I make a Mouth-harp


Such a Mouth-harp, so is nothing.

One wonders, what it must be so difficult?

  It is only a simple wire hanger, looks like a bottle opener and it may not be so difficult, as a thing to build.

  So I thought too!  !  !


I would like to address some things out on the 1st look not so noticeable and I am in the course of many years of manufacturing is very important.

At the sound of a Mouth-harp have different mechanical characteristics influence, which I would like.

There are at least 3 different vibrations of the spring, which influence each other.


 1) normally-oscillation of the spring

  2) Rotation-oscillation of the spring

  3) self-oscillation of the angled part in the attack



This mixture of different vibrations, is the sound of a Mouth-harp.

All these oscillations are in turn dependent on:

         - the length of spring.

        - the width of the spring.

        - the dickens of the spring.

        - the materials of the spring.

        - the form of the spring.

        - the amount of angled part.

        - the form of the upper end.


Theoretically, it is also possible to generate the same sound when the spring is shorter and wider favour.

Unfortunately, the other vibrations so amended, in the worst case, lead to mutual extermination.

A good Mouth- harp can be built only if all agree vibration conditions. This makes the production of good Mouth-harp so difficult.

Another challenge is a high precision in the manufacturing, so that the vibrations generated also heard loud and clear.



    - The distance between the frame and the spring

    - parallelism between frame and the spring

    - The section on the frame

    - The angle of the spring

    - The spring-type attachment


Of the variations of all of these things can be a Mouth-harp a high-quality instrument or a dead something.

Calculations of these things aren't possible.

(Similar to church bells.) 

Now I have made several Mouth-harp with the same basic pitch, and I can say with great security, it isn't two Mouth-harp on the World, which sounds exactly the same. 


Here is a table for overview: 






Spring longer

deeper sound / resonates long / slightly on frame

Spring shorter

high sound / resonates shorter / hard to play

Spring broader

deeper sound / shorter swings and other rotational vibration

Spring narrow

high sound / resonates longer or other rotational vibration

Spring fatter

  High Sound / resonates shorter / hard attack

Spring thinner

deep sound / resonates longer or slightly on frame

Spring harder

high sound / slight break / hard attack

Spring softer

do not vibration/ bends easily / If no mood

Large distance frame-spring

Fewer overtones

Small distance frame-spring

slightly on frame

Parallelism frame-spring

many overtones / different overtones

Frame cross section

different overtones

Spring cross section

different overtones

Spring fixing too loose

slightly on frame

Spring fixing too hard

Shortly overtones / bad vibrations breaks easier

The high of the amount attack

Influenced volume and vibration and pitch and torsional oscillation


The second important part of the instrument is the mouth- and lung space of the player. The player can change the sounds with the mouth-space. Different people can makes different sounds with the same Mouth-harp.

Roughly you can say: a small resonant space (as if you would say: iiiiiiiii ) reinforces the high tones.

A large resonant space (as if you would say: oooooo ) reinforces the deep tones.

What then you can make with this simple instrument, it's great.

With various finger techniques you can generate rhythm effects.


Another problem of modern instruments is the construction materials used. 


Coatings of spring also very drastically change the sound.



Good material for health are: gold, silver, polished steel, stainless steel, bronze, german silver, untreated wood, 

Sceptical for health can be: nickel, aluminium and brass if corroded, various chemical treated steel (mostly black Mouth-harps) treated wood, solvent coatings,

Not good material for health are: chromium, zinc, tin,

In case of doubt, you should ask the manufacturer.

The list is obviously incomplete and will only point out that not every material for everyone being tolerated.


  The production of a Mouth-harp



1) Everything starts with the performance of circular material to the correct length. I use an old hand lever exenter press of my grandfather, so he sooner small pistol manufactured.

This is also the base of the Mouth- harp.



 2) In 2 operations will be the basic shape of the Mouth-harp.




 These tools are proprietary developments of my father.



 4) The shape of the frame is now milled on a very old milling machine . 

 Also from the constituents of my grandfather.



  5) Then the host for the spring milled. 

Of course possible in the middle, so that the well and spring tension-free fit.



 6) The Mouth-harp now handled so with various filing, until I do with all the corners and edges am satisfied.



 Whether the Mouth- harp sounds good, showing only at the wedding when ironing and spring will be merged.


  7) material for my springs is high quality steel in various thicknesses.



 8) It is the Mouth-harp drum adapted cut out.



  9) It must then be provided until it is absolutely straight.

  A twisted spring vibrates not right.



  10) The spring is now supported by all sides ground. 

 For filing, it is still too hard.



  11) Now is the spring anneal. 

 (A method of selective hardening or softening of steel)



 12) This work is verry difficult.  If something wrong is the Mouth-harp unusable.


 13) Now, the spring in the Mouth-harp.



The spring align and fasten 



 15) We used an verry old mandrel spindle Press.



16) control of the spring with magnifying glass



17) into desired form we bend the spring



 18) On high polish



19) If everything well,  gets the Mouth-harp stamps "Zella Mehlis" and "Schlütter"



 20) and stamped the key. 



21) now, the harp is finished



 Have many fun with the harp.