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Do Harps and reeds age?

Back to the Maintenance, Repair and Customization Room

Eric S
May 31, 2009 5:25 AM GMT

I have noticed that my playing set of harps, all kinds Hohner, Bushman and Suzuki, Started to loose there volume and responce, Riffs I could play over quickly before, would have a hesitation, or low or no volume at certain notes or holes.

I have been playing open mikes and jams were I use an amp and mike, pushing them abit harder than when I practice. So I decided to clean my harps. after seeing a Jason Ricci U tube video, While there I ck gap and embossed reeds and plates, for a short time they seemed better now they are going back to there old ways.

I have some newer low use harps that I tried and they seem fine thinking my style had changed, I am trying more tougue blocking, maybe harps are getting dirtier, or do the reeds lose it after a while?, I have had reeds fail and crack, theses are not loosing there tone just there volume and responce. Thanks for your input Eric S. Santa Rosa


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Comments (3)

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May 31, 2009 8:41 PM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

Hi Erik,

To my mind its impossible to belive that all your harps, no matter the brand, suddenly starts to loose volume and response, all at the same time. You mentioned that you a while ago started to tongueblock and thats a more possible reason for your problems, because using TB requires a skilled and developed technique, in that sence not to leave any holes blocked during any movements on your harmonicas. I would suggest, before seeking technical problems on your harmonicas, to play a tune first puckering and then in TB position and start your judging from there. If it sounds weaker in TB position then you will need more practising. In TB position you must strive for keeping your lips and tongue fully controlled so that the sounding holes always are fully open to secure a proper air flow and never blocked off by your 20-40 % of your lips. This is my advice to you at this stage.

All the best

Sjoeberg D


Jun 01, 2009 5:02 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

There's one other thing you may not be aware of and that's the breath force you're using when you play because most players who use tons of breath force when they play usually play with a very wet mouth and so the moisutre builds up along with layers of dead skin and that clogs reeds, alters the pitch, the action, etc., and you risk blowing harps out fast. Too much breath force causes an enormous number of problems for harp players and this is just one of many problems.


Jul 06, 2009 10:34 AM GMT
Civet Cat Replied:

glad you cleaned them...obviously that was my first concern...but certainly reeds do lose their spring over time even when their still in tune. That being said most my harps are at least three years old!



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