Loupes, or magnifying lenses, are used by jewelers, hobbyists and surgeons to provide magnified vision for detailed work.
There's always a lot of discussion on this forum and the main forum about gapping reeds, stuck reeds and all the way to custom repair and tuning. Only occasionally mentioned is the benefit of using loupes.
I happen to have some very expensive surgical loupes that allow me to see a 1/10th of millimeter like it was and inch. When I look at reed gaps i can visually see how wide the gap is to a fraction of a millimeter. What many don't realize is that magnification also improves motor skill so when bending or filing a reed or embossing, loupes allow you to see subtle changes and your hands can fine tune things.
Now you don't have to spend a lot of money on loupes. You can find them on eBay or Amazon for $10-25 and up. I prefer the kind that attach to safety glasses or on a headband rather than the hand held magnifiers as that keeps both hands free to work under magnification.
I suggest 3x-4x magnification and, if possible for a reasonable price, get loupes you can adjust so they will match your eye distance.
Anyway, I thought I'd throw this out on the beginners forum for those who, like myself, are just starting to learn to tweak their own harps.
Last Edited by ME.HarpDoc on Mar 12, 2016 6:02 AM
I was just thinking about this yesterday. Most of the time I can see what I need to do with the naked eye. I'm still good for seeing gaps. But there are some aspects of the work where magnification would definitely be good. One day I was speaking to Kinya Pollard...and remarked on his magnifier. He said not only that, but good light...good light he rated as more important than the magnification. He is a lighting specialist though, so of course he may have a professional focus. Older I get, the more finicky my vision is becoming
I have a loupe and was looking at reeds and gaps with it. I embossed a slot on one of my harps the other day to try to make the OB more responsive and when it got stuck i had to view it with a loupe or magnifying glass to see where it looked like it was contacting.
I tried to give up OB's but the thought of having those notes there and not using them became too much so i had to give in again!
I'd agree with SuperBee in that good lighting is the thing. I notice in my room at night trying to see things is pretty hopeless whereas on a bright sunny day with the light streaming in everything opens up so much more.
Lighting is very important. My loupes have a headlamp attached to them so wherever I look, the light is there. Another magnification tool with good lighting is a clamp-on desk lamp that is a ring light with a large mangification sense in the center. Great to work with, adjustable and hands free. Also you don't have the weight of the loupes on your face.
Search Amazon for headband loupes. I wear glasses also so loupes that will flip down in front of your glasses will probably work best. The ones with several pop in lenses are good so you can choose what magnification works best for you.
The surgical loupes I mentioned above are overkill but I had them and I wore contact lenses when I used them.
I have a magnifying glass on a flexible arm which has a LED light on another flexible arm which I have used to back light the reed plate. Back lighting gaps was demonstrated to me by an engineer many years ago and the tiny gaps and inconsistency you can see is very good. Also I have been meaning to ask, does anybody use feeler gauges to set reed gaps? I was thinking of the blade type.
The ones you show above won't fit over your glasses, that's why I suggested head band mounted loupes. The other fixed device you show is available to clamp on to a desk along with a light source or with a built in light. That works well if you always work at the same location. You are correct that 3-4x would be optimal.