Break In Period
I have what may be a deceptively simple question. Do harmonicas have a break in period? Here is why I am asking.
I've ben playing for two and one half years. I've only used Hohner sp20s. I think they are great harmonicas for players like myself.
I thought I would upgrade to a better instrument - I recently purchased 2 Seydel 1847's Silver. (They had a great sale at Guitar Center.) I think their sound is comparable to or maybe somewhat better than the Hohner's but I find I have to work harder to bend notes. It also take more air. The reeds are a bit less responsive at least compared to what I am used to.
I know it takes a while to get used to a new harmonica but do they have a break in period? Thanks for your advice in advice.
The harmonica breaks in the player :)
I say that only partially in jest. A player will always notice anything unusual or different about a new harp, and will get accustomed to, and exploit or compensate for those differences through the "breaking in" period.
The mechanical engineer types who are attracted to harmonica playing insist that there is no scientific basis for "breaking in," while some have suggested that gentle playing of a new harmonica helps the crystals in the metal to get in alignment - but I don't know of any published studies that support this.
If you've used only one other model up until now, it's understandable that you'd notice a difference. The steel reeds in the 1847 do respond a bit differently from brass reeds, and Seydel has done a remarkable job of making them as similar as possible to brass reeds in dimensions, air requirements, and bending abilities.To me the 1847 does require a bit more of the player but repays that effort in sound.
One thing you might try if you feel comfortable wielding a screwdriver: Take the harp apart and then reassemble it. Taking apart and then reassembling your harmonica does more than satisfy curiosity. It can also correct any misalignment or loose assembly that can occur either in the factory or during the long shipping process due to vibration and container impacts.
Always disassemble harmonicas over a table under good lighting. Save the screws and any other small parts in a jar lid or something that will keep them from rolling off into parts unknown.
Look at the reedplates and reeds, and pay attention to the gaps at the reed tips. Each tip gap should be a bit more than the thickness of the reed tip, and the gaps should get lower as the reeds get shorter. A gap that noticeably disrupts this progression may also be a reed that is either breathy (too big a gap) or balky (too low). Chances are that the gaps are good, though.
Once you've had a look, reassemble the harp, keeping the reedplates and comb in alignment. Tighten each screw until finger tight - until it resists the finger tips.
If this whets your curiosity, check out Kinya's tech column here. My book, Harmonica For Dummies, also has a section on basic repair and maintenance.
Hello Winslow and list, there is a break in for all metal alloys. The grains in the metal work harden as they are used this is why metal gets harder and stiffer at the place were it is bent at. The other thing that happens is "Creep" this property lets the atoms slip and slide along there axis, this is why you plink the reeds after they have been gaped. This is the reason why you let the harp set for a few days and then go back and check, the reeds move. Now I have simplified this but this is a property of metals.