Since I started playing the harmonica, I wanted to get a Marine Band harmonica in the key of G so I could play along with my guitar. And, being sort of a purist about playing older music on older instruments, I wanted an older harmonica.
I got one recently on eBay that was advertized as 30 - 40 years old and new in the box (the guy’s grandma’s, and kept in an attic all these years). Well, as it turned out, it wasn’t new as the seller suspected. It is, however, in pretty good shape, and when I got the issue sorted out with the seller, I ended up paying only $5 for it for the shipping! (I started taking it apart to clean as soon as I got it; and, needless to say, was pretty nervous when I didn’t know that I was going to get my money back on it. Now that that’s settled, it’s much easier to work on, knowing that it’s a much smaller investment that I could lose out on.)
This is my first time cleaning a harmonica, so I’m a bit timid about the whole thing. I’ve got the plates off, and bought some 91% isopropyl alcohol to clean it with. One nail broke in the process of taking off the plates, and another got a little bent, but I think it’ll go back on. (Here’s hoping nobody’s reading this in horror at my potentially really goofed up a very nice, older instrument.)
I’ve just been using the rubbing alcohol with some Q-tips around where whomever was blowing in it 30 - 40 years ago would have blown on it. So far it seems to be cleaning up alright. There’s a little bit of mold or something on the comb, and I’ve scraped it off a bit as gently as possible without hurting the wood.
So, here’s what I need some help with:
- is it okay to reassemble the harp with one or two nails missing? (Hopefully, I can find another old harp and get a couple nails from it sometime this summer.)
- is the little bit of green on the wood something scary that I should be doing more about than just scraping off the surface of the wood?
- is it okay to just be “spot cleaning” the plates with the isopropyl alcohol, or should I be soaking them like I’ve seen people do when they clean them online?
- and, finally, what’s probably a stupid question because I can’t seem to find any videos that show it: how do you reassemble the whole thing when you’re finished? I mean, do you very gingerly tap the nails back in, or what?
Thanks a lot!