dunk in water?

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dunk in water?

Postby rumsower » Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:34 pm

I know hes not a blues man persay, but I think I remember seeing Neil Young dunk his harp in water befor he plays. whats up with that?
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Re: dunk in water?

Postby jbone1 » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:23 am

it's not a myth. soaking a wood comb swells the wood and seals it to the reed plates- for a while. this does impart a smoother tone and more volume at the harp for a while. BUT the long term effects are that the comb swells out past the edge of the reed plates, which results in shredded lips if one is not very careful. also the stock reeds may tend to stress out faster due to the increased airtightness. the comb warping from repeated soakings may actually interfere with a reed. and possibly the covers will rust if they are plated steel.
i have not soaked a harp for decades, and back then i used marine bands.

i DO rinse a plastic comb harp GENTLY occasionally to keep the reed clear of dry saliva and other foreign stuff. there is no other benefit to putting water and harp together imho. for wood comb harps and for more in depth cleaning i take the harp apart, and using a lint free cloth and 91% alcohol, i do the reed plates a reed at a time, and use a thing strip of metal to clear out the slots and under where the reed is mounted to the comb. note: the buildup of saliva esp with a "wet" player can change the pitch of a reed to the point where it is very noticeably flat. before doing anything drastic to a flatting reed, i do a good cleanup first and play the harp afterward to see if it was just the crud factor.

to get a louder and more toneful harp, there are some choices. 1) get a harp customized- usually marine band is one that many customizers will make the best it can be. others work on different models as well. 2) suzuki, hohner, seydel, and harrison all make very well received upper shelf models. cost and availability vary. 3) one can conceivably learn to on one's own harps. personally, past a little gapping or filing a flatting out reed i don't do anything but play them.
i like the suzuki manji quite a lot. i have a harrison b radical on the way to me also. have yet to try a new hohner deluxe or crossover or a high end seydel.

so i9n the very short run soaking can make a wood comb harp sound better, but to me the bad effects- usually resulting in buying a new harp- outweigh any positives to soaking.

one man's opinion. based on a lot of mistakes made over nearly 4 decades of messing with tin sandwiches!!!
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Re: dunk in water?

Postby jeffl » Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:18 pm

I'm with you on that one, jbone1. I've played harp for about 45 years, and I soaked 'em for the first 25 years (Yeah, I did.). I used to blow out harps all the time back then, and I play way more now than I did back then without blowing out more than mebbe 1 harp/year, if even that. PLUS, soaking is just a constant pain, requiring a glass and water, and then you gotta slap 'em out after you yank one; you can't just grab a harp and start playing it...and you got water all over the place. It used to be cool though, and alotta guys did it. Most of us poured beer or liquor into 'em at one time or other, too. We bad!
My guess is that soaking harps started with guys who played alotta 1st position straight harp and didn't put as much stress on 'em as "crossharp" players who used multiple bends and occasionally overblows.
Fuggedaboudit.
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Re: dunk in water?

Postby watertore » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:55 pm

I also soaked marine bands for years. Occasionally the comb would swell, but not as much as many say it will. It came about for me due to lack of money. I had gigs but no money for harps. Soaking them brought them back alive for a bit longer and also got a lot of the gunk in them loose and often it came out in the soak and or when you banged the water out/first blew th em. I bet that is why so many of the old guys soaked them too. I also use to tie knots in my broken guitar strings and capo above it due to lack of funds. Walter
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Re: dunk in water?

Postby allanlummox » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:19 pm

" I also use to tie knots in my broken guitar strings and capo above it due to lack of funds."

BEEN there. Probably why I buy strings in bulk now!
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Re: dunk in water?

Postby jeffl » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:01 pm

I've got recordings of bands I was in back in the 70's where you could hear me smacking out my harps between tunes. I used to put about 5-6 harps in a glass full of water on top of my electric piano. I had a towel there to soak up the drippings. Overall, it was a pain in the butt, but I didn't know any better at the time.
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Re: dunk in water?

Postby stumblin » Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:40 am

I've got dunk on a lot of things. But I never got dunk on water.
Maybe I'll try that in the morning.
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Re: dunk in water?

Postby jeffl » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:00 am

Andy, I'm guessin' that didn't work. Try diluting it with whiskey. Continue to add whiskey until a new tune comes into what's left of your mind. :)
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