Harmonium Repair

I repair portable Indian harmoniums in Boulder, CO. I have worked in instrument repair at various times in my life and there was a need for harmonium repair in the kirtan and yoga community in Boulder. 

I charge $50.00 an hour with a $15 minimum, and offer free evaluations and estimates for bigger repairs.

I live in North Boulder. 

Send me an email at my contact page.


Playing the Harmonium 

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A Bhava Mini harmonium


Harmoniums work by pumping the bellows on the back of the harmonium with one hand while you play the keyboard with the other. Pulling out at least one of the knobs on the front and pressing keys allow air to pass through the reed(s). 

Most harmoniums have two sets or banks of reeds. A low set called “bass” reeds and another set an octave above called “male” reeds. The knobs on the front of the harmonium are called “stops”, and pull out to allow air to flow through one or both sets of reeds. Which stop controls which set of reeds varies from instrument to instrument. The main stops are usually on the left.  Try pulling out just one knob and play a note. Then close that stop and open the one next to it. This will tell you which knob controls which set of reeds. Experiment to see which stops you want to use.

Most harmoniums also have one or more “drone” reeds, which each sound at a constant pitch. These are rarely used in kirtan and on some instruments have smaller knobs. The stops on a Bhava Mini are shown in the picture below. 

Stops

Main Stops Open and Drone Stops Closed

Some harmoniums have multiple stops for each reed set. On the harmonium pictured below, the first and last knobs control the male reeds while the third and fifth knobs control the bass reeds. There are four drones and seventh knob is a tremolo stop which you don’t want to use!  

Calcutta Stops

Harmonium with Multiple Stops

Harmonium Reeds

Most harmoniums have two sets of reeds for each key, tuned an octave apart. The lowest set of reeds are called the bass reeds, and the higher reeds are called male reeds. Some larger harmoniums have a third set which are an octave higher than the male reeds, called, not surprisingly, female reeds, but these are not often used for kirtan. 

Reeds and pivot pins

The reeds are mounted on the bottom side of the key/reed board. Pressing a key releases this air across the reed(s).





Bellows

There are two types of harmonium bellows, side pump and top pump depending on where the hinge is for the harmonium.

There are actually two bellows in a harmonium. The main one on the back and another one inside the bottom of the case.

 When you squeeze the main bellows, you pump air into the inner bellows, inflating it as it pushes down against springs on the bottom of case. These springs push up on the bellows to force air smoothly through any open stops and into the reed chamber where pressing a key causes that reed or reeds to sound. 

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Bottom Bellows springs in the bottom of an upside down harmonium with the
bottom cover 
removed. 

A disassembled Bina harmonium.

Next:

 Types of Keyboards

Key/Reed and Stop Boards

Solving Problems