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Broken reed.

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Ricardo
Aug 12, 2009 6:30 AM GMT

I just literally brokethe4 hole draw reed of my Hering Delta Blues. Can I buy replacement reeds for this?


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Comments (7)

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Aug 12, 2009 11:32 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

if you want to go to the trouble, you can take a longer reed and trim it down, reinstall it, and tune and gap. i have not tried this myself. my eyesight and hearing are not really fine enough to do it well i suspect. you could maybe find a harp customizer or builder to do the work but it would cost at least what a new harp would cost. when i flat a reed, if i can get a reed plate to match the harp i just replace the whole plate. if not i buy a fresh harp.

breaking a reed smooth off says to me that you are drawing way too hard. i just want you to know, when you develop your breathing more and can find your air column, you will not need to use so much air so intensely. your torso is actually a resonating chamber that you can use to get bigger sound with much less breath.

i have flatted dozens of 4 and 5 draw reeds over many years. in the past few years, since i began trying to play more "responsibly", ie softer but with better dynamics, i have flatted very few reeds. and the ironic thing is, my playing style has improved and nobody ever came up to me and told me i needed to draw that dang #4 harder! my harps lasat me a lot longer and i get them to do what sounds good without the hassle of either replacing or repairing so many harps.

i once blew out 4 of my then 7 harps in one night with a loud band. that was expensive, and it also taught me to have two of my more heavily-used harps so i can always keep going when i'm out live.

once a reed begins to go flat, it's toast. this is because the reed itself has been stressed into micro fractures of the actual brass. there is no retuning it since it's actually broken on a micro level... i instantly know when i have a reed going out and i don't use that harp again until it's repaired or i just replace it. i once sucked a reed right out of a harp. to this day i don't know where it ended up!

imho the key here is playing gentler, developing your dynamics, and giving your harps a much longer life. use a p.a. or amp and mic to get bigger volume, but work on your tone first. and did i mention DYNAMICS?


Aug 12, 2009 5:03 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Jawbone's right on the money about breath control and too many players flat out ignore this and they'e the same people who wonder why their harps get blown out quick and/or always complaining that their harps are always defective.

Often times people who play too hard and it's really even more so in the note bending process where they've gone to the very floor of the bend, and puts so much stress and strain on the reeds that they cause micocracks, better known as stress fractures and all these players wind up doing is making things worse for themselves. BTW, it also hapens if you play too hard and NEVER bend a note as well, but the problem gets worsened considerably in the note bending process.

Another reason is the way they're tuned at the factory, and that has nothing to do with if its tuned to equal, just or anything else. If you see marks diagnolly across the reed, this comes from the reed being tuned using a file and filing it in this manner. It does tune a reed much faster than doing it parellel to the length of the reed, but it always tends to weaken the structure of the reed considerably and shortens its lifespan, often causing steep gouges and when the harp gets played by someone who's guilty of using too much breath force, the reed can actually break apart right from where the filing mark was left. In the 80's to the mid 90's, Hohner was guilty of this big time and often had huge gouges on the reeds tuning in this manner. Hering does tune it this way too, tho not anywhere nearly as much or as deep, but it is something to be aware of.

Hering does make replacement reed plates for them, but, like most harmonica makers, do not sell individual reeds to the general public.


Aug 13, 2009 3:32 AM GMT
Ricardo Replied:

Wow thanks for all the info from both of you Bob and Jawbone. I have been guilty of playing too hard but I think this time it was more due to the direction of the tuning as Bob has mentioned and metal fatigue from practicing a couple of songs that had a lot of alternating 4Dbends and 4D. I will try the cutting of a longer reed suggestion from Jawbone but I dont know yet if the broken Hohner I have have the same width reeds with hering. I will check later. BTW thats the harp I am holding in the photo. All the rest are Hohners Pro Harp and Bluesharp. I will try alll your suggestions and done one already. Bought a new harp. same model since I felt it lasted longer.


Aug 13, 2009 12:51 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

If you're gonna do reed transplant, I would suggest that you get it from another Hering harp first because reed dimensions from different manufacturers not only involves length, but also width, thickness, but also the size of the rivet itslef (not just the head, but everything else involved as well), and tho hering was once owned by Hohner from the mid 60's to the late 70's, they may not properly fit because of what I've mentioned here, so a word of caution before proceeding.

I know that in their tool kits they sell, they do have individual reeds in their kit for a key of C harmonicas, so you may want to contact them at their Brazillian headquarters about it. They can be maddeningly slow to respond, tho.

The Delta Blues, like the 1923 Vintage Harp, and the new Hohner Blues Bender, has a reed plate thickness of 1.20mm, the thickest of all stock reed plates (NOT the reeds), and in the hands of a very hard blower, tho it makes the harp play louder and more aggressively, it also makes it more easily prone to getting blown out, so that is another VERY important consideration when it comes to that model.


Aug 13, 2009 3:42 PM GMT
Duane C. Replied:

Jawbone K, this may be a silly question but; what specifics are you refering to when you say (developing your dynamics)?


Aug 20, 2009 5:18 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

simply put, finding how to use the least breath force to make the reed sound how you want.

this has everything to do with accessing the depths of your torso. someone who does yoga or a voice coach can give you breathing exercises which will get you breathing deeper. once you find your depth, you then begin learning about relaxing the chest, throat, and jaw. the column of air this gives you can be focused, and much much less air volume is needed or necessary to play a harp.

i myself have been remiss lately in doing the exercises. one is to lie flat on the floor and set a very large book on your abdomen, and doing sets of 10 breaths at a time, as deep in and as far out as you can. it can make you dizzy, so build up to it gradually! when you do this for a week you will be amazed at how much more deeply you are breathing, how good it feels, and how much power you feel in your torso. but the next part is vital- learning to focus the air. imagine your whole upper body as a wind tunnel or chimney. imagine how much more flexibility you can have if you relax all the muscles in your upper body- within reason! bringing your breath from way down deep, and bringing it in to way deep, gives you long sustain for singing and playing harp. finding how to shape notes before the air gets to the harp is a huge good feeling and opens up a lot of possibilities sound-wise. this involves relaxing the jaw and mouth, even holding the lips looser but not so loose as to not seal to the harp.

sinuses also play a part in all this imho. once your torso is relaxed and you're using more of your body's true potential volume for breathing, you will find the necessity of using the nose to vent air out at times, or draw extra in at times. this to my mind can be learned just by doing it.

i know there are others who are much more knowledgeable about this topic than i am. i just know a bit from taking voice lessons and being sick of blowing out reeds! but rest assured, this all will improve your playing technique and give your harps a longer life!


Aug 21, 2009 9:39 PM GMT
Duane C. Replied:

Thanks Jawbone K, I'll give that excercise a try!!!! Sounds like a good way to increase the capacity and the strength for better control.



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