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Brass comb?

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Mar 04, 2009 8:48 PM GMT

Hello brothers, it's freezing here in blighty...

Anyone tried a solid brass comb in a marine band?

Anyone been fed cake by an uppity blues woman?

Sorry, just the first one.

So, a brass comb, what do you think?


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Comments (18)

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Mar 05, 2009 12:51 AM GMT
Madcat Replied:

At one time I had a whole set of harps with brass combs... The were heavy! They sounded good.

The ones I had had Huang Silvertone read plates.

I still have them but I haven't played them in years

Mar 05, 2009 1:10 AM GMT
Cloud 1 Replied:

I have some custom harps with brass comb,but I dont even play them now. Like Madcat said, they are heavy, and I like the weight. As far as the sound, I still prefer wooden combs.


Mar 08, 2009 7:15 AM GMT
Builderofstuff Replied:

I make brass combs,, so I'm a bit biased, but I really like the brass combs. Aside from being gorgeous they add a nice resonance to the harp without making it sound tinny. There is also an increased volume to them from my experience. One of the most frequent comments that I hear is that due to the increased weight people say they feel like their holding a real instrument. Of course the harp IS a real instrument but I think the additional weight adds a bit to the feeling that's it's more substantial.


Mar 08, 2009 7:29 PM GMT
Elk River Replied:

Brass gives you the benefits of metal, volume namely, without the problems you have with aluminum... i.e. you can put one of the old handmade Meisterklasse combs on a Marine Band. The problems I have with aluminum combs and brass plates is it tastes like it does when you put your tongue on both posts of a 9 volt battery.

AND Builderofstuff is awesome. His stuff rules. I've seen his work, it's top notch and he never charges enough.

Mar 14, 2009 2:20 PM GMT
Royce T Replied:

Check my profile pics out ive been uttin brass combs in marine bands for a while. I have also been putting them in Hohner MS series and some Suziki's

May 03, 2009 4:38 PM GMT
Philosofy Replied:

Is there any downside to a brass comb? I can't stand the battery taste of aluminum, and don't like how wood feels on my tongue. I like plastic, but I like to tinker. Brass is realtively soft, and I can probably work it with my woodworking tools. Any advice for someone starting out? I'd eventually like to get a set of Suzuki Promasters, but replace the AL with brass.

May 03, 2009 6:53 PM GMT
John P Replied:

I've got a Suzuki Fabulous which has a silver plated brass comb. Downside: It's HEAVY. Not so heavy that it is hard to handle, but considerably heavier than a Promaster or Hammond. Doesn't really bother me, but it's a different feel.

May 04, 2009 6:19 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

They'll also be a lot birghter in sound, which you may or may not like.

May 04, 2009 10:45 PM GMT
John P Replied:

My Suzuki Fabulous has a BRIGHT tone. Brighter than the Suzuki Hammond which has an aluminum comb and painted covers. So, I definitely agree with Bob that comb material affects tone. I like metal combs in general, but the Fabulous is a little too bright sounding for my taste. But a very nice instrument otherwise.

Some people think i'm crazy when I say this, but i also belive painted covers have a slightly darker tone than shiny, unpainted covers.

May 05, 2009 8:46 AM GMT
BP Replied:

Harponline ( also do nicecustom combs in brass and acrylic for Hohner and Suzuki harps. I have a few of their acrylic ones on my Suzuki ProMasters, and they are very comfortable in the mouth. They have a nice tone as well, especially on the high end: sweet and pure, with a pleasing sibilance to the attack.

On the Great Comb Debate, I'm with Vern Smith in accepting that tonal differences due to comb material can't be detected by the listener. However,as a player I find there isa definine difference when you put the same reedplates on different combs.

Brendan Power

May 10, 2009 11:49 PM GMT
Al P Replied:

I too make my own brass combs, I have also made wooden and aluminum combs along with a acrylic. They all have there own sound qualities. I am just a begginer at the harp but can build about anything.

Jul 03, 2009 8:38 PM GMT
jon s Replied:

i have a marine band with a brass comb. i love it. it slides nice an smoothly on my lips as opposed to a wood comb.

Jul 21, 2009 2:34 PM GMT
Johnny R Replied:

I am based in the UK and am currently selling brass combs for the Hohner marine band on eBay. If you are interested please check the link below, orsearch marine band brass combat eBay and it will come up. Thanks


Jul 22, 2009 2:21 AM GMT
Elk River Replied:

One advantage of brass combs is that your reedplates are of brass. When I play one with an aluminum comb, I get this feeling like I"m licking both posts of a 9 volt battery.

Jul 22, 2009 3:39 AM GMT
Reed Triller Replied:

Dave that is exactly what I think of when I play my GM although it is still my favorite.

Jul 30, 2009 1:21 AM GMT
Philosofy Replied:

Here's something I posted in a machine shop forum, but got no replies: maybe someone here can comment:

had an idea, and posted in in a machinist forum with no luck: I'll let you guys take a look:

Hello everyone.

I'm a woodworker and a harmonica player, and I'd like to do a project using brass or stainless steel, and I have some ideas to bounce off you fine folks, and some questions I need answered.

Most harmonica combs are wood, plastic, or in some cases, aluminum. One of my favorite makes of harmonica has an aluminum comb, the the aluminum, with the brass reed plate and steel cover sets up a galvanic cell that, coupled with my acidic saliva, makes the harmonica taste very tinny when I play. Wood swells too much when I soak my harmonica in mouthwash after a gig in a smoke filled room. Several people have made brass harmonica combs, and I'd like to try as well.

Here's a picture of a harmonica comb:

The openings between the teeth are about 7 mm, or 1/4". They need to be precise for the reeds to vibrate.

I have a complete woodworking shop, and here is my idea to duplicate the aluminum comb I want in brass (or stainless.)

First, I would use my table saw to cut a piece of brass to the outside dimension of the comb. I know you can cut brass with a carbide tipped blade, but I'm pretty sure you can't cut stainless that way. If I went the stainless route, I'd have to have a machine shop do that for me.

I would then use double sided tape to fix the original onto the brass plate. Then I could use the original as a template. First, I would drill the holes for the screws that hold the reed plates and covers.

Next, I would go to the drill press. I would need a metalworking bit that is small enought to fit between the teeth of the comb. I would clamp a piece of wood to the drill press table, and drill a hole the same diameter as the metal working bit in the wood. Then I would take the drill bit, put it in the hole it just drilled, and attach it, leaving about 1/8" above the wood table. That would act as a template pin.

Next step is to put the metal working bit in the chuck, adjust the speed, and lower the bit so it would take just a little bit off the brass. The brass and aluminum would be put on the table, template down, and I would use the template against the pin to cut the teeth of the comb. When I get a little more than halfway through the brass, I can remove the aluminum template, and just flip the brass over and use it as its own template. After the initial machining, I would file then sand the edges, and flatten the surfaces on some sandpaper adhered to plate glass.

My questions are:
1. Can a woodworking router bit be used? Should I spend money on a metal working bit? Where can I get such a bit, and what are they called. I would assume I need a bit that can plunge cut as well as cut like a traditional router bit.

2. What kind of bit would I need if I tried stainless steel?

3. What speed should I run the drill press at?

4. Will I need any kind of lubricant/metalworking fluid?

5. Any other advice?

I hope I explained what I'm trying to do. Thanks for your help.

Mar 13, 2016 8:49 AM GMT
thp a Replied:

Today I bought wooden comb stand to safely and conveniently keep all the combs.

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