Re: [Harp-L] Do not soak harmonicas in whiskey?

Wow. This is an awesome experiment. I can't wait to hear how it comes out. I
think I'd use a harp that's easier to replace ... but in any case, I'm on
the edge of my chair ... I mean barstool.

On Sat, Nov 15, 2008 at 5:30 PM, Dave Payne, Elk River Harmonicas <
dave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> In just about every "learn to play harmonica" book you see it says "Old
> timers used to soak harps in beer, vodka and whiskey. DON"T do it, it's a
> bad idea." Obviously, those substances aren't going to help the reeds and
> it's something I've joined the chorus of others saying "don't do it" over
> the years.
> Yet, I've been thinking and I'm going to look into this and get some
> answers. Two of my prized Seydel NOS pre-2006 NAILED and UNSEALED beech-comb
> Solists (they are screws and sealed now) will be used in this experiment,
> one a soaker and one control.
> I'm leery of soaking a harp in beer because of the sugars drying on the
> reeds. Vodka, I have no idea how that could affect anything. But whiskey, I
> think might have worked and I wanna know if it does. I'm sure the sealants
> we have today work way better than any of this stuff and a fifth of
> Butcher's Block oil is a lot cheaper than a fifth of Ol' Granddad. So I have
> no expectations this would be a valid treatment for us. What I want to know
> is whether it worked for our harmonica forebears. My hypothesis is,
> regardless of how they thought it might have worked, it was a wood
> treatment, not a reed treatment.
> They poured some whiskey in it, or dunked it in a glass. Whiskey gets
> soaked into the wood. I'm gonna find out what happens next. Alcohol will
> evaporate quickly, I know, I've used both isopropyl and moonshine to clean
> out an unsealed harp or two in my day.
> I'm looking a bourbon in particular. I have purchased a 375 ml bottle of
> Early Times (I'll call it Bourbon since it's made in Kentucky) for this
> purpose and perhaps other "research" when the kids are asleep that shall be
> undocumented.
> When you soak an unsealed comb in bourbon, the alcohol will evaporate out.
> What's left behind? Basically, liquid oak. Bourbon starts out life as
> moonshine and its put in these white oak barrels with the insides charred
> out. The whiskey barrel is then put through temperature changes over several
> years so the whiskey soaks in and oat of the wood, where it picks up wood
> compounds, such as tannin (same stuff that makes the Blackwater RIver in WV
> black), cellulose, holds the wood together and liginin, the binding agent
> that holds the cellulose together while its in the tree.
> The best case scenario is that these substances and other compounds will
> get into the pores of the wood and slow (not eliminate, but slow) moisture
> exchange. Worst case scenario - I wasted seven bucks on a bottle of whiskey,
> minus the amount used in the undocumented research.
> There is one compound in whiskey that also interests me ---- lyonresinol.
> There's supposedly a bunch of it in bourbon. It's an antibiotic agent that
> has been synthesized  it has a" potential to be a lead compound in the
> development of antibotic agents"(
> First part of the research, I poured a tablespoon of whiskey on a plate and
> am letting it dry. I wanna see what it's like when it dries. Whatever that
> is like, that's what's gonna be in the comb pores.
> Any Vern Smith or Vern-Smith-like suggestions on how best to conduct this
> research would be appreciated. At the Elk RIver Harmonica Research
> Institute, we shall remain true to our motto: "This is important junk we're
> doing here and stuff."
> _________________________________
> Dave Payne Sr.
> Elk River Harmonicas
> _______________________________________________
> Harp-L is sponsored by SPAH,
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