Suzuki Promaster Valved

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

Suzuki Promaster Valved

Postby eline » Thu Oct 26, 2006 8:35 pm

Does anybody have any experience with valved harps? I'm thinking of investing in one, but before I drop $50 bucks on a harp I like to know what will I be able to do with it (that I couldn't do with a regular diatonic harp). Does it lend itself to blues or jazz...or both? Also, is there a cheaper valved harp that I should maybe look at before going to the more expensive Suzuki?
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Postby steel1953 » Sat Oct 28, 2006 5:22 pm

If you're used to playing regular harps, be prepared for a learning curve. You can't play hard on them, so you have to adjust your airflow. Getting bent notes spot on is harder with valves, at least for me. Plus, valved harps sound different. Not bad, but different.........
So the bad news is unless you're going to play these ALL the time to be able to adjust and learn how, you'll just get frustrated. It's just like playing 2 very different guitars. You have to play both all the time.
Good news is if and when you get the hang of them, it opens up a bunch of soulful bends and notes without overblowing. If you're already into overblows/bends, then you're already breathing softer, which is 1/2 the battle. Plus, you can get replacement reedplates. And being a metal comb, they have a tone that's truly unique compared to most diatonics.

I have 2 that were tuned by Brendan Powers for Irish music. I like them a lot, though I got them as a package deal in an instructional course so I paid alot less. I've often thought about getting a standard tuned. But when you think you can get approx. 3 blues harps or 5 Big Rivers ( also replacable reedplates )well, you know where I'm going.
That be said, I like mine and they're keepers.
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Postby steel1953 » Sat Oct 28, 2006 5:25 pm

Sorry, I forgot to mention that my harps are the Suzuki ones you're looking at.
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Postby dblues » Sat Oct 28, 2006 9:26 pm

I valve almost all my Hohner Big River and Hohner Blues Harps. I like being able to play the notes that are not otherwise playable (unless you can do the overblow/overdraw technique. I valve for these notes only and remember valved bends lower the note not raise like the overb&d thing. The notes are the 2 hole blow bend, 5 blow bend, 6 blow bend, 7 draw bend and 8 draw bend. On a couple of occasions I have also done the 1 blow. It isn't hard to valve them but it takes a steady hand, some closeup glasses (if you are old like me LOL), exacto knife, the material to make them with and some Krazy glue. The tone of the harp doesn't change very much except on those notes just slightly. The instructions on how to do this vary but this should help you. I don't remember the site I got this from, probably Ironman Mike Curtis' since he is the one that wrote this.
By IronMan Mike Curtis
A shortcoming of diatonic harmonica is that there are missing notes. Some can be
obtained through conventional bending, but there are still some missing. These
can be obtained by overblowing, or by installing valves, also known as
"windsavers". Valves are the same as windsavers, but are used for a different
purpose, "windsaver" for saving wind, and "valve" for directing air flow.
Bending is accomplished by acoustically coupling two resonant devices (reeds) so
that one "pulls" the pitch of the other. In conventional bending, the higher
pitched reed is bent by coupling it to the lower pitched reed in that hole. The
lower pitched reed cannot be bent. Conventional bending works only on reeds 1-6
draw and 7-10 blow. We cannot normally bend 1-6 blow or 7-10 draw, unless we
somehow deactivate the opposite reeds when playing these.
Fortunately, there's an easy way of doing this. If we install valves on the
bendable reeds, these will work normally when we play it (the valve opens). When
we play a "normally unbendable" reed, the valve closes, eliminating the higher
pitched reed and allowing us to use a "different" bending technique on the
single reed. We call the resulting harmonica "partially valved", because we're
only valving half of the reeds.
Valves (AKA windsavers) are little plastic flaps that go over the reed slots
opposite the reeds we valve. These deactivate the higher pitched reed in the
hole we're playing, and allow us to bend that normally unbendable note as a
single reed. Because it's a single reed, the technique is different from normal
This is not the same as "overblowing" (a technique that raises the pitch of the
higher pitched reed). Without going into detail, overblows are not possible on a
valved diatonic.
Learning to play a valved harmonica, in my experience, is also a great way to
develop your tone (resonance). If you can't bend the valved notes, you are not
resonant. Your tone will be weak. It can be vastly improved. When your resonance
is "right", you will be able to bend valved reeds, and your tone will be
spectacular. I've tried this with numerous students, and they all agree that it
improved their tone and control.
Windsavers are available from Hohner, as well as other sources. The "technical"
price is something like US$8 for enough to valve a 64 reed chromatic. They also
have a kit for diatonics.
You can make your own out of thin plastic such as overhead transparency film.
I've had success with this. I've seen some made with nonadhesive ribbed surgical
tape, backed with adhesive surgical tape, then cut to size. But it's a lot
easier to bite the bullet and order them premade, especially for that first one.

To valve a diatonic for bending unbendable notes:
1. Disassemble the harp, and lay out the reed plates reed-side-down.
2. If you have precut windsavers, lay them out over the reed slots, dimpled end
over the rivet, so they slightly overlap the reed slots, but not by much. If
they overlap TOO much, they may interfere with the comb, especially on Oskars.
Place them over draw 1-6 (lower reed plate, inside the comb) and blow 7-10
(upper reed plate, outside the comb), on the side OPPOSITE the reeds.
If yours are not precut, or the wrong size, cut them so they overlap the reed
slot by about 1/16th inch, or about a millimeter if you use that "other" ruler
3. Place a drop of Superglue on a piece of cellophane, aluminum foil, or other
nonporous surface. I like cellophane because it's easier to see just where the
drop is.
4. SLIGHTLY dip the bottom of dimpled end (if it has a dimple), "bump" side up,
in the superglue. "One drop holds a ton", so a very little is all you need for a
little tiny valve. If you use too much, you'll get Superglue in the reed slot. I
like to hold the reed with tweezers during this and the following procedures.
5. Place the windsaver over the rivet, on the back side of the reed plate (not
the "reed" side). Press into place with a little finger pressure, for just a
scant second. Remove tweezers, press on the free end with your other finger,
then remove your finger from the glued end. If you take too long doing this, you
will become attached to your harp - literally.
If it's not on straight, it can be easily repositioned, so don't worry too much
about it. If the glue sets first, simply pull the windsaver off, carefully chip
the old glue off the reed plate, and reapply.
6. Reassemble the harp and let it set an hour or so. Overnight is even better.
It allows the superglue fumes (yecch!) to dissipate.
This will allow you to bend the normally unbendable 1-6 blow and 7-10 draw
reeds. With an "open" mouth and throat, you won't have to "force" these.
This bending method (which I call "resonant bending") produces a vastly superior
tone, so if you have trouble bending valved harp, this will give you TWO
eventual rewards; more bends and better tone.
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Postby jeffl » Sat Oct 28, 2006 9:32 pm

That's a good article,and a good post.
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Postby steel1953 » Sun Oct 29, 2006 9:05 pm

Nice article! I think I'll order some premade and try this out. I like that choice of 2 blow........
I'll let you guys know how it turns out.

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