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Beginner: basic tools for gaping harps

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Apr 14, 2009 5:22 PM GMT

As I stated before I upgraded my status to Beginner.

You can check my profile on that account.

I have done a search on this site, and im getting cross eyed. and hungry.

I am looking for basic tools and vids on how a newbie or beginner ( with out distroying his hard earn money ) can do the on my harp pals..... You know I try real hard to make my stories some what funny to read....long yes, funny I hope..... I have a severalfolderson harps and tabs books DVD's and I print a lot of advice that im given from you guys,,,, you guys mean a lot to me. No tears yet. just hunger. im going out to eat....

I have read a lot on gaping, plucking and all that.
I had bought and received two Harps from Suzuki and wrote about my problems
" Please help before I jump out the window"
These are brand new from a very good web site.
I received some ( some ) good advice and I tried them.
I plucked and pinged using a sheet of paper ( one advice)
I also learned to open (relax)my throat more.
I'm not sure which onemethod or all worked.
I'm getting used to opening my harps and cleaning them. and I just want the proper tools.
And I truly want to thank these few people who stopped me from jumping out the window. I have yet to give Suzuki ( Oz )a call .
My main question is that I read about these tools for gaping and so forth and that some are better then others.
Can anyone on of off list once again give me advice on what I would need to ( besides a sheet of loose leaf ).
Thank you in advance....
abner (Blueyes, "The Proper tool for the Proper job", my Pop's R.I.Pwould always say)

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Comments (18)

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Apr 14, 2009 6:25 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Go to either or customizer and now US sales rep for Seydel Rupert Oysler's site and he has a 2-DVD set that teaches you all that stuff and far beyond and you'll get an idea of what customizers do to get their harps to play the way they do and he will also show you how to make your own tools as well. It's about $60-65 and it is worth every single penny for it.

Hohner, Hering, Lee Oskar, Seydel and Suzuki all have tool kits, but the weakest link in these kits are the files and screwdrivers, which are largely Chinese made, and usually crap, The one notable exception is the Seydel kit, which mainly uses Wiha ( tools in it, and those are professional grade quality tools, not cheapo Chinese junk.

They all have a gapping tool that's very useful, and except for the Seydel and Suzuki, they have reed alignment wrenches as well, but they will only work on their harmonicas and no one else's. Don't try to realign Suzuki reeds because whereas everybody else uses rivets, they've spot welded them, and unlees you're good at real precision welding (which is completely unlike your local plumber), don't mess with that at all.

Go online to different online harp stores to check them out, from Coast To coast Music, Harp Depot, etc., but there is one you should also visit, and that's the German site,

Apr 14, 2009 7:49 PM GMT
Elk River Replied:

Gapping tool for beginner?

Go to your local, independent hardware store. Find the manager. Ask him for his business card ;)

Seriously, a business card will work fine. Right now I mostly use thin shims, feeler gauges I call them. Put the card or shim under the reed and lift up. They will spread the stress along a curve as you do it.

Apr 14, 2009 8:23 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Elk River thats the work I was looking for (shims,feeler gauges) . Buisnes cards I can get easy.

BBB M, you have given me some homework thank you both...


Apr 14, 2009 8:25 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

I forgot to mention I just found my Marine Bands lids crushed.... I waspracticinglast night and I must have dropped it under the Lazy boy... I never leave home with out it... I went out to help my mom (83 years wiser) and I could not find it... thats not like me..... I found it when I got home....

Apr 14, 2009 11:42 PM GMT
Zack P Replied:

If you are willing to spend some cash Richard Sleigh and Chris Michalek have good toolsets.

Apr 15, 2009 11:00 AM GMT
Peter H Replied:

I was using a tiny screwdriver to gap my harps. I figured this was not ideal, high speed steel being fairly hard in comparison to the brass (or is it bronze?) reeds. So, I happened to have a length of 1/8" soft steel rod laying around (still harder than the reeds, but less likely to scratch IMHO). I cut it to about 4 inches long, and took it to the grinder, grinding it to a square that would fit into my smallest reed slot, then grinding the top down to a taper.The taper is perfect for gaping, and the end of it works well as a screwdriver if you do it right.

Also, I hammered the other end flat and filed out a reed wrench using a needle file.

Total cost: about 50 cents.

Apr 15, 2009 11:02 AM GMT
Peter H Replied:

Also, Adam Gussow has a video where he advocates using atm recipts.

Apr 15, 2009 12:35 PM GMT
Elk River Replied:

If you are reshaping coverplates, you need a little wood hammer.

Apr 15, 2009 1:15 PM GMT
FatJim Replied:

I've never used anything more fancy than a cocktail stick and a penny for gapping and embossing.

Apr 15, 2009 6:24 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Zach, that's one I forgot about, and Richard Sleigh's toolkit is also top notch quality stuff and I'd rather use that kit than some of the harp makers stuff (outside of Seydel), and he's part of the guild of one of the very best (if the not best) customizers in the business, the Filisko guild, which is and I know for a fact that none of tools are the cheapo crap made in china at all.

For years as a gapping tool, I used a combination reed alignment wrench/scraper/gapping tool that came as part of the 3RT reed removal tool originally made by an old chromatic player Dave Doucette who passed away around 20 years ago, and was letter carried on by chromatic customizer Bill Romel until he passed away about a month and a half ago. Great tool.

I'd rather spend the money on good quality tools than deal with cheapo Chinese made stuff because they often tend to do more harm than good and are made to last, much like when a pro mechanic buys SnapOn, Matco, or even Sears Craftsman.

Apr 15, 2009 10:59 PM GMT
Zack P Replied:

Yes all of those are good, I'd say. But, Zack, :)

Apr 16, 2009 5:02 AM GMT
Oldwailer Replied:

The information Richard Sleigh emails to you when you buy his tool kit--a couple of fairly short PDF documents--is worth the price of the tools--it's the best information on the subject I have found, and the tools are great. The information on tuning alone is worth the price. . .

Apr 16, 2009 4:44 PM GMT
Zack P Replied:

Actually, I just got an e-mail from Richard about a new book of his, e-mail him. He'll even evaluate a Harp for you for free if you buy it.

Apr 16, 2009 5:04 PM GMT
Elk River Replied:

Bob, DaveDoucette was THE MAN!

It's wonderful that tool found an appreciative owner.

Apr 16, 2009 7:07 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Dave also made me a tool for removing the nails that used to hold the pre-1990's Hohner 280's (when they changed from the straight tuned wood comb versions like the 270's to the cross tuned plastic comb versions, the plates were nailed to the comb originally with aluminum nails, then later with brass escutcheon pins, until around the 90's when they finally began to use screws instead), and it kinda resembled a C clamp, and it was pretty good, but worked even better on the Sp20's and Golden Melodies, which when I got the tool during the mid 80's, were also had the reed plates held to the comb with escutcheon pins rather than scerews at the time.

Apr 19, 2009 12:27 AM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

got me some tools, right now im in a rush, im going to a concert with the wife.

May 11, 2009 12:13 AM GMT
Al P Replied:

I can tell you this, if you call Oz he will take care of you!! Next i too am a newb but all this talk about special tools? I am very good with my hands and have done what you are talking about and dont need any special tools?

The two things that you already have (tools) touch and patients those are a must, the rest you can make due.

I am sure I will be getting flames sent my way but thats my two cents.

May 26, 2009 6:39 AM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

I got some tools no big deal and they seem to be working.

Thank you

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