Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have seen many videos on "how to clean harmonicas". But in all the videos you have to take the harmonica apart, clean it and reassemble it.

The thing is there's no marine band harmonica in my country, i bought it from the US on amazon and i can't afford to take it apart, maybe something bad happens, i can't order another one easily. Besides, when you take the harmonica apart, you might have to retune it, and i don't know how to do that and again, i can't afford to take the risk.

So is there anyway to clean the harmonica without taking it apart, and without damaging the holes or changing the tune? I used to clean my chinese haps with alcohol or water, i don't know if it's the right way.


Can't you just put some water or alcohol in every hole and dry it with a hairdryer to remove the moisture?

share|improve this question
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think it depends if you want to have it as an "active instrument" and play with it, or just keep it as a nice harmonica for memory/collection.

I play in one of my projects with Filip Jers, he was sponsored by Hearing harmonicas and now Suzuki harmonicas, and he tunes his harmonicas every other show. Open, clean the reads, scratch them to fix tuning, oil it and put it back on. He is a world class player an is very careful with tuning/performance of the instrument. I've seen him open/close harmonicas a lot and they don't get broken.

If you want to have the marine band harmonica as an active instrument, I would not be afraid of it, it's more complex with chromatic harmonica. Just open it, blow on it's reeds and clean what you see dirty.

(This does not answer your question in the way that you ask "how to clean without taking them apart", still it's the experience/knowledge I would like to share with you)

share|improve this answer
+1 Fully agree. Harmonicas are really simple. Taking it apart to clean is easy and necessary. – slim Jul 22 '13 at 9:14
the marine band is my active instrument and the thing is, i don't want to mess with the tuning, i don't know how to retunne, it's not like the guitar, you can't use a metronome right? you have to use your ear and i'm not trained enough to know the right tune for each hole, i don't know flip jers, but he seems very professional, he could retune his harp blindfolded, i can't. – Lynob Jul 22 '13 at 13:43
@Fischer taking it apart, cleaning, reassembling will not affect the tuning. – slim Jul 22 '13 at 14:02
@Fischer, (like slim also wrote) opening does not affect tuning. But not cleaning does actually, the reeds gets dirty with time and using and get lower in pitch, so opening and cleaning is recommendable. If you want to train tuning them then it's better to buy more common harmonicas and try on them. You can find videos on youtube with tips on that. – Sergio Jul 22 '13 at 14:09
@slim see this see the end of the video – Lynob Jul 22 '13 at 14:14

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.