Author Topic: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note  (Read 744 times)

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Offline Ed McCullough

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Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« on: March 01, 2023, 04:01:44 PM »
  I reduce air loss in the mouthpiece assembly by thickening the slide. Some people use tape. I use paint, which allows me to adjust the thickness of the layer. This gives faster response from the reeds when I blow and draw.
  The last harmonica that I adjusted with paint gives only sharp, hard articulations when I play. Making a soft articulation is nearly impossible. I have had to play my other harmonicas when I want a soft, gentle feeling in the music. Yesterday I realized that thinning the paint on the slide just a little bit will allow this harmonica to play as sweetly as my other harmonicas.
  I'll see if I can find a round tuit soon.

Offline Age

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2023, 06:59:07 PM »
Ha Ha! Just bought some gray paint TODAY and play on trying it on a Chrometta 10 slide (now that the weather is warming up enough to do it outside so I don't stink up the house with paint smell) I'll let ya know, Edward! :)

Offline John Broecker

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2023, 10:42:15 PM »
Some paints contain LEAD, which is toxic.

I'd never consider using paint on a harp slide.
Or, any making other home-made alterations,
of fabric or liquid, to the slide.

If the slide leaks air, tighten the mouthpiece
a little, or play quieter.

Use of a CX-12 type harmonica will make the
sound more air-tight.

Your results may vary from mine.

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB
« Last Edit: March 01, 2023, 10:45:22 PM by John Broecker »
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Offline Age

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2023, 12:48:22 AM »
Nah, I've done all that stuff for over sixty years, so now I'll let the young folks worry about that stuff. If I see that paint actually works, I'll just look for something "water based" or "food grade" or anything else I can't actually taste or smell.

Offline Ed McCullough

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2023, 12:51:10 AM »
I never use paint with lead in it. I am sure finding new paint containing lead would b e very difficult..

I'm not afraid of fumes that come off my slides a couple hours after I paint them. I'm not afraid of the SMALL amount of paint filings I might ingest. Walking through a newly painted house or subjecting myself to the solvents in the air of an automobile repair shop would make me shiver with fear much more than painting my slides would.

Offline streetlegal

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2023, 05:45:29 AM »
I think reed response has a lot to do with how much air pressure/flow the player supplies to the reed. Now on a 'leakier' chromatic getting a 'softer' reed response may be somewhat easier than on a 'tighter' chromatic, because the air flow is more diffused within the instrument.

But it should still be possible for air flow/pressure to be refined on the tighter chromatic by adjustments in player embouchure. This is where a flexible connection between the lips, particularly the upper lip and the mouthpiece is very useful. By relaxing the upper lip, some air can escape, so there is a reduction in the flow and pressure activating the reed. This is the technique I use as a pucker player, but I can't see why it wouldn't equally work with tongue block.

Offline brorat

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2023, 10:02:57 AM »
I never use paint with lead in it. I am sure finding new paint containing lead would b e very difficult..

I'm not afraid of fumes that come off my slides a couple hours after I paint them. I'm not afraid of the SMALL amount of paint filings I might ingest. Walking through a newly painted house or subjecting myself to the solvents in the air of an automobile repair shop would make me shiver with fear much more than painting my slides would.

I agree, Ed.  Unless you're planning to paint a bridge, I'm not certain where you'd even find lead paint today!  They even make paints that are designed to contain "old lead paint" to keep it from being a danger to occupants.  On the other hand, it is quite easy to buy paint that is designed to be safe on food containers, etc.  I bought some to use to paint an old high chair we used for the grandkids.  It would be very easy to find safe paint to use on a slide, and I wouldn't have an issue with that.
“Just here to harp on chromatics!”

Offline Lockjaw Larry

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2023, 10:32:39 AM »
I have been sealing most of my wood combed projects with spray paint for several years with no ill effects after they thoroughly dried.  Lacquer is my favorite but it does take some time to completely degas.  BTW, it seals “perfect” for me.
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Offline Age

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2023, 01:05:50 PM »
When I was a kid, my dad did everything including painting cars and stuff. We used "red, orange, and grey-lead" and for just about anything (especially machinery, truck frames and stuff) I basically grew up on the stuff. That's probably why I get boarderline "triggered" by lead-o-phobic folks. ;D ;D Heck, I yoosta carve lead for fun, melt it down and mold it, and even chew on it. Even used lead for body work when I was a teen ager, before Bond-tight/Bondo was introduced. 

I also always had mercury in my pants pockets in elementary school. (Dad would bring mercury home from work whenever I ran out of it, cuz I played with that stuff too) Heck, my first car was a Mercury cuz I grew up riding in them ;D)
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Offline Ed McCullough

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2023, 01:29:26 PM »
StreetLegal:
    If you get REALLY good at eliminating leaks from a chromatic harmonica, you will have a harmonica that plays staccato notes extremely easily, and that does not play soft articulations, especially when a note's air direction is different from the previous note's air direction.     Sometimes I wants notes to be staccato and sometimes I do not. Mixing staccato and non-staccato notes in the same music line makes more interesting music.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2023, 10:10:03 PM by Ed McCullough »

Offline Ed McCullough

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2023, 10:04:07 PM »
Good gapping of freeds is a major factor affecting reed response. Reed gaps should be adjusted before tuning and adjusting thickness of slides.
--- I am not a guru of chromatic harmonicas, but I have learned some things. Many thanks to others here who wrote their knowledge here.

Offline streetlegal

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2023, 10:45:23 AM »
I agree with you on airtightness being better than leakiness in terms of achieving a fast reed response. But having got there, there is a lot of variation in reed response that might be achieved by player technique - rather than reversing your good work on the slide 8).

Offline Ed McCullough

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2023, 11:59:53 PM »
StreetLegal,
--I bust my butt on my technique in order to give hard, sharp, staccato OR smoothe,legato articulations of notes.
Simply accepting the effect that the equipment prefers to give is what I did when I was a beginner.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2023, 01:22:39 AM by Ed McCullough »

Offline streetlegal

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Re: Adjusting the softness of the beginning of a note
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2023, 06:39:33 AM »
Another possibility for balancing overall tightness might be to slacken off the reed plate screws just a tiny bit. That way you could keep your slide tightness at the mouthpiece, while easing off the pressure at the reeds just a touch within the comb chambers.