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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Dead Chromatic Hole
Dead Chromatic Hole
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StalwartJohnson
58 posts
Apr 11, 2020
6:49 PM
I was given a 16 hole hohner Super 64x about 4 years ago (the gold and black one). It seems to be in great shape as far as I can tell. I'm about two weeks into diving into this thing (while simultaneously going deeper than ever into 3rd position on the diatonic). I mean, when will I have this much free time again?

Anyway, it's been terrific. I could go on and on but really my concern is as follows:

-7 blow with the SLIDE IN will give me no sound. Not even a squeak.
-I feel good about my embouchure as I'm having zero trouble elsewhere. Plus this just suddenly happened with no warning or struggle.
-I don't consider myself a hard blower. Also I read early on to be careful in that regard.

This is a terrible time to find a tech to help me out but perhaps there's an easy fix. It's a bummer too cause I really dig that note.

What say you pros out there?
jbone
3188 posts
Apr 11, 2020
8:38 PM
Here's the thing about a chromatic Stalwart. They are much more complex with the covers off than a diatonic. You have double the reeds per hole and note and then you have 16 holes so there's more that way too. THEN you have valves or wind savers over a lot of the reeds which are very fragile. Even if you are good with working on diatonics a chromatic can be a can of worms in a hurry. Taking the covers off is one thing but then there's getting the plates off, especially if this is a nailed model and not screwed.
I'm not saying don't do it but be aware of the pitfalls. Okay so if you DO dive in, then you get to figure out which blow reed is stuck, and maybe you can clear the obstruction or maybe not. Might be a piece of lint or hair, a food particle, who knows what. All the while taking care to preserve the wind savers.

I know you got it for free. But think about getting another one. Not cheep! I have played chromatics after a fashion for 20 years. I get done what needs done with them and they are so great as a new bigger sound in my trick bag. I've spent a few $$ on them and wrecked a few as well. Expensive lessons! A reed plate/comb assy is pretty spendy too.

For my money I will send one off in a quick minute to a pro. Gnarly, a member here, is a great harp repair guy and he may be willing to work on it for you. I promise it's way less expense to have one repaired than replace the whole harp.
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SuperBee
6575 posts
Apr 11, 2020
9:56 PM
That’s a beautiful harmonica. I’ve worked on a couple but I’m too tight to buy one for myself.
It’s probably just a simple obstruction.
7 blow slide in, so the flat 5th in the second octave, yes, that’s a bummer to have unavailable.

Jbone is right about the increased complexity of course, but if you go steady I think you can probably fix it. If not, you’ll probably learn something.

Take the covers off. That’s easy enough. Then find the reed which is not working. It’s a blow reed so bad luck, it’s on the inside. Maybe you’re lucky though. You can see the windsaver over the slot. It could have jammed in the slot. If so, free it and you might be bsck in business. If it’s damaged you’ll maybe have to replace it, but cross that bridge if required.
If the windsaver looks fine, then you’ll need to remove the reedplates. No big drama, they’re bolted together.
It’s not completely straightforward though. First you’ll need to disassemble the mouthpiece.
This is the only thing which is a bit tricky. It’s more the reassembly which can present a slightly fiddly moment. Don’t fret though, just deal with it when you need to.
It’s quite a simple machine.
I can tell you how to do it but if you look up YouTube Hohner workshops you’ll find the videos where Steve Baker talks you through it and Gabi Hand demonstrates, and they use a harmonica just like yours so it’s all pretty good.
Once you have the mouthpiece off, then you can remove the reedplates, and inspect the reed.
At this point the problem should be apparent and it might be a simple problem, or it might need a new reed. Again, that’s a bridge to cross if needed. With a harp like yours, it’s definitely worth mending but it may not come to that.
Good luck, I hope this is helpful. I’m convinced anyone can do it, just go steady and check what you’re doing.
Don’t be tempted to take the reedplates off before you remove the mouthpiece. The mouthpiece puts some tension on the body and the reedplates provide a lot of the strength to the structure. If you take them off while the mouthpiece is still attached, it stresses the plastic body. I speak from experience. You might be lucky but it’s a risk and I think not worth the risk.
jbone
3189 posts
Apr 11, 2020
11:00 PM
One of my big boogers with taking a chromatic apart was keeping the spring and sleeve handy, another was getting the plates behind the mouthpiece in order.

I had a 270 some years ago and it was held together with nails. I decided I'd seal the comb and then drill/tap/screw it back together. It was a disaster from the word go except it taught me to let the pros handle that stuff!

I guess you could get in there if it's screwed not nailed. Hopefully you have a space you can lay everything out at it comes apart.
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SuperBee
6577 posts
Apr 12, 2020
4:40 AM
Unfortunately 270s seem to be the model I spend most time repairing. I assume that’s because they are a bit more challenging/intimidating to work on. That and the problems which occur with the wooden body; cracks and swelling, warping of the internal dividers.
The plastic bodied 64 and 64x are usually a bit more straightforward and give fewer problems. Fans of the 270 can be very attached to them. I count myself as a fan, but even so, the 2 I play have both had the body changed out to a 3D-printed unit, with the plates bolted on.
Once you’ve taken a few apart and reassembled them, you’ve probably made enough mistakes to have worked out how it all works and which way around everything goes.

That’s one thing I like about working on this stuff. There is guidance out there but also the opportunity to work things out for yourself.
jbone
3190 posts
Apr 12, 2020
5:00 AM
I went to Hering for chromatics for a while but settled on Suxuki CSX12. Had a guy give me a Hohner Chromonica II that actually works pretty well!
So my stable of chromes is a Hering low C, a Suzuki SCX in G, one in low D, and the Chromonica II in C. One of the 4 has needed repair for a stuck/dead reed, a blow way up on the top end on the Hering, which I've had and used to longest. I like the SCX a lot. Virtually no issues in 5 and 2 years respectively.
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Thievin' Heathen
1202 posts
Apr 12, 2020
11:30 AM
Look straight into the mouth piece and push the button in and get a good reference for exactly which chamber has the problem. Then take the covers off and, with a felt tip marker, mark the chamber location on the reed plate. While you are at it, mark the reedplates as top & bottom. It will take the guesswork out if you remove the reed plates. It being an inner blow reed might be a blessing. I would use an exacto-knife to lift the windsaver up and then a tooth pick to gently push on the reed. It may have simply hung on a burr or foreign particle and free itself with a gentle push. If you free it up, and it plays, you can blow-draw on it for 30-50 cycles to confirm it's fixed. If that did not fix it, I would take the reed plates off. Hopefully, that is a model assembled with screws instead of nails or pins. When you get the plates off, plinking the reed will tell you a lot. It may have a more troublesome obstruction or it might have drifted out of alignment and be hanging on one side of the slot. It can be coaxed back into alignment with feeler gauges and that exacto-knife if you don't have a reed wrench. Perhaps it's a simple gapping issue though gapping usually does not go out. It could be a cracked reed, but I've never seen, or even heard of, a broke reed on a chromatic. Sending it to a tech is always another option. I have not successfully put back together every chromatic I've ever taken apart.

Last Edited by Thievin' Heathen on Apr 12, 2020 11:32 AM
SuperBee
6578 posts
Apr 12, 2020
5:24 PM
i agree with those suggestions.
they certainly do break, i suppose its mainly associated with bending and some players employ that technique somewhat more than others
Gnarly
2773 posts
Apr 13, 2020
9:45 PM
All good advice.
Gapping sounds like a possibility,or a stuck windsaver.
That's Ab, not crucial but certainly important in certain keys (F for example).
Let's see what our friend has found.

Last Edited by Gnarly on Apr 13, 2020 9:46 PM
StalwartJohnson
59 posts
Apr 15, 2020
6:41 AM
Thanks all! Taking a stab at this today. Thoughts/Prayers/Chants/Dances/Finger Crossing are all welcome. Stay tuned.

Last Edited by StalwartJohnson on Apr 15, 2020 6:42 AM
StalwartJohnson
60 posts
Apr 16, 2020
12:26 PM
Well that was easy. Removed the covers and immediately found the obstruction. Drumroll....facial hair! Multiple actually. The combo of a toothpick and tiny tweezers did the job. Watching me, you would have thought I was defusing a bomb but I survived. Now to trim up my quarantine beard. I'll spare you those details. Back to the woodshed.
SuperBee
6585 posts
Apr 16, 2020
3:23 PM
Excellent news! I’m glad you sorted it. That’s a great start to the day.
Raven
178 posts
Apr 21, 2020
11:51 AM
My two cents were going to be to ask you if you had a moustache. Whenever I've had a note suddenly go dead, it usually ends up being part of a moustache hair that broke off and wedged while playing.
jbone
3198 posts
Apr 21, 2020
5:47 PM
Personally, due to many hairs being yanked out on the left side over the years, I try and keep my 'stache trimmed back very short!
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