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
(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 on..is 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 properly....so
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 comb...so 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 thoroughly...as 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
tweezers..so 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,
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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