F.A. Rauner vertical slider chromatic harmonica

F.A. Rauner vertical slider chromatic, courtesy Paul Neupert

The top cover plate of the F.A. Rauner vertical slider chromatic states “Chromatic”. The lower one reads “A striking novelty”.

The cover plates state “A striking novelty”, courtesy Paul Neupert

Well, in general it was a novelty but the idea is similar to the Carl Essbach harmonica from my previous post that came out about 18 years earlier.
The DRWZ 53172 (Deutsches Reichs Waren Zeichen, ‘Imperial German trademark’) was issued in 1902, which gives an indication when the F.A. Rauner chromatic came out.

Picture taken from John Whiteman’s Harmonica Anthology

Vern Smith made the following observations:
“I discovered some interesting things about it that would not have been otherwise apparent: Steel reeds and plates!
Springs too strong for easy playing, a design defect.
Vertical motion longer than needed.
Mouthpiece in the “up” position does not completely block air from the lower reeds, a manufacturing defect.
The tuning layout that covers 2.8 octaves in 8 holes, has a blow-C chord, and raises the pitch of all natural notes by a half-tone when the mouthpiece is pushed down. Leakiness that arises from age and abuse.
The important thing about this harp is that it was designed for playing chromatic music and not for merely changing keys.
I speculate that the design goal was to avoid the cost and complexity of a metal slide mechanism”

I guess it is save to assume that based on Vern’s observations the vertical slider harmonica was not really a great success due to its design flaws. But it allowed for playing chromatically.




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