[Harp-L] Re: Harp-L Digest, Vol 103, Issue 2

"burket@xxxxxxx" wrote:
<Since you have had issues with solder to lower pitch, would you be so brave as to make a low A out of a C
<just by removing reed material?  Three half steps makes me worry about reed stability.

Burke, there is an alternative to filing and solder.  Blu-tac is an inexpensive material (less than $10 for enough to modify pitch on hundreds, if not thousands of reeds), and very durable.  It was recommended some time ago by Brendan Power as a simple and low-risk method for lowering reed pitch. I've used it successfully to convert standard tunings to Dorian Minor, which involves lowering the pitch of the draw 3 and draw 7 reeds by 1/2 step.

The method is simple: you take a (very) tiny piece of Blu-tac, and attach it the free end of the reed.  You then sculpt the Blu-tac (using an x-acto or similar knife) until the reed is at the desired pitch.  If you remove too much material, you add more Blu-tac.  The quantity of blu-tac required to lower pitch 1/2 step is very, very small, and it seems to have no effect on reed stability.  I doubt that lowering pitch farther using this method would noticeably reduce stability.

It's cheap, easy, and low-risk--if you don't like the results, scrape off the Blu-tac and try something else.  The only downside is that you can't raise reed pitch using the same technique.  But you can't raise pitch by adding weight to a reed, no matter how it's done.

Good luck and regards, Richard Hunter

author, "Jazz Harp" 
latest mp3s and harmonica blog at http://hunterharp.com
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