What's in The Toolbox?
Here are the tools that I use often enough that they're all on the desk here.
NOTE: MOST of these tools are easy to find, and quite a few are home-made. Here, by me, or at Dick Garder's shop, by an Elf. (I probably should put photos up of these...perhaps later...some are already on the "Oops I Broke It" Page.
- The reed gapping tool from Lee Oskar's kit..very helpful in pushing the reeds up . You can also use dental tools for that.
- A set of mini screw drivers, mine are by Stanley... a couple Phillips and a couple regulars. These ones have a circular rubber coated roller on the non-business end of the tool that turns out to be a really great way to profile the reeds......just gently roll it against the reed while you hold it up with a toothpick or have a shim under it.
- A single edged razor blade.... several. Used for lots of stuff, scraping reeds... gapping reeds
- An over-the-head magnifying setup... mine says "5" on it
- A small mirror. Take the cover plates off, and watch what happens to the reeds as you blow into ONE hole. IF the valves on OTHER reeds move up, and you're still hearing ONE note, you've got air leaking in the mouthpiece assembly somewhere. And can fix it like this.
- A jeweler's loupe... it says 8x 31 mm on it. Came from Dick Gardner, so it's official, and it works well to find small bits of garbage on the reeds and to let you read the number that's on the over-the-head magnifier just above this in the list if your eyes are getting old.
- A few of the thinner bits from a spark plug gapper/feeler gauge.... I use the .002 one to gage how much to file down the U channel if need be.
- A box of hundreds of valves... got them from Sissy (used to be at Hohner) a few years back
- A tube of pliobond for attaching the valves
- A tube of elmer's stix-all... to gasket some of the mouthpiece parts if need be.
- A copper or brass wire brush... I think used for car repair... I use them to smooth the slide parts...brushing in the direction the slide moves.
- Some 001K crocus cloth. used after the wire brush to smooth out the slide parts
- Some small files.
- The reed holding tool from a lee oskar tool kit.
- A reed wrench.
- Some wooden toothpicks. Good to fix mpc holes and to massage the reeds into submission, to apply glue, and, in an emergency, to pick stuff out of your teeth.
- A slot embossing tool that Chris Michalek made for me. You can use lots of other things for the same purpose, one of the alternatives costs about a penny.
- Some fishing reel grease. For the tip of the spring.
- Some of those "theft prevention" things that make the store's alarms go off when you try to steal stuff. Cut out the metal, put some tape on one end and it's great for being sure that the reed has nice space all around it. I just started using those when Dick sent me some and going thru the whole instrument with them makes a really big difference, and has been a total solution to several problems.
- A tool from Bill Romel that knocks out the rivets. And a small hammer to go with it.
- Some tiny screws and washers and a tool to thread the plates for reed replacement.
- A micrometer, to measure stuff (not every day use)
- One of Bill Romel's battery powered diamond tipped reed scrapers... to do the heavy lifting when tuning... I don't use it all the time
- A tuning machine
- A putty knife used to pry up the reed plates for removal if they're in with nails... that's a basic tool, I mostly have Hohner Deluxe 270's, so I don't have nails to deal with.
- A reed Plinking tool... got it from Dick G. I think he made it, but lots of things can become plinkers... again that's a basic tool.. I used to use a spring from a saxophone.
- A thick, and , in theory, flat, piece of glass.
- Various grits of wet-dry sand paper... used to sand combs flat on the glass if you determine that's a problem
- Some over-priced boxes from The Container Store, to put parts in when I'm working.
That's what I have here. Bear in mind that I'm an amateur, new at this, but I have been pretty successful at fixing things when need be, and have to rely on The Professionals less and less...no offense to those fine horn-smashers in the group.
There's not much more to it, for my needs.
I learned this stuff first from Blackie's book, then by watching Tommy Morgan, and then from Dick Gardner, who has done this stuff before. His emails are worth their weight in gold. Yeah, they don't really weigh anything, but you get the idea.
Feel free to add to this, anyone who has other stuff on their desk. I keep dozens of instruments in working order using just those things.
Again, I'm not a professional smasher of harmonicas, but it's working for me.
it would be wise for me to put a disclaimer here to the effect that I've just listed what i use. I've spent only ten years doing this, a short time, to be sure, so if you get all this silly stuff, and end up killing your cat with the gapping tool, or ruining an instrument or two, I'm not to be blamed.
The more you do this stuff, the closer you'll get to the instrument, and you'll play better as a result.
RULE NUMBER A: "Never force any part of the instrument to move in any direction. If you feel resistance, stop and figure out where it's coming from"