Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > New Tool/Method for Improving Reed Response
New Tool/Method for Improving Reed Response
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132 posts
Jan 13, 2019
2:24 AM
Here's a video to accompany an upcoming article in the UK 'Harmonica World' magazine:

798 posts
Jan 13, 2019
3:07 AM

Paul Cohen aka Komuso Tokugawa
HarpNinja - Learn Harmonica Faster
Komuso's Music Website
1407 posts
Jan 13, 2019
8:36 AM
Good stuff. Thanks.
Tom Halchak
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Blue Moon Harmonicas
230 posts
Jan 13, 2019
9:44 AM
Thank you Professor Power you have done it again!

I can hardly wait to try this. Another key point that came to mind is how simply reversible this modification is. If for some reason an unsteady hand gobbed the lacquer on top of the reed… it can simply be cleaned off. Unlike read shaping and embossing there seems to be a zero chance of actually botching the job.

This non-burnish method is especially nice because it appears to work equally well without regard to the reed plate metal, be it: hard brass, soft brass, stainless steel…

Nice job on the video too with good details and visual aid... The black lacquer shows up well on camera but I think I’ll order gold and silver.

I have to admit if this works as well as expected I will be slightly disappointed. I have spent some time developing my shaping and burnishing skills. Those skills are likely to fade away like my proficiency with a slide rule :\

Agreed, it is "burnishing" just like rolling an edge on a cabinet scraper.

It's about time I got around to this.
490 posts
Jan 13, 2019
10:49 AM
Another great innovation, expertly and freely demonstrated to help us overcome our little instrument’s manufacturing deficiencies. Thanks, Brendan!
Thievin' Heathen
1100 posts
Jan 13, 2019
1:54 PM
I just bought one of those pens at WalGreen's, Maybe I'll paint my toe nails while I'm waiting for my harps to dry.
10036 posts
Jan 13, 2019
1:59 PM
Very clever solution! I'd thought about that issue too, but my solutions were at the point of manufacture and not particularly cost effective... either tooling the reed plate to have ridges or making an indentation for the bass of the reed to sit in to get the reed a smidge lower (that might help with alignment too, but would require another whole machining process for each hole.)

Well done!

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First Post- May 8, 2009
507 posts
Jan 13, 2019
2:46 PM
Very cool. Great idea.
The Blind Doughboy Music Factory

Backwoods luthier specializing in resonator guitars
4 posts
Jan 15, 2019
5:16 AM
Thanks for sharing!
1408 posts
Jan 15, 2019
6:49 AM
After watching this video, I immediately went to the drug store and bought 3 Nail Art Pens. I had no doubt that they would work, but I did try it on a harp right away.

Works perfectly. I have been using nail polish for quite a while to seal the leaks at the base of the reeds but it is difficult to apply exactly the right amount with the brush. This makes that process so much easier. This is a no-brainer.

I will not abandon my entire methodology in favor of doing things the way Brendan has demonstrated in his video, but this is a valuable arrow to have in your quiver.

Thanks again Brendan.
Tom Halchak
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Blue Moon Harmonicas
135 posts
Jan 15, 2019
11:23 AM
Glad you like it Tom :-)
87 posts
Jan 15, 2019
2:01 PM
If a little of the polish gets on the reed, I presume it needs to be removed without scraping the reed and changing the pitch. Make sense?
548 posts
Jan 15, 2019
8:53 PM
Tried it once using Blu-tack this is a much better idea.
136 posts
Jan 16, 2019
8:43 AM
@Tom: a little doesn't do any harm or alter the pitch, but you can scrape it off easily enough.
1412 posts
Jan 16, 2019
10:37 AM
Which brings another thought to mind. What about using the nail polish to alter the tuning on the reed? I'm going to give that a try too.
Tom Halchak
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Blue Moon Harmonicas
888 posts
Jan 16, 2019
12:13 PM
I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again. I like the way your brain works, Brendan!
60 posts
Jan 17, 2019
6:41 AM
Thanks, Brendan.
2615 posts
Jan 17, 2019
10:39 AM
Yeah, I went to the web and ordered some--I look forward to achieving the same results as have been reported here.
Another notch in Brendan's holster, he's a killer.
88 posts
Jan 17, 2019
7:38 PM
Will the nail polish wear off after awhile and have to be reapplied?
234 posts
Jan 17, 2019
8:20 PM
Tom, The most common nail colors are a form of lacquer. It dries fast and hard. It bonds well to "clean" metal surfaces. I have used lacquers on many indoor and outdoor projects. It should last for decades on a reed plate including common cleaning, even with alcohol.

I keep a selection of nail colors in my shop for touch up. The little bottles and brush are very handy. I've never used the detail pens however.

Some nail colors are "water based" others cure using a "UV" light. I would steer clear of these.

It's about time I got around to this.
233 posts
Jan 18, 2019
1:11 PM
Brilliant idea. Thanks Brendan!
12 posts
Jan 18, 2019
9:15 PM
Arrived home from the drugstore today with one of these pens and got to work. The liquid was perhaps a little less viscous that what I see in your video but it seems to work! I checked the gaps against a light and indeed, it looks much more airtight. I've been working on getting a hole 4 overblow on a G harp and I'm sure this will help. Thanks Brendan! You are such an inspiration!
137 posts
Jan 20, 2019
7:00 AM
Thanks for the positive comments y'all. Good to hear it's working for you Tom H - looking forward to hear reports of how it works for others. It can be a bit tricky to keep the pen steady on the side of the reed, but if you end up depositing some solution on the reed surface it will scrape off instantly without leaving a residue.

As dchurch says, the nail lacquer stays put where it's meant to be. But it's easy enough to remove and reapply if you decide you want to.

It's so light I wouldn't imagine it will help for reversible pitch lowering Tom, you'd have to use an awful lot! Blu Tack is better for that I think.
218 posts
Jan 23, 2019
2:02 PM
Thanks Brendan definitely going to give this a try. The shin tool you have is something I had trouble finding so I ordered a fine tip x-acto knife with hopes it will work. I think cutting would create a cleaner more durable cut then plinking.
1 post
Feb 10, 2019
5:42 PM
Hi, first up I am new to the forum so thanks for havin me. Thanks to Brendan for the brilliant demonstration. Does anyone know where I can get one of those pens in Australia as I am having terrible trouble the only one I’ve seen was on amazon with a two month wait on delivery
Cheers Brencoz
551 posts
Feb 10, 2019
9:21 PM
Same problem here in NZ.Guess what, i just tried it with a lipstick(not mine) it works! Won't last as long as the nail polish but it was an interesting experiment to prove the concept .
Mind boggles a bit though at the thought of hairy assed Harp players opening their Gig case at a blues Jam(can i borrow your lipstick Joe type of scenario.)
Brendan is a wizard.

Last Edited by indigo on Feb 10, 2019 9:24 PM
111 posts
Feb 15, 2019
8:03 AM
FYI-. next time you're at the dentist, ask if you can have a "matrix band". It's a very thin flexible piece of metal that works well sliding down the Reed to break it from the nail polish.
Bluesharp- If you don't blow you suck...
892 posts
Feb 15, 2019
9:19 AM
Just got my nail polish pens yesterday. You should have seen the look my wife gave me, and her shaking her head at the reason I gave.
Lee Shamrock
13 posts
Feb 15, 2019
12:37 PM
Thank you.
4295 posts
Feb 25, 2019
6:15 AM
Anyone try this on Seydel steel reeds? Does it help with overbend squeals?
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