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The jew's harp improving

          The jew's harp improving. Altai jew's harps which are produced by Vladimir and Pavel Potkinyi in big volume are thought to be the most popular jew's harps in Russia. The quality is good in spite of the fact that they are made in big volume. However you can obtain producing much more qualitative and abundant sounding having updated these jew's harps. Besides you can do a set of jew's harps patterned to different notes. On a photo you cab see a chromatic set of 16 jew's harps. They are patterned through a half of a tone from А till С. The reed of many low instruments (from А till Е) is hardened by a solder. Medium jew's harps' working surfaces (from F till G) are just updated. And the gap between arms and the reed is decreased. The tip of the reed at the loop area lightened for more exact setting to the note. The frame and the reed of high instruments (from G# till C) were made shorter for increasing of pitch of the jew's harp tone. The article will describe the making of the most difficult variant with a short-cut frame. If you need just to improve sounding of a standard jew's harp you can just use this technique with no reduction process of the frame and the reed. While working you need to focus your attention on decreasing of the gap between the arms and the reed. And also on sharping of working edges.

We beat the reed out of the body. For this we grip the reed root in a vice like on the photo. So for this we beat the reed out by light kicks.

We measure the length of the reed which produces the necessary note. We clasp the reed for some time at the body by a manual vice with thin lips. So producing a sound we estimate its pitch by a special tuner for setting of musical instruments.

Having established the reed length we reduce the frame till the necessary length.

It is a very important level to turn the planes of the arms with the use of needle files and an emery stick in such a way as to get a perfectly straight and sharp working edge. The edges of the reed are also to be sharp.

We put the reed on the frame. We harden the reed knocking the steel wire of 2mm in diameter placed on the top of the body frame by a hummer.

It is necessary to make the reed fixture more reliable. So you can just a bit beat it into like on this photo.

The most important and difficult level is regulation of the gap between the frame and the reed. If it is symmetrical you need just to clasp the frame. If the gap is more from one or the other side you can do this way.

You need to get the following result. An updated jew's harp is on the left, a standard Pavel Potkin's jew's harp is on the right.


© Vladimir Markov 2009, this article translated by Natalia Ivanitsa