Re: [Harp-L] reeds and bending

Normal touch-up tuning by itself won't make a note hard to bend.

However, in the tuning process you may have changed the action of the reed, and that could make a difference.

I use "action" as a catch-all term for the things you can do to a reed to change its response. If you raise or lower the offset of the reed to the reedplate, change the gap at the tip, change the gap at the base, or anywhere in between, you change the action.

Another possibility is that if you pried off one of the reedplates and then reattached it with nails, the reedplate may not be completely snug to the comb, and the resulting air leakage could compromise you ability to influence the behavior of the reed.

If you have another F-harp, compare the snugness of the reedplates to the comb. Can you slide a thin feeler gauge shim between reedplate and comb? If so, you need to tighten the seal by pressing the nails in more strongly (pliers or a nail punch can help, but be careful).

If either the blow or the draw reed action has been changed, you may need to persuade the reed(s) back into a profile relative to the reedplate that is more like the other harp. Your objective is to have the reed just above the level of the reedplate along its entire length, rising gently to a gap at the tip that is approximately equal to the thickness of the reed tip - again, comparison with another harp and with the neighboring reeds can guide you.

To change the profile of the reed, **gently** flex it by lifting away from the
reedplate to raise it or pulling through the slot to lower it. (There
are more aggressive methods but these are good to start with.) If the reed makes a sharp upward or downward curve, you need to smooth out this curve without changing the rest of the reed. To isolate the curved portion of the reed, first support the part of the reed extending from the base to the bend: place a shim (such as a thin feeler gauge) under the base of the reed to support it, and press on the top of the reed with a finger. Then go to work flexing the curve gently up or down.

Once you have the reed action set, you may find that the reed is no longer in tune. Tune it gently so as not to change the action again - always set action first, then tune.


Winslow Yerxa

Author, Harmonica For Dummies ISBN 978-0-470-33729-5

--- On Tue, 11/18/08, Robert Ross <robertrossband@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
From: Robert Ross <robertrossband@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [Harp-L] reeds and bending
To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 7:04 AM

What would cause the two hole draw note on an F harp (Marine Band) to be
unusually hard to bend? And how do you adjust the reed so that it will bend
properly to normal pressure? The harp was bending normally until I adjusted
the tuning and then things went wrong.
Robert Ross
Harp-L is sponsored by SPAH,


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