Reed Adjustment Advice and Technique

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    So as I mentioned in another thread, the low F on my red Hohner Cassotto 26 will choke if I blow too hard. I took it apart and found that the reed was considerably lower in the reed chamber opening than the other reeds. Actually, there was another reed that was pretty low too, but that note was considerably more responsive.

    I believe I need to adjust the reed so it is higher up like the other reeds.

    I have damaged two reed in the past on other melodicas, learning the important lesson of making adjustments in moderation and in increments. But I found that the control that I had by bending the reed tip (or body) up with a tool to affect a change was unpredictable. So my idea (very similar to Adam’s suggestion of using a feeler gauge) was to use a piece of tough paper and slide it under the reed. (The paper I used was special paper that is waterproof and tear proof. It almost feels as tough as plastic and is just slightly thicker that normal copier paper.) I could fold the paper to make it thicker if needed. I had a good tactile connection with the reed and could make adjustments in increments and back it off anytime I wanted to check the results. The paper seemed to support the tip of the reed as well. A photo is below.

    Maybe you guys are already doing this or maybe this is a standard technique and I am just figuring this out on my own. I don’t know. It seems like one obvious good technique to adjust a reed when it must be raised up.

    Sometimes the back of the reed is at the right height, but the reed bends down from the middle to the tip. I this case, the paper seems to provide good support as I hold the middle part of the reed down with my finger, while I gently lift the front half of the reed up. I am going very slow and still do not have the F note sounding at high volume, but I don’t want to over bend it.

    Sorry for the low quality photo. My camera was set to VGA size.


    Alan Brinton

    I use a plastic toothpick (Doctor’s Brushpicks, to be exact), on the theory that exerting the upward force with something bendable cushions the upward force on the reed. The toothpick is more flexible at one end than at the other. The paper you’re using sounds good, though the method (which I have also used) may threaten the most vulnerable and unsupportable part of the reed, i.e. where it is attached to the plate. But at least the paper is flexible and distributes the pressure in relation to how you manipulate it.

    My usual method has also been to gently repeat the upper motion as you describe. The worst thing, it seems, is bending the reed back and forth at its base, thereby producing metal fatigue. How about instead fixing your apparatus in place with a mild upward tension on the reed and leaving it there to do its work over time?

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