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The need for valves.

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:42 pm
by Nick
I kind of know this subject has been done ad nauseum but I need some answers before I start pulling valves off.
This is my theory, a 10 hole diatonic has 2 reeds per chamber and generally doesn't have values other than to help bends in one way or another and the play perfectly fine.
Chromatics have 2 valves per chamber and are either fully or half valved because, as I have read, they are needed to keep the thing air tight.
The only difference I can see is the chromatic has the multiple part mouth piece.
Now, if the mouth piece is as air tight as it can be is there another reason for the valves?
I've recently got a Seydel Sampler configured to my tunings and half valved and the valves are driving me mad sticking and flapping around in there.
I can't imagine there's much air getting out through the mouth piece and I've sealed it with vaseline.
So can I take these valves off? Yes I'll lose the inflections I can put on the blow notes but I can live with that.

Cheers Nick

Re: The need for valves.

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:23 am
by Brendan
In my experience Nick, it's best to take valves off standard Solo-tuned chromatics in a selective manner. The valves that cause sticking problems are the outside ones, due to condensation from your breath on the reedplates holding the valves down with capillary attraction.

Trimming the outside valves right to the end of the slot will help, and tapering the valve tip also. Try that first.

But if your chrom is very airtight and you want to try removing valves, the most useful ones to get rid of are the outside valves above the odd-numbered holes 1-3-5-7-9-11. That will allow you to bend those draw reeds a semitone. You could remove the other outside valves if they are causing a problem, but they won't give you any extra bends.

If you do remove the even-numbered hole valves, be careful not to stress those reeds with involuntary bending, as you could crack them quite quickly.

While you can remove inside valves, I wouldn't recommend it. There is no advantage to be gained, and generally they don't cause trouble.

Re: The need for valves.

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:18 pm
by harpdog123
I have a half-valved Seydel chromatic with a mouthpiece assembly of my own design that is extremely airtight and I experimented with taking the valves off inside the comb. There was quite a drop in volume on the blow reeds and opening the gaps in them did not help. I've never tried this but some people say that waxing the reed plate with Johnson's paste wax causes the moisture to bead and keep the valves from sticking from capillary action. Seydel and Hohner both sell a cheap Chinese chromatic with no valves that works amazingly well. I've often wondered why this design works with no valves. One difference is that every reed has it's own chamber. Danny G at sells a single layer valve that some players say has less issues with sticking than two layer valves.

David Pearce

Re: The need for valves.

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 3:38 pm
by triona
Just try and remove them.
In the case that you are not satisfied with the resukt, you can replace them again.
Seydel offers sets of valves as a sparepart. You can even chose the improved ones, they have since new. ... re/Ventile ... rrency=EUR
They have a price list in $ as well and they ship worldwide.

I have heard, that Hohner does this as well.
Just have a look on your own.

You can fix valves for replacment or changing when worn with a tiny drop of instant glue ("Sekundenkleber" in German). I mean the clear liquid one on acrylic base - I don't know the name and which brands there are available in UK, IE, US, CA, AU etc. Tip glue as used by nail artists is basically the same and will do as well. From Seydel you even can order their special glue. But most probably that is basically the same too.

You just must avoid that there is getting glue to places where it should not be, like the space between a reed and the reedplate or into the channel or into the mouthpiece etc. Therefore use only a tiny drop of glue for each valve, that there will not be too much excess of glue. You must press the glued valve at once and strongly with a finger or like, after the application of the glue and having put the valve precisely in line.

dear greetings

Re: The need for valves.

Posted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:11 pm
by Nick
Thanks for all the advice here,
There's obviously something that goes on inside a chromatic that causes problems when you remove all the valves and they also seem to affect the volume.
My Sampler is half valved already so what I'm going to do is replace the existing valves with ultrasuede ones like I have on my Promasters.
They work really nicely and don't stick much even when cold.

The problem I have is most of my practice is done in my van to and from work, I have a really nice spot on top of a hill where I can pull over and get half an hour undisturbed, home is pretty small so it's a bit unfair to practice when my better half is in.
The van is a bit cold( November through to May) even when the heater is turned right up and so keeping a chromatic warm is pretty much impossible. I have a 12v heat pad now which helps.

I'll remove the existing valves carefully so I can reuse them if necessary. I'll keep you posted ☺

Re: The need for valves.

Posted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:41 am
by harpdog123
You can't use ultrasuede valves. They work in diatonics because they only lie on the bottom reed plate and gravity keeps them laying flat. They aren't stiff enough to hang upside down like they do in chromatics.

Re: The need for valves.

Posted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:54 am
by Nick
Ok I've got what the problem is now, I've been looking at my diatonics and not looked at how the chromatic is set out.
Thanks for the help, I'll persevere with it. Maybe I'm being too impatient.

Re: The need for valves.

Posted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:17 am
by triona
I think keeping the harp warm should help quite much. If you put it into your heating box when leaving the house, it should be prepared enough for playing and proper function of the valves, until you have reached your hill.

But you should watch, that the temperatur in the heating box does not exceed about 40°C (centigrades). That would not be good either for the harp and also can cause the danger of fire, depending on what material the box is consisting of.

For any other one who might have problems with harps too cold:
For building a heated harp box - mostly out of a usual harp case or a briefcase, laptop case or alike, depending on how many harps you want to keep in it - the best suitable component is a heating element from a seat heating, which nowadays occures in many cars.
Their advantages are:
1. running on 12 volt DC,
2. small,
3. not too hot,
4. quite easy to get (car wrecking the cheapest, car shops for a little bit more).

This can also be usefull for some professionals, who must have their harps optimally prepared for a gig precisely in time, and who might have to wait for the gig in some cold backstage rooms, where they have no chance to play it warm either. The problem is aware on open air gigs in winter (christmas market, carnival or alike) or street music as well.

Keeping the harp in a pocket near to the body (trousers, jacket) when going outside in winter can be helpful too. It is fine with bluesharps or alike, but might be a little bit uncomfortable with bigger harps, not to talk about some more than one harp.

dear greetings

Re: The need for valves.

Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:14 pm
by winslowyerxa
I find valve-less chromatics like the ones mentioned unbearably leaky and poor in volume and overall power of sound. Putting each reed in its own chamber doesn't solve the problem, either.

I remember discovering half-valving as a teenager - Gee, what happens if I pull off the outside valve? Cool - the draw notes bend like a diatonic! What if I pull off the inside valves? Damn, this thing leaks like a sieve!