An average harmonica can cost you about $40 or less, while a good quality instrument may cost $100 or more – not a lot these days for the ability to produce a great sound. But modifying your harmonica, or getting it repaired (for example, replacing rusty reeds), can add significantly to that figure.
So why not do it yourself?
Better yet, by taking good care of your harmonica, you may be able to eliminate some of the problems that lead to the need for repairs. Here are some guidelines:
• Get a harmonica case and make a habit of using it. This protects the instrument from impact. A harmonica briefcase is advisable for those who need to carry a number of harmonicas. For example, the Hohner Harmonica Briefcase can hold 12, ten-hole diatonic and a chromatic as big as the 16-hole. It is made of high-impact, lightweight ABS plastic.
(C12) Hohner Harmonica Briefcase
• Do not expose the harmonica to extreme temperatures. A wood comb easily swells at normal temperature when moist. Plastic combs can withstand more changes in temperature.
• Protect the harmonica from dust, which affects the movement of reeds. Make sure your mouth is free from food particles by rinsing before playing.
• Avoid exposing the harmonica to excessive moisture. Wood combs swell with moisture, then shrink and crack. Similarly, all chromatic harmonicas are affected by moisture in the windsavers. Even plastic comb models have parts that would rust – like the reed, reed plate and screws – due to excess moisture.
• Remove moisture after use. After playing, a gentle tapping on your hand will remove excess moisture from the harmonica; follow this by wiping with clean, soft fabric. You can use alcohol occasionally for cleaning the mouthpiece and cover.
• Never share your harmonica. It’s plain commonsense hygiene! That’s why you can’t return a used harmonica to a dealer. But when buying, you can still try the instrument first using the dealer’s testing gadget.
By doing the above easy routine maintenance you can extend the life of your harmonica.
DIY Wood Comb Repair (Chromatic Harmonica)
It’s quite common for a wood comb to warp and crack. You can spot this problem when two notes play together. But a cracked comb is easy to repair. All you need are adhesive and simple tools .
• Remove the mouthpiece and slide assembly, leaving the reedplates and comb attached to hold the cracked comb.
• Apply a small amount of epoxy clear adhesive along the cracked area in the comb chamber.
• Once it’s hard and set, remove the covers and reedplates to add more adhesive and fill the crack. Also spread thinly on the surface. Wait until the attachments are firmly hard.
• If necessary, sand the comb smooth with a ¼ inch thick plate of glass covered with sandpaper.
Your harmonica needs continuous care and maintenance to serve you longer and well. When your troubleshooting doesn’t resolve a problem, you still have two good options – replace it with a new harmonica or give the job to a skilled repairman.