SUZUKI S-56S 14 HOLE STRAIGHT TUNED HARP
Ahhh, now this is of interest…
This is probably the finest version of Sirius, as 14 holes seem the coming thing, and the straight tuning means a short throw slide, and that means ease of play on accidentals.
Will Galison plays this instrument often.
“Velvety smooth, lovely, rich,” are words people say when they hear it on a recording. It’s a roundness of tone which many find pleasing.
Sirius build quality is very good…the mouthpiece is solid brass with silver plating, the covers are brass with black non shiny chrome, a rounded 2 piece mouthpiece which makes tongue emboucher and octaves and playing in general easy and comfortable, and great machining of all parts.
The 14 holer, or 56 (because there are 56 reeds), is a chromatic configuration growing in popularity worldwide and recommended by some harmonica pundits. (Orchestral musicians typically go with the 64, 16 holer as do those in formal music education programs.) The 14 holes provide 56 reeds, with tuning in “C” which means you have from G3 on a piano up to D7, that’s three complete octaves, plus some.
What is short throw slide and straight tuning? The straight tuning means the Sirius 56 harmonica has what’s called a “short throw slide,” which means the slide responds very quickly (giving you quick note changes) as the slide actually travels less distance when the button is pushed in. (The Sirius 64 has a “long throw” slide, and bigger holes in the slide for the air to go through. Does it matter?) Most agree short throw slides give the player faster slide activation, but an accomplished player will certainly have no difficulty activating a long throw slide to pick up the accidentals, or sharps and flats.
Straight tuning with a short throw slide means the slide’s air holes are a bit smaller, so a bit less air gets to the reeds. Not an issue says Galison.
Alot of folks play these into recording equipment, or onstage with a mike, more than acoustically, so the slightly smaller air holes will likely not be an issue.
The Sirius had its beginnings with a famous harmonica, THE SUZUKI MAGIC GARDEN designed with help of the International Conservatory of Music in Paris harmonica wunderkind, Claude Garden-Jardin, who died soon after the instrument’s debut…he was a master of phrasing and technique.
The next step on the road to Siriusville was Suzuki’s work with Gregoire Maret, who plays a dark form of minimalist jazz on a 12 hole G-48, (has blue covers), a player with a huge following in Europe.
It is my impression that it takes a bit more air to play a Sirius than an SCX or Hohner 280C, and the silver plated mouthpiece is not as slick to the lips as the SCX at less than half the price.
There are other design niceties to this instrument…weighted brass inserts which they say make a noticeable difference in the low notes…I removed them…and I’ll mention many players enjoy the additional weight the brass inserts provide. (As the inserts are screwed into the interior of the comb in stacks of 4 overlaid patterned parts, you can remove some or all the brass inserts if you like.)
The Suzuki Sirius 56, 14 hole chromatic is wonderful in the hand, and the curved, 2-piece mouthpiece is ideal for the tongue emboucher used often by experienced players.
Your biggest quandry with the Sirius will likely be to go with the 56 or the 64 holer.
Some like the short throw slide and size in the hand of the 14 hole Sirius 56, others want the expanded range of the Sirius 64 with its 16 holes. I think you’d hear recommendations on both sides of this from any grouping of performing professional musicians.
As a general rule, the lower notes in the first 4 holes would be used when playing “octaves” that’s two notes of the same pitch separated by one octave, and in Jazz pieces.
Those on unlimited budgets may want both.
LINK TO HARP ON SUZUKI WEBSITE