Which chromatic?

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

Which chromatic?

Postby tobiepsg » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:47 am

Yonks ago when I started exploring the harmonica world, I bought a couple of diatonics and a chromatic (Hohner 270/48 in C) harp. I did not like the sound & feel of the 270 and shelved it. A couple of weeks ago I've decided to dust it off to play a few fills in cross-harp (G) and I was so amazed at the sound (I wonder what has changed over the years? :wink: ) that I've decided to buy another (a Bb for playing in F).

I have obviously not shopped around much for chromatics during the last couple of years, so I'm out of touch and need some help. Looking at previous posts the Hohner CX-12 appear to be a popular chromatic harp, but are there others which are better bang for buck? The CX-12 is a bit expensive to my liking ($175 US / 90 pounds) - are there some respectable chromatics in the $100 US price range at all? And who's better priced than the average seller?

Thanks...
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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby barbequebob » Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:35 pm

Since no harps have been made in the US for many decades, there really isn't a whole lot of inexpensive anything and with the dollar getting heavily devaluated, plus the price of fuel is added on to the shipping costs, well, it's obvious. You may want to check out some Hering chromatics out. They play easier out of the box. Most blues players don't play 2nd position for blues on a chromatic, and mostly 3rd position (key of C, played in D, key of Bb played in C, etc.), and those who studied in the George Smith scool of chromatic also at times play 1st position, but you'd really need to know the slide button more.
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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby bottleneck » Tue Aug 19, 2008 7:16 pm

i've had good luck with hering.the place i like to get them is http://www.harphouse.com

you wouldn't go wrong with a 5148 or a 7148,although i like their 10 hole model.

also i've been using hering 5148 combs/reeds inside hohner super chromonica 270 coverplates and slides.
this makes for a special harmonica.i buy the comb/reeds from a seller on ebay named eezyreeder ,he rocks.
this is a real cheap way to get the 270 you have laying around working.i played 270's since the 70's and some of them stunk.
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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby tobiepsg » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:24 am

barbequebob wrote:Most blues players don't play 2nd position for blues on a chromatic, and mostly 3rd position (key of C, played in D, key of Bb played in C, etc.), and those who studied in the George Smith scool of chromatic also at times play 1st position

Never tried 3rd position on the chromatic (well, I've hardly played it at all in the 3+ years I've had it)! Maybe I must fool around with 3rd position first to ensure that I buy the next one in the right key (I want it for playing in F). I wouldn't dream of playing it in it's sucking 1st position - the diatonics are way better for that purpose!

bottleneck wrote:i've been using hering 5148 combs/reeds inside hohner super chromonica 270 coverplates and slides

Something I'll consider, as the 270's 5th & 6th holes sound tin-ish, if you know what I mean...

Thanks for the feedback!
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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby barbequebob » Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:58 pm

If you want a chromatic for the key of F, but want to play 3rd position, you'll need one tuned to Ab, which is usually gonna be a special order job. You can also learn how to play an F chromatic in 1st position. What you want to do for 1st is understand the scales, and then use the button more like you're trying to turn it into 3rd position. George Harmonica Smith a recorded an uptempo tune using a C in 1st position called Boogie 'N' With George, which was recently reissued on a CD called You Can Talk About Me.
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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby bluemoose » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:00 pm

Hi All:

Hummm...music in F, wouldn't 3rd pos be on a E-flat? Am I correct in thinking you could do that either with a E-flat
chrom or a D with the button in?

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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby bottleneck » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:56 pm

yes blue moose,you are right.i'm pretty sure BBQbob meant to say Eb,as AB would give you Bb in third position.

and yes ,you could also do it on a D with the slide in,or turn the slide upside down and make an irish Eb.

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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby tobiepsg » Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:27 am

barbequebob wrote:You can also learn how to play an F chromatic in 1st position

As mentioned above, I'm not too fond of the chromatic's 1st position sound - the sound of diatonics' holes 4-10 are much nicer and I already have that in all keys, lows & highs included! So at this stage I'm considering a chromatic in Bb (for 2nd position) or Eb (for 3rd position).

Thanks for the advice, guys!
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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby jbone1 » Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:15 am

i really perfer third posotion for chromatic. when i got my first chro i used it for second, but some of the notes would be blow instead of draw, and on a diatonic they'd be draw and not blow, so it was pretty confusing.

nice thing with third position on a chro especially, imho, is that there are repeating 4-hole runs you can do most all the way up the harp. and i have not gotten to the whole button thing as yet. one caution though, the reeds on most chromatics have wind savrs or valves over most of the reeds, and this impedes much serious bending. i have ended up replacing reedplate/comb assy's due to overzealous playing- too much force, trying to bend to much. the plus side, all the notes are right there in order, one does not NEED to bend much at all to get all the sound out. a bit of bending just for a bluesy effect is all i do on a chro these days.
one other caution- most chromatics will not sound out loud like some diatonics. for me the trick is using amplification set slightly higher for chromatic than for diatonic. trying to draw/blow harder to get more oomph can and does result in wasted reed syndrome, and it isn't cheap to replace a reed plate/comb, but it IS cheaper than buying a new chromatic!

one other option- and i use hering 5148 and 7148's exclusively these days- is to look at maybe a chrometta 12 for a first chromatic, just to learn on. very easy to make sound out, price is probably still pretty reasonable, and imho this is a ver good harp to get started on.
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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby dcblues » Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:22 pm

Another important part of third positon chromatic playing is octaves. Learn those octaves and use them. You have to block more holes, but you'll get used to it. Listen to George Smith, William Clarke, Rod Piazza or any of the great chromatic blues players to hear what I'm talking about.
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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby bottleneck » Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:52 pm

jbone1 wrote:
one other option- and i use hering 5148 and 7148's exclusively these days- is to look at maybe a chrometta 12 for a first chromatic, just to learn on. very easy to make sound out, price is probably still pretty reasonable, and imho this is a ver good harp to get started on.


believe it or not,after the second recent hohner price increase,a chrometta 12 costs more than a hering 5148,in fact a hering 7148 is only about a dollar more than a chrometta 12.

i do like chromettas,it was a chrometta 8 that turned my chromatic playing around after years of playing 270/super chromonicas.i also have a chrometta 12 in G that is a great harp.BUT i think he needs an Eb anyway and chrometta 12's are not available in keys other than C and G.
i really think hering is the way to go in this case.

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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby jbone1 » Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:25 am

chromettas are definitely NOT worth the price of a hering 48!

the keys i play with chromatic are limited due to my own ignorance, to be honest. i have a C, which is good for third in D, and a baritono in C, same thing but i like the possibilities better, and a G, which is good for key of A.

my first chromatic was a 270 in D, and it was a long time ago. i never learned much at all with it. today i'd know that E would be the key if i were to want to do third position with it. unfortunately it fell victim to my mad scientist personality. i decided to try sealing the comb with beeswax, and it was an old one that was nailed together, so at the same time i drilled and tapped the reedplates and comb so i could screw it together. my fatal mistake was putting it in a 200 degree oven to soak the wax into the comb and let the excess run off. result was a fatally warped comb.

i too got a chrometta 8 next and this is what i used for a different sound in second position. i actually did ok with it, but it was at that point that a fellow harp man or two began doing things in third, and i was intrigued. with their counsel, and a lot of fooling around, it finally sunk in! later on i got a chrometta 12 so i'd have more notes to work with. about then hering came out with the musselwhite 7148 and i later went to the 5148, which is the same harp as far as i can tell.

i had thought about getting a new chrometta because i really do like the sound they put out and the ease of playing, but for that kind of $$ i'll just stay with the herings!
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Re: Which chromatic?

Postby Fishfeathersmacteeth » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:43 pm

..put me down for another fan of the Hering Chromatics..

..I don't use anything like all their capabilities..being one of these guys that plays them almost exclusively in third position..but they're reasonably priced compared with the Hohners (on this side of the pond anyway) and play well right out of the box..
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