Harmonica Maintenance

I know harmonicas are relatively simple instruments but I was wondering if there is any kind of maintenance or cleaning that should be performed. If so is it done on an “as needed” basis when something starts sounding off, or are there prescribed timeframes (ex: every 6 months clean “x” etc…)? Have a great weekend everyone!


While others here in this forum have much more experience than I do, probably whenever you have problems with a reeds sticking or if you notice gunk building up around the comb, it’s a good idea to give the harp a bath and check the gaps in the reeds. This sounds scary but is actually not too difficult. @Luke recently created a post I got by e-mail where he talks about overcoming his fear of opening up harmonicas but I’m not sure where to find it here on the website.

While I have only a few rules for when, where and how to play the harmonica, one of my rules is not to play the harmonica after I eat or drink anything (except for water) without first rinsing out my mouth.

A clean mouth keeps gunk to a minimum and leads to a happy harp :blush:

Here is an excellent post that should answer many of your questions with much greater detail :point_down:


Hi @grussem

Use the forum’s Search function. I, as well as @stevenlois1 and others, here have already posted various posts answering all of your questions along with tips and tricks to get the job done well. :point_left:

– Slim :sunglasses:


I did and nothing came up, my apologies.

Thanks for the link! I tried using the search function in the forum but was unable to find anything.


I found this thread from @Luke a cupla months ago which talks a lot about maintenance and opening up the harp.

The other link :link: I sent in my other reply for from JP in March of 2018 is pretty comprehensive. Though I had read it before, I read it again in its entirety yesterday. It covers most of what is covered elsewhere in the forum with excellent tips and advice on maintenance and playing in a way to make the harp last longer.

This is a picture of the last time I opened up my harps for a comprehensive check and clean :point_down:

In this photo you can see the 4 draw (4th from left) on my 008k which I blew a while back :point_down:


Hey @grussem - @HarpinBobbyMcB’s advice is on point - make it a law to rinse out your mouth before you play.

Joe Filisko says it’s good to tap your harp against your palm and wipe it with a cloth every time you finish playing it.

@Slim cleans his regularly as detailed here.

I’m lazy. So when performance starts lagging I rinse underwater as detailed in the thread @HarpinBobbyMcB shared.

I think that pretty much covers it. Pretty low maintenance instruments.


Much like the person starting this thread, I seldom if ever open up my harps. I don’t know what the blockage is, I just don’t. But recently I found that I had eight Seydel harps that had been stored for the past 12 years. I decided to sell them - they were ones that I had basically never played. I got them but almost immediately after that started playing Bends harmonicas from Brazil

So, I took the covers off all of the Seydel harmonica‘s, cleaned the covers, the combs and the top of the reed plates with alcohol. Just so nothing would be passed along. Since I found them to be much nicer, I ended up doing the same thing with all my harmonica‘s - 19 Suzuki Manji’s in the case. There’s no proof, but I believe now that they’re clean they play better (and if they didn’t I’d send the bad ones to Gary Lehmann in Norman, Oklahoma, the Suzuki tech magician, to re-tune). That’s the extent of my maintenance abilities - harp and amplifier tube contact cleaning.

The Seydels? I put them on Craigslist for 20 minutes and forgot to re-post when it expired. They’re still sitting in a box on my desk. Guess I’ll go put the post up again.


If you’re going to get into maintaining your hair harp’s then this is a good piece of kit that won’t break the bank.

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Just stopped this tool kit on AliExpress
Good value for money. The wrench may not fit reeds of European harps but the rest of the kit is good.