There are few reed instruments that are as fun or convenient as the harmonica. Harmonicas are small, easy to learn and play, and they are easy to fit into a wide array of musical settings. And, best of all, they are affordable. It is one of the few musical instruments that you can pick up and almost immediately get to playing. But, like any other musical instruments, harmonicas sometimes require special attention and maintenance.
How To Replace Hohner Reed Plates
One common repair that many harmonicas will need eventually is a reed replacement. While this may seem like a difficult project to attempt, if you have a Hohner harmonica (and chances are, you do) it is actually very easy with just a little preparation. This guide will help you learn how to replace your harmonica reeds, and get you back out there playing as soon as possible!
What Are Reeds?
Since harmonicas have the reputation of being a relatively simple instrument, many people don’t actually know how reed harmonicas work. The way that harmonicas produce sound is similar to instruments like clarinets and saxophones; they all rely on a wooden reed that produces sound when air is blown into the instrument.
In harmonicas, reeds are typically stacked on top of one another underneath a reed plate, with half the reeds responding to blowing, and the other half responding to suction. The vibration of the reeds caused by your breath produces the harmonicas signature sounds.
Since harmonicas cannot produce sound without reeds, it becomes crucial that you replace them as soon as they start to show signs of failure; without high quality, fresh reeds, your harmonica will not sound good at all. But why do reeds break? There are a number of possible reasons.
Why Do Reeds Need To Be Replaced?
There are a number of reasons that you may need to replace your reeds. The most common is wear and tear; this is the case with all reed instruments, and harmonicas are no exception.
After long periods of extended use, often times wooden reeds will simply start to break down; this is a result of using natural materials. Wooden reeds will dry out and need to be replaced eventually. Sometimes this can happen over time, and sometimes it is caused by extra stress somehow, other times it is due to an inexpensive harmonica.
Luckily though, since harmonicas house all the reeds together, replacing worn out reeds is relatively simple. If you have a Hohner harmonica, which is likely considering their popularity, all you need to do is purchase a set of Hohner special 20 replacement reed plates. Once you do that, replacement and installation can be done in a flash and you’ll be right back to playing.
Where To Get Replacement Reeds
The big question is: where do you buy something like that? There are so many musical supply stores that it can be difficult to track down a good supplier for harmonica reeds and other supplies. For something as important as this, it is best to go straight to the source and purchase your reed plates from the Hohner website.
This will ensure that the reed plates you buy will be compatible with your harmonica, as well as of the top quality; when you buy from a third party retailer, it is hard to be certain that what you buy will work with your needs. But if you get your reed plates from the Hohner websites, you can be sure that what you buy will serve your needs.
How To Replace Reeds
Many people think that instrument repair is difficult, and rightly so; for many instruments, actually getting in and fixing things is no easy task. But for harmonicas, it is something that most people can do on their own with a little research. But it’s important that you have some idea what you’re doing- a little research goes a long way when it comes to harmonica repair (1). And as with anything nowadays, this information is only a Google search away.
If you look for reed installation tutorials on Google or Youtube, you will find a number of simple tutorials from qualified professionals that will get you on your way to installing new reeds in your harmonica. Tracking down a good tutorial isn’t always easy, though, so for your convenience, here are a few videos or websites that will help you get started:
This is a detailed description, with pictures, of the tools and process needed to successfully replace a reed. The visual aid is really helpful, especially for harmonica players who are not as experienced with repair and maintenance. The instructions are detailed enough that you can do the job without the visual aids, but a visual reference never hurts.
If you need a more totally visual experience, a video tutorial might be a good idea. This will allow you to follow along with your own repairs as you go along. This video also offers two distinct methods, so if you find one works better than the other, you will be able to use the method that works best for you.
Hohner Harmonica Service Set
Sometimes it his helpful to have a ready made kit for any repairs you might need to do; once again, Hohner has you covered. Their Harmonica Service Set has everything you need for harmonica repair. The kit includes a special tuning scraper, a reed lifting blade and reed wrench, a fine tuning file, a hook tool, a slot and Phillips screwdriver, a set of valves and glue, and a cleaning cloth. If you need to do every day maintenance and repair, chances are, this kit will have you covered. It is not cheap, but you can be sure that all the tools are high quality and built to last; this is a one time purchase that will cover almost any repairs you will need to do.
Harmonicas are famous for their user friendliness; they are easy to learn and easy to play. They are also very easy to repair, if you know what you are doing. Reed repair is one of the easiest and most common repairs that you will eventually need to do. Although it sometimes can seem intimidating- after all, taking apart your instrument is isn’t always easy- but it is actually a much easier process than you may think. The information in this guide gives you everything you need to know to get started on reed replacement. Once you have your replacement reed plates and your service set, just load up a good tutorial and before you know it, you will be back to playing in no time. Hopefully this guide was helpful- sound off in the comments with any advice or questions!