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    FAQs

    Harmonica

    If you play your harmonica a lot, it’s going to need a little care and attention at some point. Your instrument will certainly have to be cleaned from time to time, or reeds may stick or require a retuning.

    To give you some assistance, we have compiled a list of most frequent questions regarding the maintenance and service of your harmonica, as well as an ever-expanding library of step-by-step video tutorials which you can find here.

    Should you not find your question below, or have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us via the contact form!

    As a manufacturer, we only produce and sell new models and do not keep an eye on the second hand market. Hence, we won't be able to provide much information on historic instruments. However, you can contact the German Harmonica Museum. There are also a number of online collectors forums which may be able to offer relevant information.

    We do not offer a direct online sales service. You can buy our instruments from local distributors all over the world. To find the seller closest to you, check our store finder.

    It's normally sufficient to tap the harmonica out into the palm of your hand after playing to remove moisture and wipe it off with a soft cloth. Foreign bodies can be removed from the channel openings with the tip of a screwdriver or suitable pointed object and the tools of the Service Kit can be used to remove objects blocking reeds. The best way to prevent food particles and saliva from getting into your harmonica is to wash your mouth and clean your teeth before playing and to play with an upright posture. Plastic comb harmonicas can be dismantled and washed out gently with warm water but it's important to tap the moisture out thoroughly and allow the instrument to dry before playing.

    Although it's quite easy to play simple melodies on a HOHNER harmonica, beginners sometimes encounter problems which are not necessarily the fault of the instrument. It's essential to learn to play with the right air pressure and to adopt an appropriate mouth and throat form. You can only create a good sound on the harmonica if you learn to breathe in a relaxed fashion from the diaphragm.

    Often players find that the lower draw notes sound flat or don't sound at all. This is often caused by a player’s level of technique and is generally not due to a defect in the instrument. The most common reason is because the player has adopted a mouth and throat form which is too small, so that it cannot serve as a resonance chamber for the wavelength of the note in question and so prevents the reed from vibrating properly. If you breathe gently through the harp from the diaphragm instead of sucking, open your jaw position and keep your throat as open as possible, then you'll find it much easier to play these notes with the correct intonation.

    On 10-hole Richter harmonicas this note is essential to both blow and draw chords and enables the typical blues and folk styles on these instruments. On a C harp this note would be G, which is the fifth in the blow chord C-major and the root note in the draw chord G7.

    Hohner does not recommend soaking your harmonica. Dipping most wooden bodied harps in water makes them louder for a short time, but will cause the comb to swell and can easily make the instrument completely unplayable. Chromonicas, tremolo and octave tuned instruments should on no account be soaked in water as this will damage valves, combs and may cause some covers to rust. Soaking your harmonica voids the warranty.

    The small pieces of plastic over the reed slots are not reeds at all, but windsaver valves which close the draw reed off when the blow reed is played and vice versa, thus giving greater volume at lower air pressure.

    Because the tonal layout of the central octave simply repeats in each register over the entire range, so that each octave can be played in exactly the same way. The repeated note is the root note of the scale.

    Notes can go slightly flat if too much saliva collects on them and weighs them down. However, just like a guitar string, a reed will eventually start to wear out, especially if played or bent loudly for long periods. If it is only slightly flat it can often be retuned, but if the reed has developed a crack and the tone has dropped much more than a quarter tone in pitch it generally needs to be replaced. This does not constitute a manufacturing defect and is due to normal wear and tear.

    HOHNER recommends that you play your new harmonica softly the first few times you use it in order to accustom the reeds to your playing style and also to get to know how the instrument responds. We don't advise trying to play as loudly as possible as this is likely to shorten reed life. The harmonica generally sounds best when played at moderate volume. Especially in cold weather we recommend that you warm the harmonica in your hands and by blowing gently into it to bring the reeds up to body temperature before playing. Tap it out and wipe it clean after.