Re: [Harp-L] Optimizing diatonic reeds for bending

Most out of the box harps are gapped OK for bending. Before gapping you might turn your attention to airtightness.

If the harp is screwed together, take it apart and reassemble it. When tightening the reedplate screws you may notice some resistance even though the plates aren't tight to the comb. This is because the screw cuts its own thread and now you're finishing the job.

When re-screwing the reedplates to the comb, insert all the screws and turn them enough to engage the screw with the thread. Then make sure the reedplates are flush with the front and side edges of the comb before tightening. Tighten the screws in the middle first and work outward to the right and left edges. Don't tighten too much, just enough for the screwdriver to resist your fingers - finger tight, as they call it.


Beyond this you might want to try embossing the reed slots. Take a penny or other smooth-rimmed coin and use it to press the tip of the reed into the slot until the coin makes contact with both edges of the slot. Gently - GENTLY - swipe the coin up and down the slot edges several times. This presses the metal edges of the slot inward toward the edges of the reed, making the slot itself more airtight. Pluck the reed after a few swipes to make sure that it can still vibrate freely in the slot.


1) Don't press too hard or the slot will com in too far and interfere with the swing of the reed. If you do this you have to de-emboss - press the rim of the slot back a little, or wear it away by plucking the reed several times.

2) Don't press too far toward the base of the reed or you may force the reed into a new gap where it points down into the slot. Then you have to massage the reed back out.


if you really want to get into gapping, the base of the reed should be low to the reedplate without descending below the surface. You lower the reed overall by at least two methods:
- Pushing the reed through the slot and GENTLY tugging it a little farther in that direction. 
- Using your fingernail to press down GENTLY on the base of the reed near the rivet.

You want the reed to rise gently toward the tip. The usual tip gap rule is that the gap should be as wide as the thickness of the reed tip. In practice you may want it a bit higher or lower to suit your playing style. 

You can raise the tip by holding the base down and gently flexing the reed tip upward, or by placing a shim under the reed and stroking along the top surface of the reed with a stiff edge that won't scrape the reed (wood, plastic, brass).

You can lower the tip by flexing the tip of the reed downward, or by stroking along the back surface of the reed through the slot.

A reed should never dip into the slot, and it should never curve downward. The reed profile should aways keep the edge of the reed above the edge of the slot, and should curve gently upward from the base to the tip.

To favor standard bending, you may want to give a slightly larger gap to the higher-pitched reed in the hole, especially on wide-bending reeds like Draw 3. Bending pulls the reed down toward the plate, and it will choke out when it can't vibrate back up past the surface. A slightly higher gap helps give it more range.

The lower-pitched reed in the hole goes up in pitch as a bend rises in pitch, and as the pitch goes up, the reed pulls farther away from the reedplate (you can see this when you play a reedplate with your mouth and watch it in a mirror.) Getting a slightly lower gap can give it a longer travel before it gets too far away from the reedplate to swing through the slot.

Lowered and raised gaps have to fit in with your personal style. If you're a hard hitter, you may want all your gaps raise a bit, while if you're a super-quiet player you may want to lower them all for more sensitive response.


----- Original Message ----
From: Jay Thompson <jay.jmt@xxxxxxxxx>
To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2008 6:23:56 AM
Subject: [Harp-L] Optimizing diatonic reeds for bending

I've learned to work on my harps a little. Now I'm wondering....where
 do you
get the biggest bang for your time invested when improving
With gapping or ?

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