Seydel Saxony Chromatic Harmonica Review
SEYDEL SAXONY 12 holer
I’m going to put the Seydel Saxony at the top of the instruments I’m writing about, because in many ways I think it offers the most unusual, and perhaps for some, better characteristics to cater to the professional or gifted amateur musician…it is a fine tool indeed any sensitive and trained musician can and will appreciate.
It is “different” for many reasons.
First, and foremost, the comb is an alloy made up principally of aluminum. (This compares to polymer combs on the Hohner 280C and the Suzuki SCX and Sirius units. I like polymer, it cleans easily, and is thus sanitary…but polymer combs come at a price- they have a darker sound…and less focused projection compared to metal combs, and most ABS combs are not sanded flat on top, so the harps leak air. (Note that the top Suzuki harmonicas costing thousands have solid metal combs.)
You may already know that some of the priciest instruments in the world have metal combs, some brass, some silver, some silver plated brass, some aluminum. Metal combs create a bit different sound; a sound with phenomenal focus and projection, a sound with punch and wonderful saturation of tones, and a sound which is very malleable to a trained musician. You can make it sing like a silver flute…and bark like a bassoon on steroids.
The reeds are stainless steel, and they have a reputation as the most problem-free reeds on the market, please re-read that statement. (Although Suzuki’s phosphor bronze reeds are also bullet proof from my experience.)
The Seydel Saxony’s breath savers are dimpled, and they do not stick as a rule if the instrument is warmed prior to play.
The RELIABILITY of the reeds is a HUGE issue because when the reeds are down, your harmonica is out of action until it’s fixed, and that takes time regardless of warranty, and cash too when your warranty expires. (The Seydel Saxony has a 2 year warranty, one of the best in the business.)
I will say this…the Saxony has great range of volume or dynamics… I can get wonderfully quiet and nuanced notes, up to great jumps in punchy volume. I like that because it means more artistic options and interpretive freedom for the player, and our beloved audiences.
Each harmonica reed has more or less tendency to go out of tune a bit, unless your technique is flawless, especially on a draw, which you can see using sensitive pitch testing apparatus. The Seydel Saxony has very stable intonation, as do the Suzuki Sirius models.
It fits in the hand regardless of hand size very nicely, having only 12 holes, and the covers do not extend to the edges, so those with medium size hands or small hands can easily cup the harmonica with their hands to shape tone.
The mouthpiece is an updated 3-sided angular version, which due to its design tends to keep the slide very clean, thus it needs very infrequent tuning.
It’s a very sensitive instrument, and responds very quickly to BREATH….which is THE FOUNDATION of all we do with harmonica…THE BREATH.
The Saxony is straight-tuned with a short throw slide, so accidentals are picked up quickly, you don’t have to push the slide far….about 5mm compared with over 7.2mm for cross-tuned harps.
My preference in Seydel Saxony is the ORCHESTRAL TUNING- now what they did was to take a 16-holer and eliminate the bottom two and top two holes, which leaves that nice sweet spot… right for just about everything.
That gives you G3 up to F#6…that’s piano notation, G3 is the G under middle C on a piano, and F#6 is the F# from the 6th octave on piano. So you know, middle C on a piano is called C4.
The Seydel Saxony’s artistic malleability is well beyond the norm, and may I say “better,” with a clarity I find compelling, providing the player unusual sensitivity.
It’s half the price of the Suzuki Sirius.
For many players it is a serious contender indeed. Don’t be put off by the 12 holes, I highly recommend the Seydel Saxony, and it is my preferred instrument at present.
LINK TO THE SEYDEL SAXONY ORCHESTRA TUNED HARP…