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Playing Chromatically

Richter based harp

What is a Richter based harp?

In this article we'll use the name "Richter based harp" to identify harmonicas that are tuned the same way as the regular bluesharp. It is common to name the regular bluesharp tuning "Richter" but, as Pat Missin pointed out on Harp-L, the term "Richter System" normally only applies to the physical construction of the harp. A Richter System harmonica has roughly square sections chambers each containing a blow reed and a draw reed; each note of the harp having but a single reed. The Marine Band, the Lee Oskar Melody Maker, the Huang Cadet Soloist, etc. are all Richter harps.

The XB-40 and CX-10 might have the same tuning as the typical 10-hole Richter, but these are actually completely different instruments.

So why grouping all these harps in the same article? Simply because sharing the same tuning is more important than the construction of the harp for the harmonica player. It is generally easier to adapt (at least at first) to a different size of mouthpiece than to a different tuning.

The lowest octave of a bluesharp has a very typical sound that is much appreciated by diatonic harmonica players. That's the reason why many player don't want to use the chromatic but would still want to play chromatically. All the harps reviewed in this article keep this characteristic.

Laurent Vigouroux


Planet Harmonica - 2004