Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

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Peter Wilcox
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Location: Northeastern California

Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

Post by Peter Wilcox »

I'm trying to repair a harmonica with a blown reed, and can't find any info on the specific problem this harp has. I can replace the reed (lots of YouTube stuff for that) but want to see if the reed can be repaired, rather than order a pack of 5 specific reeds from Hohner (only need one) for $15. Yes, cheap is my middle name, but I want to learn too.

I've googled harmonica fora, but none seem to have a well organized repair section. Anyone know of one?
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Eric Crawford
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Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:04 am

Re: Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

Post by Eric Crawford »

I used to do a good bit of harmonica modding/ retuning so if it’s something like flattening the reed in space or tone , resetting it, or sharpening it, I can offer a little help.
Depending on the model/ reed I may have a replacement if you want.
There used to be some active discussion at Slidemeister and some skilled repair guys there. Some happy to offer advice, others happy to do work for a fee.

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Thanks Eric. I'd looked at Slidemeister, but it seems it's for chromatics, which has a repair section, but no diatonics allowed. :)

The one I'm working on is a Hohner Special 20, key of A. The problem is the 5th draw reed. No sound initially - I cleaned up the edges of the reed and slot and re-centered the reed, and it sounds/plinks dull and very flat. I made a short (15 sec) video of its action:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA8VXdftEzo

I suspect it has an occult crack that I can't see near the root, making that area weak. My question is if there is a way to repair a reed, maybe sweat a dab of solder into that area, though I know replacing the reed is the correct fix. The harmonica was free from a guy I used to jam with, and I'm not much of a player myself, but have plenty of old functional harps (but no broken ones to steal a reed from), so don't need this one to work. Just an interesting project.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

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Peter Wilcox
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Location: Northeastern California

Re: Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Eric, I just decided to have a close look at the other side of the reed, and there is the crack! So I don't know if soldering that (without soldering the reed to the reed plate :( )would make it playable or not - I guess I'll find out.
Attachments
cracked-reed.jpg
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Eric Crawford
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:04 am

Re: Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

Post by Eric Crawford »

Nice pics.
Yea Slidemeister is 99% chromatics, but there is a diatonic section and one of the members is a great repair guy who is partial to Special 20s.
Popping that rivet and replacing the reed is the best bet.
I be soldered reeds to change the note, never to fix a crack.
Replacement reed plates is another option, I’d try Rockin Ron’s or straight from Hohner, or a Hohner repair guy. I love my Hohners, can’t play for crap, and haven’t really for years, I quit trying after a facial injury, I probably could start trying again now, but bass is what I want to learn now. Being able to do both, with a harmonica in a rack would be fun!
But I have trouble breathing and walking at the same time. Lol.
I should have a reed chart somewhere and can look up the size and see if have a correct donor reed. If I can lift one without separating the rivet I’ll leave them connected to save that tiny little bit of FRUSTRATION. unless it goes in easy the first try, and you don’t drop it on the floor and have to crawl around looking for it. I’ve done that a few times.

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Peter Wilcox
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Location: Northeastern California

Re: Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

Post by Peter Wilcox »

I soldered it - held for about 3 draws and broke again. I then soldered the crack and the opposite side too - same deal, so solder is obviously nowhere near strong enough to hold at this stress point. I'll try a new reed at some day. Eric, don't go to any trouble for this - I appreciate your input but fixing this harp is not a high priority. It's been interesting for me, and I've learned what I wanted to know.

BTW, how is that archtop bass you were going to build coming along? Have you started it?
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Eric Crawford
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:04 am

Re: Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

Post by Eric Crawford »

I started it.
Plans have changed a few times lol.
So far I have a neck and scroll roughed out, a top carved and attached to the sides. I haven’t braced it yet, and still need to thin it out a bit. I’ve done everything on this build weird lol.
In the end it should probably give the impression of what you would think a Hobbit’s double bass looks like.
The top is oval, with relief on the sides for ergonomics (and to fit the wood I had) and there will be an Endpin for upright play/ bowing if desired. This one is so strange I’ve already started planning a slightly more normal 5-string.

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Peter Wilcox
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Location: Northeastern California

Re: Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Hi Eric
My first acoustic bass was a real wierdo that I designed myself without much knowledge or experience. I learned a lot from it, and it sounds pretty good, but is an ergonomic failure as to ease of holding it while playing. It is most comfortable upright, but is too low off the ground (even playing seated.) I don't think the tail block is robust enough for an end pin - wish I'd made it thicker.
Here's a thread with pics
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1830
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Eric Crawford
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:04 am

Re: Harmonica repair info/forum wanted

Post by Eric Crawford »

Wow. That’s cool. And surprisingly similar to what I’m attempting in overall shape.

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