Squealing on new Lee Oskar

I just got a new Lee Oskar harmonica in the key of C. I have been practicing with a Hohner Special 20 for awhile (currently going through the breakthrough blues lessons).

When I bend the 3 and 4 draw, the the reeds give off a high pitched squeal. I don’t have this problem when bending with the Hohner Special 20. Any thoughts?

Hi @bcorbitt82 and welcome to the forum.

This squealing is a well-known (and much hated) phenomenon that can have any one of several causes. Solutions vary in complexity and require disassembling your harp and learning some skills, such as waxing/varnishing the reed ends (where the rivet is), aligning the reed correctly in its slot, or even replacing a warped reed. Because of the work involved and the risk of destroying your harp until you master the techniques mentioned, I suggest trying to return the harp to the seller and at least getting a discount on a replacement. :point_left:

By the way, this happens not only on harps in the lower price range. It seems to be the result of mass production and the impossibility of completely testing each harp (in particular, testing the bends) before they are sent out for sale.

Regards and good luck,
– Slim

Thanks, Slim. Thankfully Amazon makes it easy to replace and return. New one will get here tomorrow.

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Good to hear that @bcorbitt82 !! :smiley:

My experience with Lee Oskar harps is that they respond well to adjustments of all sorts and particularly well to waxing the rivet end of the reed (when needed to combat squealing).

For general information, the Suzuki ProMaster harps, although they play very well and have (for my ears) a very nice tone, seem to suffer from squeals more often than any other harp I have used. I have been told that they use a slightly longer reed and this is problematic – meaning that it tends to twist when you attempt bending and holding the bend (especially full step bends on 2 draw, -2", and 3 draw, -3", and the step-and-a-half bend on 3 draw, -3’"). :anguished:

Regards,
– Slim

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Keep us posted how the new one behaves!
Aloha,
Luke

The new one came in. I get a little bit of squeaking if I land between the -3" and -3"’. It was worse at first but has gotten better - maybe I just needed to tighten up my technique a bit.

Also, after practicing with the more standard size Hohner Special 20, I’m not sure how I feel about the larger size holes and slightly bigger gap between holes on the Lee Oskar. I find I can move around faster on the Hohner Special 20.

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I guess that this is not the most welcomed place to say this, but I (personally) think that the Hohner harps are less prone to such squealing.

– Slim

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All opinions are most welcome in this forum!

Also, interestingly, it certainly has been my experience as well now that I’m working on overblows. ALL of my Lee Oksars squeak when I try to do overblows, and as you know my Crossover key of A never squeals.

Aloha,
Luke

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I have a Lee Oskar major diatonic harp in C that I can overblow quite well without any squeals!! The trick was to wax the rivet ends of the reeds that were squealing, then check/correct the tuning of the waxed reeds (because often the wax can change the tuning somewhat). And that was the solution (at least on that harp). BTW, an alternative to waxing is to use varnish, but I personally have never done that.

When I get some free time I will try it on some of my other remaining Lee Oskar harps and see if it works on them as well.

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Fascinating. What kind of wax did you use? How did you apply it?

Hi @Luke

I use the same wax that people use when they have braces for their teeth. I must admit that I did not know that they used wax until my grandson was prescribed braces from his orthodontist. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: It is not as temperature sensitive as bee’s wax and not as permanent as using varnish.

I use a small pocket knife blade to cut off a tiny amount (not any bigger than a small lentil or maybe half of a rice seed). Then I roll it around between my thumb and index finger (:ok_hand: ) to soften it up a little and make it round.

Finally I press it onto the rivet and smash it down so that it just covers the rivet end ot the reed and a tiny bit of the reed plate around the square rivet end of the reed. If you mash it down too much, use the knife blade to scrape off the excess that has been spread out too far (for example onto the swinging part of the reed).

For me that has cured most squealing problems :hear_no_evil:

Regards,
– Slim

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Wow. OK, I’m getting more and more tempted to try this sort of thing. I’d be so stoked if I could get my LO’s to overblow without squealing.

Aloha,
Luke

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I was just watching a video on overblowing from Tomlin Leckie and he mentioned that Lee Oskar’s are notoriously difficult to overblow. https://youtu.be/-ubk78AF-Ws

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Waxing is the way that I tamed my Lee Oskar harps.

Regards,
– Slim

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