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Playing Chromatically

The Turboharp AX-S20

US Price: $49.99 (on http://www.turboharp.com)

Tested model: Turboharps in the keys of G and Bb.

This is a customized harp, based on the Hohner Special 20, with new covers (Turbolid) and a patented plate (called Turboliner) fixed on the reedplates in order to reduce air leakage on the side of the reeds. It exists in two settings: the Folk/Blues with standard gapping and the Overblow with a reduced gapping and Turbotape to reduce the "dog-whistle" problem (see PH issue 4 for more explanations).

The first thing we notice with this harp is its look: a shape similar to the CX-10 but asymetrical. It is easy to handle and the opening on the back of the cover is easy to cup hermetically. The resulting sound is very sweet.

The overblows come easily, even on the key of G which is one of the most difficult keys to overblow. A good overblower can sustain them without any problem and even apply vibrato.

Another big advantage of the Turbolid is that it give easy and instant access to the reedplates, which is perfect when one wants to regap the harp.

Pros:

  • Customized instrument. Very airtight, responsive and easy to bend. Bends are really stable and good sounding.
  • Overblows are clean and can be sustained (no problem for applying vibrato).
  • The Turbolid allows a great cupping.
  • The sound is very smooth.
  • The look is great.
  • Affordable.

Cons:

  • The mouthpiece is bigger than that of a standard diatonic, similar to that of a CX-10 but smaller.It has not bothered us at all but could annoy other players (particularly pure bluesharp players).
  • The sound could be considered muffled by some players. Not really a drawback, rather a matter of taste.

How to play it:

As the Turboharp is a regular richter harmonica, playing it chromatically requires mastering the overblows.
See the standard richter harps chromatic playing page.

Listen to the sound samples:

Conclusion:

In our opinion, the AX-S20 is a customized harp that makes chromatic playing reachable. The main problems inherent in the overblows are drastically reduced, allowing a good overall sound and a rather good expressivity. And these harps are so small that one can bring them anywhere!

Laurent Vigouroux



http://www.turboharp.com


Planet Harmonica - 2004