Hello! In today's harmonica lesson we'll be looking at the innovative PowerBender harmonica and exploring the unique sound you get with this fascinating tuning.
Why change the traditional tuning?
The idea behind the PowerBender tuning is to build on the traditional Richter tuning, keeping what is great about it while altering the notes to give you more juicy and bluesy notes throughout the full range of the instrument.
Tuning Diagram - PowerBender compared to Richter
The "problem" with Richter tuning - at least when it comes to playing blues and roots music - is that you have lots of great bending down the bottom end of the harp, but a change of note layout at the top end, which makes the bends less useful and the choice of notes more limited.
If you like the 10 hole shape and diatonic sound, but want lots more bending expression and the opportunity for a more "jazzy" sound, then the PowerBender tuning may be a great choice.
On the PowerBender, you will have the same familiar breathing pattern from the low notes all the way up to the top. There are no blow bends. Instead, you can bend every draw note, from holes 1-10!
What does the PowerBender sound like?
I've given you a demo of the tuning in the above video. Brendan also has a great video introducing the tuning:
The Blues Scale for PowerBender Harmonica
Let me give you an example of the difference this tuning makes. On a Richter harp, you need an overblow to play the blues scale (in 2nd position) from hole 6 upwards. On the PowerBender, you can play the blues scale over two full octaves from hole 2 to hole 9, as follows:
-2 -3/ 4 -4/ -4 6 -6
-6 -7/ 8 -8/ -8 -9// -9
Will the PowerBender change your life?
I think the PowerBender is a really interesting harp and offers some amazing bending options over the full three octaves. Of course, this harmonica won't solve all your problems as every note layout is a compromise; to you add one note, you have to take another away. And don't expect this to suddenly make you sound just like Brendan Power - the harp helps, but he sounds awesome because he's an awesome musician! That said, it can be a great addition or alternative to the standard Richter harp.
Half-valved or Unvalved PowerBender?
Brendan sells both unvalved and half-valved versions of the PowerBender. So what's the difference?
On the unvalved version it's possible to overblow all the blow holes to give you fully chromatic playing. You cannot blow bend or overdraw as these have been replaced by simple draw bends.
On the half-valved version, you can achieve full chromaticism via a combination of both "normal" draw bends and valved blow bends.
Thanks for following this harmonica lesson. I hope you enjoyed it! Check out Brendan's website for more information or to order a PowerBender harmonica.
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