Blues, old-time, hokum, bluegrass

Harmonica Stuff

How to Play Old-Time Fiddle Tunes on Harmonica: Volume 1

Learn about Cary’s new instructional book and see sample pages here.

Why I use Paddy Richter tuned harmonicas

I started out playing in the standard (“richter”) tuning. But I quickly realized that with that tuning I couldn’t play most fiddle tunes in the same register as the fiddle. Instead, I had to play an octave higher—but I wanted the warmer, gutsier sound of the lower notes. Also, many tunes needed a wider range, and some of those lower notes—which could only be played by “bending”—were too difficult to play quickly and clearly enough to sound good. Paddy Richter tuning (invented in the 1980s by Brendon Powers to play Irish tunes) solved these problems. Once I got used to the tuning, I figured out that I could also play some great double stops (two notes at a time) with this tuning that I couldn’t get with the standard harp. Basically, I became convinced that Paddy Richter was superior for playing tunes on harp. With some files and a Dremel tool, I retuned all of my harmonicas in Paddy Richer and I’ve never regretted it.