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Playing Chromatically


What's the best way of playing chromatically on Richter based harps?

The answer to this question really depends on the harmonicist background and is for sure a matter of personal taste.

In our opinion the easiest option (in terms of technique) is to turn to the CX-10 because it only needs regular bends as on a regular bluesharp, provides many enharmonic notes and has a real bluesharp sound. But it is big and expensive, which can be a major drawback for blues players wanting to own at least the most common keys (C, A, D, G, Bb).

For player with a good ear who don't especially seek the blues, a very good option is the XB-40 as it only requires "natural" bends and allows a great expressivity. But it is big, requires a very good pitch accuracy and has a rather chromatic sound.

For blues die hard fans, the customized regular bluesharps are very small, affordable and very familiar. But they necessitate to master the overblows to play chromatically.

Here is a summary of the harmonicas characteristics:

  Ease of use Expressivity Sound Size Price
CX-10 10 8 10 Big Expensive
XB-40 7 10 5 Big Quite expensive
Bahson 6 6 7 Small Quite expensive
Turboharp 5 6 6 Small Affordable
Tony Ramos's Marine Band 6 8 7 Small Affordable
Honey Bee 5 6 8 Small Affordable
Overdrive 2 4 4 Small Affordable
Discrete Comb          


  • The customized bluesharps are noted 5 or 6 for the "Ease of use" because they require overblows. This is not related to the quality of the harp itself. Their "Sound" notes are also impacted by the fact that overblows are particularly difficult to make sound good.


Laurent Vigouroux


Planet Harmonica - 2004