Setting the reed-offset



SEYDEL Soundcheck Vol. 03 - SETUP PACK - all you need for reed adjustment - detailed tutorial provided on the 2 GB USB-stick

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Setting the reed-offset

Definition of reed-offset

The opening of the tip of the reed relative to the air-slot is called the reed-offset.

Without enough reed-offset at the tip end of the reed the air cannot produce a sufficient negative pressure on the inner side that is needed to draw it into the slot. If the air velocity is high enough the reed is moved into the slot and springs back upwards and the cycle starts again. Without a sufficient reed-offset the reed "sticks" in the slot and no sound is produced.

The "right" reed-offset depends on your personal playing style and the factory setting is not automatically the optimum for all players. So it makes sense to learn how to adjust reeds by yourself.

Especially spare reedplates need some adjustments of the reed-offset to make the reeds equally responsive! We suggest to set up the reed-offset with the reedplates unmounted. Fine adjustment can be done with the reedplates mounted onto the comb - then it is possible to check the individual reed behaviour.


>Hands-on video about changing reedplates


Tools for working on reeds: SEYDEL setup-tool and feeler Gauge

For increasing the reed gaps (= reed-offset) we suggest to use the feeler gauge, which is included in the >professional toolset and/or the >SEYDEL setup tool (alternative "tools" that work ok for the moment are a toothpick and a piece of paper).

To lower the reed offset, you can simply use your fingernails or the slim end of the setup-tool.







If the reed is bent back and forth the pitch will be changed: the pitch is lowered for a few cents and re-tuning the reed is advisable.


>Hands-on video about tuning harmonicas


On the other hand the tuning procedure can change the reed-offset, especially if you tune the inner reeds (blow plate on Blues models) without disassembling the reedplates.


Rules of thumb

An exact measure for the "right" reed-offset cannot be named because it strongly depends on the personal playing style and can only be found by with some experience and experimentation.

Rule 1:
A rough initial measure for the reed offset is the thickness of the reed thickness. In general lower notes (= longer reeds) have to be set with a larger reed offset than higher pitched reed (shorter reeds).

Rule 2:
The more playing pressure is applied by a player (sometimes equivalents the player's adrenaline level), the bigger the reed-offset must be adjusted.

Rule 3:
Snap (pling) the reed after every setting steps with the feeler gauge to let the reed force "settle".

Rule 4:
The shape of a reed should be more or less straight , but note, that a slight curve could result in a better reed response.


Reed offset too high or too low?

To make the reed more responsive even if a player plays with high playing pressures the reed-offset has to be increased. Nevertheless the reed should work as well with less air pressure.

If the reed-offset it too big the reed does not respond well (fast) and much more breath is need to produce a note. The aim is to find a flat setting that makes it possible to play hard enough and without too much of air-loss. 


Decreasing the reed-offset

To lower the reed-offset you can use your finger nails (refer to the photo on the left). Lift the reed carfully afterwards by using the feel gauge and snap it a few times so that the reed finds its new zero-position. If set too low the reed response is bad even with medium playing pressures (slow volume development) or no sound is produced at all.









Increasing the reed-offset

Using the feeler gauge (or a piece of paper) the reed-offset carefully can be increased. Be careful, that the bow isn't starting directly in front of the foot of the reed, because it will break sooner then. If the reedplate is still mounted you can use the setup-tool (or a toothpick) to press against the reed from the inside in order to fine-adjust the offset. The "bending-area" should not be applied too close to the rivet end where the reed is too stiff to be bent. At the same time the reed should be kept straight without creating too much of a curved reed profile.


Tip: More short-workshops (sound examples included) can be found in >this video.

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