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I have several chromonicas from the 50s/60s, and none seem to be 'standard'. There is only the one C/B hole in each octave, whereas it appears that standard includes two C holes (in a C instrument) next to each other. So it's blow/draw for C/D E/F G/A, and draw/blow for B/C.

They aren't be-bop or blues. classical, solo or minor tuned, and certainly not Richter, so what are they?

There's one which plays in C# when the button's out, and C when pushed in. It's stamped C, and may be 'Irish tuning', but with some delving, Irish tuned harmonicas drop from C to B when the button is used, so it maybe isn't that.

Using an interesting harminoca tag... 

EDIT I just can't believe it ! I checked again, and yes, it has two C notes in holes adjacent to each other! Been playing on and off for a very long time, and honestly thought there was only the one C. Perhaps as a kid I automatically by-passed the 'other C' each time, so didn't actively think it existed. Sorry to cause any confusion - I guess the question is now null and void - except for the backwards harmonica.

Not a complete idiot - I just help them out when they're short...

  • Could you be more specific about the harmonica models, and either be more specific about how they diverge from solo tuning (which holes play which notes) or map out the note layout? – Some_Guy Oct 30 '17 at 14:26
  • Larry Adler professional; 64 chromonica; Chromonika III; Chromonica II deluxe; Chrometta 10.All have blow/draw - C/D, E/F, G/A and draw/blow B/C, all the way along. – Tim Oct 30 '17 at 14:32
  • I just can't believe it ! I checked again, and yes, it has two C notes in holes adjacent to each other!! This is very disappointing... – Stinkfoot Oct 31 '17 at 3:23
  • Irish tuned harmonicas drop from C to B - If it's tuned that way. I think the point of Irish tuning is to drop half a step - regardless of key. But C# is a weird key to start with. I see @Some_Guy gave you the answer anyhow. – Stinkfoot Oct 31 '17 at 3:27
  • @Stinkfoot - true, the idea of Irish tuning is to drop down into B. Reason given in Wiki is that a lot of Irish tunes are in G or D, but the relevance of that escapes me. What's B got to do with G or D?? – Tim Oct 31 '17 at 7:34
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So it's blow/draw for C/D E/F G/A, and draw/blow for B/C.

This seems to fit with the standard tuning for a chromatic, "solo" tuning, which is the following repeated pattern:

       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10… etc.
       ------------------------------------
blow: |C |E |G |C |C |E |G |C |C |E...etc.
draw: |D |F |A |B |D |F |A |B |D |F...etc
       ------------------------------------

In which the blow note C is found repeated, as the end of one octave, then the beginning of the next.

On a chromatic harmonica this therefore results in 3 ways to play C, the 4 blow, 5 blow, and the 4 draw with the slide in, and 2 "C holes": one a C/D hole and the other a C/B hole.

A tuning without a repeated C would be like one of the following:

"Bebop":

       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10… etc.
       ------------------------------------
blow: |C |E |G |Bb|C |E |G |Bb|C |E...etc.
draw: |D |F |A |B |D |F |A |B |D |F...etc
       ------------------------------------

F6/G6 (starting from -2 reflects the easiest way to retune from a stock harp: from an F chromatic)

     (-2)(-1)1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10… etc.
       ------------------------------------
blow: |F |A |C |D |F |A |C |D |F |A |C |D...etc.
draw: |G |B |D |E |G |B |D |E |G |B |D |E...etc.
       ------------------------------------

As for the C# harp, it may simply be that the slider is on backwards, so in/out is reversed for all notes, does this fit with your experience? Is the blow chord a Db/C# major chord and the draw an Eb/D# minor 6 chord?)

  • Having a very off day today! Looking as closely as I should have before posing the question, the 'backwards' one does appear to have the slide in the opposite way to the other harmonicas, which would go along with your suggestion. – Tim Oct 30 '17 at 17:38

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