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Notemaker

Vintage reeds, how are they cleaned?

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When after decades, or a century, of 'breathing' a component accumulates gunk, how it is removed?

 

I read in one contribution here that turpentine is used to help remove gunk off of a vintage reed. I just wonder why not 'thinners'?. perhaps warm 'alcohol' as used in electronics for cleaning smoker's tar from circuit-boards?

 

Too wondering what kind of gunk is found on them? Perhaps vapors from the bellows construction adhere to a warm reed, or perhaps kitchen-grease and smokers' tar from the air in Bars and homes?

 

I guess this applies to Accordion reeds too?

 

 

 

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And when substances are removed from the reeds wouldn't they sing a slightly different frequency of sound?

 

RG

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On the contrary - it's the deposit of gunk that alters the frequency of the sound. Removing the deposit (which I have done successfully with turpentine) restores the reed to its original pitch.

I had a reed that was muffled and flat, and getting more so at an alarming rate. A brown deposit was clearly to be seen, but was easily removed with a Q-tip dipped in turps.

 

Cheers,

John

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Anything that may leave an oily film should be avoided. I would have thought turpentine would be one of them.

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I did rub all the turpentine off after it had done its job of softening up the gunk!

 

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Thanks for the replies and great information on this topic.

I have to add that mostly, from photos seen, its rust that is  more common than gunk.


As posted turps appears to work but the oily residue must be removed afterwards.

 

Too my own investigation taught me one severe lesson;  be very careful when removing / replacing the shoe / reed assembly as any error of movement may disturb other things close by.

 

 

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I never use a liquid to clean reeds, light deposits can be scraped using a small watchmakers screwdriver(size appropriate for the reed in question.) As far as I know Steve Dickinson doesn't use any substances on reed cleaning. To remove light rust on steel reeds I use a number 2 cut triangular saw file, and have had no reason to change for the last40 years  plus.

Mike Acott

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4 hours ago, Mike Acott said:

I never use a liquid to clean reeds, light deposits can be scraped using a small watchmakers screwdriver(size appropriate for the reed in question.) As far as I know Steve Dickinson doesn't use any substances on reed cleaning. To remove light rust on steel reeds I use a number 2 cut triangular saw file, and have had no reason to change for the last40 years  plus.

Mike Acott

Ditto to not leaving any liquid deposit in the tongue after adjustment. But, and here I am asking, wouldn't  a brass, or nylon, bristle brush be better for dealing with rust?

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I use a glass fibre pen to clean off dirt and light surface rust.  If the rust is too significant to clean off with a pen like this, then it's likely that the reed has been fatally compromised

 

Whether it changes the tuning or not isn't really relevant to me as I'm usually going to be completerly retuning the instrument anyway - however, I don't think it removes a significant amount of good metal (and even if it does, it's uniformly distributed over the reed). In my experience, most of the rust seems to accumulate towards the middle of the reed so this is away from the primary tuning locations

 

Alex West

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On 1/11/2020 at 3:00 AM, Alex West said:

 If the rust is too significant to clean off with a pen like this, then it's likely that the reed has been fatally compromised

 

Whether it changes the tuning or not ...In my experience, most of the rust seems to accumulate towards the middle of the reed

 

Alex West

Thanks.

You may like to learn that removing a lot of rust from it may not impact the performance of a reed tongue.

1.PNG.98375ada30361988c5418ad985a85b0e.PNG

This one was brushed with a wee nylon bristle brush, then polished with a wee brass bristle brush. Following approval, from a steel expert, I gently painted over using a  cotton swab with a drop of Mineral Spirits on it to finish off the treatment. There is NO noticeable difference in performance, and, surprisingly, no change in the tuning of the reed tongue. On my current bench ( Harmonica Tuning bench ), this is the only case which needed TLC. BTW not expecting to have to write a full report about it, I did not bother to make the 'after' macro shot, which, as you possibly can appreciate, is quite complex and time consuming.

 

Edited by Notemaker
Missing words

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On 1/10/2020 at 4:27 PM, Mike Acott said:

I never use a liquid to clean reeds, light deposits can be scraped using a small watchmakers screwdriver(size appropriate for the reed in question.) As far as I know Steve Dickinson doesn't use any substances on reed cleaning. To remove light rust on steel reeds I use a number 2 cut triangular saw file, and have had no reason to change for the last 40 years  plus.

 

Having been taught by David Elliott (thanks Dave!), I also use the screwdriver method described by Mike for cleaning rust off the undersides of the reeds and a well-worn, fine 400-grit diamond file used very lightly for the top surface of the reed tongues. And no liquid of any sort.

 

Removing any rust, especially of the degree shown in Notemaker's photo, will almost certainly affect the tuning of the reeds, so it will be necessary to check the tuning of the reeds in situ in the instrument and then carry out any fine tuning (and reed tip set) adjustments, as may be needed.

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6 hours ago, Steve_freereeder said:

 

Removing any rust, especially of the degree shown in Notemaker's photo, will almost certainly affect the tuning of the reeds, so it will be necessary to check the tuning of the reeds in situ in the instrument and then carry out any fine tuning (and reed tip set) adjustments, as may be needed.

Thank you.

 

Well, touch wood, so far, I have not heard any need to have the reed adjusted. But then again, with the gString tuner app, did not measure its pitch before, or after. So you are probably correct but, at this time I cannot detect any difference in the sound I hear from it.

 

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