Altering Standard Richter to Wilde Tuning

Wilde tuning is for playing rock.

With this altered tuning all bends are draw bends; there are no blow bends or overdraws. You can overblow any missing notes to play the chromatic scale. This tuning shares that feature with Brendan Power's Powerbender tuning.

If exclusive draw bending is the reason you are exploring Wilde tuning, I suggest you take a good look at PowerBender because it is a lot more versatile, allowing you to play many positions. And it works with many styles of music.

How to make a PowerBender harp.

Here is the Wilde tuning note layout.

Holes 1-2-3-4-5 are the same as Standard Richter. Six reeds are re-tuned and two are swapped to provide the note layout.

You can order pre-tuned Wilde harps but sometimes the fastest and most economical way to go is to convert a Standard Richter harmonica. The conversion to Wilde is a pretty big job. Notes need to be lowered by up to five semitones and one needs to be raised by two semitones.

Here is a visual aid to the modification:

These note changes can have an impact on how well the reeds respond but this is nothing that can't be fixed with a little reed adjustment.

Since reed adjustment will impact tuning, where do you start? The best strategy is to make the coarse tuning adjustments before you do reed work.

Here is a sensible method for getting this done with the least amount of wasted time and effort:

Alteration checklist:
1- Swap blow/draw reeds 9 and 10.
2- Correct factory defects.
3- Perform coarse tuning adjustment. Lower pitches using BluTak or Solder. Raise the nine draw by two semitones with a file. (See semitone offsets in the image above)
4- Perform other customizing and improvements including reed work.
5- Perform fine tuning. Identify Major Chords for Just or Compromise tuning. (See scale interval to help you achieve harmonic tuning.)

Tuning the chords for harmony is an area where you can do much better than the factory tuned Wilde harmonicas. Even if you don't tune the five draw to 7-limit, you will still be able to achieve sweet and strong harmonies throughout most of the harp. This will add power to chords, splits and octaves.

Enjoy your new Wilde tuned harmonica!

RoCk On!