Extracts from ...
- Cleaning Your
- Cleaning without taking the harmonica apart- If your diatonic
harmonica has a plastic comb (versus a wood or metal comb), you can do a quick
cleaning by running lukewarm water through it and then rapping it firmly
(mouthpiece side down) against your leg or palm to knock out the excess water.
Repeat 2 or 3 times being careful to knock out all the water. Lightly playing
big full mouth chords (4 or 5 notes) throughout the harmonica will also help
clear out the excess moisture. For a light cleaning, this may be all you need.
- For a more thorough cleaning, disassemble cover plates, reed plates,
and comb.- Use the appropriate screw driver for your brand of harmonica
(flat head or phillips). Find a safe place to temporarily store the little
screws and nuts that you will get from your disassembly. If they fall to the
floor they may disappear forever.
- Cleaning the comb- You may clean the plastic comb with warm water,
soap, and an old tooth brush -- rinse completely. If your comb is made of
wood, skip the water and soap and merely rub it down with the old toothbrush.
If your comb is metal, be sure to dry it thoroughly upon completion to avoid
rust and tarnish.
- Cleaning the cover plates- You may clean the plastic comb with warm
water, soap, and an old tooth brush. Rinse well. If your comb is made of wood,
skip the water and soap and merely rub it down with the old toothbrush.
- Using metal cleaner or brass polish on the cover plates- Not
recommended. It is very difficult to completely remove the chemical smell even
after a thorough wash and rinse. The tarnishing of the cover plates won't hurt
anything including the sound. In fact, some might take it as a sign of an
- Cleaning the reed plates- You may clean the reed plates with warm
water and soap and your fingers. Rinse well. You should not wash the reed
plates with an old toothbrush. The bristles could get caught on a reed and do
damage. Please note that some brands and models of harmonicas have reed rivets
that are made of a non-rusting material, others do not. It is possible that
without thorough drying, the rivets may begin to rust over time. Therefore,
dry as completely as possible before re-assembly.
- Cleaning the reed plates while attached to the comb- Very carefully
take the harmonica apart down to the comb and attached reed plates. Then take
Q-tips and Hydrogen Peroxide Solution (found at any drug store and most
supermarkets) and clean the areas that seem to need cleaning. The Hydrogen
Peroxide will sanitize, clean, disinfect, and is perfectly safe. Focus special
attention on the areas where you will be putting your mouth. Be very careful
not to leave any of the extra fuzz from the Q-tips, especially around the
reeds (the little thin brass things with a rivet at one end). If you can find
some Q-tip type swabs that are not made of cotton but made of some material
that doesn't leave lint, that would be even better. This method when carefully
applied will also work with chromatic harmonicas.
- Re-attaching the reed plates back on the comb- Use your thumb and
forefinger to squeze and slide the plates and comb around until the plates
feel "seated" properly within the comb. While securely holding the "seated"
reed plates in place, replace the reed plate screws. Do not over-tighten these
screws, it doesn't help. Over-tightening tends to cause a warping in the screw
areas and increase air leakage. Loose is better than tight. Remember, these
plates will also be held securely in place with the final cover plate screws.
- Replace the cover plates, not too tight or loose- As with the reed
plate screws, do not over-tighten the cover plate screws. Be sure to check
that the cover plates are aligned correctly on top of the reed plates before
- Should one cover plate screw be tighter than the other?- Not
necessarily, but you may find that the screw located on the "high end" can
cause the harmonica to feel slightly more airtight if it is a bit tighter than
the "low end" screw. Sometimes this helps, sometimes not.