MODULAR-REED HARMONICA - Released!

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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Re: MODULAR-REED HARMONICA - Released!

Post by Brendan » Sat May 07, 2022 8:26 am

Thanks for your thoughts Rishio. Ill pass your recommendation to David, who does the charts.

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triona
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Re: MODULAR-REED HARMONICA - Released!

Post by triona » Sat May 07, 2022 3:33 pm

rishio wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 3:54 am
I do have a couple of questions.
Me too.

And btw @Brendan: this is a longtime experience report as well.


Here are some answers to rishios questions and my own questions in addition:
rishio wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 3:54 am
- Does the adhesive wear down after a few times of taking it apart, causing the seal to leak?
Yes, it does.

The adhesive power is ceasing slowly when the reeds are changed several times.

But the bigger problem with the seals is, that they are very sensitive to mechanical damage by tools when the reed is removed for a change. The reeds tend to stick quite heavily some times. And the seal is highly prone to get nearly unevitably scratched by the try to lift the reed with an orange stick, toothpick, tweezers, small screwdriver or alike. This is not really avoidable by even the most cautious operating.

This problem is enlarged by the fact, that the comb is not massive all over with a thoroughly plain surface. Instead it has some cavities respectively recesses on its surface. I.e. the tighting surface of the comb does not cover its surface wholly. It is quite narrowly limited to the minimal edge of the holes in the comb where the reeds are, and on the outer edge of the whole comb, and around its screwholes, i.e. just only around them. If the tool for the removal of the reed is hitting the seal at one of those recesses, the seal inevitably will be damaged. (See also my suggestion in Question 6.)

Here 2 pictures to illustrate this:

Image

Image

the red marking highlights the damage by the tool.
The yellow marking highlights the part of the comb's surface which has contact to the seal.




My 1st question:
Are the seals available individually as a spare part?
And what would be the price, if they are?

rishio wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 3:54 am
- what happens to the adhesive if it gets wet?
I could not observe any issue about this. To my experience they have a good resistence against wetness. And I am playing the harp quite often from time to time. And I am used to play it very heavily polyphonically tongueblocked with drone and constant legato, often with up to 8 or 9 holes in the mouth at the same time, preferrably at high speed. I.e. there is a relatively high input of wetness with my playing, be it condesation or spit.

rishio wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 3:54 am
- For alternative tunings ... does it come equal tempered (The website says tempered, but I’m not sure if that means equal tempered, which is what I prefer
I am sorry that I must say: They are not really precisely fine tuned out of the box from the beginning at all. There had been differences to the target up to 30 or 50 cents on some of the reeds, be it too sharp or too flat. There has been the need of quite a lot of retuning for correction. This was clearly audible when playing. At least this was with my batch (from the ß-test). I do not know if this has improved in the meantime.

And as well I have experienced that the reeds do not keep pitch stably very long. (Are they made by Kongsheng like the combs and the covers? But that is the same issue which I have with my Lucky13s by Easttop.) They need retuning to the right pitch from time to time. I compare this to the steel reeds by Seydel. Seydel's former brass reeds were not better as well. I always use a digital tuner to control the pitch when I hear any dissonances coming up.

rishio wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 3:54 am
... I am sure as hell interested in this direction and it gives me hope that I’ll be able to experiment with variations of my favorite tuning. It would get even more interesting if eventually we could have different options with comb and cover design. I really love the idea of being able to build a custom harp buy being able to choose all the components modularly.
Me too. I have planned to buy at least one more complete modular harp, if it is still available. So I would have 2 to compare different tunings directly without changing reeds in between.

But even more I am interested to purchase a larger assortment of additional single reeds independent from a purchase of a whole harp. Just I still have not really understood the logic of the selector at Brendan's website - beven not of its new and apparently improved version. :oops: :( And this selector seems to me not to be prepared to assort an order of single reeds independent from a purchase of a whole harp. At least I did not find out this.


My 2nd Question:
Maybe I should contact Brendan or David by telephone to specify my problem with the selctor and detailled questions about this individually? But maybe others have the same problems with this too?

This is concerning mainly the selection criteria between front mounted (FM) and rear mounted (RM) relative to their functional differences. As far as I have understood up till now, RM reeds are more versatile, as they can be used as a blow reed and as a draw reed as well by just flipping them around and moving them to nearly any position (hole) on the harp, be it on the top or on the bottom reed plate.


3rd question:
Considering this, what is the benefit of choosing FM-reeds at all?
Is it only the fact, that there is additionally available a reed tuned F3, which seems not to be available as RM?


4th question
Is it planned to offer reeds with a lower pitch than F3 (FM) or G3 (RM) in the future?

rishio wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 3:54 am
... if eventually we could have different options with comb and cover design.
5th question:
Concerning the covers:
I am satisfied with the design i.e. the shape of the covers fully.

What there is not yet fully well-engineered: The red comb-shaped plastic parts inside the covers that keep the reeds properly in place is tending to be sqeezed, when properly mounted. This can cause some deformation of its geometry, which can cause some obstruction to the free oscillation of the reeds. (See pictures) It is quite difficult to mount the covers precisely to avoid this anyway, which often requires several tries to succeed.

Image

Image

This shows how it should be, after a correction:

Image


I do not have an idea how to solve this issue yet. And I am aware, that more shape stability of these red parts and more slender dimensions (of their vertical pieces which hold the reeds in their place) for better prevention of reed obstruction are counterproductive features of construction and performance.

6th question:

Concerning the comb:
A solid polyamide comb with fully plain surface all over (like f.expl. the white ones in the Seydel 1847 Noble) would be desirable. This would surely solve the issues with damages of the seal by tools when changing reeds. (See above). But I am not sure, if this is to realize as a lipped comb with reasonable production effort, i.e. at a reasonable prize.


One more final question:
Would you appreciate if I would publish here some relevant excerpts of my ß-test report then?



dear greetings
triona
Last edited by triona on Sun May 08, 2022 4:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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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triona
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Re: MODULAR-REED HARMONICA - Released!

Post by triona » Sun May 08, 2022 4:12 pm

And one more question I forgot yesterday:

Did you find a good way to label the single reeds permanently without scratches or other damages to their surface which could tarnish the air-tightness?
How are single reeds labeled for distribution now?

I did it like this up till now:

Image

Image

Image


The little trays for keeping single reeds you have introduced in the meantime are a good choice as an alternative to my pillboxes.


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: MODULAR-REED HARMONICA - Released!

Post by Brendan » Tue May 10, 2022 12:36 pm

Whew, lots of detailed points on the Modular-Reed Harmonica there Triona! Thanks for your observations. I'll try and address the points here:

ADHESIVE GASKET
It's only meant to have a light tack to stop reeds falling out when the harp is disassembled. Even if the adhesion gets less with multiple reed changes, it should fulfil that function fine for a long time. No one else so far has complained about it, but we could make replacement gaskets available if the demand warrants it.

As for piercing it when removing the reeds, try using a screwdriver instead of a sharp object. You can also push the reeds out from the front holes if you prefer.

REED TUNING
For the fully assembled harps in the current Limited Edition batch I'm fine tuning them carefully (unlike the Beta test versions, which were reeds from stock). Customers have commented on the nice tuning and very good playability. As for the spare reeds, I have no idea how they will be used so they can't be fine tuned according to a particular scale. I just check they are in the zone of 0-20 cents sharp. In my opinion every harmonica player should know how to gap and fine-tune their own reeds, and I've made a video showing how to do it. So I don't think I can do more on this.

REED PITCH STABILITY
No one else has compained the reeds don't keep their tuning, and I haven't experienced any problem myself. Kongsheng makes good string reeds from phosphor bronze which, in my opinion, is more durable than either brass or stainless steel. So frankly I don't agree with your criticism here.

REAR-MOUNTED vs FRONT-MOUNTED REEDS
The difference is clearly explained on the Modular-Reed webpages, and the selector gives you the option to choose what you prefer. In practice I find that 99% of customers are going with standard reed directions: front-mounted blow reeds on top of the comb, and rear-mounted draw reeds on the bottom of the comb. I have explained in text and videos that they don't need to stick with this conventional setup, but probably 90% of orders are in Richter tuning with normal reed setup.

I find that rather surprising (and a bit boring TBH), considering the amazing flexibility of options the Modular-Reed harmonica offers, but there you go: that's what people seem to want. Fair enough: we give them what they ordered.

But if you have any suggestions to improve the Reed Selector, certainly explain it to David. If he can help, I'm sure he will.

LOWER PITCHED REEDS
I have some interesting new directions planned for the modular-reed concept later in the year, and I'm sure they can accommodate lower-pitched reeds. F3 is the lowest pitch made by Kongsheng in the big batch of reedplates I ordered originally, so that's what we are offering for the initial release. But I guess could slice up lower reeds of other brands for special orders. What do you have in mind?

COVER BRACE
You have an early version of the Cover Brace. The more recent ones don't have the rubber foam. We haven't had complaints about fitting for them so far.

COMB SELECTION
As explained on the webpage, part of the reason I chose the Kongsheng Amazing 20 as the base harp was because of its long comb chambers. These allow more options when moving reeds around the harp. It's a copy of the Suzuki Harpmaster/Bluesmaster comb, which Dabell also use. Seydel and Hohner lipped combs are also made with injection moulding, so have the same type of non-solid comb tines. They also have shorter reed chambers.

A solid custom lipped comb could be nice, as you suggest. However it would cost a lot more to get made, so the product price would be higher.

Thanks again for your constructive criticisms; I hope that's answered most of your queries! Yes, please show us your test results if you wish :-)

Dorothy
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Re: MODULAR-REED HARMONICA - Released!

Post by Dorothy » Fri Aug 05, 2022 6:03 pm

First, thank-you to everyone who contributed to the creation of this modular reed harmonica! I love it! I think the black metallic sticker on the back on the black comb is a tasteful touch. I'm excited to see what modular reed harmonica models may come out next!

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Brendan
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Re: MODULAR-REED HARMONICA - Released!

Post by Brendan » Sat Aug 06, 2022 6:20 am

Thanks for your enthusiasm for the modular reed concept Dorothy! It's always encouraging to get feedback like that for an idea one has put a huge amount of time and effort into 🙂

Though I started with 10-hole harps, I see a lot of potential for using modular reeds to make many other kinds of harmonicas, and creating new ones altogether! I have several designs in the works, and hope to get them made and tested before the year is out.

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