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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > gapping
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81 posts
Dec 30, 2018
7:02 AM
Is there any difference in gapping brass and stainless reeds. The reason being I bought a cheap harp from local supermarket just to see if I could get it to play reasonably
Took it apart adjusted some of the gaps ten took my session steel apart for comparison and the steel reeds had hardly any gap compared to the brass. Yet the session steel plays really well.
The cheap harp cost £3 pounds so if I wreck it it's no problem. i was surprised to find etchings on some of the brass reeds as though some one had tuned it, to what exactly I'm not sure.
5703 posts
Dec 30, 2018
12:14 PM
Steel probably can sit a bit closer but those cheap harps are not really comparable to anything. I pulled a silver star apart last week with similar idea but i quickly saw the potential is just not there. You can make them play kind of ok.
So yeah I would except quite a difference
220 posts
Dec 30, 2018
11:16 PM
I have several novelty harps in my collection that I've done some work on. Some have turned out to be surprisingly good, or at least decent.

But I've never bought a real cheap piece of crap just for the challenge. That could be a fun endeavor, except all the time and effort could be better spent on something with higher potential.

Here's a Youtube that came to mind. Pretty impressive blues played on an adjusted toy harmonica.

It's about time I got around to this.
82 posts
Dec 31, 2018
4:05 AM
thank you for your replies always appreciated.
One of the things I would like to do is work on harps and make them play better, but up to now my efforts haven't been too successful, having ruined one good harp, it needs new reed plates again, I saw this and bought it on the spur of the moment.
That video goes to prove Christelle can play anything, but we knew that any way.

Last Edited by knight66 on Dec 31, 2018 4:08 AM
5711 posts
Dec 31, 2018
11:21 AM
Knight 66, if you have ruined a good harp, keep practicing on that one, assuming there are still some non ruined reeds. It will teach you much better than a junk harp
83 posts
Jan 01, 2019
2:23 AM
Thanks, makes sense, don't know why I didn't think of it.Put it to one side intending to get new plates for it and haven't got around to it.
5723 posts
Jan 01, 2019
1:56 PM
The principles are pretty much the same regardless of the harp, although i do think steel behaves a bit differently and the calibration of the ideal setup may be different to the average brass-reed harp. Observation of the physical differences between a harp/reed that plays well and one that plays less well, then adjusting the less good one to be more like the good one, is a good way to get into it. You can read all about it and you can observe the differences but when you want to physically intervene it will require developing a feel for the work. Steel reeds feel different to brass, but even brass from one manufacture will feel different to brass from another source; so hohner brass feels different to Suzuki and Seydel is different again, and even as you go back in time, the hohner yellow brass is different to work on than the red brass they use at the moment. And Lee Oskar is different again
The point is that the only way to get feel for these different materials is to get hand-on with it, and its probably inevitable there will be mishaps.
So 2 things i will advocate is a collection of broken harps of different types and learning to replace reeds. You will have fewer mishaps as you go.
I get so used to working on Hohner harps that its always a bit nerve-wracking when I’m presented with a batch of something different. And sometimes i will go for months without needing to adjust any reeds and when i do have to dig in at first i worry that I’ve lost the touch. At the moment I’m still feeling skilled up from a flurry of jobs i did in the lead up to Xmas; i know there are more jobs on the way so I’m trying to keep my hand in by doing a bunch of work for myself. I have upgraded a key of B Marine Band which is about 20 years old and has come up a treat, i cleaned my main gig set of 7 harps, which includes some Spiers Stage 1 and stage 2 harps, and an early Zajac custom, and built a Low E from some old Seydel brass session plates and the remains of a Bushman Soul’s Voice. I had to patch the reed plates with some reeds extracted from a brass session Low F. I don’t play low tunings much, I don’t really care for the sound in the music i play, but i think i need to be able to play them
I think the next project may be to build a steel reed harp in key of B for one of my regular clients. Ive never tried anything like this but i have a lot of old steel reeds from C harps and A harps and maybe a B flat so i think i may be able to scavenge and retune. I hav a very handy rotary tool marketed for manicure/fake nail shaping, otherwise i think the amount of retuning would be too onerous.

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