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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Tips working on steel reeded harps?
Tips working on steel reeded harps?
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18 posts
Jul 08, 2021
4:11 AM
Hi there!

I have become pretty quick and effective at embossing, shaping and tuning brass reeds (at the cost of ruining like 15 marine band deluxes during the past few years - but at least I have spare parts now haha)

I have in my hand now about ten SS harps from Seydel, and wondering if they emboss and tune the same way, or will I have to get new tools?

Will a chrome vanadium socket be able to emboss the SS, or should I get something ceramic or titanium?

Thanks for any tip,

Last Edited by Millman500 on Jul 08, 2021 4:11 AM
6986 posts
Jul 08, 2021
6:32 AM
They're just more resistant to shaping. The white brass reedplates aren't any harder than standard brass, or if they are its only marginal. The reeds might take a while to get a feel for, but it's mainly just calibration of effort. The reeds take a bit more work to tune, which is something of a big deal if you are using a file. If you use a rotary tool with a suitable abrasive it's not a big deal. Don't use diamond engraving burrs though. They are frustrating.
The steel reeds will be harder on sharp tools than brass. I try to avoid using technique which requires a sharp tool. Sometimes it can't be helped but mainly I avoided it after the first little while.
It's easy to kink the reeds when you are trying to shape them. It's not easy to get the kink out if you do that.
They are prone to have badly shaped reeds in the long slots. They can be really difficult to fix because they often need the curve to be in the unmilled section and it's very hard to shape that using finger pressure. Sometimes it's much quicker to throw the reed away and install a better one.
19 posts
Jul 08, 2021
2:55 PM
Yep, thrown away a ton of harps due to digs on reeds that I couldn't fix.

I can fix them better now with the Zajac shaping tools, but still they won't be like "new" reeds.... So these are the harps I put in the car out in the cold/heat instead of sacrificing the really good ones.

I tune all new harps I open with the rotary. I can't live with those files, they move the reed and I have to wrench them center every single tuning which takes too long.

Gotcha on the rest, I will see what I can do !

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