Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Chromatic repair
Chromatic repair
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5840 posts
Mar 06, 2019
9:10 PM
I was looking to replace a reed last night, in a chromatic reedplate. I assumed it was a Hohner 270 because it was given me by a 270 player...

I went to my boneyard and extracted an ancient 270 carcass, and harvest the 7 blow reed from the top plate. To some dismay I quickly saw it wouldn’t fit.

Now I’m not sure what is the story

The slot I need to fill is 0.071” and the reed harvested is more like 0.083”. It also seems a tad short (EDITed those measurements because I misread my dial caliper originally)

The ‘replacement’ (intended/failed) source appears to be a prewar 270.

I went to a 260, but found the same issue.

Both the 12 hole reedplates seem to have reeds with the same dimension but the change occurs at different locations.

This is not critical but I’m interested to know if I have a non-270 here or if the 270 template changed at some time.

I guess I could take my personal modern
270 apart and measure up.

I looked at some old Weltmeister harps which seemed to have reeds which would fit, but they looked to be very flimsy. I’m not using those. I have around half a dozen Weltmeister 12 holers. Don’t know much about them but this inspection didn’t inspire me to restore any.

Last Edited by SuperBee on Mar 10, 2019 4:37 PM
5841 posts
Mar 07, 2019
4:47 AM
I reckon I have a 270 deluxe reed plate
Thievin' Heathen
1120 posts
Mar 09, 2019
4:58 PM
If/when I find myself in a similar situation, I go with a longer reed, trim it close to the right length, mount it with a screw, file it to the correct length, then sand & polish it to the correct pitch. If I can't get it tuned to the correct note, I unscrew the reed and apply silver solder, then sand & polish again. It's a bitch. Gnarly should be along shortly with a better suggestion we can hope.
2646 posts
Mar 09, 2019
5:20 PM
I was waiting to weigh in on this, as my methods are much the same as TH.
I am very pragmatic when it comes to reed replacement.
The real pisser is when the reed is too wide--I just worked on a Low E Session Steel, blow 4--I wound up using one from an Eb and tuning it up half a step (I am trying not to raise pitches unless I have to).
So there are certain brands that have reeds very different from other brands, and I would resist replacing reeds with other brands--Hering springs to mind.
Others, not so crucial--I have started using Suzuki reeds for Easttop and Seydel.
I am pretty fond of those Marine Band reeds (SP20, Rocket)--I am not sure that the Crossover reeds are the same.
Another irritating situation is when a company changes their configuration on existing models--Hohner did this with the CX-12. That's when the pragmatism comes into play--if it fits and it sounds good, no problem. Otherwise, come up with a different solution.
5846 posts
Mar 09, 2019
9:19 PM
yep, crossover reeds are the same as sp20, rocket, deluxe, GM, 1896

the drag here is that any reed i can find which is longer is also too wide. its the longest 'narrow slot' reed and as far as i know at the moment is only used in the 270 deluxe

i can order some. the brief is really to repair the comb and the owner gave me another comb with reedplates attached, suggesting i use this comb as a replacement for the broken one...then mentioned "oh, ifthe reedplates on this one are better, feel free to use those"

kind of an odd thing to say, i thought...because if the reedplates were sound, why not just change over the mouthpiece and covers...and on inspection i could see there was a reed out.

so i contemplated mending that reedplate anyway...but i can see its gonna take a special order...

instead ive filled the crack in the original comb and fitted new windsavers and i think we have a goer.
2647 posts
Mar 09, 2019
9:51 PM
You know, I think that is the bottom line--the reason folks send us harps to fix is that they can't (or won't, since the best way to learn is to do it, a lot).
So they (usually) trust us to make the right decisions.

As far as reed width, I am not above filing a reed down to fit--but it's a giant pain in the ass.

To all of you who don't repair harps, apologies for the nerdiness of this thread. But, as I try to tell all harmonica players, it would be better for them to learn to do simple things to maintain their instrument. Maybe not reed replacement--but certainly gapping, and maybe fine tuning.
Practice on your Hohners hehehe

Last Edited by Gnarly on Mar 09, 2019 9:52 PM
5847 posts
Mar 10, 2019
1:30 AM
i did start a small topic on facebook about this one. several people told me they would have attempted to mend the comb with one or both reedplates attached. one person told me it was too late to do that.

i took some advice and filled the crack with titebond II, then quickly reattached the reedplates. the next day i removed the reedplates and sanded the comb. on reassembly everything seems to work ok. i haven't used any lacquer.
Thievin' Heathen
1121 posts
Mar 10, 2019
8:21 AM
I've found the Hohner MS's to be the most frustrating on interchanging reeds.

Superbee - Check your email.
Thievin' Heathen
1122 posts
Mar 10, 2019
8:30 AM
I seem to recall the 3D printed comb I bought from BeePee came with everything except the drill bit. Follow the video and in about 2 hours you will have a plastic comb 270.
1633 posts
Mar 10, 2019
1:33 PM
Some reedplates, even in the same key on chromatics, are long slot (i.e., the slot and the reed it fits in, are longer for any given note) and some are short slot. 270s in C can be either.

Also, around 2005 Hohner changed their reed sizes on the top octave for both diatonics and chromatics to a narrower reed.


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Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on Mar 10, 2019 9:28 PM
5848 posts
Mar 10, 2019
3:14 PM
This is reed number 13, ie the G in chamber 7. The slots in chamber 6 are wider by around 12 thou.

In my 270s and 260s those slots in chamber 7 are the same width as chamber 6.

When ordering reeds using the automated online system, one has to be able to specify the note/chamber and harmonica type.

Regarding the last of these options, hohner (Germany and the rest of the world which isn’t the North American continent) provide 2 options for the 270. They point to the reedplates marked with an “X” stamped along with the date code, as used in the 270 Deluxe. Perhaps some of these have also found their way into some standard 270s. Both sets I have from this client are similar, but both are also nailed to the combs. Pat Missin led me to believe the Deluxe is bolted together.
My client told me this harp is a 270 Deluxe to which he fitted a standard mouthpiece. If that’s the case he must also have swapped the covers.
5849 posts
Mar 10, 2019
4:56 PM
Winslow, Re the Hohner diatonic reeds, I expect you are referring to the MS harps.
There has not been any change in reed length and width dimensions of the Sp20/Marine Band reeds. I’ve repaired a lot of them across various eras and all reeds to be compatible once the dual template system is understood. Richard Sleigh produced a document he calls ‘organise your reeds’ which is available to download from his site. This is accurate for all the Marine Band reeds.
I was inspired by Richard to produce an equivalent chart as an excel spreadsheet. This is available as a download from the Facebook harp repair group, and I thinkTom Halchak also publicised it on the Blue Moon Harmonica page at one time
The advantage of the spreadsheet is that it is searchable by various criteria so gives an easy ‘at a glance’ view, and can also be used as an inventory if anyone requires that much organisation (I did at the time I made it, but the process of making and using it quickly taught me to internalise the knowledge)

Seydel did make a change to the brass reeds used in their diatonic models, sometime in the last decade or so. These are all now the same dimensions as the steel reeds, whereas once they had a separate template for the higher keys, only in the brass harps.

The Hohner MS I believe use 3 different templates across the key range and I think these have changed over time but I’m not familiar with those as I don’t repair them if I can help it. It may explain the difficulty I had finding a replacement reed for a Neil Graham harp I was once sent to mend.
1634 posts
Mar 10, 2019
9:32 PM
No, I am not referring to the MS harps. As I stated, I am referring both to 270s and to the diatonic line in general. This information comes from several reputable sources inside Hohner.

270s in C for many years were available in both long slot and short slot version; lower keys are long slot. The Toots models were originally both long slot, but the Mellow Tone version at some point was converted to short slot with no announcement.

The X reedplates are the post-2005 redesigned reeds for both chromatics and non-MS diatonics. THe X designation was dropped after a few years, along with production date stamping.


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Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on Mar 10, 2019 9:33 PM
5850 posts
Mar 11, 2019
12:10 AM
Thanks Winslow.

Im not meaning to be obtuse, I just want to be sure I know what you are saying

When you say you are not referring to the MS harps, are you excluding those or not referring to those ‘especially’?

Hohner make a few different diatonic lines. Do you mean all those lines, including the MS and other Richter-style diatonics?

Or only those diatonics which share reeds with the chromatic lines?
1635 posts
Mar 11, 2019
11:13 AM
My understanding from Steve Baker was that the Knittlinger style reed shapes chosen for the XB-40 by Rick Epping (longer and narrower in the top octave) were also adapted for chromatics and for the then-named "handmade" diatonics (Marine Band, Special 20, and Golden Melody in those days). I don't know whether this was also applied to the MS harps, which were redesigned circa 1995 away from their initial stubby reeds to reeds that were longer than their "handmade" counterparts.

I initially got the news of the reed redesign from Michael Timler of harponline.de, before he went to work for Hohner. He knew about it before Hohner USA employees.

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5852 posts
Mar 11, 2019
12:40 PM
I think if you check with the people who make combs and repair/restore the handmade diatonics, they will confirm there’s been no change to slot dimensions of the harps we commonly refer to as “handmades”.

There are other diatonics which do use knittlinger reeds, such as the 365/364 and no doubt various of the octave and tremolo types

It’s my belief the MS harps do not use knittlinger reeds: Some time ago I was repairing a 365 SBS and Richard Sleigh told me via Kinya Pollard that it used Knittlinger reeds, and mentioned the MS harps also used those reeds. This gave me hope of finding a replacement in my boneyard.

I searched all my collection of wrecked MS harps but could not find a match for the 11 slot in the 365.

I did find a match in my CX12

At this distance I can’t swear, just from my memory of the search, that I had every template of the MS (I believe there are 3) but at the time I must have believed I did, because I found my note to Kinya that the MS reeds did not match
This is perhaps lent some weight as Hohner do not offer MS reeds individually whereas they will offer reeds for all the chromatic lines on the same basis as they do for the handmade diatonic (richter construction) harps. I’m speaking here of the German online site, where the ordering system is somewhat different to the “Hohner USA” offer.
5856 posts
Mar 15, 2019
6:13 AM
1 job became 2. Completed the comb repair job but now building the other comb and reedplates into a complete harp. I’ll have to order that reed after all. So now must be the time to get the rest of the parts for my prewar 260 and 270 projects. Hopeful I can negotiate the ordering system and get the right reed for this plate...maybe I’ll email first.

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