Harmonica Maintenance Guidelines

Check out the Harmonica Maintenance Videos below for tips to disassemble and reassemble the Lee Oskar Harmonica.

Changing Cover Plates


 

Changing Reed Plates



Below is an excerpt from Lee Oskar's book, "THE ART OF HARMONICA MAINTENANCE"

HARMONICA MAINTENANCE OVERVIEW

Reed Action & Response

Poor action or no response

Probable Cause:

This is a common problem caused by improper offset of the reed.

Solution:

Adjust reed offset using the pick or flat end of the Offset Tool.

Reed responds only to soft playing (light air pressure)

Probable Cause:


Too little offset.

Solution:

Increase offset.

Correct offset. Will respond to both soft and hard playing.

Reed responds only to hard playing (heavy air pressure)

Probable Cause:


Too much offset.

Solution:

Decrease offset.

Correct offset. Will respond to both soft and hard playing.

No response

Probable Cause:


No offset.

Solution:

Increase offset.

Correct offset. Will respond to both soft and hard playing.

Other Reasons: For poor action or no response

Probable Cause:

  • Foreign material or saliva.
  • Broken reed (total metal fatigue).
  • Reed plates incorrectly mounted.
  • Reed off-center (misaligned).

Solution:

  • Clean or shake out.
  • Replace reed or reed plate.
  • Make lateral adjustment.

Buzzing Sound

Probable Cause:

  • Metal burrs interfering with reed clearance.
  • Foreign material (interfering with reed clearance).
  • Reed off-center (misaligned).

Solution:

  • Square truing needed.
  • Clean with pick or lint-free cloth and isopropyl alcohol.
  • Make lateral adjustment.

Pitch & Tuning

Natural tone is either too flat or too sharp

Probable Cause:

  • Fatigued reed.
  • Factory specs may not agree with personal taste.

Solution:

Fine tune reed using chisels and/or file to remove metal.

Pitch too flat

Probable Cause:

  • Structure of metal has changed due to fatigue.
  • Foreign substance or saliva.
  • Total fatigue (replace reed).

Solution:

  • Fine tune reed using chisels and / or file to remove metal.
  • To raise pitch (sharpen), scrape tip of reed.

Pitch too sharp

Probable Cause:

  • Aging of brass has caused change.
  • Factory Specs.

Solution:


  • Fine tune reed using chisels and / or file to remove metal.
  • To lower pitch (flatten), scrape fixed end of reed.