How to Make Your Harmonica Last A Long Time (Maintenance & Cleaning Tips)

By JP Allen

Written by JP Allen on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, How to Play the Harmonica

Did you know that if you play one particular harmonica a lot, it might need to be replaced after 6 to 12 months?

If that’s true, then why is it also true that you could have another harmonica that remains in perfect condition for over 30 years? What’s the rub?

In this blog I’m going to share with you some simple strategies for maintaining the performance of your harmonica as well as a simple trick for sterilizing.

So, how do you get your harmonicas to last a long time and stay in tune?

Watch the above video for some quick shortcuts. 

Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Reduce rust.
  2. Keep harmonicas free from particulates (lint, particles of food, any beverages other than water, etc…).
  3. Don’t blow too hard and don’t let others play your harmonicas. (Stressing the reeds will put the reeds out of tune.)

Why might one harmonica last only 6 months and why might one last over 30 years? To begin with, it might help if you think about a harmonica like you do a car. It has moving mechanical parts and the more mileage you rack up the quicker the harmonica will deteriorate.

And, just like a car, the moving mechanical parts of harmonicas (i.e. the reeds) will deteriorate more quickly if they:

  1. Rack up a lot of miles (by being played a lot).
  2. Rust.
  3. Are given dirty fuel (not played with a clean mouth).
  4. Are stressed by “putting the pedal to the metal” (i.e. playing too loud).

What determines how long a harmonica lasts?

  1. How much you play it.
  2. How hard (loud) you play it.
  3. The style of playing you’re doing (playing blues with mojo stresses the reeds more than playing pretty melodies).
  4. The model (stainless steel reeds last much longer, but beginners often find them stiff and hard to bend).
  5. How much moisture the harmonica is exposed to.

So, if you want a harmonica to last over 30 years, play it softly, play it very little, dry it immediately, and store it in a cool, dry and airtight container. Not very practical for most of us (unless we’re a collector).

I admit I kind of set you up by implying that you could maintain a harmonica for 30 years. I did this because my students are regularly stunned to find out they need to periodically replace their harmonicas.

I was hoping to drive the point home that if you play one individual harmonica a lot, and you’re bending and playing the blues with some umph, then the reeds might only last 6 months before they need to be replaced. (I’ve had particular harmonicas that have lasted me several years but that’s usually because I don’t play them a lot. For example, I don’t play some of the flat keys as often as the natural keys.)

Furthermore, because replacing reeds on most models of harmonicas is more money- and time-intensive than replacing the entire harmonica, I generally just buy a new harmonica and I recommend my students do the same.

That said, if you’re handy and you like working with tools, you might enjoy replacing individual reeds or entire reed plates if you can get them. (Some harmonica models have replaceable reed plates and others don’t.)

You’ll find that the 4, 5 or 7 hole draw reeds will be most vulnerable to wearing out, especially if you play them with excessive air pressure down past the point of their available bending range. See point 7 down below for more on this.

How do you get the most mileage out of your harmonicas?


7 Simple Strategies For Increasing Your Harmonica’s Life Expectancy

  1. Brush teeth and/or rinse your mouth with water before playing. Your mouth should always be clean before playing. Prevent food particles, coffee, tea, soda, beer or anything other than water (and the natural moisture from your lungs and mouth) to enter the harmonica.
  2. Don’t get drunk and play the harmonica with all your might. The point is, don’t play the harmonica with all your might. This will kill your harp fast.

     

  3. If you want to share, get an economical harmonica that’s just for loaning to others. Don’t let kids or anyone play your high performance harmonicas unless they understand that harmonicas are NOT to be played with maximum air-flow.

     

  4. Let your harmonica air-dry quickly after playing. Reduce oxidation (rust) by allowing your harmonica to dry quickly after playing (I like to keep my case open in a place with minimal dust).
  5. Slap out residual moisture after playing. This is another great strategy to reduce oxidation (watch video above for clarity).
  6. Transport harmonicas in a case. Protect your harmonica from coins, lint etc… If you want to keep a harmonica in your pocket and you don’t have a case then use a Ziplock bag.

     

  7. And, most importantly, learn to play with moderate air pressure (to decrease the stress on the reeds). You can learn to play with “massive blues mojo” while playing with moderate air pressure. (Be careful with 4, 5 and 7 draw bends as mentioned above because they can be more vulnerable to excessive air pressure.) In addition, if you learn to “throw the sound” into your cranial sinus cavities as a singer does, you’ll get plenty of volume. It may take some retraining, but you will find that you’ll be able to play with moderate air pressure and still get a gritty blues tone and have total control of your bends. This could be the most important adjustment you make to your technique but it will require a high level of awareness and proper training as I offer in Happy Harpin’ and Breakthrough Blues. It will also help if you have a high quality professional harmonica. Click here to see my current #1 harmonica recommendations.

 

One of my harmonica notes is not playing! Why!?

Most common reason for a reed to stop playing is from excess saliva (see my video for more info on this).

Your head should be upright when you play to keep saliva from flowing down into the harmonica. Sometimes when students are reading music that’s on a desk, they let their head tilt downward. A simple remedy to this problem is to get a music stand.

I’ve learned to let moisture in my mouth pool under my tongue and then I swallow frequently to prevent saliva from getting into the harmonica.

What if saliva is clogging a reed? Remedies:

  1. Slap out the extra moisture into the palm of your hand.
  2. Rapidly go back and forth from the blow to the draw.
  3. Put the harmonica in a place it can dry quickly (e.g. near a fan).

Watch out for lint and whiskers!

If removing the saliva doesn’t work, you might have to take apart your harmonica to see if anything has clogged the reeds (lint, hair, a whisker, etc). When removing any foreign substances from the harmonica that might be blocking the reeds, be careful not to move the reed off its center or it will buzz or malfunction.

What about breaking in the reeds when you first buy a harmonica?

There’s a theory that your harmonica will last longer and stay in tune if you break it in with gentle playing. In theory, soft playing encourages the crystals in the metal to align, which is “good” for the reeds.

I’m personally not concerned for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, if you learn to play with moderate air pressure as explained above, then this is much less of an issue.

Secondly, I’ve heard Winslow Yerxa (author of Harmonica for Dummies, and one of the most well-respected harmonica players and teachers on the planet) state that there are no published scientific studies to support the claim that the crystals in the metal align during a “break in period”. His mechanical engineer colleagues seem to agree and so do I for the moment — but I’m open to change my mind if someone can provide solid evidence for their claim.

How to sterilize a harmonica?

Some pros use an ultrasonic cleaner with a disinfectant to sterilize their harmonicas (rinsing the reed plates under water after the ultrasonic bath). I am not averse to this strategy but, I have been satisfied with the use of a simple hydrogen peroxide bath I will explain below.

As long as you have a harmonica with a plastic comb, you can use a hydrogen peroxide bath for sterilizing the harmonica.

I’ve been using hydrogen peroxide on my harmonicas with plastic combs with 100 percent harm-free results for the last 25 years. I’m happy to share my ideas with you, but please bear in mind that I’m not an expert on the subject. I’ve tried cleaning with vinegar and alcohol but I’ve found the residue distasteful so I no longer use those substances.

As recommended above, if you brush your teeth and/or rinse your mouth with water before playing to make sure you mouth is clean, this will reduce the amount of contaminants that will settle on the harmonica and thus reduce the potential for bacterial growth (and the need for sterilization).

My only caveat to the use of hydrogen peroxide to sterilize your harmonica is to not do it too frequently because I’m unsure if frequent exposure will speed up the oxidation process.

I personally only sterilize my harmonicas once every 4 to 12 months, when I notice a bitter flavor in the harmonica.

I’ve also directed the fan of my air-borne ozonator onto my harmonicas and that seems to work okay too.

How JP sterilizes his harmonicas:

  1. Submerge harmonica in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and soak for 5 to 10 minutes (please be aware that if your immune system is suppressed, this may not be a sufficient form of sterilization as some bacteria are resistant to 3 percent hydrogen peroxide).
  2. Rinse under tap water.
  3. Remove excess moisture by vigorously slapping out harmonica into a towel that is held in the palm of your hand.
  4. DRY QUICKLY: (Put the harmonica in front of a fan or in a warm place exposed to airflow that will allow it to dry as quickly as possible.

 

PLEASE NOTE: To play it safe, I’m going to advise against this technique if your harmonica has a bamboo or wood comb. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll be okay if you don’t soak the harmonica too long and you dry it immediately, but you’ll need to check with your harmonica manufacturer to be certain. The other option is to remove the reed plates and only place the reed plates into the hydrogen peroxide bath but this will require a bit more effort.

Say what? Run water from the faucet through your harmonica?

If I’m out at a gig or hanging out at a party and someone plays my harmonica without my permission, I simply run water from the faucet through the harmonica.

I admit it. Maybe I’m a bit too squeamish, but if someone has been ingesting beer, chips or soda, I definitely don’t want the sticky carbohydrates settling on the reeds.

Only when you’re in a jam!

If you play harmonicas that use a plastic polymer comb, l see no problem with periodically blasting water from the faucet through the harmonica to clean it out, as long as you THOROUGHLY DRY the harmonica after water exposure. As mentioned above, you might not want to use this technique if you have a wood or bamboo comb. I tend to lean toward harmonicas with plastic polymer combs (like the Hohner Special 20) for this very reason – they’re so much easier for me to clean!!!

Here’s an old audio recording that I made years ago that talks a bit more about harmonica maintenance (some of the info is redundant but there are some new ideas you might find interesting.)

I hope this article on harmonica maintenance was helpful and gives you ideas on how to maximize the life expectancy of your instruments. Please don’t take any of my ideas as gospel. I’m just a harmonica loving’ fool like everyone else.

I would love to hear your thoughts, criticisms and concerns in the comments below (feel free to share honestly as your ideas will help thousands of other readers).

JP Allen

JP Allen believes that anyone can learn to play harmonica. Are you a beginner or intermediate who is looking for an especially easy approach to getting good fast? Do you think it would be fun to play blues or some of your favorite songs with minimal practice? Then CLICK HERE for JP's Beginners Harmonica Lessons, the world’s only 100% play-along harmonica video lessons.

Comments (103)

  • Amir Hosein

    |

    You’re Amazing man , i’m from iran , and what u teach is like “Gold” in our country , cause here nobody knows what a Harmonica is …

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hey Amir!!!!

      I just got your message. Like gold in my heart.

      Warmly,

      jp

      Reply

      • james

        |

        Man, jp you are amazing on the harmonica i’m only 14 about to turn 15 jan.13. thank you jp !!!!

        Reply

        • james

          |

          Do you think you can teach me a old nigro spirtal.

          Reply

        • JP Allen

          |

          Keep it up, that’s a great age to start…by the time your my age you’ll be a master. jp

          Reply

      • bahram

        |

        But unfortunately we cant buy your lessons in Iran because we cant get master cards.
        🙁

        Reply

    • Stephen maddox

      |

      Hi im just starting out i have a marine band b 10 harmonica. Im being taught by your lessons on the internet and i find it very helpful,since i dont have the money to go to a trainer in my area.Thank you very much for the lessons and i will continue to teach myself through your lessons. ALOHA!!! :0)

      Reply

  • Gerald Fry

    |

    Some good tips there J.P.; I have never experienced problems with rust in a harp unless it is a very old hand-me-down but the thing to be cautious about with an old harmonica, particularly if it has a wooden comb, is the possibility of mould growth which can be very hazardous to health if inhaled. I never let others play my harps, mainly for hygiene purposes but you have given me a few more good reasons. Thanks .
    kind regards, Gerald.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hey Gerald,

      Thanks for the feedback on the wooden combs. I never knew that and it makes sense. Particularly for people who live in humid places in the world…. Like me in Kauai, Hawaii.

      Thanks!

      jp

      Reply

  • Bill Prohs

    |

    Another thing that one could do to help dry out their harmonica is place a packet of silica gel desiccant crystals in the harmonica case. These can be purchased in various sizes and can be found included with many of the common products we purchase. These generally say do not eat or discard. They are really harmless and readily absorb excess moisture. Once saturated they can be dried out in your oven on low heat.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Great idea!

      jp

      Reply

  • Mark Kotula

    |

    jp,

    I just picked up the harp after 20 years. I bought your cd package ’bout a year ago (It’s Great!). I’ve been playing in a rockabillie band for 10 months. We have opened for two nationals and been playing around town (Detroit ). You can check us out on face book. The bands name is “Yankee soil”the gig is at Harpos Detroit.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hey Mark,

      This is so great to hear.

      It’s actually a dream come true for me to find out that my complete lesson series has supported you in playing in a band.

      HOW COOL!!!!

      I get this feedback from tons of people all over the world and I never get tired of it.

      I’m so happy for you MARK!

      Keep it up!

      jp

      P.S. Will you contact me here https://www.harmonica.com/contact and send me that link of your video. I’d love to see it!

      Reply

  • Greg Willis

    |

    I really liked what you had to say about giving your old harps away. I applaud you for that. I have giving away several guitars, organs and harmonicas over the years and the return has been fantastic… Several of the young kids I gave instruments to have become quite the musicians and there’s nothing better then to know you had a part in there love for music….Good job J.P
    Sincerely Greg M Willis

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Thanks Greg!!!!

      Seems to me that making others lives wonderful is just about the “funnest” game in town.

      And sharing music….that tops the cake for me.

      jp

      Reply

  • gordon

    |

    I learned to play the harmonica when I was around 8 years old, I am now 71. I have never put them down because there were so many memories attached to my harmonicas. Always Honer and always at my side. I never learned how to bend a reed but that’s ok as I never played anything other than Civil War songs and turn of the Centry songs. You have brought more to me than money can buy and I thank you for that. As for cleaning, all I ever did was take my hankercheif and one finger and dip it in my whiskey and wipe it down. Cleaned out the holes with a jack knife. Oh, by the way, I am now teaching the scale to elderly people who are blessed with COPD. I too have that lung problem. But with the harmonica I have learned all over again how to breath and I have licked my inability to walk, talk, and play the harp just because of needing to breath. Dam the COPD. Thanks again I am known as just the “Old Guy”.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hey “Old Guy” with the young spirit.

      If you can take a video of helping people with COPD that would be priceless.

      Many people don’t know how much harmonica is helping people with all sorts of chronic lung conditions (i.e. Lung Cancer, emphysema, asthma…)

      If you shoot the video I’ll post it on my blog. Together we can help a lot of people who are challenged by these heath conditions.

      Harmonica can make a huge difference in these people’s lives.

      You can send a link to the video here https://www.harmonica.com/contact

      I’ll do my best to serve the cause.

      With Love,

      jp

      Reply

      • Carol Frink

        |

        jp: Have appreciated your free lessons. Some day hope to be able to get the full lessons. I salute you on your service to the world! And I salute, Gordon, for his service to people with lung problems. I play fiddle with our local ‘fiddlers’ and we play for area nursing homes and senior meal sites, about 14 plays per month. We have an elderly veteran who played his harmonica in the trenches of France, etc and still plays with us. He had 1/2 of a lung removed recently due to cancer and while laying in the hospital recovering he asked the Dr when he could start playing his harmonica again and the Dr said, “That’s the best thing you can do for recovery!” So I’ve started playing harmonica in earnest! And the older people love to hear harmonica. Keep up the good work!

        Reply

  • gordon

    |

    Thank God for people like you……

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Receiving your blessings Gordon! And it feels good!

      jp

      Reply

  • David b

    |

    hi jp,

    im a big fan of you and harmoicas, and your dvd’s cd’s & website will help A,LOT with me learning the harmonica.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Thanks David!

      I’m so glad my lessons are helping you.

      Keep in touch.

      I’d love to hear about your progress.

      jp

      Reply

  • Jack C

    |

    I play a Hohner Marine Band. I am very careful wiping down the front of the harmonica, so I tap dry it so that the wood does not catch on the cloth. Also, to keep out the moisture after I am done playing, I take an office depot cleaning duster (A pressurized air can, can be bought anywhere else), and use it beetween the combs, and throught the back of the harmonica where the reeds are. Do not spray it directly on the cover of the harmonica. Instead, use a non-staining disenfectant and then polish with a jewelry cloth. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Put your harmonica in its case when not playing, and tap the harmonica on your leg to remove moisture right after playing if you don’t have time to clean.

    THANKS JP, YOUR GREAT. GOD BLESS.

    Jack

    Reply

  • Jack C

    |

    An Office Depot pressurized can cleaning duster works great on the combs and the reeds to remove loose particles and dust on and in the harmonica. I forgot to mention in my comment above that this pressurized cleaner is MOISTURE AND RESIDUE FREE, SO IT WILL NOT DAMAGE THE HARMONICA OR CAUSE RUST!!! Great.

    Thanks for all you do JP.

    Jack

    Reply

  • Terry Macioge

    |

    HI JP.,
    Thanks so much for responding to me on how to maintain my instrument. I’ve been having some fun with it and really need to get my breathing exercises going as my wind capacity is low. Amazing how much air you use.

    Wish I had know earlier that you are on Kauai as my Cousin and his entire family just visited there. He was a former movie actor and was the Captain in the movie Hawaii which was years ago. Had I known you were there I would certainly have told him to look you up. He’s quite the entertainer himself, sings, dancers and acts.

    Again thanks for being there for all us novice. We certainly appreciate any information you give.
    Best Regards,
    Terry

    Reply

  • S I Trivedi

    |

    Im a big fan of you and harmoicas,
    I am playing it since last 30 years in between I was not playing,Your lessons gave me boost to revive again against my present age 51 years.
    Kindly suggest best way to buy the DVD to learn more and wher can I purchase good Harmonica in INDIA (Ahmedabad).
    Great to be in touch with You

    Reply

  • Bob Dawson

    |

    Hey JP!
    Thanks again for all you do for all of us.
    I recommend your forum to all who play or are interested in information about harmonicas and playing, or just want to be around a great bunch af people who “keep on harpin’.”
    Go JP!

    thebugleboy

    Reply

  • Reg. LeBlanc

    |

    Thanks for the free harmonica lessons. I’m finally getting single notes (sometimes). Maybe I need to learn to sit like your student Robeca??? If I can bend this old body to sit like that I’ll be able to bend notes.
    In a short while I’ll be ordering the DVD and see if I can produce a tune or two.
    Thanks again,
    Reg.

    Reply

  • Santa Monica Mitch

    |

    Hey JP;

    I really appreciate your consistent good wishes & good vibes!
    Regarding moisture in a harmonica. . . . I’m sitting in my office listening to your advice & am staring at a can of Compressed Gas Duster that I use to dust off my computer & desk & keyboard. . . . dontcha think it would do a really good job? By the way, germs gotta live too! It’s sorta like a good Weber BBQ. . . . you don’t really won’t to get it too clean as that would rob the end product of a certain amount of “character”!
    Let me know if this helps.

    Mitch

    Reply

  • Richard

    |

    Hi JP, if hygiene is of real concern to some Harmonica users a product here in the UK called Milton Sterilising Fluid may be useful to them. It is intended for the sterilisation of babies feeding equipment and there is no need to rinse in clean water after use as it has no after taste. Just dilute Milton according to the instructions on the bottle and drop your harp in for about 3 minutes.
    Q: Why 3 minutes?
    A: I checked with the manufacturers if Milton would stain metal and they said that prolonged or very regular use will stain some metals. So 3 minutes every few months is no problem.
    I am sure similar products are available elsewhere in the world…it must be safe if it’s designed for use on ‘your’ baby!!;O)

    Reply

  • Tom Carrothers

    |

    I have enjoyed your lessons and emails I get. I’ve played since 1990. I don’t read music, I just play by ear. I Love John Popper from Blues Traveler. That is more my style, although I love to listen to the Blues and play along with it. I can really hook up with a song most of the time. Sometimes I can’t seem to find what key the song is in, by the time I do, the song is over. I play Lee Oskar Harps, and love them to death. I play in the Praise Band at Church. I have all 12 keys plus a HG harp LF harp and a MM C harp and a MM E harp. I use a Green Bullet microphone when I plug into an amp. God Bless, Keep sharing what you have with others, it’s your gift. TC

    Reply

  • Frank(i)

    |

    Hi, dear Apostle’n Instructor Proessor of Harping,
    My humble person can only repeat all the former blessings & opinions and beg the God to multipy them.
    As to lung cancer and such problems, the Sodium Bicarbonicum 4-5 grams a day has been proven helpful prilactycally too. (Viz.: Dr. Tullio Servicio, Rome)
    Harping is the best reconvalescens way even in heart illnesses ! Due to breathing like in the Hatha Yoga…
    May Peace and Good Will always be Yours !
    Your truly,
    Frank

    Reply

  • Edward Brien

    |

    Hey JP.
    thanks for the riff after your audio on cleaning.
    I heard a fellow make a really low growl on his C Spec 20 and asked him how he accomplished it.
    He said it was like snoring through the harp.
    So far no luck with this, any thoughts, and is it worth learning.
    it did sound pretty cool as an effect when he was playing.
    Thank up front for any help you can give me
    Ed Brien

    Reply

  • ali sadeghi makki

    |

    Hi. I love your harmonica lessons. Amir hosein told true. You are a golden man and your lessons are the best.(I am your freind in face book). Thank you again and the best wishes for you.

    Reply

  • cara

    |

    g’day thank u sooo much for ur lessons i got a harp for christmas and am so appreciative of ur free lessons they r sooo helpfull 🙂 im just starting to get it now lol i would love to be able to play xavier rudd stuff hes the one that inspired me to play it…. then i found u and u keep me inspired thanks so much… wish u where here to teach me in person lol u r awsome…

    Reply

  • bobz1b

    |

    hi JP

    I am a 51 year old guy from the uk who has played guitar off and on for 40 years or so. I recently took up harmonica and have made great progress since following your lessons, your awesome dude. My top tip for keeping the harmonica clean and dry is to gently blow it through with my girlfriends hairdrier,

    keep on rocking in the free world
    Bob

    Reply

  • Lawry Yerby

    |

    Terrific article ! Just found my Marine Band Hohner and would love to learn to play it. I’m getting up there at 69. So glad I found you on the inernet. Played professionally drums for many years in dance bands. Also for quite a few years in a Dixiland Band. I gave up playing some time ago but really miss the good times and music. I think learning to play this harmonica will be fun at this stage of my life. I’ll most likely order one of your DVDs. THank You JP. I blew a few notes and wanted to treat it properly when I put it away. Your artical was just what I needed to answer the question of how to keep it clean and in tune. Thanks again.I’m getting too tired tonight to even try the free lesson. Will log on tomarrow. You are terrific ! Old Lawry Yerby

    Reply

  • John

    |

    you are the man loving the dvd and cd lessons

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Right on! 🙂 jp

      Reply

  • Dr. Bene Ferenc

    |

    Hi, dear Apostle’n Instructor Professor of Harping, as to drying the Harp, I’d like to draw your kind attention to the battery or car electric operated small ventillator that could or should be an every case useful and handy drying tool for all Harpings.
    Are you praised already by the Hawai Governor and the US Pres. for your enormous worldwide best work and results for education, music, humanity, health, well-accomplishment, happyness, gerontology, etc.? If still not, it’s a big bad mistake of them! I suggest to do it utmost and beg the JP Allen World of Harp to join to my suggestion personally or collectively. Thanks in advance!
    May Peace and Good Will always be Yours!
    Yours truly,
    fan Frank(i) from Hun-gar-y

    Reply

  • Glen Goddard

    |

    Re: “…place a packet of silica gel desiccant crystals in the harmonica case…Once saturated they can be dried out in your oven on low heat.”

    Another way is with the microwave oven. 10-30 seconds max depending on the size of the packet.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Thanks for the tip Glen,
      jp

      Reply

  • Laurence

    |

    that was great, thanks allot

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Your very welcome Laurence.
      jp

      Reply

  • Laurence

    |

    P.S i’m fairly new to harmonica playing and in turn harmonica preservation but i tend to leave them out of the cases on the side with the blow and draw holes facing downwards in order to keep air flow and moisture draining out

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Brilliant Laurence!
      jp

      Reply

  • eva birincsik

    |

    Hi Mr Allen. Also Everybody.
    Thank you the cleaning tip. It brings back to me a sorrowful memory. My Dad give me, for my 20 birthday present, a harmonica and case which belonged to My Grandfather. It had a beautiful sound. I was very happy. So I followed my dad’s advise to clean it well. I washed it good with soapy water, then dried. Next day I was about to cry. My beautiful harmonica was stinking like sausage. I feel bad because it belonged to My loved Grandpapa.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Sorry to hear that Eva! I’m do hope others learn from this post what to do and what not to do. Let’s persevere those harmonicas memories folks!
      jp

      Reply

  • Alberta

    |

    How do you learn to play songs that you can’t find harmonica tabs for? Thank you

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      If you can’t find a tab on-line, I would say the best way is to learn it by ear. But that technique is very advanced and it starts out by listening to the tune over and over again. It takes a lot of experience on the harmonica to get it right.
      Otherwise you can get the sheet music for it. And as long as you can read music, you can take it note for note and find the notes on the harmonica.That’s take’s a while to do also! Have fun and I hope that helps.

      Reply

  • RS Rawat

    |

    I could play all songs on the Harmonica over 50 years back. I have started again & find that I haven’t lost that talent. Your lessons are a greaaat help. Thanks

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Awesome news RS! jp

      Reply

  • Sabine

    |

    Similar to “Old Guy”, I have asthma. Coincidentally, i also happen to be a respiratory therapist. One of the reasons I want to play an instrument is to help me with my breathing. Most likely, a brass or reed instrument would be more beneficial in helping to splint open the airways – but I don’t think my neighbours would appreciate that too much, so the harmonica is a really great alternative.

    I haven’t been very diligent in my practices. I hope to feel more confident in my harp technique foundation before proceeding on to your CDs, JP – really looking forward to it.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hey Sabine, it’s true that the benefits of harmonica for respiratory health is well known…being that you are respiratory therapist it would be a great resource to have a testimonial of your progress in helping your asthma with harmonica. Please email me if you are inspired to share your experience as a professional and a student for the benefit of others who struggle with similar respiratory challenges. jp

      Reply

  • yhoshua joshua

    |

    jp your lessons have helped me greatly. i am a viet nam vet since purchasing your dvd’s i sleep better and my nightmares have decreased. i continue to suggest playing the harmonica to others with ptsd. thank you.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Wow joshua, I can’t tell you how happy that makes me to hear that. Would you do me a favor and send me a personal testimonial on https://www.harmonica.com/contact It may benefit other vets to hear your experience. Warmly, jp

      Reply

  • wayne childress

    |

    J. P. Thanks for your help. i try to play fiddle tunes in both staight and cross position. The problem of course is speed, but I’m working with your blow and draw tucka-ticka routine and hope that will help speed me up over time. I admire the clicking sounds that you make and your speed. Also, I have been using hydrogen peroxide on my harps. I soak them overnight and the effervescent action lifts a lot of crud out of them and there’s no aftertaste as with alcohol. Thank you for your help. I have been playing for over 20 years but not really playing until recently.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      That’s a great method Wayne, thanks for your input. Glad you are making progress. jp

      Reply

  • vespry

    |

    Hi jp how are you I used to play the harmonica when I was a kid about 5 years no one ever taught me , it came naturally I stoped when I was about 10 years old and never picked it up again till about three weeks ago am now age 57 it’s such a lovely instrument I bought your package and it’s helping me a lot thanks Although am having problem with bending the notes but all in time i’ll get there keep up the good work

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Wow, I bet it’s all coming back to you like a second language. jp

      Reply

  • Stanislav

    |

    sounds reasonable the “slap” on the palm is what Baker also suggest people to do; I started actually with Baker and I like his way of explaining things

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Yea, that will do the job. jp

      Reply

  • jake

    |

    thanks jp,
    ill try some of those

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Sure thing. jp

      Reply

  • Tommy

    |

    JP,
    Thanks for the lessons!

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      You got it Tommy! jp

      Reply

  • Dan

    |

    Hey JP,
    I`m just getting back to accompaning myself (singer/songwriter) on harp after a break of several years and am really appreciating all the great instruction I`m getting from you. Love your enthusiasm for the insrument as well (its infectious!).
    I do have a quick question for you:
    How do you feel about cleaning and treating oxidization on reeds using a food grade mineral oil?
    Thanks again, all the best!
    Dan

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      I’ve never heard of that technique but who knows… Just might work. jp

      Reply

  • Dan

    |

    I`ll give it a try (on an older harp) and let you know how it works out…
    Thanks for getting back to me, all the best!
    Dan

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Great, I’d be curious to know how it works out. jp

      Reply

  • Dan

    |

    Might be a while before I have a few minutes but I definitely need to open up my old (D) Big River that`s not in tune anymore and do some filing. I`ll try the mineral oil then for sure and let you know how it goes. Thanks again for all the great harp tips, very much appreciated!
    Dan

    Reply

  • Jon C.Allen

    |

    JP,

    I’m having a problrm getting alll the bend notes an hole three. any suggestions

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hey Jon, check out my bending lesson:
      https://www.harmonica.com/harmonica-bending-1087.html
      Its a very detail description on bending even though I’m showing you on the 1D, the same basic principles apply for the 3D.
      Please be patient with yourself, I’ll come with practice. jp

      Reply

  • Rick Robinson

    |

    Hi JP et al…Food-grade hydrogen peroxide is available at most health food stores. 1oz. dilluted with 11oz of water makes the perfect dental rinse. It cleans teeth and gums better than a hygienist and would be perfect for mouth and harmonica maintenance. …Rick

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Thanks Rick!

      Reply

  • arian

    |

    hi good man
    i’m arian and i’m a lover harmonica
    you are very lovely teacher.
    thanks a lot.
    please help me. I playing diatonic 10hole harmonicas and I have blues harp(ms) in Bb, fire breath in C, harpmaster in C, marin band crossover in F, but I haven’t any harmonica in A tune.I want to buy one harmonica in A.
    please help me and tell me what harmonica in A is the best?
    SP20 in A or crossover in A or you tell me in my Email.
    with the best wishes for u man.thanks thanks thanks dude.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hey Arian. Go with special 20 in A. jp

      Reply

  • arian

    |

    thank u so much man.
    sure.
    I love it.I’m very happy that found u.
    best nice wishes for UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      I’m happy you found me too Arian. Glad your happy. jp

      Reply

  • arian

    |

    hi jp. whats your idea about manji suzuki?
    I want to buy two harmonica now.
    sp20 in A and manji in D? or manji in A and sp20 in D?
    thanks a lot for your guide and help.
    I confuse about harmonica keys and models.
    thanks a lot man.
    I try to help the other harmonica lovers. thanks thanks thanks dude.

    Reply

  • arian

    |

    hi again man.I want to buy these harmonica from you,But I can not. Because I am in iran now.I am sad about it.we have not any perfect harmonica models here.I was have to buy crossover in F because I think we have not any other crossover in our country.one shop is in my city that has different kind of seydel and a few model of hohner except crossover.it sells the harmonica very very expensive. he sells seydel session steel 183$. Or manji 165$. i am very upset about it.I am telling U these because I underestand that U are my good friend. we love harmonica in sad days.best wishes fro U dude.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      I’m sorry it’s so challenging for you Arian. Really though any harmonica you can get will work, it’s more what you put into it, your soul will shine through even a junky harmonica. But there is an ease to playing a better quality one for sure…..do you have a friend or relative that travels outside Iran that can bring one back for you? jp

      Reply

  • arian

    |

    hey good jp.
    no I have not any friend or relative that travels outside Iran.
    these days our country is like prison.
    our governments are like hungry animals.
    dont worry friend.
    I will try to travel outside this prison myself.
    I dont know when but sure come and make great happiness.
    you are my best friend jp.
    I am so happy that know UUUUUUUUU.thanks again dude for everythings.
    I wish that you be happy in all your life dude.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hey Arian, I’m glad to have a harmonica buddy in Iran. Just know you have a harmonica buddy in America, when you make it over here you can look me up. Sorry to here it is so challenging there. jp

      Reply

  • Pamela

    |

    I had my first “lesson” by you today JP! I am on cloud 9 and had the best time!!!! I have no idea what I am doing but whatever I did felt amazing 🙂

    Thank you!

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Awesome Pamela!! Sounds like you’re off to a great start. jp

      Reply

  • Sam

    |

    Hi JP it me again. Just wonted to let you know that I am now
    Using my ,left to hold my harp. I can cup my hands. I was trying to do this laying on my bed. I could not get my air g
    Right like you were showing in lesson. 67 68′ because I was bending me nick and could not get the air flow, so I will be setting up to play along with you now.
    Thanks Buddie
    Sam for south carolina

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Nice going Sam. jp

      Reply

  • Owen Humphreys

    |

    Hi, JP.
    Tha for your invaluable tips and lessons. I started off at 9 yo with a 5 octave Hohner Chromatica that a friend’s dad gave me. He taught the techniques of (a) covering 4 holes with your mouth, and the lower 3 with the tongue, to blow a single note, then flicking the tongue off the. 3 holes to keep the beat. Called “vamping”. (b) same thing but cover the middle two holes to play octaves. (c) tapping out the instrument on your hand after a session, and then leaving it to dry out in the open for 12 hours. No soaking in any liquid and definitely no microwaving. No metal goes in microwaves.

    As a teacher, I taught folk dancing with a Hohner double hole harp, 10 sets of two holes, with the same note arrangement as the standard blues harp you use. Boy could that one produce some volume!
    I’m now 71, and have had more harps than I can remember. Some are over 50 years old, and still going strong, with the only moisture control as described above.
    So, I have been a vamper all my life, but have discovered the blues harp thanks to you. Can bend notes, and use “tucka-tikka’ and other techniques you taught. Thank you so much.

    Owen Humphreys.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Wow, thanks for sharing Owen…sounds like you’ve got a few tricks of your own up your sleeves. jp

      Reply

  • bobby

    |

    thanks JP! FOR SHARING ON CLEANING MY HARMONICA.

    Reply

  • Bijan Zarei

    |

    So I’m not alone!
    I love you JP. You are a great man. And a really great teacher also.
    I’m so happy finding other men from Iran following you.
    I know how to take care of my harmonica now.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Right on Bijan! And thank you for you compliments. jp

      Reply

  • Bijan Zarei

    |

    Hi JP!

    I think I damaged my first harmonica because I had chewing gum in my mouth most of the time playing with it.

    After about one month playing frequently with it, I noticed that one C reed, the one in the middle that I used more often, is out of tune. It became flat, and required more blow pressure to produce sound.

    I first thought the angle of the reed needs to be adjusted, so I started playing with it with a small screwdriver. didn’t take long that I had the reed in my hand! my harmonica was done!

    I now have learned enough to take care of my new instrument. Both manufacturer’s paper and of course YOUR great audio file above.

    May I say, the way that you teach to take the harmonica in moth, with angle, reduces the amount of moist or small drops to go deep into the instrument. This I’ve discovered myself!

    I also take the opportunity to say that I believe in you, really really appreciate your efforts and the time and lessons you give freely to harmonica lovers like me. I’ve listened to other harmonica teachers over the internet. none gave the details that you provide. i.e. bending lessons.

    Before I find your site, harping was a fight that went on slowly. after I found you, it is really HAPPY HAPPY HARPIN’

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Thanks for sharing your experience and enthusiasm Bijan! I really appreciate it. jp

      Reply

  • Robert

    |

    Hey JP, Robert here

    I bought this Blues Band Harmonica off your website and I love it. I thought I’d have no trouble at all bending notes, I’m a great kisser! But it’s much more difficult then I thought. Do you have any extra tips? I’m big in my uhh.. special medicinal marina and it just feels so right playing this beautiful instrument while I am one with nature. (:

    – Robert

    Reply

  • Aiman Halim

    |

    Hello JP Allen. I’m from Malaysia and had recently started playing harmonica. I have to say that you are one of the people that inspires me to play. Thank you for sharing your knowledge & experience with us all.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Wow, thank you for being open and enthusiastic to learn. I’m happy to help. jp

      Reply

Tell the harmonica world what you think...

(Spamcheck Enabled)