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Cleaning a Harmonica

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GUEST,JimP 08 Nov 06 - 02:39 AM
Dave Hanson 08 Nov 06 - 04:31 AM
The Sandman 08 Nov 06 - 04:39 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 08 Nov 06 - 10:40 PM
Johnhenry'shammer 08 Nov 06 - 11:44 PM
Bob Bolton 09 Nov 06 - 03:45 AM
Tootler 09 Nov 06 - 04:36 AM
Bob Bolton 09 Nov 06 - 07:12 AM
GUEST,thurg 09 Nov 06 - 08:56 AM
Hamish 09 Nov 06 - 09:01 AM
Scrump 09 Nov 06 - 09:21 AM
GUEST,JimP 09 Nov 06 - 09:30 AM
GUEST,John P 09 Nov 06 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,thurg 09 Nov 06 - 12:13 PM
Bob Bolton 09 Nov 06 - 08:49 PM
Joe Richman 09 Nov 06 - 10:23 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 09 Nov 06 - 11:07 PM
Bob Bolton 10 Nov 06 - 03:16 AM
Splott Man 10 Nov 06 - 03:53 AM
Liz the Squeak 10 Nov 06 - 04:35 AM
Big Al Whittle 10 Nov 06 - 05:49 AM
Ernest 10 Nov 06 - 07:42 AM
GUEST,thurg 10 Nov 06 - 08:13 AM
GUEST,Brian Peters 10 Nov 06 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,thurg 10 Nov 06 - 03:46 PM
The Sandman 10 Nov 06 - 04:41 PM
Les from Hull 10 Nov 06 - 05:33 PM
Liz the Squeak 11 Nov 06 - 03:53 AM
Bob Bolton 11 Nov 06 - 06:13 AM
The Sandman 11 Nov 06 - 07:30 AM
Les from Hull 11 Nov 06 - 08:22 AM
Ernest 11 Nov 06 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,memyself 11 Nov 06 - 11:57 AM
Liz the Squeak 11 Nov 06 - 12:40 PM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Nov 06 - 09:25 PM
Bob Bolton 12 Nov 06 - 04:46 PM
JohnInKansas 12 Nov 06 - 05:50 PM
The Sandman 12 Nov 06 - 06:01 PM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Nov 06 - 06:23 PM
Bob Bolton 12 Nov 06 - 07:35 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 12 Nov 06 - 10:30 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 12 Nov 06 - 10:36 PM
GUEST,JimP 13 Nov 06 - 12:39 AM
Bob Bolton 13 Nov 06 - 07:33 AM
Bob Bolton 14 Nov 06 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,Rayzor 09 Jun 10 - 01:32 AM
John MacKenzie 09 Jun 10 - 03:58 AM
AKS 09 Jun 10 - 07:40 AM
Brian May 09 Jun 10 - 11:59 AM
Lonesome EJ 09 Jun 10 - 12:38 PM
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Subject: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,JimP
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 02:39 AM

I recently bought a A/D Honer Echo from a guy on ebay, for use in my sea music group. When I got it, it smelled horribly of some kind of oil-based solvent. I suspect that it had been WD-40'd to get rid of some surface crud. I contacted the seller, who claims that he disinfected it with rubbing alcohol and then misted it with Old Spice "to make it smell nice."

Whatever he did, the thing is unplayable, as I begin to gag every time I play it. I've tried airing it out (holding it out the window of my car when travelling at low speeds w/the wind sounding the reeds), and have tried wiping it down with gin. This has helped some, but it still has the odor. Any suggestions from you guys?


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 04:31 AM

Dettol and wire brush.

eric


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 04:39 AM

get a tool kit from lee oskar harmonicas, open the harmonica up to air, then very gently wipe out the crud with the tools provided.
then from a distance try a cool hair dryer
if no luck go to a harmonica forum and ask again


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 10:40 PM

I use vingar.

Sincerely,
Garoyle

some add a "smedge of salt" but it is not recommended, since you might change the original register... you are static...let the fiddle tune to you.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Johnhenry'shammer
Date: 08 Nov 06 - 11:44 PM

Might just want to get a new one. The Echos are pretty cheap aren't they?


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 03:45 AM

G'day JimP,

I take it that this is the double-sided, curved lip-plate Hohner model 1499/80 that goes back as least as far as my first (circa 1958) catalogue. That one had a wooden body - and I would have thought that the later plastic-bodied Comet (also double-sided, curved lip-plate ... indicating Octave- [aka: "Organ"-] tuned, in two keys a fourth (?) apart replaced the Comet 1499/80, but you may have an old instrument.

I saw the plastic Comet going for close to AUD$200 a few years back, here in Sydney - and I haven't bought one for ages! I guess the older Echo - especially in a handy key set like A /D - would be a treasure worth restoring. With the Comets, I would have no worry about soaking them well in warm water (with occasional agitation), then draining, rinsing, shaking as free of water as possible and leaving to dry naturally. You can wash the wooden-bodied ones in water ... but I wouldn't let it soak for very long before quickly rinsing, shaking dry and drying in a moderately warm, ventilated spot. (I usually blow through the wooden-bodied ones straight after shaking out ... until I get evey reed sounding - if not dead to pitch!).

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Tootler
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 04:36 AM

I don't know your particular model, but I had trouble with my Hohner Chromonica when a reed stopped sounding. I removed the cover plate, which is secured to the body by two screws, and using a wooden toothpick, I carefully removed some debris that had got into the gap in the reed. I then screwed it back together again and it worked fine. Another thing I regularly do is to remove gunk that builds up round the holes. A wooden cocktail stick does fine for that job.

I must admit I have always been wary of washing my harmonica as it is wooden bodied, but I suspect that a fairly quick wash in warm soapy water will do no harm, but be carful round the reeds. In fact I believe some of the old blues players used to soak their Marine bands in water before playing as they said it made them play better. I think that the soaking made the wooden body swell and sealed the reed plate properly so there was less air leakage.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 07:12 AM

G'day Tootler,

The reeds may need cleaning, as you describe - especially if the mouthorgan has been played soon after eating ... or left exposed in dusty (&c) areas. Washing, per se won't hurt the brass reeds - but too much soaking can damage wooden bodies - especially complex gridded one like the old Echo with its 40 holes, divided by narrow wooden grids, on each side (one hole for each of its 80 reeds!). Prompt drying will also lessen the risk of rust in any parts of the cover plates that may have lost some of their electroplating.

I think a fairly brief rinse in plain, no more than warm, water should dilute most of the "Old Spice ... then a good airing (and drying) might leave it in a playable state. Don't force the drying with heat sources, as this might distort the very complex body.

Another area for caution is whether this model has valves on the lower-pitched reeds (as does Hohner's similar Auto Valve Harp ... which may not been seen in other countries, since it was listed as an "Australian Brand" in my original catalogue). These plastic flap-valves (similar to those used in the Chromonica models) could be loosened from their adhesives by excessive soaking or heat ... so take care!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 08:56 AM

Assuming you're of legal shaving age, maybe you should slap on an extra-heavy dose of the ol' Old Spice in the morning, then you might not notice the fragrance of your harp.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Hamish
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 09:01 AM

Re Tootler's "In fact I believe some of the old blues players used to soak their Marine bands in water before playing as they said it made them play better. I think that the soaking made the wooden body swell and sealed the reed plate properly so there was less air leakage."

I often give my wooden bodied Blues Harps and Marine Bands a quick splosh in water before playing. It does, indeed, make them sound "better" - not only fuller toned but also more fluid (no pun intended!) I can't believe it's anything to do with making the wood swell since the quick splosh is so quick (in my case).

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Scrump
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 09:21 AM

Assuming you're of legal shaving age, maybe you should slap on an extra-heavy dose of the ol' Old Spice in the morning, then you might not notice the fragrance of your harp.

What us the legal shaving age? Is it different in the US from the UK?


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,JimP
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 09:30 AM

Thanks to all for the advice. I've since figured out that the person who had the harp before me also must have at least taken the covers off (although they look pristine), since the side that says "A" now plays in D, and vice-versa.

Bob: No, this isn't the curved-plate Echo, this is the straight longish one that (I believe) is currently in production. I think retail is around $80, so I don't want to give up on this just yet. Most importantly, it may stink, but it sounds great.

Finally, if there is a legal age requirement for shaving, I passed it long ago. I hate Old Spice, though. I don't know why anyone would voluntarily smell like that.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,John P
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 11:03 AM

I had two hohner chromatics cleaned by a friend of mine once. I believe he put them in water and put some sort of a charge through the tank which then vibrated the gunge out. Wonderful sound resulted but the leather flaps on the reeds were knackered. The system might work ok on an old echo like yours though


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 12:13 PM

"I hate Old Spice, though. I don't know why anyone would voluntarily smell like that."

(To the tune of "Gimme That Ol' Time Religion"): It was good for my father,/It was good for my mother,/And it's good enough for me!


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 08:49 PM

G'day John P,

I think your friend may have used an "ultrasonic cleaner" - container with water (with or without extra solvents) and a motorised high frequency vibration. It's a good way to clean jewellery - or technical pens - but it does tend to vibrate off bits ... like your valves! If you had leather valves, the Hohner Chromatics were, presumably, fairly old ... I think plastic valves have been standard for several decades, now.

I think any washing on an old wooden-bodied (and, maybe, leather-valved) harmonica has to be kept to a minimum ... and followed by quick removal of all loose water and then a steady drying out. One hopes that should dilute the Old Spice aroma to a more tolerable level.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Joe Richman
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 10:23 PM

I did once completely mess up and put some WD40 into a harmonica. Tasted terrible, so I threw the thing into a glass full of peppermint schnapps (the cheapest stuff the market had).   Now it still tastes terrible, but more like the schnapps than the penetrating lubricant. And that is after the passage of a few years!!

Joe


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 09 Nov 06 - 11:07 PM

I do not know about the most recent two decades...but the Horners 1960-70-80 ...all that I have,,, have used plastic, it is easily identifiable, it is a thin white-strap.

Swishing and twirling in water will work to "unlock" a stuck valve....however, if you examine the metal reeds, you may discover "corosive" bits of mineral/rust type deposites....

IF, the pitch has changed... or a hole is off-key, it is probably this corrosive-crap on the metal....not on the valve-flap. You can scrape it...and you can use the "vinegar cure" and also scrape it.

Old Harps, are ol' friends...A half dozen lie on my shelf...they sit awaiting a day of ressurection and redemption. They have served me well and are worthy of a rest....However, when suck comes to blow...they will let me down at some point...early.

Fortunately, they had many clones...and are much cheaper than mandolins.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 03:16 AM

G'day again Jim P,

I guess that makes your double-sided harmonica the Echo harp model: straight sides (meaning that it's tremolo-tuned, not octave-tuned) with "turned-in" ends ... probably fixed with a pair of brass pins at each end. This is (by my oldest catalog) the 54/64 model (32 small apertures a side ... equivalent range to an 8-holed vamper) or the 55/80 model (40 holes a side - equivalent range to a 10-hole vamper)or, just maybe, the 56/96 model (48 holes a side - equivalent range to a 12-hole vamper). Oh ... I have just found, in a more recent catalog, that there is also a massive 57/120 model (range of a 15-hole vamper... !) ... but it only comes in C & G, not the A & D combo you have, or the Bb & F, Bb & Eb ... or C & Amin (...!) that are available in some of the smaller sizes.

Anyway, being tremolo-tuned, it's unlikely that they will have valves (except, maybe, the 57/120 model)... and the sides (should) proclaim they have "Bell Metal Reeds" - an alloy of copper with a fair amount of tin ... so they are even less likely to corrode, under normal usage, than the copper-zinc alloy of the usual brass reeds. I would be confident to sluice the Old Spice away ... then quickly tap out excess moisture and let the harmonicas dry in in a warm airy spot. (Repeat if really necessary ...) Do the washing with the cover plates in place, as that will help keep the wooden frames straight while they dry.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Splott Man
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 03:53 AM

I don't know about them being cheaper than a mandolin. I get through 4 to 5 sets of reeds a year. At £20 a throw, that's a new mando every 2 to 3 years.

Hmm, now there's a thought...


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 04:35 AM

Unless you like malt whisky - DON'T USE DETTOL!!!

Manitas soaked his whistle and recorder fipples in Dettol about 14 years ago. There is STILL a whaft of smell when you open the case.

Use rum or gin. It will kill the germs just as effectively and won't stink the place out with an unbearable pong!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 05:49 AM

This is an interesting thread. I have chucked no end of these things out, having buggered them up without ever actually managing to play one of them properly.

If anybody gets a surefire answer. I'd be interested to hear it. I don't think they are cheap at all. I've tried soaking them and something always sounds clogged afterwards.

is it just me, or do they go unsavoury looking after a bit? They always look as though you might catch something off them.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Ernest
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 07:42 AM

Isn`t it more likely that they caught something of you, Al?

Or do you only buy used ones?

;0)

Ernest


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 08:13 AM

"is it just me, or do they go unsavoury looking after a bit?"

To mangle the old song, "If you get cranky without your silk hanky,/You better steer clear of the harmonica". They can get pretty grizzly-looking without cleaning, which doesn't bother a tough guy like me - on the other hand, I do spend about half the year suffering from apparently-undiagnosable viruses, sinus infections, respiratory ailments, etc., so maybe I'm a walking - and occasionally bed-ridden - object-lesson.

Anyway, if you really want to know about cleaning, soaking, etc., (of harmonicas!) check out these guys; they love to talk about that stuff: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/harptalk/. Take a skim through the posts, or the archives, and it won't be long before you come across a relevant discussion.

And you're right; it's not a cheap instrument to play, in the long run. You'll find arguments about that as well ...


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 01:35 PM

[quote] >> I often give my wooden bodied Blues Harps and Marine Bands a quick splosh in water before playing. <<

Bonz, who played dobro, banjo and harp in the late lamented Rocky Mountain Ploughboys, would always give his harmonica a quick dip in his pint of beer before each song.

Although a good blues player, his harps were notoriously ill-maintained, usually with at least a reed or two not sounding. On one occasion an instrument was working so poorly, even after the beer treatment, that he opened it up and found an old bus ticket crumpled up inside.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 03:46 PM

" I often give my wooden bodied Blues Harps and Marine Bands a quick splosh in water before playing."

I often give myself a quick splosh in water before playing, especially if it's a gig of the better sort. Usually drag a razor 'cross my jowls and slap on some Old Spice, too.

"an old bus ticket crumpled up inside"

If he was a true bluesman, that ticket must've been long as his right arm. Which would certainly explain the poor performance of the instrument.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 04:41 PM

lee oskar do a very good repair kit,with helpful instructions.what this harp needs is agood BLOW job.Icould do with one myself.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Les from Hull
Date: 10 Nov 06 - 05:33 PM

It's quite important to keep your harmonicas clean in the first place. There's nothing worse than having a bit of peanut pinging off your tonsils during a rather strenuous suck.

Stripping them down and cleaning them out isn't too dificult, but I've not had to do that yet with the more fancy valved ones I'm moving over to now. That may be more problematical.

So at least we've learnt not to give our tin sandwiches any additional flavours! Keep 'em in a case, on a hard flat surface or in yer gob! The last place is the worst.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 03:53 AM

Could you not leave them on a shelf at home permanently, or better still, leave them in the store?! :]

LTS
(Ducking and running for cover.....)


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 06:13 AM

G'day all (and JimP ...),

All these helpful types rattling off details of Lee Oskar (et al) repair / maintenance tool and kits might bother to read about just what Jim has raised the thread about: a large, double-sided, double reeded, 2-key tremolo harmonica. It has about as much resemblance to a pocket vamper (e.g. what those who haven't seen any range of harmonicas call a "Marine Band" ... equally vaguely and inaccurately) - or a 'Lee Oskar" - as a Mac truck has to a sports car!

The large metal covers are 'pinned" on (read ~ "nailed") so they can't be slipped off for a casual 'gunkectomy' ... and the large, vastly more complex, body fretting means a lot of care is needed to avoid doing irremediable damage to the woodwork. More to the point: it is very much worth the work of reclaiming.

(OK ... I would think even more of it if it was 'octave-tuned' ... but JimP is onto a good thing with a professional grade, multi-key tremolo harmonica, none the less.) He might be inspired to save up even more and buy a new double-sided "Comet" ... some day! (Errr... although, my most recent catalog only lists them in C/F and C/G ...)

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 07:30 AM

why not take it to a professional, Antony Dannecker, the dannecker family have done all the repairs for hohner for years. Furthermore DANNECKER harmonicas are far better than hohner, much better than comets,they are hand made harmonicas,the creme de la creme of harmonicas,google antony dannecker for more information, by the way he will repair hohner blues harps, but not Comets.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Les from Hull
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 08:22 AM

Is that a dig at my playing ,Liz? I'll have you know that I've played in front of the Duke of York, the Duke of Edinburgh and other famous pubs!

Yes I've got one of those double-sided Hohners somewhere Bob, and I wouldn't like to dive into one. The woodwork is quite delicate and that is where the problem is. Any serious soaking to get rid of the stench of Old Spice could easily warp the body. It's probably going to take time for the smell to go away.

But as this has also turned into a general thread on harmonica hygene it useful to keep all these tips together.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Ernest
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 08:47 AM

Anthony Danneckers homepage can be found on the links page of the mudcat.
But after reading Captain Birdseyes post I would contact him first: If he doesn`t repair Comets, he might not do Echos....
Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,memyself
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 11:57 AM

Repairing comets and echoes - is this a man or a god?


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 12:40 PM

I've sung for the Prince of Wales so I think that gives me the one up....

And I don't mean the pub!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Nov 06 - 09:25 PM

There are products in the supermarkets in Australia that are 'odour absorbers' - intended for shoes (these are sprayed on, so might not be suitable) - also there is something here called 'Nilodor' (and some equivalents) - which when a drop is placed where it can evaporate, will kill off many odours, even without physical contact.

The shoe types seem to contain some isopropyl alcohol, on the theory that mere contact with alcohols tends to to disrupt most of the molecules that are 'smelly'.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 04:46 PM

G'day Captain Birdseye,

If your mate Danneker baulks at touching the modern, accessible 'Comet' ... there's not hope in Hades that he'll be silly enough to touch a doublesided 'Echo Harp' - facing up to a wooden body, instead of the 'Comet's moulded plastic ... "pinned" (nailed!) attachment instead of brass screws. He's sensibly sticking to the simple vampers (e.g. "Blues Harps" et al).

JimP is sorting out a vastly more complex instrument.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 05:50 PM

the theory that mere contact with alcohols tends to to disrupt most of the molecules that are 'smelly'.

???

Haven't known many old drunks, I'd guess.

John


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 06:01 PM

B Bolton . Antony Dannecker is not a mate of mine.
I have never had the pleasure of meeting him,. He makes chromatic harmonicas and vampers, and is recommended by other people other than myself, including Paul Jones of blues band and Manfred Mann fame , check out his site.
You are insulting a craftsman who makes great harmonicas.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 06:23 PM

Further to my previous comments: to summarise...

If there is visible grunge on the surface, it should be gently removed mechanically, perhaps with the addition of an appropriate gentle non-damaging cleaner - if it is responsible for the odour, that is the quickest method.

If the odour has permeated something, use something like Nilodor - a drop on a tissue, placed with the instrument in a sealed container, placed in a moderately warm (not cold) place (extremes may cause damage!) - note that each 10 deg C rise in temperature doubles the speed of chemical reactions.

I forgot to mention that you can also get 'sneaker sniffers' - inserts of activated charcoal - that will absorb odours - this may be an easy way if you can't get Nilodor - place in the sealed container with the instrument. This may also help larger instruments, such as guitars in their cases.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 07:35 PM

G'day Captain Birdseye,

I don't know the gent either - although I'm aware of his service - since he is half a world away from here. I'm just pointing out his sensible (professional) attitude to avoiding difficult, old (unprofitable) models ... and contrasting it to the cavalier advice given by so many on this thread who have not bothered to work out what JimP actually has ... and why he does want to restore it to working order.

Regard(les)s,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 10:30 PM

BOB!!!

I bow in humble acceptance of you position of "Lord over Harmonica Threads to the MudCat.

More than I ever wanted to know...What is your SOURCE?

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 12 Nov 06 - 10:36 PM

Sincerely, and truthfuly, my greatest "problem" with old harps...is the wood.

New, they are gorgeous, however, with use?????

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Never had splinter in the tongue....but with some old harps...there's fears it could be done.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,JimP
Date: 13 Nov 06 - 12:39 AM

Thanks again for all the comments. Bob is indeed correct in identifying the harp I've got. I won't be soaking it any time soon, that's certain! Anyway, the smell is very gradually going away. I think that my "airing it out" by putting it out the window while driving about 15 to 20 mph has done the best for it of any of the things I've tried. At any rate, after doing this, its much more playable. (Don't try this going at any faster speeds: you could seriously damage the reeds!)

For any of you that haven't tried these tremelo harps, you should do so. They sound fantastic; I know they're expensive compaired to a "regular" harp, and you can't play cross-harp (at least I wouldn't try it), but they're a wonderful instrument in themselves. I have been playing with a sea music group, and the Echo makes a great addition to the band.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 13 Nov 06 - 07:33 AM

G'day Gargs,

I'm no pan-harmonica polymath - I just call 'em as I see 'em.

"More than I ever wanted to know...What is your SOURCE?"

Source? ... more like 'sores' - well a few score late nights with 4 bleeding holes in my lips from swollen wooden mouthorgan bodies scraping away bits of face all night. Apart from that, I was fortunate to buy directly from the Australian Hohner concessionaire for many years, from 1965, and I bought a lot of odd harps, just on spec.

I know just what JimP sees (... hears ... ) in these big, multi reed harmonicas ... although my preference is for the "organ-tuned" (in octaves) varieties - the aforementioned curved front "Comet" in 2 keys is lovely and handy (but not cheap) but I really loved the old Boomerang octave models (long gone, now) or, failing that, the Hohner "Australian Branding" Auto Valve Harps ... made as a direct competitor for the octave ('Large') Boomerangs.

Most of the identification was aided by catalogs accumulated over the last 40 + years ... and a cupboard I have to keep my wife's hands off!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 14 Nov 06 - 05:32 PM

G'day again JimP,

I've been thinking over the basic problem you have ... the enduring pong of Old Spice - acceptable on your chin, but not an aid to interpreting the harmonica!

You need not be too fearful of getting the harmonica wet ... it certainly gets damp in normal playing. My reference, above, to "4 bleeding holes in my lips from swollen wooden mouthorgan bodies scraping away bits of face all night comes from a time when I was mainly playing harmonica: the small, 10-hole, vampers - back before plastic bodies became standard. Just that small amount of wooden body would swell, after solid playing, enough that the wooden dividers would project far enough to impinge on the lips.

If I had been playing an individual note style, like "blues harp", the sideways 'scrape' would be minimal ... but I was playing fast dance music with lots of 'percussive' chordal techniques and the wear and tear on my lips was considerable. I had a few Hohner "Orchester" vampers (I had to order them in and wait for them to arrive from Germany!), which had metal dividers made of shaped nickel-plated (~) brass. These were smooth and stable ... but expensive and hard to get. When Hohner brought out its "Special 20" vampers (late '70s?) it was as manna from Heaven! I stocked up on them (and repair plate kits - since I was 'blowing out' an average of one vamper every performance ... mostly due to playing over lots of other loud instruments, with primitive PA!).

Anyway, since wooden bodied harmonicas live in an environment where they are routinely wet enough to swell - and then dry out before their next use - I would not worry too much about the risks of a brisk rinse. I would tend to use comfortably warm water, give a few thorough rinses and then vigorously shake out as much water as possible, without undue violence to the instrument. I might, if I thought the natural drying properties of the surroundings were insufficient, perhaps give the harmonica a gentle session with a hand-held hairdryer (set on low) - certainly not letter it get more than just warm to the touch.

Give it one fairly gentle rinse and see if it improves (and ... you may be getting used to the taste of Old Spice!). All mouthorgans, even the old wooden ones, were made with the expectation that they would be routinely damp ... and, occasionally, quite wet.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: GUEST,Rayzor
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 01:32 AM

If the comb is plastic simply take the harp apart and soak the comb in warm soapy water. Then dry the comb and the smell will be gone. If the comb is wood.....take the harp apart take some grain alcohol(like white liquor sold in the liquor store) and clean the comb with a cotton swab soaked in the grain alcohol and blow dry quickly. Clean the covers with hot soapy water and the reed plates can also be cleaned the same way and you should also blow the reed plates dry with a warm hair dryer set to low air flow... These procedures should remove any smell. If this fails drink the rest of the grain alcohol and you won't care if there is a smell. Oh, I forgot... You have to reassemble the harmonica after the cleaning.. or it simply won't play well, at all.

Rayzor


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 03:58 AM

En passant, just bought a double sided 80 hole C H Messner harp, on E-Bay, which is totally indistinguishable from the equivalent Hohner Model. The model is called a Loreley, which I believe was also used by Hohner as a model name. I cannot find out how old it is, the guy who sold it, says he bought it in Switzerland with the intention of learning to play, and he never did. It came in the original box, with the original tissue paper wrapping round the harp inside.
It plays beautifully, and I am forced to conclude that the old ones were better made than the new ones.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: AKS
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 07:40 AM

Have you folks come across this lot...

AKS


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Brian May
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 11:59 AM

I remember chatting with Hughie (who remembers the Spinners) just before going on stage.

His harmonicas were each sat in a pint glass of warm water. It looked really strange, and I asked why (as I play a bit too).

He said 'try it'. I have, and the results are spectacular! Especially as my Hohner Blues harps have a plastic body.

Keeps them fresh too.


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Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 12:38 PM

Old Spice? That hasn't been used as an effective harmonica deodorizer since the mid 60s. I swear by English Leather, although Sonny Boy Williamson was convinced that Rye Whiskey was unbeatable.


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