Broken Harp?

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Broken Harp?

Postby woodgoblin » Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:53 pm

Hi guys, me again, the serial newbie pest!

Thanks again for all your help in previous posts. This time I have a problem. A couple weeks ago I bought an Eb Special 20. Sounded great. Then after a bit of a jam last Sat night, it has this god-awful sound to it! Esp around the 3-4 holes, but still in majority of the mid-low ones. It sounds like something is lose, more like a weird whistling sound when I blow or draw. The notes are still clear somewhat, but it sounds like it would if something was stuck in there. Ive tried blowing the hell out of it, and ive tried whacking it in my leg etc to get it out (if there is indeed something in there). I have no idea. I hope its not broken! Any cleaning or repairing tips would be much appreciated.
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby jbone1 » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:33 am

can you isolate the "wrong" sound to one individual reed? try drawing and blowing each individual hole and see which one is making the buzz. this is likely where your problem is. use just enough wind to get the note to blow, and if it doesn't make the noise draw/blow a bit harder.

'd say it's time to get a small screwdriver and pull the cover plates. look at the reeds to see if there is anything obvious in a reed or across a few reeds. like a hair maybe. if you don't see anything there, a good idea is to use a very small thin strip of metal- i like the innards of those magnetic stickers they use for a security device on new cd's, just slit the plastic open and there are a few of the strips inside- and run the strip gently under and around the reed in its slot. repeat this for both plates. there may also be something in the actual comb. you can pull the plates off a special 20's comb by loosening the three screws that hold the plates together on the comb. also maybe a GENNNNNTTTTLLLLLLE rinse in barely flowing lukewarm water may dislodge any particles that may be between a reed and the plate.

now- first and foremost, how hard do you draw and blow? this may be a case of a ruined reed. esp 4-5 draw, which i used to have a lot of failures on, until i learned not to draw so hard! look at the lowly reed of the lowly harp. it's tiny and made of brass. imagine the velocity and pressure it's subjected to when you are playing it. it can be a tremendous amount of velocity depending on how hard you play. i learned this the hard way. the only solution for a ruined reed short of learning to replace them, and putting together a stock of them and the tools needed, is to just buy another harp. i found out some time back that i am not good at the delicate work required to do this job, plus then it has to be gapped and tuned. to me really work for a pro!

another thought: the hohner big river is a less expensive, maybe different to play, but durable harp, with replaceable reed plates. but also cheap enough to just buy another when one goes down. i use big rivers and bushman delta frost, almost exclusively. they each have their attractive characteristics, and the deltas come with a 30-day blowout guarantee. yes it's a fact- blow one up and send it back to bushman for a free replacement! BUT! what the key thing here is, if you draw/blow/play as gently as possible and still get the notes to sound, your harps will last a lot longer.
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby too2tall » Fri Jul 11, 2008 4:42 am

Try taking it apart. Its no big deal harps are pretty tough. Now after you take it apart look at the reeds both top and bottom in the area you having trouble. See anything? if not then take a small screwdriver or bobby pin and gently push the reeds in and out of the plate to see if there is any sticking or obstruction. If none of this works then you might have a cracked reed but more than likely you just have a small obstruction.
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby jeffl » Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:27 pm

It's prob'ly too late for this, but I'd try rinsing it out with water first; if there's something lodged in the gap that's causing the other side of the reed to make contact with the reed slot, it may just flush outa there with a rinse. If you've never taken a harp apart though, you can probably use the education.
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby bottleneck » Sat Jul 12, 2008 3:05 am

it sounds to me as though your reed plates may have come loose from your comb.i think that because your problem is on BOTH blow and draw and in multiple holes.also you don't mention any notes being out of tune,and if you had highly stressed or fractured reeds they would indeed be out of tune.

try taking your cover plates off and tightening the plates down onto the comb.i believe there are 6 posi-drive screws.i generally torque the middle first then one to each side ,then the outside.only a firm hand tight,if you strip them it is a pain if you ever need to gap the blow reeds again.put your cover plates back on and see if there is a difference.

you can buy a harmonica tool kit at http://www.harphouse.com (which would pay for itself after fixing two harps)if you haven't amassed the tools for fixing harps.
keep us updated and we can help you further.

http://www.myspace.com/shakeylyman (i switched it so bullet harp style comes on first)
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby bottleneck » Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:22 am

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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby woodgoblin » Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:52 pm

Hey guys,

Thanks so much for all the info and help you all have given me. I've been away the last few days, but will be having a go at repairing it tonight after work. Will let you know. Note to self: Never let other people play my harps again!
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby woodgoblin » Tue Jul 15, 2008 1:57 am

Hi guys,

I've tried everything that has been reccomended for me to try. When I draw on the 1-5 holes with a slight force, it still makes the sound. Best I can explain it is it sounds like a cricket chirping, like a whistle sort of thing. Im sure you guys know the sound...Does that mean my first Special 20 is game over....
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby bottleneck » Tue Jul 15, 2008 3:55 am

fortunately the draw reeds are the ones that are exposed.you could try taking the cover plates off again and wipe the reeds with Q-tip and rubbing alchohol.make sure the reeds don't catch in the slot.

if you live near philadelphia i could look at it for you.i could gap your reeds .

http://www.myspace.com/shakeylyman
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby woodgoblin » Tue Jul 15, 2008 4:00 am

Thanks bottleneck,

I'll give that a try when I get home tonight. Fingers crossed. And thanks very much for the offer, but I live in Sydney, Australia (and 1/4 of the year in Chicago) !
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby bottleneck » Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:54 am

besides the squeeling it is still in tune?
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby woodgoblin » Tue Jul 15, 2008 10:23 am

I just gave it the once over...squeal is still there...it does sound out of tune a little (high)...and any hole above 4 takes some serious effort to here when I draw...Its nowhere near as smooth all round as it was straight out of the box..

I think she's a goner...First Special 20... :(
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby bottleneck » Fri Jul 18, 2008 8:35 am

here's what i do at this point:put it in a box ,intending to fix it or part it out later,then buy a new one,haha.

it is always nice to have spare coverplates etc. around.i just tuned a special 20 ,retired about a decade ago(i normally play hering,bushman,suzuki or huang )and it was usable for about two gigs before it dove WAY out.

it's also good to have a few junk harps around to experiment with.
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Re: Broken Harp?

Postby Fishfeathersmacteeth » Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:07 pm

...I'm with Bottleneck, don't throw it away...lots of bits will come in useful...

..like the comb and the coverplates...coverplate screws and reedplate screws....these last in particular are very handy when you come to start mucking about with Harps..
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