Reply To: Reed wear and bending


Hi Jerry,

I have damaged many reeds by blowing too hard when bending a note. When damaged, a reed will play nearly in tune at very soft levels, but as soon as you approach anything near normal playing volume, the reed sounds flat.

I love to bend notes so it is a good thing I play inexpensive melodicas. 🙂

Lower notes reeds are much more susceptible to damage than higher note reeds.

Lower notes are easier to bend than higher notes. Though higher notes can be bent using special techniques.

Notes are normally bent by blowing hard, though I have figured out how to bend notes without blowing hard using certain melodicas with a slight modification.

If you blow just hard enough, assist the reed with some centrifugal forces and doppler effect by waving the instrument around, and add in some spiritual connection to the after life of a great sax player :-), you can get a reasonable bend without damaging the reed.

I am hoping I can fix my damaged reeds through tuning. However, an experienced harp player posted on this site that once damaged, you can fix the reed through tuning, but the fix is short-lived. Ultimately, the reed will go out of tune again quickly. I have not confirmed that yet with my own experience, but it sounds right. One of the these winter days when the snow flies (if it ever does this year in New England), I am going to spend an entire Saturday tuning my instruments.

I would also like to understand the mechanism of the damage. I am in agreement with Kevin’s hypothesis. I think once the reed is bent too far, structural damage is incurred at the base of the reed.



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