Andrew's blog

(video) Harmonica repair mistakes #6 - Wrong reed, wrong direction!

A Facebook friend asked about working late into the evening and tuning the wrong reed, or tuning it in the wrong direction - how do you avoid this?

Would you like me to make a video about your "best" mistake? Contact me and let me know your ideas!

http://harp.andrewzajac.ca/

(video) Harmonica repair mistakes! #5 - Heavy handed

If you feel like a bull in a China shop, here are some easy tricks to help you to work with a light touch.

Would you like me to make a video about your "best" mistake? Contact me and let me know your ideas!
http://harp.andrewzajac.ca/

One of my CNC mills in action!

I design and cut my combs using a CNC mill. This is just a few seconds of one of my CNC mills in action. Here I am cutting a single test comb.

My Dark combs™ are made from a material that is very dense. I need to spray water onto the endmill to keep things cool.

Once cut, I finish, flatten and check each comb by hand myself to ensure it is up to spec so as to provide best performance and outstanding tone. I do not tolerate any air leak. I fix it before it leaves my workbench.

Embossing tool improvement

I have improved my embossing tool to provide more flexibility (and safety) at the rivet end. With it, you can emboss with a wide range of angles all along the length of the slot.

Here is an illustration of what the different angles of embossing look like if you zoom in really close to a cross-section of the slot.

This is embossing at a 45 degree angle:

This is embossing with a smaller angle:

Why is the angle important?

I visualize each slot as a tiny swimming pool. In my model, when the reed hits the water it creates a splash and the angle of the embossed edge can change the direction of the splash.

Here is the reed just before it hits the imaginary water:

A sharp angle would make the water "splash" further away.

Here the angle of the embossed edge is a lot smaller. A smaller angle would make the water "splash" higher

Different angles can offer different results as far as tone and response. You can use different angles on different portions of the slot. I encourage you to discover what is the best pattern for you.

(video) Harmonica repair mistakes! #4 - Which reedplate plays the bend?

Did I just ruin my harmonica? In this series I want to cover the most common mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities.

Today I talk about making bends easier. What reed should you adjust to make bends easier?

Both reeds simultaneously participate in draw bends on holes 1-6 and blow bends on holes 7-10.

Would you like me to make a video about your "best" mistake? Contact me and let me know your ideas!

http://harp.andrewzajac.ca/

(video) Harmonica repair mistakes! #3 - Tuning by numbers

Did I just ruin my harmonica? In this series I want to cover the most common mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities.

Today I talk about trying to tune a harmonica using the numbers from a tuner.

Would you like me to make a video about your "best" mistake? Contact me and let me know your ideas!

http://harp.andrewzajac.ca/

(video) Harmonica repair mistakes! #2 - Embossing therapy

Did I just ruin my harmonica? In this series I want to cover the most common mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities.

Today I talk about the common misconception that embossing fixes problems like air leaks or makes the reeds play better.

Would you like me to make a video about your "best" mistake? Contact me and let me know your ideas!

http://harp.andrewzajac.ca/

(video) Harmonica repair mistakes! #1 - We got a man down!

Did I just ruin my harmonica? In this series I want to cover the most common mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities.

Today I talk about bending a reed too far.

Would you like me to make a video about your "best" mistake? Contact me and let me know your ideas!

http://harp.andrewzajac.ca/

(Checklist) Reed replacement

This is part of a series of checklists I am making available to you.

Click the "Printer-friendly version" link at the bottom of the page and feel free to print out as many copies as you like!
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Reed replacement checklist
version 2016/07/24

Items needed
___ Hammer
___ Reed removal pin
___ Reed removal spine
___ Brick or anvil
___ M1.4 tap
___ M1.4 screws
___ Reed wrench
___ Flush cut pliers
___ Drill press or Rotary tool with reamer bit

Remove bad reed
___ Identify bad reed
___ Place correct rivet head into reed removal spine hole (reed tip points away from spine)
___ Punch out rivet
___ Flip reed plate around and place on flat part of reed removal spine
___ Flatten hole using flattening pin
___ Tap hole using M1.4 tap. De-burr as needed

Prepare new reed
___ Obtain new reed
___ Enlarge rivet hole using drill press (1/16th inch bit) or rotary tool with reamer
___ De-burr as needed
___ Flatten rivet pad using flattening tool and flat part of reed removal spine

Install new reed
___ Position new reed into slot standing up and pinch it with your fingers
___ Insert M1.4 screw and tighten all the way
___ Loosen the screw very slightly
___ Look at a light source through the slot and align the reed
___ If the reed doesn't align, remove the screw, enlarge the hole in the rivet pad and repeat all the steps to prepare the reed
___ Pinch the base of the reed very tightly to hold the reed in place and tighten the screw
___ Re-confirm reed position and alignment
___ Snip off back of screw
___ Re-confirm tightening of screw
___ Re-align reed
___ Flat sand draw reed plate or sand down tip of screw in blow plate

Fix reed shape and tuning
___ Correct reed curve using pressure and counterpressure
___ Tune reed

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