Re: Out of the Box

Mike Due wrote:

> <snip>   I'd like to pose a question regarding the "out of the box"
> discussion that's going on now. I've been playing for only 3 years or
> so, and have had no problems playing out of the box harps,,,,probably
> because I've not ascended to the level that many of you have.

IMHO, the real need for customized harps doesn't arise until you start
playing overblows. As I mentioned before, I think the current S20's are
usually well tuned, and air tight. All the notes bend easily without
squeaking, and it feels good to hold and play.

Once you start playing overblows and overdraws, you need to customize
the harp. Once I started customizing my harps, it didn't take me long
before I could easily gap all the reeds to make them easy to overblow.
However, I would get a harp set up well for overblowing, and then I
would often have reeds choke due to overly aggressive play. This is
where, in my opinion, guys like Filisko and Sleigh, really earn their
keep. It's taken me years of trial and error to get to a point where I'm
satisfied with my reed gapping, profiling, slot embossing, etc., and my
harps still ain't nearly as good as Filisko's.  I know that there are
people who recommend customized harps even for beginning players, but I
really don't understand why. Unless you are trying to overblow, a stock
S20 is just fine.

> I mention this as background to my main question: When you gap and
> tune a harp, how do you know you are doing it correctly? Do you have
> to reassemble the thing, play it, say to yourself 'um, that's not
> right', take it apart, file something down a bit more, reassemble,
> play it,,,,,etc. Its not like a guitar where you get instantaneous
> feedback that the adjustment you just made is c! orrect.

You can check the tuning by just holding the ends of the reedplates to
the comb with your fingers, but to test if you like the gap and air
tightness, you probably need to re-assemble. eventually, you'll get to
where you can adjust the gap and profile pretty well just by looking,
and it goes much more quickly.

> Somebody just mentioned in this thread that you can take an out of the
> box harp and spend 10 minutes on it, gapping and tuning, and get a
> harp that fits your needs a little better. Given my question, does it
> really only take 10 minutes to gap and tune a harp?

I think the key phrase here is "fits your needs a little better". In 10
minutes I can re-tune a reed or two that weren't quite right out of the
factory, gap a few reeds to make them a bit easier to overblow, reshape
the cover plates to open them up in the back and throw them back
together. This is all I do most of the time, and it does help quite a

If I want to go crazy, get the harp perfectly tuned (to my taste),
emboss the reed slots, re-shape the reeds, gap for overblows and
overdraws, etc., I can spend hours. I think I'm to the point (after
Seville years of practice) that I can get a harp customized to play
almost perfectly for my tastes, but to be honest, it isn't worth my
time. I prefer to spend 10 minutes and get it pretty good than to spend
hours to get it perfect. My hat's off to the customizers who get them
perfect every time.

> I've only opened one up out of curiosity, and can't see how I'd be
> able to do that in such a short period of time. Lastly, I'm testing to
> see if the way I've composed this message eliminates the HTML or not.
> Yahoo mail wants to produce the HTML by default, unless you select the
> "view html source" checkbox and strip out the HTML, which is what I'm
> doing,,,just to see if it translates to L correctly.

Looks good to me.

- --
Alec Drachman

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.