Fixing A Stuck Reed

Originally posted Dec 2013

stuck_reedA reader named Alena wrote in to ask about her 4 draw. She said her 5 draw was nice and clear but 4 wasn’t playing. From her description, it sounded like maybe her 4 draw reed was stuck.

What To Do

Step 1: Puff In & Out
Try puffing air rapidly in and out on 4. Does that free it up? If not, use stronger air pressure. This does the trick most of the time.

Step 2: Toothpick
If still no response, poke a toothpick in hole 4 at a downward angle. You don’t have to reach far in; aim close to the hole opening. It’ll either unstick the draw reed or confirm that there IS no reed (sometimes they break).

Blow Reeds
These instructions will work for a blow reed also, but you’ll want to poke the toothpick in at an UPWARD angle and aim for the far end, deep inside the harp.

Preventing Stuck Reeds

Clean Mouth
Play with a clean mouth! If drinking anything other than water, swish with water before playing. After eating, clean your mouth: brush, floss, and rinse with water to avoid getting dried burrito inside your harp.

Warm Harmonica
In the winter, it can also help to warm your harp in your pocket for a minute or two before playing, to raise it closer to body temperature and prevent jams caused by condensation.

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