Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

A space for players interested in my specialist harmonicas, alternate tunings, instructional material, recordings etc to ask questions and share information, experiences, videos etc.
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Brendan
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Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by Brendan » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:08 am

This week I'm getting back to messing with harmonicas made with accordion reeds. In the past I made a couple of test instruments, which showed the potential and allayed any concerns over steel reeds rusting. They don't, if you let the harp dry off after playing and it's kept in a dry environment.

A new 10-hole Richter accordion-reed harp is coming along - the comb is designed and made, reeds prepared (Hohner, from one of their small boxes), and I'll assemble later today. Despite the 16mm wide reed blocks, I've come up with an interesting comb design that gets the mouth hole spacing down to 9.4 mm, the same as a chromatic.

There's great potential for making unusual harmonicas using standard accordion reeds, because:

1. Since they come in double reed units, which can be configured with others in any combination, the instrument size, range and scale possibilities are enormous.

2. The reed pairs come in a huge number of note combinations: same notes, semitones, tones, thirds, fourths, fifths apart....

3. They can be blow/draw or draw/blow units depending on which way up the reed block is placed on the comb.

It goes on... once you start thinking about it, the sky's the limit! I want to try making bass and chord harps with them, because the reeds have such a rich, loud sound. It's an intriguing new area of exploration.

I'm taking some accordion-reed harps, along with a lot of other oddities and one-offs, to next weekend's Harpmeet in Sweden. Before the festival I'm looking forward to spending a couple of days tinkering with Joel Andersson in his workshop, should be fun :-)

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Tyler
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Re: Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by Tyler » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:05 pm

Looking forward to it!

CrawfordEs
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Re: Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by CrawfordEs » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:35 pm

Excellent news.
This sounds like the best thing in harmonicas since the switch harp.
Any thoughts as to how you would market it?
Order individual harps by a tuning map, or maybe a kit with a comb and multiple inserts for easy experimenting?

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triona
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Re: Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by triona » Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:24 pm

Brendan wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:08 am
... any concerns over steel reeds rusting. ...
Why not use stainless steel reeds / reedplates?
The factory in Czechia where Seydel gets theirs from is supplying to anyone. They are actualy a supplier to accordion makers.

Brendan wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:08 am
... I want to try making bass ...
This is an idea I tinker about since longer. Ideas and drawings for combs I have already done. A reedplate for a ten hole diatonic bass would come about 20 Euros, as the chief engineer of the Chech reed manufacturer estimated in 2016. The factory is about 100 km off from me, so that it also were possible to visit it for some development.

Brendan wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:08 am
... Before the festival I'm looking forward to spending a couple of days tinkering with Joel Andersson in his workshop, should be fun :-)
Where is this? I will arrive at Varberg, Sweden in the early morning of wednesday 11th of September. Maybe I could pass along on my way to Norrköping.

Will Joel be at the harpmeet as well?

At least I will take my stuff about the bass harp with me to Sweden.


dear greetings
triona
Aw, Thou beloved, do hearken to the Banshee's lonely croon!
sinn féin - ça ira !
Cad é sin do'n té sin nach mbaineann sin dó


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1yI3H ... 9ktgzTR2qg

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Brendan
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Re: Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by Brendan » Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:10 pm

Yes Triona, Joel will be there - he's one of the main organisers of Harpmeet. He lives a little inland from Malmö, so it's quite a way south off your track from Varburg to Norrköping. Possibly we may be traveling on the 11th as well, not sure. Anyway we're bringing lots of tools and stuff to keep the tinkering going at the festival :-)

I have some reeds from that Czech factory, Harmonikas Louny. You're right, they do excellent work! I was given some of their stainless steel reeds on single reed blocks by a friend, and made a harp with them. But I found the double-reed blocks with standard steel reeds seemed louder:

https://youtu.be/jejsiCD172E

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Brendan
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Re: Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by Brendan » Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:16 pm

@Crawford: Re. marketing, I think these things will only have niche appeal really. Not sure it would be worthwhile to sell them. At this stage it's just for fun :-)

EdvinW
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Location: Sweden

Re: Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by EdvinW » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:05 pm

Brendan wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:08 am
This week I'm getting back to messing with harmonicas made with accordion reeds. In the past I made a couple of test instruments, which showed the potential and allayed any concerns over steel reeds rusting. They don't, if you let the harp dry off after playing and it's kept in a dry environment.

A new 10-hole Richter accordion-reed harp is coming along - the comb is designed and made, reeds prepared (Hohner, from one of their small boxes), and I'll assemble later today. Despite the 16mm wide reed blocks, I've come up with an interesting comb design that gets the mouth hole spacing down to 9.4 mm, the same as a chromatic.

There's great potential for making unusual harmonicas using standard accordion reeds, because:

1. Since they come in double reed units, which can be configured with others in any combination, the instrument size, range and scale possibilities are enormous.

2. The reed pairs come in a huge number of note combinations: same notes, semitones, tones, thirds, fourths, fifths apart....

3. They can be blow/draw or draw/blow units depending on which way up the reed block is placed on the comb.

It goes on... once you start thinking about it, the sky's the limit! I want to try making bass and chord harps with them, because the reeds have such a rich, loud sound. It's an intriguing new area of exploration.
,
This sounds extremely interesting!

The utility of this concept seems to overlap that of the modular reedplates in you have been talking about, is this the case? From my limited experience of reed blocks I imagine that for high notes the chambers could easily become too large and suffer from Helmholtz resonance. Another drawback compared to modular reedplates is that the blocks come in pairs, so you can't really keep a full kit. You could, however, add a limited number of extra reeds and get a huge number of variations. As an example, with a Richter tuned harp and 10 extras 20 blocks all in all, would let you choose between Richter, Paddy, easy third(should be nice for a base harp!), country, natural minor, harmonic minor, Melody Maker, Todd Parrott's "flat tenth" tuning, the natural minor version Suzuki make, spiral tuning for first, second or twelfth position (starting on 2D), or any hybrid of these! (With flat sevenths and block 7 flipped upside down you suddenly get a major tonic chord playing in twelfth position, etc.)

I'm taking some accordion-reed harps, along with a lot of other oddities and one-offs, to next weekend's Harpmeet in Sweden. Before the festival I'm looking forward to spending a couple of days tinkering with Joel Andersson in his workshop, should be fun :-)
I'm really looking forward to see them! :D
triona wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:24 pm
Brendan wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:08 am
... Before the festival I'm looking forward to spending a couple of days tinkering with Joel Andersson in his workshop, should be fun :-)
Where is this? I will arrive at Varberg, Sweden in the early morning of wednesday 11th of September. Maybe I could pass along on my way to Norrköping.

Will Joel be at the harpmeet as well?
Joel lives in Höör in Skåne in the very south of Sweden. It's about 2.5 hours in the wrong direction from Varberg.

Joel is one of the organisers, so I suppose he'll attend :)
Edvin Wedin

EdvinW
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Location: Sweden

Re: Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by EdvinW » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:10 pm

Brendan wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:16 pm
@Crawford: Re. marketing, I think these things will only have niche appeal really. Not sure it would be worthwhile to sell them. At this stage it's just for fun :-)
You're probably right... :/ But if these accordion blocks are available for sell, maybe enough people would be interested in buying just the comb and assemble it themselves? Probably not, but still worth thinking about.
Edvin Wedin

CrawfordEs
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Re: Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by CrawfordEs » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:44 pm

I’d buy one. 😉

Alan
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Re: Accordion Reed Harmonica Experiments

Post by Alan » Fri Sep 06, 2019 3:06 pm

Me too!

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