I saw this comment on the homepage and I posted a quick reply but I wanted to post something more detailed.
"if the harmonica plays good and sounds great leave it alone. if it's not broke don't fix it"
At the time, I had recalled reading a better response to that comment but I didn't want to post it without proper attribution. I thought it was in Winslow Yerxa's HARMONICA FOR DUMMIES but I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. Fortunately, I just found it online here:
Short excerpts: "For a harmonica that is bolted together, the easiest thing you can do to make it play better is to take it apart and put it back together! ...How does taking a harp apart and putting it back together help its performance? Well, when harmonicas are assembled in the factory, the bolts sometimes don’t get screwed in all the way. Later, as they travel in a cargo container on the high seas, vibration can loosen the bolts."
In fact that's exactly what happened with the very expensive Soprano Single harp I recently purchased. I noted an odd "rattle" which one would not expect on a premium harp. This harp has the reed plates held on with bolts that go through both reed plates with the bolts going into individual nuts. This is unusual in that harps are usually held together with bolts that pass through the blow plate and go into threaded holes in the draw plate (no separate nuts). I discovered that several nuts on the soprano harp had loosened causing the bolt/nut assembly to rattle. It was a simple fix (carefully retorquing the nuts and bolts; starting at the center and working towards the outer edges).
While I don't really see a need to take things apart on a routine basis, the covers on a harp can usually be removed by just unscrewing two bolts. This gives access to the reed plate bolts if you want to check the bolt torque.
Reed Smith wrote:
Well, don't give me any gapping credit because that didn't really make it into the video. But I hope some of the assembly views and tips will be of use. People can be a bit nervous about taking a harp apart but, as long as folks are gentle with the reed plates, it's a very straightforward process.
As Keith mentioned, Slidemeister is great.
Another source is to go to harptabs and put the word "chromatic" into the search box....which I have done here:
And it shouldn't matter if you pucker or tongue block. I have done both on the chrom (puckered for a year but now I mostly tongue block)
I just posted a video showing me working with a dismantled harp.
I took apart my Fabulous to investigate what I described as 'airyness" (I don't even think that's a word). At the start of the video, I say that I suspect it was just a case of the Fabulous being gapped a bit wider than some other harps. In fact, that was the case. I ended up slightly closing the gap on the lower reeds and it plays perfectly with just a whisper of air. However, since I'm so long winded (surprise), I had to leave off the very end of video where I recap and explain the gapping...I had recorded so much material that it ran over 10 minutes. So I left off the last "reel" of the video.
Feel free to fast forward through the dial gauge flatness check. It runs a bit long. short version: comb flat within .0005.
Here's another one. I found an older recording of this on my hard drive (and I probably posted a version or two previously on youtube). I decided to do it yet again because it's one of the very few songs that I have committed to memory on the chromatic (I have no trouble remembering songs for diatonic by the chrom takes up too much space in my tiny brain).
My self critique shows my ongoing problem with choppy notes that don't flow well (I'm working on it). There is some small improvement of the general pacing of the song. The more notable improvment is something not apparent to the listener...I managed to get this in one take. There was a time when getting something recorded on the chrom took multiple attempts. So getting this with one try is another small triumph. Basically, my sound isn't getting much better but it's getting easier .
Done on my rebuilt Hohner 270 Frankenharp.
Different recording method than my previous vid so you may have to turn up your volume (if you dare).
Oddly, something jarred my memory and I recalled that, at one time, I could "sorta" play WHERE THE BOYS ARE. So I refreshed my brain and recorded it with my CX12 (a harp I've rarely recorded with).
I'm one of those folks cursed with inability to see youtube videos posted here as "My Videos" but I can view the direct links...so I wanted to post a direct link.
This doesn't really fit anywhere. It doesn't deserve it's own thread but I don't want to keep clogging up the Beginners Videos thread with my miscellaneous warblings. So I created an inbetween thread...not good enough to stand alone but shouldn't be used as unneccessary filler for the beginner thread. Feel free to post anything here (but try not to make me look TOO bad!)
Video 1. I grabbed some pics from the net for my tribute to the girls from WHERE THE BOYS ARE.
I hope this gets worked out to your satisfaction. I've been reading reviews and watching some videos and the Chrometta 10 seems to get very good ratings and I like the sound I hear. I've been thinking about getting a 10-holer myself...something a bit more portable than what I have.
In Canada, I can't risk getting a bad harp (not that there is much I can do about it if I do get a clunker). Several years back, Hohner basically closed up shop in Canada now services Canada through Hohner USA. I think they have some people in Canada authorized to work on diatonics but i don't know if they have any chromatic service available up here. I once wanted to buy a slide for a 270...the only place to order one was through Hohner USA: $23.00 for the slide PLUS $29.00 shipping to Canada! No deal. I manufactured my own slide with a stainless steel ruler, a drill press and diamond-tipped grinding bits (BTW, it works better than the original slide).
I think that's why Canadians are naturally good repairmen...we can't afford to send things away for warranty service .
Taking my own advice, I recorded Moon River on the Suzuki Baritone.
The challenge isn't to get a good rendition of the tune...the challenge is to try and hit as many correct notes as possible . These tremolos are tricky. You don't play the holes so much as you play "groups of holes". These things can fool you. You can blow a group of holes and hit the exact note but, when you draw the same group, you discover that you are really one vertical pair to the left or right and you hit a "honker". If you've ever looked at the grid of openings that make up the mouthpiece of a tremolo, you'll understand the issue.
My small victory here is not in a lovely version of Moon River (it's kinda' clunky). My victory is that I got through it without hitting a really bad note!
Although I'm generally past the point at which I can call myself a true beginner (or, at least, past the point where I can use it as an excuse ), I am a relative beginner on the tremolo. And I'm certainly a beginner with this wild Suzuki Baritone.
One lesson I'm learning is about the suitability of certain types of music for this harp. The SBH-21 has crazy long reeds. That's why they molded a ridiculously thick comb and put chromatic cover plates on it. This is a big harp. And the reeds create a special challenge. These big reeds continue to vibrate for about 1.5 seconds after you stop blowing or drawing. It's freaky . That's an issue if you are doing a fast piece of music because, if you need to hit the same hole several times in short succession, the reed will still be moving from your previous breath...it's like stepping on your own music.
This harp might be best suited to an old standard like Moon River. Nevertheless, I just took a stab at the briskly paced Yankee Doodle Dandy which I post here for about 30 seconds of "listening pleasure" (he says with sarcastic optimism).
Canadian males have a genetic predisposition to build snow forts. We try to supress this urge when we hit adulthood. However, I noticed that my neighbour on the north side (an old school buddy; the same age as me) had built a snow fort in his back yard. My neighbour to the south (a man in his early 30's) had also built a snow fort. So I figured, "Screw this grey hair...I'm building a snow fort!". Most of that snow was shoveled off the driveway behind my garage. I actually hollowed out enough space that I can stand upright inside of it.
I figured I better shoot some video today because the forecast for tomorrow is +5C (41F) which means that fort is not long for this world.
In five months, that exact same spot is likely to be about +35C (95F). That's why I love this city: -40C to +40C every year (which explains why there is a little red Triumph convertible parked next to my igloo).
I was a bit winded from exertion of having to crawl through that little door so I had to pause a few times for some air while I was playing. And, although I practice trying to keep my hands in a properly sealed grip, I had to open them up a bit so that the camera could pick up the sound. Hmmm....might be funny if I took my amp and mic out there. BTW, that was a Suzuki Bluesmaster in A.