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Reed Arcing

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Dan Ridgeway
Feb 04, 2009 9:32 PM GMT
I've been embossing and gapping for sometime now, but I've neglected to really practice arcing my reeds.

the best of my understanding Reed Arcing is a misnomer since you are
actually trying to REMOVE the arc from the reed and make it as STRAIGHT
and FLAT as possible.

If this is correct, how do I go about
removing the arc from the reed? Currently, I simply use a small dental
tool to bend the reed the opposite way it is arcing. This seems to
remove some of the arc, but not always.

How do you guys approach this task?

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Comments (18)

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Feb 04, 2009 9:55 PM GMT
Antoine H Replied:

Hi Dan,

You still do want a very subtle arc. The most important is that the reed needs to be very close to the reedplate at the Rivet side and it needs to be raised up a bit on the other side wich creates this smooth arc. I set up my reeds pretty tight so there is not a very big arc but it is still important to have one otherwise your reed will chose and sticks when you blow a little harder. I also Arc the reed more on the Blow notes I use for OB ( 1,4,5,6).

I am mostly using my finger and small round tool for this job. I first make the reed as flat as possible with the reed plate and then I put my thumb on the base of the rivet and I gently bring the front of the reed up by massaging it on the under side.

If someone have a better approach to this I would like to know too !hope this helps a little Dan

Feb 05, 2009 2:55 PM GMT
Elk River Replied:

I've got a video on it, actually it's an excerpt from Rupert Oysler's video on arcing. It starts about five minutes into the "Rupert Oysler SNeak Peak" vid I've got on Youtube. I used to have a video on it, but it got deleted. What you are talking about is actually reed flattening, a different technique.

With the arcing, you want an arc that is so slight you have to look close to see the arc. If you arc too much, it will make it worse, actually.

Feb 05, 2009 7:07 PM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

Hi Dan!

I use an technique for arching my reeds based on overblow. When you have set your reeds up as mentioned below (flattening), hold the reed plate against your mouth, work one slot at the time. Make an "overblow", meaning that i.e you blow the reeds on the blow reed plate opposite it's normal direction. By using your mouth pressure all over the entire length of the reed, wich will be the result of this technique, the reeds forms a perfect arc by itself based on the moment equation for this type of mechanical element. . When the arch is set by overblow technique, you'll probably have to adjist the reed off set slightly by pressing the reed down working in the area near the rivet so the arch you've just set up remains and not beeing disturbed. I tought this method to Harmonica World Champion, Filip Jers a couple of years back and he uses it all the time with great success. If you succeed and find it use ful for you, please contact me and I'll describe a method how to set the reed arch without dismantling the harmonica.

Dick Sjoeberg

Feb 06, 2009 4:28 AM GMT
Dan Ridgeway Replied:

Thanks Tony, Dave and Dick.

Tony: I like your explanation; I need to experiment with this on a harp I'm doing now.

Dave: I will check out your video, I'm sure this will give me more insight.

Dick: That sounds incredibly ingenious. I don't understand how it works yet, but I'm impressed :)

Feb 08, 2009 5:12 PM GMT
Elk River Replied:

Dick, I think I know what you're talking about. I've experimented with something similar, only the comb is against it... say on the one blow, holding the blow plate against the comb and blocking the other side of the comb with my thumb, then doing an overblow-type thing, the reed first stops, then stays stopped, but I keep it up until it makes a sound again that is 15 steps higher.. (i.e. a C4 reed makes a B5 sound).

Feb 08, 2009 6:42 PM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

Hi Dave, I use to trim the overblows and also the overall bending ability, so to say, with only the covers removed. As you say, i.e one blow one block the one draw reed with for example the thumb and then make an forceful draw bend to have the reed set the arc. For the one draw, one blocks the blow reed of with a finger and makes an overblow to set the arc on the draw reed. Then it's the same principle all the way up but changing the blow direction from hole 8-10.
But what I tried to describe in my answer below was that I set my reeds up when I've done all the other works, i.e embossing among other things I do. Then I set up the curvature or arc by overblows starting i.e with the blow reed plate. Then similar treatment with the draw reed plate. It's amazing how well the arc sets by this method. The only thing that could be a problem, one has to be able to make the overblows, wich of course can be tricky i.e in fole one. But I thinki it's well worth the time spent in learning the technique because the benefits is, one can learn to master the overblowtechnique and at the same time learn how to set an perfect arc!

Hope this explanition helps

Dick Sjoeberg

Feb 08, 2009 11:58 PM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

To complete what I wrote earlier, its important to add following. When I personally use the over blow technique to set the reed curvature I overblow each reed three or four times starting with full lungs and emptying them. And it shold also be said that this is of course only one possibility to deal with this delicate problem. The most common way is to to use ones thumb/nail in the rivet area and then tilt the tip in a smooth way. For me I find it beeing a randomly way to set a curvature, unless you havent practise it over and over again

I particiapted in a Masterclass Workshop in Germany 2004, held by Joe Filisko, Brenadan Power among others. Filisko held an afternoon workshop on the subject maintenance customising. One of the participants asked Joe Filisko -" How do a perfect curvature looks like?" Filisko thoght it over a few seconds then he said _" Well ... when you've made 5000 harps ...then you'll know!

Dick sjoeberg

Feb 09, 2009 8:33 AM GMT
luke j Replied:

Hi there Sjoeberg. Does ths mean that by just blowing some foceful bends and overblows, then the reed will arc itself. Do you then need to gap it or will the optimum gap set itself?

Feb 09, 2009 10:14 AM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

Hi Luke, The answer is yes, but I'm talking about two different approaches to the same issue. First, when setting up the arc by owerblow after custom work, and with the reed plates dismantled(as described below). Secondly, when having the reed plates assebled on the comb. This method is perfect to adjust ones harp i.e when you notice that some of your bends acts properly but not perfect and you feel that "the bends are good but ...". The same goes for your overblows. Sooner or later you'll have to adjust them a little to reach the perfect acting". Then the second method is suitable for it. If the harp is gapped properly from the beginning then you dont need to adjust the reed gap, it sets itself. I use this method frequently and when building custom harmonicas. It's fast and very precise. Please dont hesitate from contacting me again,

Best regards
Dick Sjoeberg

Feb 09, 2009 10:40 AM GMT
Elk River Replied:

So Dick, we are talking about different stuff, I was slow catching on. This is a very interesting thing you are doing. I have noticed some change in reed gap once they have been overblown, it's been very slight. When I get just a little bit more caught up, I'm gonna experiment with that.

Feb 09, 2009 10:44 AM GMT
Elk River Replied:

What I do to arc is this:

I started tuning down a while back, changing reed profiles and I've got to give credit to Joe Spiers for getting me thinking in that direction.
So I start off say making a Bb harp out of a B (or sometimes I do tune one back up to the same key). I put a shim about 1/3 the way down the free end of the reed and sand the base and middle of the reed with a sanding wand. This makes a nice little arc.

Feb 09, 2009 11:14 AM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

Hi Dave, Glad to hear that! I blow them sounding increadible high. One can say that it needs to be a "convincing" blow pressure. It's a logical approach since what we are dealing with is a piece of metal of a certain length fastened in one end. When applying an equal pressure on the back side of the reed the pressure applied is the same (of course) on the entire length of the reed. Then the moment does the work since the rivet is the base and an simple moment equation gives that F(force)= (L)lenght x (D)distance. So the longer out on the reed tip the pressure applied act the higher the moment and the curve is set up in every part of it's length in a way thats normal for the metal and built in a minimum tension (stress) in the metal.

Best regards

Feb 09, 2009 11:17 AM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

I've to correct my self! The (M)moment= (F)force x D (distance)and nothing else, Sorry


Feb 09, 2009 9:09 PM GMT
Elk River Replied:

"The (M)moment= (F)force x D (distance)and nothing else"

Hey, when I signed up to work on harps, I understood there was to be no math involved ;)


May 25, 2009 10:16 PM GMT
Raśl M Replied:

Thanks so much Dick for this information. I'll ty it with my next customizing job. Thanks again!!

May 27, 2009 10:32 AM GMT
Sjoeberg D Replied:

Hi Raul - If you look up what Joe Spiers has wrote here at the forum, about setting the reed gaps and use this method of his and end it by setting the curvature the way i do it, by overblows, then you will have a perfectly responding harmonica in a fraction of time.

Best regards

May 27, 2009 9:50 PM GMT
Raśl M Replied:

Thanks a lot Dick!! I'll look for it.

Sep 06, 2009 5:31 PM GMT
David V Replied:

Dick this is a very interesting technique for setting reed arc! I will make an attempt to try it out. Thank You

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