Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Hi
Does anyone know the best and preferably cheapest route to get Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas:
a) Buy a standard richter tuned G and Low D (maybe Hohner Rocket) and get someone to tune the 3 blow reed up a full tone (or do it myself my slowly scraping or filing the top of the 3 blow reed) ??
b) Buy a Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D direct, maybe from Seydel or Thomann ??
Thanks
Barry
p.s. I live in Dublin, Ireland so shipping costs would be extra

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

The cheapest way is a), buy a cheap harp and tune it yourself.
The easiest way and maybe the cheapest (if you muck up filing the reed, you wasted your money) is b).
In my opinion, the best way is to find a harp that your like that either comes in Paddy tuning, or you have it modified.

I love my Seydel Session Steel Paddy. I have sensitive lips. Harps with more edges hurt my lips.
Suzuki Promasters are my second choice, but you have to modify the 3 blow reed. These are very personal choices, as at this time, comfort is more important to me than tone.

There is however, a Chinese company "Easttop" that makes "Paddy Blues Harmonicas" in G and D. They are very inexpensive. The ones that I got were high quality and play very well. The are Hohner style, but of much better quality, and look cool.
Normally I do not buy "Chinese mainland" products because they steal the technology and then undercut the original manufacturer, hoping to destroy competition from other countries. I was on a jag to try every brand, so made a one time exception. And, the manufacturer put extra effort into making a high quality instrument (I got mine over a year ago), so I felt better supporting them. I want to see the true innovators survive, so I would not buy from other "Chinese mainland" manufactures.

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Thanks Steve
Re the Easttop harmonicas. Are they easy to bend on too. Where do you buy these?

I take it you are not impressed with Hohner quality.
I myself am a Hohner fan. I have a Suzuki Folkmaster, a Seydel Session Steel and a Hohner Special 20 in key of G, and I have to say the S20 gives the best tone and is easiest to play. Hard to beat an S20. And I have 3 Rockets, which are a louder version of S20 and I love those too.

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Hi gilbarry3,

I got my Easttops using Amazon. Search ‘Musical Instruments’ : "easttop paddy"
amazon.com/s?k=easttop+paddy+key+d&i=mi&ref=nb_sb_noss (~$25.00) - Sold by easttop harmonica and Fulfilled by Amazon.

Maybe I was a little harsh about Hohner. The ‘Big River’ and ‘Marine Band’ (~$37.00) reed plates have sharp edges and a little rougher finishing. Perhaps they are trying to be historically authentic (nailed cover plates?).

I do have a Hohner Special 20 (~$34.00-$45.00 depending on key) which fills all my requirements for quality. I’ll have to give it some more attention.

I mainly played my Seydel Session Steel Paddy G because it has the smoothest edges and the holes are spaced slightly further apart. (But at ~$98:00, is it worth it?). I don’t plan to get one in D.

I also play a Suzuki Manji Low D (M-20-LD ~$60:00) that I modified to Paddy tuning. The low-D is really fun to play those notes one octave lower.

I have only retuned my Manji to Paddy. You have to be very patient not to over file the reed. Work in very small increments, reassemble and test every time you file. Be sure to file away from the rivet. Be careful to remove/avoid burrs (the reed will stick if you do not). Remember that even removing a burr takes off mass and sharpens the pitch. After three filings and tests, I got impatient and took a deeper cut. It turned out perfectly, but could have easily gone too far (I was lucky). From now on, I am going to remain patient and stay with the small cuts. Since I had success the first time, I am ready to try it again, maybe on the Hohner Special 20. There are good instructions on the web. Initially I used a file going the length of the reed hitting the end edge, but that created burrs which I had to remove. Then I used a dremel tool and removed metal length wise along the center of the reed, thus avoiding the edges, thus avoiding creating burrs. I don’t know if that is a good technique, but it worked for me; but then I have only retuned one harp.

By the way, I still use my Paddy tuned harps for blues. It might bother a more professional or discerning player, but I find it easy to work around.

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

"Re the Easttop harmonicas. Are they easy to bend on too."
I think they are good for bending. However, I do not have a lot of experience and am not a pro.
Here is one guy that thinks they are great for bending:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wQaOnrcEWw


BTW: They are still cheap, but I think you are going to have to pay $25:00 rather than $15:00 people got them for a year or two ago.

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Thanks for comments Steve.
From reading up and listening to this video from Brendan power (and others) I made the following notes about tuning reeds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twXsbFuSE7Y

Please have a look and see if you agree.

Raising the pitch of a Draw reed:
The draw reeds are above the reed plate level, so they are easier to work with.
Place the thin reed lifter underneath the reed for support.
File away some material (brass or whatever material the reed is made of) from the tip of the reed, in direction away from the tip, i.e. from tip towards the base/rivet, gradually (filing off small amounts at a time), until pitch is at the raised frequency you want (using tuner).
Make sure to clean off any burrs left after filing.

Raising the pitch of a Blow reed:
The blow reeds are below the reed plate level, so you need to insert the hook tool (or a stiff paper clip with end bent up) in through the hole to prise up the reed above the surface and then place the thin reed lifter underneath the reed for support.
File away some material from the tip of the reed, in direction from tip towards base, gradually (filing off small amounts at a time), until pitch is at the raised frequency you want (using tuner).
Make sure to clean off any burrs left after filing.

Lowering the pitch of a Draw reed:
There are 2 things you can do to lower the pitch of a reed:
1) Add weight (e.g. a small amount of hot solder) to the tip end of the reed, or
2) Using the scraping tool, scrape away some reed material from the base of the reed, in direction from base towards tip, gradually (scraping off small amounts at a time), until pitch is at the lowered frequency you want (using tuner). Don’t scrape the rivet itself, scrape below the rivet on the reed itself.

Lowering the pitch of a Blow reed:
To lower the pitch of a blow reed you need to scrape away some reed material (brass or whatever material the reed is made of) from the base end of the reed. But because the blow reed is below the level of the reed plate you need to insert the bent hook tool in through the hole to lift the reed plate up above the level of the reed plate.
And with the hook tool left there to support the reed, scrape away some reed material from the base of the reed, in direction from base towards the tip, gradually (scraping off small amounts at a time), until pitch is at the lowered frequency you want (using tuner).

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Hello gilbarry3,

Your notes look good to me except for filing "from tip towards the base/rivet".
It is my opinion that you should always file/scrape/grind towards the tip.
If your tool snags or you apply too much pressure, the reed could fold if you are pushing towards the base.
Likewise, if you are using a dremel, a bead reamer, or a small drill with a grinding wheel or a beveling tip; make sure the rotation is toward the tip of the reed (where the wheel meets the reed).

Here is one site that agrees with me:
dummies.com/art-center/music/harmonica/how-to-tune-your-harmonica/

Files are difficult for me to use. Too easy to hit the edge of the reed and get possible burrs.
Small grinding wheels or beveling tips work best for me.
For brass reeds, you could alternately use a scraper.
The best tool is the one you can control the best.

Maybe, before you attempt this, you should find out if replacement reeds or replacement reed-plates are available and how much they cost.

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

After having tried several brands and (expensive) craftsmen who whould customise them for me, I settled with Seydel harmonicas a few years ago and I really can’t recommend them strongly enough. The steel reeds last much longer than the brass used by other brands, especially with the fast playing required for jigs and reels, which quickly leads to metal fatigue. The plastic combs and rounded covers are much easier on the lips, so I don’t start bleeding after playing reels for an hour or two, as I used to with the Hohners. And even a fully custom tuned harmonica is still only €70,- - which is really nothing at all for a good instrument.

I recently got a set of customised Seydel harps from Dutch craftsman Ben Bouman, who does an amazing job at polishing the reeds and adjusting the gap for airtightness and response. To spread word of his skill I made this little demo video of me playing two of his harmonicas, in G and Low D (only in solo tuning instead of Paddy Richter, so in G you’d have the low D on blow and the E on draw instead of the other way round): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwpBOhjQbG0

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Hi Steve
Yes i hear you re danger of folding ir creasing the reed if filing towards the base, but I guess if you have the flat reed lifter under the reed supporting it and yiy file slowly then it should mitigate this risk. I’m just thinking that if using a file and filing towards the tip you run the risk if creating burr at end if tip?. I don’t know as I haven’t done this yet and only going off Brendan Powers video instruction?

Hey Tijn, nice playing, not bad.for a beginner I suppose

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Just joking Tijn, that was excellent playing. How do you get to be able to play so fast. I can’t breathe in and out very fast.
Btw, i am getting the Hohner Service Kit, do you think that file would be adequate for the Seydel steel reeds, as I have a Seydel Session Steel in G that I would like to modify to Paddy Richter tuning?

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Tijn, congratulations on your fine playing of the Silver Spire, I always find that run up in the B part an absolute nightmare! I use the same tuning on my Hohner G harps [E on the draw] and similarly on my A harps [F# on the draw] but I have mine tuned by Antony Dannecker here in the UK. I also have a Seydel Steel in A [standard tuning] that I use for blues and country and would like to explore the possibility of alternatively tuned Seydels, could you send me a link to Ben Bouman? Dank U wel!

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Thanks! :) Breathing in and out at this speed really is just a matter of practise. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to play as I do now - I only managed to pull of breathing triplets the last year or so. Getting all the different parts of your breathing apparatus (tongue, cheeks, throat, chest, diaphragm) in line and working in the same direction takes practise, and a lot of stamina too.

I’ve no experience with the Hohner service kit, but I don’t think the files they provide would have trouble with steel reeds - usually tools like that are much harder.

Here’s Ben’s website: https://www.benboumanharmonicas.nl/

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Tijn, are you finding that Seydel reeds stay in tune for a long time? I have played Hohners for many years now and they are very nice to play when new, but after a few gigs/sessions notes start to go flat and its expensive getting them retuned [I tried doing it myself once, didnt work out too well]. thanks for the Ben Bouman link, I ‘m going to check it out.

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

With my rather intensive playing habits (fast tunes for several hours a week), a regular factory-made Seydel usually lasts 6-12 months for me. Some reeds can go flat before that, but I fix that myself just by filing. After that, the first ones will start to simply break - I’ll be playing a tune when all of a sudden a reed goes flat by almost a semitone. That’s a hairline crack that’s propagated, which can’t be fixed. Immediately stop playing, or you risk the reed breaking off and breathing it in. I’m not very skilled at replacing reeds, so I generally just buy a new set of reedplates when that happens (yes, not very sustainable, but €50,- for a set of reedplates isn’t much, and even if I replace the broken one, I know another will break soon after).

The first harmonicas I bought from Ben lasted for almost two years without trouble. He polishes the reeds, which greatly slows down oxidation (even stainless steel oxidises, though much more slowly than brass) and the resulting wear on the reeds. That, and the reed plate embossing and proper adjustment of the reed gap which he does greatly improves the response and volume of the instrument.

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

thanks for the advice Tijn, I will contact Ben asap

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

A few comments:

It is worth it to learn to convert a harmonica to Paddy Richter. It is easy and often saves money. A file works, but is slow. A Dremel also works fine, maybe too fast. Lately I have been using a cheap and small metal engraver which is even easier to use.

As an aside, I also raise the 2 blow f# on a D harmonica to G. This gives you the range of a fiddle. On a G harmonica, the same modification raises a B to a C. I do that also just for consistency, and it often comes in useful.

I have had good luck with the Seydel steel reeds. But I will not buy their brass reed instruments any more after blowing out one the first time I played it in a session. Their Configurator allows you to get any tuning that you want.

For lowering the pitch, you can use Blu-Tack instead of solder.(Google it.) You just stick it on and push it around until it is in tune. Amazingly, I have never had a piece come off while playing. And then if you want to revert to the original pitch, you just take it off.

As far as having pros work on your instruments, also take note of Joel Anderson
http://jaharmonicas.com/
who does great work on Hohner harmonicas.

Re: songs better on Paddy Richter G / Low Ds?

I don’t now own a paddy-tuned harp, but i’d like to give one a try. can the wise amd experienced players suggest a few simple hornpipes or jigs that sound better or are more easily played at a good fast pace when played on a PR tuned harp? i’ve been painfully accumulating an irish trad setlist on my regular tuned harps and my chromatics. after reading about paddy tuning i maybe want to take the leap into PR tuning—-maybe ?!?! thanks in advance for any and all thoughts.

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

Hi Donoghue
Re Blu-Tack, I’d be afraid it would come off and I could suck it in !!
I’m just wondering if anyone knows of bad cases of sucking in a broken reed , could it be fatal if it got stuck in your lung?? I know I’m being pessimistic bordering on morbid, but just sayin’ ??

Re: Paddy Richter tuned G and Low D harmonicas

While I’ve never actually had a reed break off while playing, I admit I’ve had nightmares about it. However, while a crack due to metal fatigue can occur while playing, even then it takes some force to break it off entirely - more, I suspect, then you’d ever be able to generate by breath alone. Then again, the people who had this bad fortune probably never lived to warn us!