Re: [Harp-L] Embossing Reeds, makes them flat?


It is your innards, not the reeds that are out of tune.
Reeds change pitch because either the reed gets shorter or longer or the weight distribution changes. You could emboss a slot all day and it's not gonna change pitch provided it's swinging free in the slot. 
You didn't say that one specific reed was flatter, or that one or two are flatter. You spoke of it like it was a consisent issue across the board, that eliminates you accidently scraping reed material away when you are embossing near the rivet end from the equation. That would happen only on some reeds, or at least some would be noticeably worse than others.
Thus, one variable remains, the player. An embossed reedslot will respond better to bending embouchure than the same slot unembossed. Thus, the embouchure you used with preembossed reeds will now bend an embossed reed slightly. 



----- Original Message ----
From: Winslow Yerxa <winslowyerxa@xxxxxxxxx>
To: Harp <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sun, May 9, 2010 7:39:58 PM
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Embossing Reeds, makes them flat?

Any significant change to reed setup or slots can change the tuning of a harmonica.  That's why it's best to do that work first, and tune last. And that's the point at which you find yourself. (It's possilble that the change in the sound of your harp has changed your perception and that the tuning hasn't changed. But it proabaly has changed.)

Do you want to reproduce the tuning and temperament the harp had before? If you measured and recorded the baseline pitch for the harmonica (A440, A442, etc. ) and any variations from equal temperament for specific reeds (+2 cents for this reed, -14 cents for that one, etc.), that would be helpful. Otherwise you may need to experiment to find what suits you.

Tuning itself can be fussy work, but the procedure is fairly straightforward. measure where the reed is relative to your reference pitch (for instance, at A442 it might be 3 cents flat), Then support the reed with a shim, take your sansing wand or file and aply a few strokes to the surface of the reed at the tip (to raise pitch), then blow off the brass dust, plink the reed a few times, asssembe the harp with finger pressure 9(no need to screw it together as long as you can hold it airtight with finger pressure), play it into the tuner and note the result. If it still needs to come up a bit, repeat the procedure. Best to go in small steps and test frequently so you don't go too far. And be aware that reeds can keep rising in pitch after you tune them.

If you do go too far, you can scratch off some metal at the base of the 
reed to lower the pitch. Scratch, file, or sand in parallel with the 
long edge of the reed, and keep and scratches away from the edge of the 
reed. Again, go in small increments to keep from overdoing it.

If you're tuning the whole harp, always start with the reds in the middle range, and start with the key note of the harp (such as Blow 4 on a standard diatonic). Once you create reference pitches in the middle register, use these to check any reeds tuned an octave higher or lower in the outer registers. 

Keeping reedplates in a warming blanket before tuning and periodically during tuning can help keep the tuning stable.

Hope this helps.


Winslow Yerxa

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

Resident expert at

Harmonica instructor,


--- On Sun, 5/9/10, Matthew Smart <matthewsmart@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

From: Matthew Smart <matthewsmart@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [Harp-L] Embossing Reeds, makes them flat?
To: "Harp" <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sunday, May 9, 2010, 2:04 PM

Embossing my reed slots has really made a difference in the playability, but
it seems to make the reeds flat (in pitch) after doing this. Anyone else
notice this? Tips? thanks

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