Harmonica Workbench: EMC2 Einstein for Harpies
by Kinya Pollard
For those full time and part time Harp-Techs who have experienced the joys of harmonica tuning, you understand how even being ambidextrous is not enough to avoid some stress.
Consider the tedious process of removing (and reinstalling) the reed plates from the comb; add to this, the task of holding the reed plate in place with one hand, reed support tool in another, and Chisel, file, sanding stick an/or rotary tool in the other—wait a minute, that’s three hands!
Rick Trankle’s inspiration for designing, manufacturing and distributing his Harmonica Einstein was a page torn out of, Plato’s best seller, The Republic (Greek author, philosopher, and the bane of countless high school students), “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” book.
Taking it to the Bench
Good thing I’m the Harpsmith, and can fix almost anything ;o), because when the two (#303-MB and #303-ST) Harmonica Einstein tuning tables arrived, each reed support tools were dislodged in shipping from their bases. I would recommend using boxes, rather than shipping envelopes. Having said that, it was nothing a dab of epoxy couldn’t repair. [Editor’s note: I spoke to Rick and this has been remedied]
It was a good opportunity, however, to examine the skillful machining of the reed support tool. In this end view, notice the close tolerance groove cut to clear the rivets of the blow reeds.
With the epoxy cured, I slid slot #5 of a Hohner Marine Band Deluxe harmonica into the Harmonica Einstein, gently pushing it all the way back until it stopped at the back of the slot.
See the groove from the reed support tool clear the blow reed rivet head—awesome.
“Look Ma, No Hands!”
As a rule, tuning blow reeds that are below the surface of the reed plate can be tricky. One wrong move and you can nick the reed plate slot (not the end of the world, unless you create a burr that will click on the playing reed). With the Harmonica Einstein securely in place, I can focus on keeping my hand steady during the process of removing material from the reed.
Speaking of blow reeds, if you intend on tuning Hohner Special 20 and Golden Melody harmonicas, remember to order the #303-ST, not #303-MB. The reed support tool is purposely thinner to clear the slots of harmonicas that have sprues. Those are those pesky horizontal pieces of plastic that were left in place after the initial injection molding manufacturing process; specifically, the Hohner Special 20 and Golden Melody.
With the reed plates removed from the comb, this photo shows the sprues of a Special 20 comb.
The #303-ST that I had received was not thin enough, therefore, I sanded off some material until I was satisfied with the clearance.
With all the reeds exposed, tuning the draw side of your harmonica is almost anti-climatic. Easy peezy.
Conveniently printed onto the table are three blues tunings; for example, Just Intonation.
The Harmonica Einstein tuning table is an easy to use tool, not requiring PhD in physics. Place your order through: www.tuningtable.com
Maybe that reference I made about Muddy Waters was too obvious. Yes, this is non-other than our friend, Rick Estrin. www.rickestrin.com
“Play the notes people want to hear” © 2008
Musician & Harp-Tech
Harmonica Masterclass Workshop Instructor
Mel Bay’s Harmonica Sessions Columnist
www.bluesharmonica.com Harp-Tech Expert