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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > ? about converting MB w/nails to screws
? about converting MB w/nails to screws
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2 posts
Nov 28, 2010
6:46 PM
I have several Hohner MBs. I want to seal the wood combs and thought I may as well convert them from nails to screws/nuts while I'm at it. My questions are, what size screws/nuts do I need for the reedplates/cover plates, and where do I get them?

Thanks in advance. I don't post much, because the more I reed/less I post, the less likely I am to say/do something to get myself banned.
3318 posts
Nov 29, 2010
4:24 AM
0-80 screws will do the trick. They are awfully tiny. The hardware store didn't have them but I finally found them at a model train hardware store. You can get a tap set for drilling it out, but I don't have the numbers for that off the top of my head. You can look it up using the screw size though.

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84 posts
Nov 29, 2010
5:05 AM
I use cover plate screws from the Hohner MS series for the cover plates and M2 x 10 Allen screws for the reed plates. I get them from http://www.harponline.de as I am in the UK.

Also here is some information on how to go about it.
(Video 1 of 11):

398 posts
Nov 29, 2010
7:38 AM
M2 screws fit nicely. 10 mm is also the perfect length for the coverplates. 3/8 of an inch is just too short and longer that that in imperial measurements stick out too much. 10 mm fastens just flush with the nut.

You can also use the M2X10mm screws for the reedplates. You can use nuts or you can tap the opposite reedplate to make it simpler to reassemble. If you have lots of harps to do, it's cheaper in the long run to tap since the nuts are more expensive than the screws.

I order from Microfasteners.com:

HNMS020 50 M2 x .4mm Stainless $ 2.90


MSPPS2010 50 M2 x .4 x 10 $ 2.50

If you want the reedplate screws to not protrude, get 8 mm. If you want them to touch the opposing coverplate and be a post (to prevent crushing), get 12 mm.

Drill bits for M2
#52 and #46
The smaller one is for tapping, the bigger one is for clearance.

M2 Tap:
TAPM2 1 M2 x .4mm $ 9.50

I hope this helps.


More recent post with some photos:

Last Edited by on Jul 10, 2011 4:22 AM
3319 posts
Nov 29, 2010
1:22 PM
Arzajac, I knew my post would just be a place holder until you got here! :) I think I'm going to add this to the thread thread for a parts section.

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1261 posts
Nov 29, 2010
1:58 PM
In the states, size 2-56 bolts are an all around good harmonica size. I use them to replace both the reedplate nails and the coverplate attachment nails too. In a pinch you can always find them at your local radioshack (2-56 nuts too), as this is the size of bolt used to attach many circuit boards in DIY electronics. They only sell slotted heads though. I use a 2-56 tap to tap the holes I drill in the reedplates. You can get a 2-56 size tap at ACE hardware. I can't remember the drill sizes I use, but I use two sizes: one that's a little larger diameter than the 2-56 bolts and one that's a little smaller. I use the smaller for the draw reedplates where I am going to tap the holes, and I use the larger for the blow reedplates and the coverplate bolts where I want full clearance for the bolts to slide in.

0-80 bolts are good for replacing reeds, but I think that they are too skinny for good reedplate securing.

You can find all kinds of 2-56 screws with phillips or hex heads on Amazon (which are much better than slotted heads!). For example:
Brass, pan head, Phillips
Stainless steel, socket head, hex
As well as 0-80 screws for reed replacement:
Stainless, pan-head, phillips

For reedplates I like my bolts to be 3/8" to 1/2" long. 3/8" stand just a little proud of the reedplate, and 1/2" sticks way proud. The 1/2" bolts can be configure so that they act as coverplate supports (eg. two facing up, and one down). 3/8" is just a little too short for attaching the coverplates using a standard 2-56 nut, so I use 1/2". There isn't TOO much of the bolt standing proud above the nut, but there is a little. For the 0-80 reed replacement screws, 1/8" is what you want, or else you'll have to really cut and then sand the end of the bolt flush with the bottom of the reedplate...

Super Awesome!View my videos on YouTube!"

Last Edited by on Nov 29, 2010 2:01 PM
1 post
Dec 22, 2013
6:48 PM
I know this is an old thread, but I just now noticed something in Baker's videos.
Do you always take your pants off to do videos?
I noticed them hanging behind you in vid #11.
Does that help you breathe better? LOL

Georgia Blues
120 posts
Dec 23, 2013
12:24 AM
Try this option.... McMaster-Carr sells:

18-8 stainless steel-- DIN 912-A2
# 91292A011

2mm x 10mm, pitch: 0.4ml

1595 posts
Dec 23, 2013
1:18 AM
I think that's Frank's video.
And I appreciated it. I might tackle the task now


1226 posts
Dec 23, 2013
4:23 AM
Two words - Drill press.

Sounds like a great Christmas present idea!

Custom overblow harps. Harmonica service and repair.
3543 posts
Dec 23, 2013
7:24 AM
That is my video Bee...I put those up around 3 years ago. They are the basics for tinkering with a harp and serve the purpose of getting folks to experiment a little - the responses have been positive and players seem to like the simple instructions. The 1st vid has over 11,000 views, so it's getting around one way or another - I don't promote them at all :)
The Centipide Saloon
Tip Your Waiter Please

Last Edited by Frank on Dec 23, 2013 7:25 AM
99 posts
Dec 23, 2013
1:20 PM
Spalding fasteners in the UK for europens. I use m1,6 for Reed plates. Buy the tap on eBay. Its about a tenth of the retail price.
414 posts
Dec 23, 2013
1:47 PM
I’m a little surprised that nobody has mentioned 1-72’s as an option. That’s what I use. I find that the 0-80’s are a little too small for my taste and the 2-56’s are a little wide to use as reed plate screws. I try my best not to use nuts by tapping the draw plates. Sometimes it is unavoidable. Typically a hole is drilled between the base of the 2 and 3 draw reeds. There isn’t a lot of meat on the bone in that area. The head on a 2-56 is almost too big to fit in that space and not interfere with the reed pads. Almost. A 1-72 is perfect. And 1-72’s are readily available at most of the online stores for about $5.00 for a package of 100. The nuts cost the same. I get mine from MicroFastener.com

The screws for the cover plates are a different story. I could see using 2-56’s for that but I prefer binding screws. These are the kind found on MS harps, Marine Band Deluxe & Crossover, Seydels and Suzukis. They are not as easy to find and are much more expensive. You can get them off the Seydel website if you look for parts for the 1847. In my opinion, they give a harp a nice finished look.

Tom Halchak

Last Edited by florida-trader on Dec 23, 2013 1:51 PM
45 posts
Dec 24, 2013
1:03 PM
Glad to see this thread pop back up seeing as it is a project I hope to tackle soon. Can I get a little more info on how many reed plate screws you guys use and where you place them? Thanks!
1 post
Dec 02, 2019
5:16 PM
I have an old Blues Harp since 1968, and it was my favorite, perhaps due to the Doussie wood comb and not the Pearwood Marine Bands used, even after the covers collapsed and the pins loosened so I had to wrap dental floss around to hold them in place.
Although new versions may be a bit larger, it would appear the new stainless steel covers should fit, with just drilling for screws required, as the fronts still sit into the groove of the reedplates. Anyone familiar with this upgrade arrangement? I prefer the sound and shape over the Marine Band original covers, which also might offer a stainless upgrade.
6356 posts
Dec 02, 2019
5:51 PM
Old blues harps are pearwood same as marine Band. The doussie Wood is only used on MS harps.
MS covers won’t fit on an old blues harp. I’m pretty sure but I haven’t actually tried it. The plates are longer and deeper..
A pre MS blues harp with marine band covers is a Marine Band. If yours is from 68 it would have originally been tuned differently to a current marine band. It’s not likely to still be well tuned unless you have been keeping it touched up
10198 posts
Dec 02, 2019
6:51 PM
You could probably find some fairly nice pre-MS plates if you look on ebay. You just have to look at the pictures carefully to make sure you get a set. They don't tend to sell too dearly. Might even be cheaper than buying just covers new.

Another option for the old covers, if you still have them, would be to carefully unbend them. It's been a long time since shop class (8th grade so 1986?) but a little hammer and a good surface to hammer on might work if you hammer from the inside. I've done it on a really cheap harmonica that didn't have regular thickness covers, but they were really thin.

I like the old Blues Harps too. It would be nice if Hohner were to stamp some new cover plates for them. If they drilled holes for them they could sell them as alternative replacement cover for MB Deluxes. Here is a search for vintage BH's.


This one looks pretty shiny...


And here is one in E that looks pretty good.


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