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How do you clean a blues harp??

05 Jan 99 - 09:28 AM (#52046)
Subject: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: Zorro

I got some good advice about soaking harps, and last night I did that and it seemed to help. I also took the harp apart and wiped it with cue tips and warm water, but if I'm missing something, like using a detergent, or vinigar, or viagra, or something to keep me from buying another A harp before it is inevitable... Any ideas will be greatly appreciated. ????


05 Jan 99 - 10:28 AM (#52051)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: Mike Billo

Sometimes these measures are like keeping the patient on life support systems long after they've technically died. I've tried all of the life prolonging tricks at one time or another ( even experimenting with making my own reeds) and finally concluded that my time was worth something,and that once the harp has become trouble prone and all reasonable measures have been tried, it's best to just break down and buy a new one. Best of luck.


05 Jan 99 - 07:41 PM (#52146)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: John in Brisbane

Back in the days when I was working a lot of gigs I used to put my collection of harps in the soapy bath with me, give them a good workout, rinse under the hot tap and then tap dry on a towel. With that treatment those harps lasted for years - they admittedly were Marine Bands, which at that time were the best stayers. With one exception I never had any problems with the wood swelling (I suspect not a problem with today's harps.

Regards
John


05 Jan 99 - 08:15 PM (#52152)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: Joe

Boil them


06 Jan 99 - 12:22 AM (#52213)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: Les B

I've heard soaking them in a pint of beer helps.


19 Jul 11 - 01:21 PM (#3190779)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: GUEST,Sonny boy Stu

DONT SOAK A HARP IN ANYTHING USE A CHEAPO FOR PRACTICE AND BUY NEW ONES AS AND WHEN FOR GIGGING! I've played now 45 years and think I should know THEY DO SWELL!!!!


19 Jul 11 - 02:07 PM (#3190815)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: JohnInKansas

Water seems to be the most recommended cleaner.

But do you need blue water for a blues harp?

If you play fairly regularly, the moisture that condenses from your breath is going to keep any parts that absorb water pretty will soaked. If you don't have to knock the spit out once in a while, you're probably not playing enough.

Long soaking probably should be avoided, especially for "real wood" weapons, but the majority of ones I've seen now use a plastic block (sometimes made of "pretend it looks-a-like-a-wood"), or sometimes a "highly impregnated wood" material (they say it's "stabilized") that shouldn't swell from any reasonable cleaning method. For some of the better quality newer ones, you may need to replace them because the "impregnated wood" can crack just due to evaporation of the plasticizers from the block material. There's little that I know of that can be done to "renew" those materials, but one of mine did take about 30 years before the crack became obvious. (Not one I played often.)

If you're performing professionally, and especially doing solo work, you'll want to be pretty fussy about the condition of your harps; but advice that works for a dedicated pro may not necessarily be the best way for the "backup harp player who's really there to sing" to approach maintenance.

You have to decide what battle you're going to fight, in order to know how to sharpen your axe.

John


19 Jul 11 - 04:50 PM (#3190931)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: PHJim

Since Zorro asked about a blues harp, I at first assumed that it would be a wooden comb but, after reading the thread talking about plastic combs, I realized that Zorro had said, "blues harp" and not "Blues Harp", indicating that he/she was not necessarily talking about the Hohner Blues Harp which does have a wooden comb.
A plastic comb like the Super 20 or the Lee Oscar harps don't suffer from the soaking and I'd guess that you could try soaking as suggested above. I used to soak my wooden comb Marine Bands in the sixties to make the reeds easier to bend, but it did make the comb swell and I would have to cut the swoolen comb ends off with a utility knife. This made them very rough on my tongue. Modern harps don't seem to require soaking to bend notes, but you can no longer replace them for $2.50 like you could in 1965.


20 Jul 11 - 02:22 PM (#3191507)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: lefthanded guitar

Buy a new one. They're cheaper than takin' the spouse out for a bad movie or a bad meal at Denny's.


21 Jul 11 - 03:55 AM (#3191834)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

Lefthanded guitar guy: "They're cheaper than takin' the spouse out for a bad movie or a bad meal at Denny's."

You must have been married several times now....which accounts for you singin' da' blues.
jeez, what a cheapskate!

GfS


21 Jul 11 - 06:10 AM (#3191882)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: Steve Shaw

Old-style nailed Blues Harps or Marine Bands: don't soak or wash. You'll have to un-nail them and clean all the non-wood parts, doing what you can without water to get any crud off the wooden comb, then reassemble. You could sterilise everything with isopropyl alcohol if it makes you feel better. Hohner harps with "MS" stamped on the covers, which have parts screwed together, may have plastic or wood combs, but the wood is not the same as in the old, nailed harps and does not swell to anything like the dame extent. I've found that a quick rinse-through with tepid water, then a prompt shake-out and tapping to dry, then a night out of the case, does them no harm. Plastic-combed harps can be washed in the same manner but you don't have to be quite so fussy. If you do this after every gig, leaving them to dry overnight, you will avoid the need for any more drastic cleaning and your harp will sound better. The exception to this would be harps containing valves (which most 10-hole diatonics don't have, and you'll know if yours has them because you will have consciously chosen them and paid a lot more). You'll have to remove the covers and plates if they get really nasty, but if you wipe clean with a damp, warm cloth after playing you will never have to do this (with luck). Don't play if there is any chance that there is food residue in your mouth. It's going much too far to suggest you shouldn't drink beer either. One does have to live.


21 Jul 11 - 06:12 AM (#3191883)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: Steve Shaw

I've known some swell dames, but all the same...


24 Apr 12 - 09:06 PM (#3342849)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: Celtaddict

Now, thirteen years later, John, I am picturing you sitting in a bubblebath playing your harmonicas.


25 Apr 12 - 04:44 AM (#3342934)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: Mr Happy

Celtaddict,

Thanks for reviving this thread, some useful stuff!


25 Apr 12 - 05:26 AM (#3342947)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: Steve Shaw

If your harp is really dirty, and you can't be arsed to clean it, just play tunes that are all blow notes.


21 Aug 12 - 12:13 AM (#3393054)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: GUEST

I saw some footage of a young Bob Dylan rinsing his out in a drinking fountain, so that's basically what I do.


28 Sep 12 - 08:24 AM (#3411329)
Subject: RE: How do you clean a blues harp??
From: GUEST,Sonny boy Stuart

Replace replace replace !!!! Use a box of cheapos for practice and your besties will feel fantastic when you use them !! Hard to tell when a harp is dirty as even new harps seem to play very tight and appear dirty out of the box !its ok to give a quick splash under warm water but i find its best to dry immediately with a hair dryer on lowest setting !!! 43 years of playing and many many harps thrown out and i always give up on cleaning more than that ! Life is too short !!!! Good luck Peace !