I've discussed that subject before, and you all insisted that i have to unscrew it.

Now I have this marine band, you have to see to believe!

enter image description here

Here's a folder containing all the photos that you may want to see

there's no screws on this one, it has rivets, where you have a machine pressing down on the plate and securing it in its place.

Anyway, I tried unscrewing it, and one of the rivets fell off, you can see that in the pictures, and therefore I cannot take the plate off, I could break it but will never be able to reassemble it. (no music shop sells marine band harmonica in my county) This one is a Marine Band made by Hohner N 1896 key of C.

How do you clean this one? I just had to ask the question again, and please don't vote it up, it's kinda the same as the other one, I don't want any reputation. I just had to ask it, because I received no direct answer to the other question, everyone suggested to unscrew it, but now as you see in the pictures, there's no screws.

  • I don't want to reopen a closed question and it is unethical to unaccept the accepted answer, it was a good one but now i need different answers, new situation
    – Lynob
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 19:33
  • According to a friend who has played marine band for many years, all that he's owned have screws, so this could be a rare model.The rivets could be drilled out and others put in after, but it may be worth checking its value first.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 12:46
  • From the photo with the best focus, it looks like it's possible that it's not a rivet, just a screw head that has broken off.
    – Hannele
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 4:30

4 Answers 4


Take the [not rivets] pins out, clean, then put them back.

Old herings super 20 were like that too, using rivets. I had a lot of them and you can just take them out and back without any problem several times. They are long they will still work.

If you don't take the cover, you can't clean it properly. It's like trying to cook eggs without breaking them.

Don't be afraid. Your harmonica will survive.

  • So they're not rivets, they're pins?
    – slim
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 8:35
  • yes, they are pins
    – user9175
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 9:12
  • Cant do so, I tried talking one off but i couldn't put it back. Do i have to use a hammer? it won't stick to its place
    – Lynob
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 12:46
  • youtube.com/watch?v=mTnDYos5doI - raise a little before using a knife
    – user9175
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 13:31

If the harmonica had a plastic comb, you could simply soak the whole thing in lemon juice overnight. Old harmonicas which have pins or rivets typically have pear-wood combs however, and soaking them is not advisable.

Rivets and pins are essentially the same thing. Rivets are hollow-tube pins. A two-part hollow tube would definitely be called a rivet, but you're unlikely to find those on harmonicas.

The procedure for both is similar.

For rivets, use a center punch to guarantee centering a drill, and drill off the end which has the least material until you can pull it through from the other side by using a narrower screw inside, pulled with pliers.

For pins, file off the head on the side with least material and drive it through with a punch, over some table surface with a hole underneath the pin (or a 2x4 with a hole drilled in it, or even a socket).

If you are lucky, the pin/rivet is wide enough to replace with a harmonica bolt and flat nut. Those may not be available though, and rivet pins are easy enough to make anyhow. Tubes can be made by rolling some brass foil. Pins can be made either by flat filing the pointy tip off brass upholstery brads (hold it with pliers) or by balling the end of some copper wire over a gas stove.

Either way, you want a pin/rivet with a head on one side, and about 1mm or 1/16th inch sticking through the other side of the harmonica. After pressing the pin/rivet through, set the bottom side of the pin on an anvil (any raised piece of metal like a meat tenderizer or side of some pliers). If it's a pin, hammer the other side till it squeezes against the harmonica shell. Next, whether it's a solid pin or hollow tube, tap it in the center with a center punch or large nail. This expands the pin/rivet at the ends and compresses the shell together further. Do this on both sides. It's not difficult so long as you use copper or brass which are soft.

For a clunky but functional hack, even a steel brad will work. In that case don't attempt pining the centers of the ends. Just leave plenty of length so you can twist the other end like a fern frond using needle-nose pliers, then possibly hammer the swirl perpendicular against the harmonica shell.


I was also baffled about how to take off the harmonica cover plates, having wrongly thought they were held on by small screws and invested in a Hohner repair kit. However, I found you could use a small flat-bladed screw driver (the one that came with the Hohner kit was OK) to gently ease off each cover plate in turn by levering them slowly away from the wooden centre of the harmonica. If you do it carefully the small pins will come out intact and you can push them back firmly into the same holes after you have cleaned up and adjusted the reed plates. My draw notes seemed to have got stuck, so I cleaned them with witch hazel (maybe surgical spirit would do, or lemon juice, but we have run out of lemons) and lifted each gently with the Honner tools to ensure they were moving freely up and down in the reed plate. Probably any small tweezers or files would do - probably a cosmetic set would have the right tools. Anyway, they now seem to be making a better sound than before. Hope this helps.


They are not pins or rivets.They are small nails. I have two Marine Band harps in G and C,40 years old or more.I took one apart to clean, and it has never been reassembled. It's still sitting in a Mason Jar in my shop. If it don't have little screws, don't take it apart, leave it alone.

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