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Octave Harmonicas

Octave tuned harmonicas utilise two sets of reed plates, tuned an octave apart, to generate a 'big' and rich sound. They mainly feature the curved 'banana' form and often use the Wiener Octave Tuning. They typically have a wider tonal range than diatonic harmonicas, although there are a limited number of 10 hole octave harmonicas on the market.

Seydel Club Steel Octave Harmonica
Seydel Harmonicas

Seydel Club Steel Octave Harmonica

£73.99

4 Keys available

The Seydel CLUB STEEL Octave harmonica is the first octave harmonica with stainless steel reeds. High-grade Octave harmonica in traditionally ergonomically curved shape and a specially rich octave sound due to 40 stainless steel reeds. The Seydel CLUB STEEL harmonica is especially made for playing melodies with or without tongue block in Folk music styles. If you play a single note on this model two reeds that are tuned in an octave apart sound together at once. That is why the Seydel CLUB STEEL harmonica sounds very full and warm and powerful at the same moment. The Seydel CLUB STEEL harmonica is made in Germany with high-quality materials and is therefore 100% corrosion free! Primary features: rounded coverplates made of stainless steel curved double row comb made of durable ABS-plastic, which are very lip-friendly reedplates made of German Silver (screwed) reeds and rivets as well as all of the screws used to assemble the Octave Steel are made of stainless steel measures: 14,5 x 4,4 x 2,3 cm weight: 115g The Seydel CLUB STEEL octave harmonica is the ideal companion for your every day use or for any hiking tour. Long durability and high tuning stability guaranteed. The Seydel CLUB STEEL comes with a practical and well protecting beltbag (available in the keys of Bb, C, D, and HG).... Read more
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Seydel Concerto Steel Octave Harmonica
Seydel Harmonicas

Seydel Concerto Steel Octave Harmonica

£89.99

9 Keys available

Seydel Concerto Steel Octave Harmonica - Seydel's best Richter-tuned Octave Harmonica with 40 stainless steel reeds for folky music and melodies of any kind. The CONCERTO STEEL is a high grade octave-tuned double-reed diatonic. The notes are aranged exactly like on a 10-hole diatonic (Richter tuning). The compact design and the typical full sonoric octave sound makes the CONCERTO STEEL the ideal musical companion for events of all kinds - the ideal pocket orchestra for assertive melody  and full chord playing. The CONCERTO STEEL has a divided comb made of maintenance-free plastic and profits from the approved stainless steel reeds well known for durability and tuning stability. Tuning stability is especially important for octave-tuned harmonicas where two reeds in one channel are either tuned exactly an octave apart. When drawing or blowing, the two reeds oscillate simultaneously, giving a full organ-like sound. Built-in windsavers (half-valving) minimize air loss, improve tone control and increase the overall volume while the playing pressure remains moderate. Stainless steel reeds ensure that the Concerto Steel outlasts conventional octave harmonicas with brass reeds, and provide a clear and bright tone. The CONCERTO STEEL comes in ten different keys and is the flagship of the SEYDEL STEEL OCTAVE series. About Seydel Seydel is the world's oldest extant harmonica manufacturer, and has been producing harmonicas and accessories in Saxony since the middle of the 19th Century. All of Seydel's harmonicas are produced in Germany, and most feature its signature stainless steel reeds, which provide unsurpassed durability and longevity. Many of our customers have found that Seydel harmonicas outlast equivalent harps with brass reeds by a factor of two or three. This represents a significant saving on replacement reed plates in the long term, and more than justifies the small additional expenditure over a harp with brass reeds. Seydel makes a wide range of harmonicas, from 10 hole diatonics through to 16 hole chromatics. ... Read more
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Hohner Auto Valve Harp Octave
Hohner Harmonicas

Hohner Auto Valve Harp Octave

£104.99

Out of stock

This product has been discontinued. Consider looking at these Octave harmonicas as alternatives.... Read more
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Hohner Echo 48 Tremolo Harmonica
Hohner Harmonicas

Hohner Echo 48 Tremolo Harmonica

£73.99

Out of stock

The Hohner Echo 48 Tremolo is part of the echo line series. All models of the Echo Line are very traditional and based on a history of more than 60 years. They are available in different sizes for individual use. Their warm and smooth sound gives these instruments an unique character and charm. Sound: Tremolo. Reeds: 48. Reed Plate: Brass, 0.9mm. Keys: C Major Comb: Wood (maple). Case/Packaging: Printed cardboard box. Size: Length: 17.8cm. ... Read more
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Octave tuned harmonicas utilise two sets of reed plates, tuned an octave apart, to generate a 'big' and rich sound. They mainly feature the curved 'banana' form and often use the Wiener Octave Tuning. They typically have a wider tonal range than diatonic harmonicas, although there are a limited number of 10 hole octave harmonicas on the market.

History of the Octave Harmonica

The history of the octave harmonica is slightly murkier than for other varieties of the instrument. We do know, however, that it is a younger instrument than the 10 hole diatonic, and is pre-dated by the tremolo harmonica, with which it shares a common design (albeit with a different tuning).

Hohner and Seydel, amongst others, began experimenting with the octave tuning in the early 1900s, but it wasn't until the 1920s that a production model - the Hohner Echo - was made available to the public. This featured a design that was very similar to existing tremolo models, but with the two sets of reed plates tuned an octave apart.

Unlike the 10 hole blues harp, and to a lesser extent, the chromatic harmonica, the octave didn't experience a boom in the 1950s and 1960s. This is, perhaps, unsurprising, as octaves lack the ability to bend notes, which makes the blues harp suitable for pop, blues and rock music, and don't share the chromatic harmonica's tonal range and versatility. Today, octaves are something of a niche harmonica, with Hohner discontinuing much of its Echo range, leaving Seydel to be the main manufacturer of octaves, with its Club and Concerto harps.

Uses for Octave Harmonicas

Octave harmonicas are generally not used in blues and jazz, as the arrangement of notes and nature of the reed plates mean that they don't respond well to bending - something that is core to jazz and blues harmonica playing. Instead, they tend to lend themselves well to traditional folk tunes and Alpine and German Music. They can also be used in an orchestral setting to add depth to a piece of music.

What is the Note Layout of Octave Harmonicas?

Most octave harmonicas feature the Wiener note layout system, which is similar to Richter tuning on diatonics, albeit usually with a greater range, due to the increased size of most octave harmonicas. One slight complication is that different types and sizes of octave harmonicas use different portions of the note layout: the Seydel Club Steel in C, for instance, will play the first hole blow as an E, whereas other octave harmonicas in this key will have the first hole blow as a C.

A rarer tuning for octave harmonicas is solo tuning, which is the same as that used on many chromatic harmonicas. Examples of harps with this tuning are the Seydel Fanfare S and the Tombo 3624.

The Harmonica Company stocks a range of octave harmonicas, available in various sizes, from the world's leading harmonica manufacturers, including Hohner and Seydel.

What is a Good Octave Harmonica for a Beginner?

The range of octave harmonicas on the market is more limited than standard 10 hole diatonics, and the extra complexity of the double reed plates means that prices are generally higher than for an equivalent quality blues harp. Seydel's Club Steel Octave is a great choice for any level of player, and its stainless steel reeds will last for decades (bear in mind that octave harps don't lend themselves to bending, which is the main culprit in pushing reeds out of tune), which goes some way to offsetting its fairly high purchase price.

One other option is to test the water with a tremolo harmonica first. These often have the same note layout and general design as an octave, but are available at much lower prices, primarily because they are more popular than octaves, and lower end models are available that have been mass produced in China. Although this will not give the sound of an octave harp, as the two sets of reeds are tuned close to each other, rather than an octave apart, the general feel will be similar, allowing a beginner to see if they like this general style of harmonica before committing to an expensive octave harp. Examples of harmonicas in this category are the Hohner Ocean Star and Big Valley and the Suzuki Winner range.

Can I Get Octave Harmonicas in Different Keys?

Traditionally octave harmonicas have only been available in a small range of keys - often only C and G. However, Seydel now offers its 10 hole Richter tuned Concerto Steel octave harmonica in a full range of keys, enabling players of this type of harmonica a much greater tonal range.

What is the Seydel Concerto Steel Star 6?

Hohner introduced a curious device called the Six Sided Sextet/Kreuzwender many years ago. It is still manufactured to this day, and consists of 6 large tremolo harmonicas tuned to different keys, attached to a six-pronged star shaped metal device that can be rotated by the player, thus enabling all six keys to be accessed rapidly. The Seydel Concerto Steel Star 6 is, in basic terms, a smaller version of the same concept, albeit one that uses six 10 hole octave harmonicas in place of the large tremolo harps in the Kreuzwender. As a consequence, it is much less bulky and far easier to use than Hohner's device, although the tonal range is significantly narrower.

Is an Octave Harmonica a Good Choice for a Beginner?

Generally speaking beginners are best served starting with a 10 hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C. This type of harmonica will have the richest array of online tutorials available for it, and the basic techniques will stand the player in good stead for when they wish to play other types of harp, such as octave harmonicas and chromatics. 10 hole diatonics are also significantly less expensive than most other types of harmonica, so the initial price of entry, and the sunk costs, if the player finds that they don't like the instrument, are much lower.

What Does an Octave Harmonica Sound Like?

Octave harmonicas have a distinctive deep and rich sound, due to the low tuned reed plates effectively doubling up the sound. Imagine the difference between playing a single note on a piano and playing the same note as well as one exactly an octave lower, and you will have some understanding of the difference between and octave harp and a standard diatonic.

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