Cutting reedplates, stretch harps

Anything apart from the two mainstream default harmonicas (Solo-tuned fully-valved chromatic, and un-valved Richter 10-hole diatonic). Alternate tunings, different construction, new functionality, interesting old designs, wishful-thinking... whatever!
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suyash4376
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Cutting reedplates, stretch harps

Post by suyash4376 » Fri May 03, 2024 11:39 pm

So, I have been messing with Brendan's alternate tuning Regular breath, which I find to be so amazing for all that I play. I can finally play my whole harmonica without needing overdraws and blow bends.

But, I was interested in making 11 hole harmonicas for this tuning, but this seems to be ridiculously difficult! I found a way to cut combs to accurate dimensions, but it is really hard to cut reedplates.

I was wondering if there was a cheaper way to cut reedplates accurately to make stretch harps. I spoke to Harpsmith about this, but I m pretty sure the tools he mentioned were not available to people in the 1980s.

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Brendan
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Re: Cutting reedplates, stretch harps

Post by Brendan » Sat May 04, 2024 10:16 am

Aha, the 11-Hole Stretch-Harp rides again!

It's good to see someone exploring the Stretch-Harp idea, and I'm glad you like my old Regular-Breath tuning from the 1980s.

I've been through quite a few changes of preferred tuning since then, tuning entire sets of harps to a new scale every 10 years or so and relearning licks etc. But recently I came back to it myself and tuned a couple of half-valved chromatics using a mix of Regular-Breath and PowerBender to try out. Having a greater appreciation of musical theory and using different positions now, I realise I didn't fully understand the potential of Regular-Breath back in my early days. I could have saved myself a lot of time and hassle if I'd stuck with it! Haha 😂

Regarding your query about slicing reedplates: are you talking about the cost of using parts from two harps, or the actual reedplate cutting process itself?

suyash4376
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Re: Cutting reedplates, stretch harps

Post by suyash4376 » Sun May 05, 2024 6:16 am

My fascination with Regular Breath mainly has to do with the fact that I can play the same notes tongue blocked and get a similar sound. I can also overblow all the holes and get a chromatic instrument, which has the same breath pattern throughout the harp.

Here is an example: All of what I play here is tongue blocked: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvC6xJH3paM

My original question is about slicing reed plates, how to do it with affordable tools? I don't want to buy very high-tech slicers etc to get the job done, but I do want a certain amount of DIY tools to be able to pull this job off.

I am also interested in knowing what tuning variations you are messing with about a Regular Breath and Powerbender mashup.

Here is the tuning I am using:

Holes: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Blow: C E G C E G A C E G
Draw: D G B D F A B D F A

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Brendan
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Re: Cutting reedplates, stretch harps

Post by Brendan » Sun May 05, 2024 8:56 am

How's $2.50 for affordable?
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A basic so-called "child's hacksaw" will work well to cut up reedplates, and is exactly what I used back in 1980 to make my 11-hole harps. Although I use more high-tech reedplate slicing methods these days, I still have one in my workshop and use it regularly for general tasks.

It's best to clamp the reedplate in a vise when sawing. Saw slightly wider than you need, then clean up the edges with a file.

Regular-Breath Tuning works fine with just 10 holes, as you're using now - so whether it's worth the time and hassle to make an 11-holer I don't know...

The version of Regular-Breath I prefer is to retune the F notes to F#. One more draw bend, one less overblow: that always has to be a good thing, in my opinion!

Here's a live track from 1984 playing Chuck Berry's "Maybelline" on one of my 11-hole harps in that version of Regular-Breath Tuning:

https://youtu.be/qrKoISqwmE8?si=5xZkdIWouQ-KYOO1

A way to get an extended range Regular-Breath without going to the trouble of making a Stretch-Harp is to use an existing longer diatonic harmonica.

12 hole options are Seydel's Solist, the old Hohner 364, and there are some new ones from China. JDR has a 12 hole I think, and Easttop has the Fala Blues:
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It's in Solo tuning, so you need to retune the lower octave and an upper C down to A.

I'm recently tuning some 12 hole harps in this mashup of Regular-Breath and PowerBender (blow note to the left):

CD. EG. GB. CD. EF#. GA. AB. CD. EF#. GA. BD. EG

Sometimes I tune the first G in hole 3 to A. It gives you strong bluesy keys in both G and D, plus plenty of chromaticism with draw bends.

The Lucky 13 is another good harp for modified extended tunings. If you use one in PowerBender you have most of the layout above, then just need to adjust some of the lower reeds to taste.

suyash4376
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Re: Cutting reedplates, stretch harps

Post by suyash4376 » Sun May 12, 2024 5:27 am

Thanks a lot Brendan, I was able to cut reedplates finally. Just gotta refine the technique.

Thanks!

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