Re: [Harp-L] Chromatic care


okay, hi Josh. First, I think Colgate is a plain white toothpaste  ..and 
might work better (no extra things added to it), but your folks could  probably 
ask the pharmacist to find the least 'allergenic' one...and you'd be  washing it 
off anyway, then buffing dry any metal you used it on, so I doubt  you'd have 
a reaction.  
(I guess you're not having Turkey today :) Happy Thanksgiving  anyway.)
Secondly..I would HIGHLY recommend AGAINST Wright polish. Mainly because it  
does have a lot of the properties all those who wrote were talking  
about...more ingredients which could be toxic.  The MAAS polish I  mentioned was 
developed by a housewife just like your Mom :)  precisely to  be much less toxic than 
the others she so disliked using. I found my last tube  at CVS here in NY. It 
works for many materials as well as metals..can be used on  plastic, 
acrylics, ceramics (so is not abrasive), for jewelry can be  used on gold as well as 
silver (which pretty much shows that it's not the  typical 'silver' polish.. 
and has removed tarnish from under the cover  plates of even old harmonicas I 
bought on EBay (and which I wouldn't touch -with  my bare hands before cleaning 
- I use plastic gloves I buy by the box at Costco  - the kind doctors use). 
Even so, I clean every trace of it off before I play my harmonicas, but  
people have been astonished by just how beautiful my old chromatics look when  I'm 
done with my cleaning regimen.
The mouthpiece IS usually the part with the most 'grunge' collecting in the  
nooks and crannies..and needs to be cleaned the most thoroughly. To do so, it  
should be removed from the chromatic. You didn't say what kind of chromatic  
you were working it the Suzuki? - I've never cleaned one of those, only 
 Hohners/Herings...but cleaning it has to be done carefully so you don't 
damage  the mouthpiece parts.  I only know Hohner mouthpiece parts. If Suzuki 
works  the same way you have to take them off 'in order', saving the long screws 
which  hold it on..and the two small rubber 'bumpers' those screws go 
through...they  have to be replaced correctly for the slide to work 
memorize the  order. I work over a light-coloured towel or old plastic shower 
curtain I  cut up just for this purpose (so I can find any dropped screws).
Once the mouthpiece parts are off, given that you're saying there is a lot  
of 'junk' there, it's pretty much a given that there will be more 'grunge'  
inside the mouthpiece parts of the that needs to be cleaned out before  
you play it. Because of your age, I wouldn't let you play anything that 
hadn't  been cleaned thoroughly. 
I use a series of small brushes, orange sticks (your Mom will know what  they 
are), old clean toothbrush, toothpicks, manicure tools bought and saved to  
be used only for my harmonicas...and other small tools (screwdrivers, other  
things I've adapted) dipped into rubbing alcohol to get into the holes to clean  
out any grunge.  I also sometimes use Clorox Anywhere Hard Surface Spray in  
a small dish...dipping my tools into it before scrubbing areas of the 
harmonica,  to make sure I'm killing germs.  I've even used old mascara  
brushes..soaked, cleaned and disinfected the perfect brushes to  get into 
the holes without disturbing the reeds (a toothbrush bristle can  sometimes get 
caught in the reed...has to be removed very carefully..with good I have a set of those I bought at Michael's craft stores ...very  cheaply, 
sold for jewelry making/beading).
I give it the 'smell' test, before reassembly. If the body of the chromatic  
smells clean at that point, then I'll consider it okay to work on the 
mouthpiece  before reassembling. I've bought old chromatics which no amount of 
cleaning made  smell good. I wouldn't play them.
The mouthpiece parts have to be separated and cleaned individually. That  can 
be initially done at the sink under running water..very carefully. If  
they're tarnished (as I think you're saying)...then the polish has to be applied  
gently with each piece laid flat (I use old cut up white t-shirts)...and keep  
gently rubbing the polish front and back of each section of the mouthpiece 
until  the tarnish goes away. Be careful not to bend them in any way....especially 
the  part where the slide button attaches. Then I go over everything with the 
rubbing  alcohol..and then again clean the parts with a water-dampened cloth. 
 Then  thoroughly dry with another clean white cloth.  I do the same with the 
 screws, and the bumpers (being careful not to lose them).
This is all fairly time-consuming.  Then you must reassemble the  mouthpiece 
parts in the same order you took them off. Begin by inserting each  mouthpiece 
screw through the bumper on each side and tightening only a  little...first 
one, then the other. Keep going back and forth like this..don't  overtighten. 
When you feel the screw finally tight..come back one half  turn....over 
tightening can straighten out the 'bow' in the middle of the  mouthpiece and cause it 
to hang up....not play properly.
At this point the mouthpiece should hopefully be nice and clean, work well,  
and the button should move freely.  Sometimes it doesn't.  Other  people on 
slidemeister (the main source of chromatic information)...insist on  running a 
drop of water just down the mouthpiece while pushing the button  in and out a 
few times to loosen it..or oiling it. I never have and wouldn't  since my 
opinion is that any oil or other lubrication attracts just more dust  and dirt,or 
might cause more tarnish.. But that's me. There are as many  theories and 
opinions as there are chromatic players.
If it's too tight and the slide is sticking..I usually begin all over to  
figure out where I've gone wrong. 2nd time around usually fixes wherever I've  
I live quite far out on Long Island. Only come into NYC or to New Jersey  
when my friend Jason Ricci is playing shows in or around the NY area, but I do  
fly to Buckeye and SPAH every year, where I've learned a lot about harmonicas  
since coming back to playing them a few years ago.
Hope this helps a wee bit.
In a message dated 11/27/2008 10:20:06 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
joyking1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:


Mom helps me but I have to type my own emails "for  school".  It takes
forever!  I am allergic to Crest and  turkey.  Mom reads all my emails first.
I get some crazy ones and I  got blamed for giving the computer a virus.  I
did not  know.

Dad's helping me with the tools.  Marcus Milius shows me how  to replace
reeds.  We had to do that to my Suzuki.  

Since  everybody wants to poison me, just joking, Dad and I are going to  use
Wright silver polish.  It has a blue lid. Mom cleans silver with  it.  The
mouth part with the holes has the most tarnish and  junk.  If that is a bad
thing please tell me now.

Does the  slide need oil?  Dad thinks it  does.



PS-Do  you live in NJ Elizabeth?  I live there most of the  year.

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