a major problem: it is not overblow friendly. Even after a reed setup, the overblows are not stable and do squeal at low volume.


Ben Bouman proposes a customized 1847, which improves the instrument response and fix the overblow playing problem. Ben mainly works on the reeds profile and gap.


No surprise, the appearance of the instrument does not change. The finish is simply excellent out of the factory.


The first run reveals an instrument slightly more airtight and as loud as before the customization. The bends are neat and their sound is excellent. But again, the 1847 is excellent out of the factory.


The main difference is clearly in the overblow playing. The overblows are very easy to play, loud, clear and easy to shape, even at low volume. The playability is simply top notch (even considering the Bb key is the easiest key for oveblows). The Beta Harp is a joy to play.


If it does not match the extreme quality of the top customizers (like Tony Ramos in Germany), thanks to Ben's modifications, the 1847 becomes a great chromatic instrument and has a special place in my harp collection. And you know, my collection is quite complete!

Pros:

  • Beautiful instrument. Excellent finition.
  • Very airtight, responsive and easy to bend.
  • Very loud.
  • The overblows are extremely clean and can be sustained with vibrato.
  • The harp can still be played hard without choking the 4th, 5th and 6th blow.

Cons:

  • The price is a bit high. But the factory 1847 is quite expensive (75 euros) and Ben's service is top notch.

How to play it:

The 1847 being a regular richter harmonica, playing chromatically implies to master the overblows. See the standard richter harps chromatic playing page.

Conclusion:

In our opinion these harps really make the chromatic playing reachable. The main problems inherent in the overblows are drastically reduced, allowing a good overall sound and a good expressivity. And these harps are so small that one can bring them anywhere!

Laurent Vigouroux

 


http://www.beta-harps.com/

 


Planet Harmonica - 2008