Cleaning the Harmonica

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 55,196
    Harmonica player Matt Bradshaw demonstrates how to play the harmonica and how to clean the harmonica.

    Matt Bradshaw: Hi, my name is Matt Bradshaw, and I am a musician in the Washington DC area and right now I'm talking about how to keep your harmonica clean, so you don't have to end up replacing it, if it gets too corroded.

    Like all wind instruments the problem is, blowing sugar, that's built up in your teeth and your mouth into your instrument and ultimately it gets too corroded that you need to clean it or buy a new one. Unfortunately getting harmonicas fixed is almost as expensive as just buying a new one. So when a harmonica does go bad, which they do, then the best thing to do is just go to the store and buy new one. But some things that you can do to prevent that from happening too soon are things like rinsing out your teeth and brushing your teeth before playing a harmonica, I know that's not always the easiest thing to do, but it just keeps from things getting stuck in there. After you're done playing or practicing or performing or whatever, the basic thing to do is take the harmonica in your hand like this and just sort of grip it almost like a spray bottle or something like that, just keep your finger on top there, and hold out your palm like this and just hit it into your hands, like this, repeatedly like that, and basically knocking out the spit, and everything else, it's kind of gross so your wash your hands after that. But it clears all the reeds, everything inside of anything that's been blown into it, just so there isn't any kind of build up.

    Now, on occasion you may find that one of the reed is stuck or basically you won't be able to get sound out of one of the holes, and that could be because there is something that just isn't getting out by doing this, in which case, you could take your harmonica just to the kitchen sink, turn on the water and just hold it under the stream for a while and make sure it builds up completely on that side, turn it over, and just sort of wash over it, it won't damage the harmonica, it will just get water in there, and hopefully wash that out and once you're done rinsing it, take it out and in the sink just kind of clap all the water out of there and just make sure that all the water is out and then you're going to want to play every single note, in and out, just to make sure that every notes there is just -- just to make sure you have every note, completely clear of food or water, anything like that.

    I believe there are some harmonica cleaning kits available that have small tools to get in there but if you don't have that, I don't I just use this clapping technique and running it under water and that's worked fine and it keeps your harmonicas sounding good for as long as you can. So that's a little bit on how to learn harmonica. Just take it slowly and it can't do it overnight, just sort of build up, get more comfortable with the instrument and just have fun playing the harmonica. Thanks a lot.