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cleaning mouth organs

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GUEST 10 May 15 - 01:46 AM
GUEST 10 May 15 - 02:36 AM
The Sandman 10 May 15 - 03:14 AM
Gurney 10 May 15 - 03:48 AM
Steve Shaw 10 May 15 - 04:00 AM
GUEST,Grishka 10 May 15 - 04:33 AM
Jack Campin 10 May 15 - 04:47 AM
Steve Shaw 10 May 15 - 05:14 AM
Steve Shaw 10 May 15 - 09:05 AM
GUEST 10 May 15 - 09:55 AM
GUEST,rewster 10 May 15 - 12:27 PM
Gurney 10 May 15 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 10 May 15 - 07:05 PM
Steve Shaw 10 May 15 - 07:16 PM
Gurney 11 May 15 - 05:33 AM
Steve Shaw 11 May 15 - 06:18 AM
Steve Shaw 11 May 15 - 06:36 AM
Tattie Bogle 11 May 15 - 09:06 AM
Steve Shaw 11 May 15 - 09:21 AM
bubblyrat 11 May 15 - 09:59 AM
Steve Shaw 11 May 15 - 10:04 AM
Gurney 11 May 15 - 05:11 PM
Brian Peters 11 May 15 - 08:17 PM
Steve Shaw 11 May 15 - 08:41 PM
Steve Shaw 11 May 15 - 08:43 PM
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Subject: Cleaning mouth organs
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 15 - 01:46 AM

I picked up my harp yesterday and several reeds were stuck. I don't play it much, but I've had it for about 10 years, and that's the first time it has given trouble.
I stripped it down, -not a job for the short-sighted,- and found that the trouble was some kind of black deposit (light corrosion?) patches on the twin reed pans.
soap-and-water and scrubbing didn't shift it, and I resorted to scraping, which fixed the problem, but I'd like to prevent recurrence.

So, what do you do?
It's a cheapie but a goodie, and it won't take many more services like that one. The minute brass screw-heads are suffering already. Chris.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 15 - 02:36 AM

To prevent build up of deposit swill it around under the full force of the toilet flush
before and after playing.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 May 15 - 03:14 AM

i have cut and paste some advice from harmonica guru and expert, steve shaw, he will probably object but i think its helpful.Subject: RE: Cleaning a Harmonica
From: Steve Shaw - PM
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 08:13 PM

Toothbrush red alert! Brush only from the fixed end of the reeds to the free end. One stroke in the other direction and it's bye-bye harmonica. When you get home from playing your harmonicas, clean them and let them dry in the air overnight before putting them away. Plastic-combed, unvalved harps (Special 20s and the like) can be washed out in a stream of tepid water then shaken out. You can do this with the modern 10-hole harps with wood combs such as blues harps that have MS stamped on the covers, but be quick. Older, hand-made blues harps and Marine Bands should not be immersed in water at all. If you have an Echo harp and you want to destroy it in one fell swoop just wash it under the tap. Bye-bye Echo. Likewise with Hohner 270s and the other wood-combed chromatics. You really are best off not cleaning these as long as they are working well, but you can clean the mouthpiece and slide mechanism by holding the harp mouthpiece-down in a shallow container of hot water whilst working the slide. Don't turn the harp the right way up until you've shaken out the excess water, and then allow it to air-dry, mouthpiece down. If you have a valved harp with sticking valves you can nearly always alleviate the problem by warming the harp before playing it. Put it in a little bag for half an hour with one of those little gel hand-warmers or put it down the front of your trousers. The counsel of perfection is not to play harmonicas unless your mouth is very clean, without trace of food residues. I break this rule only with harmonicas that can be washed through, as above. I'm not going to play my chroms after eating chips, thanks. Even if you don't do any other cleaning, always clean the mouthpiece of every harp after every playing session. If you do these things you will rarely have to contemplate dismantling harmonicas for cleaning, and you won't keep getting cold sores or worse.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Gurney
Date: 10 May 15 - 03:48 AM

Thanks, guys. I'd guessed that would be the story.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 May 15 - 04:00 AM

What's the make and model?


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 10 May 15 - 04:33 AM

You can buy a cheap ultrasound cleaner. Using it with an ordinary detergent will normally do no harm. Before experimenting with acids such as vinegar, consult an expert.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 May 15 - 04:47 AM

Drop it into a jar of maggots small enough to enter the holes and eat the dirt off?


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 May 15 - 05:14 AM

Yebbut Jack, the wrong maggots would only clean half the holes. So blowflies should be avoided.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 May 15 - 09:05 AM

I'm not quite sure which bits of the harmonica the original poster is referring to as "twin reed pans". I suspect it's reedplates. Without further info forthcoming, the thread will die!


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 15 - 09:55 AM

How do you get maggots in the right key?


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: GUEST,rewster
Date: 10 May 15 - 12:27 PM

My mate threw mine into the river....


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Gurney
Date: 10 May 15 - 05:01 PM

OK, it's a Huang Frontiers Harp (sic) and it is a plastic 48hole 2-and-a-bit octave, and it has been to my ear consistently on-key since I bought it. It cost about as much as 10 cups of cafe coffee.

Steve, you are right, they are not reed pans, but plates. They are brass with brass reeds which are noticeably individually tuned by grinding, and fixed to the fluted body(?) with about 10 really tiny cheese-head machine screws.
The nomenclature is because I am a concertina-ist (sort of) and that is what they are called therein.

After my treatment there is just one bass reed not working properly. There were no noticeable deposits in there, just the unshiftable black surface corrosion.
Chris.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 10 May 15 - 07:05 PM

I have used:
Vinager
Scraping


Sincerely,
Gargoyle
it is a delicate issue ... the sensitive tissue may have problems. It pains me greatly to hock over 120 to 250 USD.... A stuck reed should be tossed away.      But I should know better than eating Spanish peanuts...or ANY peanuts


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 May 15 - 07:16 PM

Err, right, Huang harps...

All I can find out about Huang Frontier harps is that this name was given to a ten-hole blues harp-style model. But you say 48 holes...that sounds suspiciously like a tremolo harp of some kind.

Now for the bad news. Huang harps do not have a good name among harmonica players. Whilst they are inexpensive, they tend to suffer from execrable quality control. I've owned several, and still have a Star Performer that I dig out on those rare occasions when I need a B flat harp, but my experiences have not been happy. I've had to spend time retuning reeds and setting gaps in order to get the things to play at all, and they don't last. I've had problems with the metal plating of the covers of a Star Performer breaking up into extremely thin, sharp metal shards that cut my mouth. If you've had yours for that long and it still plays in tune with nice, even response, you can probably count yourself lucky. If it were mine I wouldn't waste too much time on it. But it isn't, and you're not me!

When you say a reed isn't working properly, what's it doing wrong?


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Gurney
Date: 11 May 15 - 05:33 AM

Not working at all before, several reeds not vibrating. Stuck. Dead spots in the scale. And a single reed not working at all now, and the other reed in that note working only reluctantly now.
Notes are paired, top row and bottom row an octave apart. 48 is total, 24 x 2-note chords. Don't know the type name.

You will have gathered that it is not my primary, or even my secondary instrument. The harp just sits on my chairside table with the printing fading on its plastic covers awaiting my pleasure, and gets played only when the cat is outside.
The animal looks at me in horror, then runs, when I play free-reed, but doesn't bother much about the guitar, and sleeps through gunfights on the TV. No accounting for taste. We adopted her when a friend, her staff, died. He had the TV on about 16hrs a day, and only liked Jazz.
As you say, Steve, it was inexpensive, an impulse buy, about a hours pay. But working on it is just sitting in my easy chair using a jeweller's screwdriver. And it is an acceptable instrument for what I'm doing with it.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 11 May 15 - 06:18 AM

So it's an octave harp then. Tune the top row with your tuner (or to your satisfaction) then tune the bottom row by ear to tune out the beats. It's a devil of a job as the tuning will change when you put the covers back on (it's an embouchure thing). There should be no tremolo effect with an octave harp, but that's a counsel of perfection. Try to identify the exact reeds that aren't sounding. Ping them a few times to free them up and make sure they're gapped the same as the partner reeds, otherwise they won't work properly. Check that they are free to move in their slots. Good luck with that. You'll need it!


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 11 May 15 - 06:36 AM

Reluctant reeds usually indicate a gapping problem, often the gaps being too big. It can be a particular issue with double-reeded harps like yours, as the gaps for both reeds must be balanced. With the covers off look up and down the harp to see if any reeds have got egregiously different gaps to all the others. Gaps should be graded from slightly bigger for longer reeds to slightly smaller for shorter ones. You also need to look down the holes at the gapping of the blow reeds, which are the inside row, if it's blow reeds playing you up. If you've never done it before, look online for advice about reed gapping: it's quite easy to do but you don't want to be snapping reeds! Seeing videos is better than me talking you through it!


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 11 May 15 - 09:06 AM

Would you ever buy a second-hand one? Charity shop near one of the festivals I go to had several on sale. Somehow not very appealing! Not sure if anyone bought them.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 11 May 15 - 09:21 AM

I would never buy a second-hand one with a wood body, or a harmonica with valves. All-plastic/metal ones can be cleaned and sterilised effectively. Second-hand harmonicas, unless from an exceptionally reputable source, are worth next to nothing if they're not actually collectors' items. I've been known to acquire some old harps for spare parts.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: bubblyrat
Date: 11 May 15 - 09:59 AM

I'll stick with my Japanese Tombo "Band" ; expensive, but nice !


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 11 May 15 - 10:04 AM

I wholeheartedly concur. I have one in D and one in G and I love them.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Gurney
Date: 11 May 15 - 05:11 PM

Thanks for the advice, guys. I could do the tuning and gapping if needed, I've done it on a couple of concertina reeds, but those are dismountable, disassembleable and big enough to see. These Huang ones are spot-welded to the reed plate and tiny, however. One slip and goodbye. When I do do it, I'll tape over the holes so that I know exactly what isn't working and mark the assembly before tearing it apart.

As for cleaning, I have all sorts of solvents, acids like phosphoric and gun blue and the stuff that they paint aeroplane scratches with, compressed air(Oh NO), and steam. Then I hear that water is best.
The universal solvent.   Thanks, Chris.


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Brian Peters
Date: 11 May 15 - 08:17 PM

Don't you just dip it in your pint before the next song? That's what our harp player always did (although on one occasion this remedy failed to work because the harp had a bus ticket stuck inside it).


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 11 May 15 - 08:41 PM

Hmm. Bad pint, bad harmonica! I suppose that's the least anyone wilfully choosing to play the harmonica deserves... :-)


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Subject: RE: cleaning mouth organs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 11 May 15 - 08:43 PM

Actually, on one occasion I couldn't get my harmonica to play properly at all, until I discovered a twenty pence piece jammed inside it!


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