Harmonica Note: On Cleaning

 I haven’t written anything technical in quite a while. I really don’t much like writing technical stuff but it is useful. I’m going to talk about cleaning your harmonica today. I meant to do this 8 months ago because of an incident I had with my A harp. I was in love with my Bb harp at the time. It was the only one I played. I was teaching myself man of constant sorrow an thought i was amazing. I didn’t play my A harp for about 2 months. Eventually I picked it up just to blow a few notes through it.

Have you ever tasted oxidized brass? It’s memorable because it tastes so bad. That’s what my A harp tasted like. the reed plates had oxidized. It was just a little bit brown. I couldn’t get the taste out for my mouth for 10 minutes. The only taste worse than that that I know if is arm pit sweat. Don’t ask, it involves a  girl.

I needed to get rid of the oxidized brass. Finding an article on how to clean your harmonica is next to imposible. I take that back, it is imposible. I finally found a series of posts explaining how to do it. It offered nothing to fix my brass flavor problem but it did run me through the cleaning process. I recommend doing this for each harp you have occasionally based on how much you use the specific harp.

Start by removing the nails or screws that hold the harp together. This is one reason I love my Hohner Blues Harp. It has screws. No nails to pry and no holes to widen. Once you remove those, the outer plates come off. Give them a light polish with a rag and they should be fine.

second, the reed plates will be screwed into the comb. unscrew the reed plates and seperate them from the comb. The reed plates are the most sensitive part of the harmonica so be careful of them, especially the reeds. You have to be careful not to bend the reeds. if you do, the harp is done. Run water across them to clean them up. I have seen where people say you can use a tooth brush on them but I would’t trust it. Maybe a toothpick to get any gunk from between the reeds and the plates. Just don’t force it.

The comb is another wipe down. It’s not sensitive. Rinse and wipe and you’re done. I have found bits of food in my comb before. After that, just put it back together.

So how did I fix the brass oxide problem? I polished the mouth side of it with a rag. focusing on the reed plates. It took a few minutes but I got all the brass oxide off.

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