Author Topic: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas  (Read 160 times)

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Offline brorat

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Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« on: September 12, 2021, 03:58:51 PM »
This is likely not a new topic, but I'm too lazy this afternoon to seek it out.
In terms of hours played, at what frequency is it advisable to totally disassemble an instrument and give it a thorough cleaning?  I don't mean "once a month" or "once a year" ... I really would like to know in terms of hours played.
Thanks!
“Just here to harp on chromatics!”

Offline A.J. Fedor

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2021, 04:08:58 PM »
For me, it's at least once a month. I don't wait for the thing to actually get dirty. Dirty Chromatics "grind" themselves to death. I have my springs tension very light and as soon as I feel the slide slowing down, it's time for a little scrubbadub. ;D
 

Offline Jimmy Halfnote

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2021, 07:21:58 PM »
Personally i take mine to bits ( totally) on very rare occasions,the MP assembly fairly often but only when needed,this varies with models , my chief practice 64 never seems to need any attention  ???, as for equating to hours sorry but no can do, some folks may feel better playing a pristine harmonica and clean for cleans sake , but in the past i have had too many stripped threads with constant fiddling, the reed-plate threads are shallow and soft and don't stand up to being over worked... so be careful,i would tend towards leaving alone as long as possible... but some harmonicas can be as fussy as their owners :)
                                                                   jh.

Offline A.J. Fedor

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2021, 10:20:57 PM »
Jimmy's right. You tend to go through screws and nuts, which is one of the reasons I moved away from wooden combed 270s. ::). What I have learned is that the cleaner and smoother everything is, the less you have to tighten everything to get a nice tight axe. I use a little vaseline between the baseplate and the comb, but not on the slide (maybe just a micro-dot on the spring tip) One thing I never understood is why so stingy with screws and nuts? They could easily more than double the sizes of what they put in Chromatic mouthpieces and NEVER interfere with anything important. When I ever find the right size, I intend to swap mine out for bigger ones. I might even get a tap and make my own nuts out of some stainless steel stock.

Offline brorat

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2021, 11:09:22 PM »
All this makes sense. I’ve probably been over doing the cleaning, but I’m gonna back off some. I’ll monitor the MP and slide and let the innards go til they yell …or don’t.
“Just here to harp on chromatics!”

Offline A.J. Fedor

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2021, 12:18:43 AM »
Yeah, I routinely run a little warm water through it with a lotta slide action, which effectively kicks the can down the road as they say between tear-downs. I'm never overly keen to take it apart, but when I do, and see some area that doesn't sparkle, I get excited about how it's gunna perform when I put it back together. ;D I change my bumpers a lot as well; sometimes whether I need to or not. I hate slide noise and I love that smooth, "clack-less" action new bumpers gives me.  8)

Offline Keith

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2021, 04:09:57 AM »
Another factor would be whether a wet or dry player, obviously a wet player would be cleaning more than a dry player. ;)

(Though I don't play mine overly much, I've only opened mine up to adjust reed gaps, & once to clean a slide.)

Offline brorat

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2021, 08:02:06 AM »
Yeah, I routinely run a little warm water through it with a lotta slide action, which effectively kicks the can down the road as they say between tear-downs. I'm never overly keen to take it apart, but when I do, and see some area that doesn't sparkle, I get excited about how it's gunna perform when I put it back together. ;D I change my bumpers a lot as well; sometimes whether I need to or not. I hate slide noise and I love that smooth, "clack-less" action new bumpers gives me.  8)

Just me being AR, Age!  When you say you run warm water through it, do you actually hold under the faucet (MP up, I assume!) and run the water through, then let it dry completely?  Or, do you put the MP into shallow water and work the slide.  I recall reading about both methods.  Thanks.
“Just here to harp on chromatics!”

Offline A.J. Fedor

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2021, 05:57:13 PM »
Because of my wood covers, I very seldom use the "shallow water" method anymore, but rather I loosen the MP screws a bit, hold it, MP down, atta 45 degree angle with the button up and run hot tap water through the gaps in the slide assembly while working the button as spastically as Kramer on the Seinfeld show. When satisfied that I did enough  ::) I whack it on my brown corduroys, (button-in then button-out) re-tighten the MP screws and I'm ready to make like Charlie Spranklin. ;D (yeah right ::))

Offline John M G

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2021, 11:47:17 PM »
One of the things I've wanted to try was my ultrasonic cleaner on the reed plates of both my chromatic and diatonic harmonicas.
There has been some discussion on using ultrasonic cleaners before here. Some showing some concerns and trepidation about using them.
Well the other night I decided to clean the reed plates on my Super 64 X. I have a 1 litre bottle of "Kleanium AQ8000" Ultrasonic liquid cleaner. It's used at 2% by volume so it's going to last a lifetime at those dilutions. It's a neutral pH non toxic detergent that's used at 50 to 60 C and rinses off with a second immersion with deionised water in the ultrasonic bath.
And the result was absolutely fine. I made a hanging rack to suspend both plates horizontally and did two 5 minute cycles and then took them to the bathroom and under a gentle flow washed the plates. I rested the wet plates gently on paper toweling to get the worst of the moister off and then put them back on the suspension rack to dry overnight.
I have to say I was very happy with the results.
I have been chasing some noisy windsavers and spent the next night using the tool I'd made copying Rick Epping's design that's used to slightly curl the top valve layer down and now have a beautifully clean and finally beautiful non buzzing harmonica to play. Here's a link to this most useful tool that will sort a buzzing windsaver so easily.
My ultrasonic cleaner is a $50  generic Chinese made units with timer, heater and de gassing functions, the bath is 24 x 15 x 8 cm, big enough to get an Amal 900 series bike carburetor in too!
If it hadn't worked, I was ready to spend the money buying new reed plates.
I'd had a small industrial ultrasonic cleaner unit while I was still restoring motorcycle and did discover that an ultrasonic cleaner can damage anodised aluminum, it will slowly remove the die. That's the only disadvantage I've found so won't be putting any of my Tom Halchack Blue Moon combs through the process.

Offline beads

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Re: Frequency of Thorough Cleaning of Harmonicas
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2021, 11:57:11 PM »
Total disassembly and cleaning? Only when there is a problem that requires that degree of maintenance.  I  have 3 playable chromes. One was last apart 4 years ago. One was last apart 18 months ago. One was last apart a couple weeks ago because it had an inside valve problem.