Harmonica gapping question

Harmonica gapping question

I bought a Kongsheng "Mars" in D. It has a great tone and is very comfortable. Nice $$ savings over Hohner Special 20, and likewise with whichever Suzuki harp that the Kongsheng is modeled after.

My number 8 draw reed is a nightmare, though. I always adjust the gap on harmonicas straight out of the box. Usually, this involves a few pings on a reed, here or there. Pull it up and let it sound, push it down a smidge, get it to play evenly. I mean, there are only so many ways to move a harmonica reed. But now I just can’t get the thing to play consistently. I’ll put the covers on to test, like it, then within a few minutes it’s choking again.

I have tried:
Pinging the reed;
Raising it in the slot;
Lowering it in the slot;
Repeating process to the reed is either higher or lower than before;
All of the above with over drawing to settle it, which sometimes helps.

I’m not averse to sending it back. What do you think, harp crowd? Could it be defective or is there a magician’s trick for adjusting a harmonica gap that I’m missing?

Thanks in advance.

Chris

Re: Harmonica gapping question

Hi gravelwalks. "I always adjust the gap on harmonicas straight out of the box."
Why’s that? Do you do that as a matter of course to all the reeds, or do you play it gently for a day or two first? I’ve noticed an advice note packed with a couple of my Seydel harmonicas telling me that such and such a hole needs used more gently than others.
Intrigued!
Alex.

Re: Harmonica gapping question

That’s a good point, Alexander. I have found, over many years of playing them, that when I buy a new harp off the shelf, it will require at least a few tweaks to play comfortably in the way I do (which tends to be rather heavy). I dont just start adjusting without knowing how the harp handles, of course. So yes, I do put an hour or two on the harmonica before cracking it open.

Having never bought a Kongsheng before, I wasn’t certain if others have had the same issue with this particular brand or model. It’s a great harp, otherwise, but does seem to require a lighter touch on the last 3 reeds. For a comparison, I have some Hohner Special 20s, that, after a few pokes or pings, can take about whatever I can throw at them in the upper register.

I guess this is the inherent part of buying a "quality" $35 instrument… made in China, no less.

Re: Harmonica gapping question

Good man Gravelwalks!
I threw a Swan chromatic 16 hole in the bin a while back. Cost me all of £35 or thereabouts! Sticking with Seydel diatonics now!
Alex.

Re: Harmonica gapping question

>does seem to require a lighter touch on the last 3 reeds

Cheaper possibly due to inferior alloy, thinner metal, less hardness.

>Hohner Special 20s, that, after a few pokes or pings, can take about whatever I can throw at them in the upper register

Appropriate alloy, thickness, hardness - tried and true, learned from years of experience.
A good tool is invaluable.

vlnplyr

Re: Harmonica gapping question

"A good tool is invaluable"

Absolutely, and I dont think I’ll be buying anything else from Kongsheng. I love the Suzukis that the Mars took its lead from, but it seems Suzuki’s quality control is better.

FWIW, I’ve had a few less than stellar Hohner harps, as well as other brands, but never hit a bad one the first time.