How to Clean a Wood Comb Harmonica – Get Your Harmonica Back to Its Best Condition with These Simple Steps

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As a harmonica player, I know how important it is to keep your instrument clean. The wood comb harmonica is an especially delicate instrument, and it needs regular cleaning to stay in good condition. In this article, I’m going to provide a step-by-step guide on how to clean a wood comb harmonica. With this guide, you’ll learn how to safely and effectively clean your harmonica so it will stay in perfect playing condition for years to come.

What is a Wood Comb Harmonica?

What Is A Wood Comb Harmonica?

A wood comb harmonica is a type of harmonica that is made of wood with metal reeds. It is a single-reed instrument that consists of a wooden comb, with reeds mounted on a plate that is attached to the comb. The reeds are tuned to different notes and are manipulated by the player’s breath to create music. The wood comb harmonica is an inexpensive and easy to use instrument that is often used in folk music, blues, and rock.

Parts of the Wood Comb Harmonica Description
Comb The wooden comb is the body of the instrument and is usually made of wood or plastic.
Reeds The reeds are thin pieces of metal that vibrate when air is blown across them. The reeds are mounted on a plate that is attached to the comb.
Cover Plates The cover plates are two metal plates that are placed over the reeds to protect them from dirt and moisture.

Why Clean a Wood Comb Harmonica?

Why Clean A Wood Comb Harmonica?
Cleaning a wooden comb harmonica is important for two reasons. Firstly, it helps to ensure that the harmonica performs its best. Over time, dirt, dust, and other particles can accumulate on the harmonica’s reeds, causing them to stick together, which can affect the sound quality. Cleaning the harmonica helps to prevent this. Secondly, regular cleaning of a wooden comb harmonica helps to extend its life. As dirt and dust accumulate on the reeds, they can become corroded and weakened, leading to a reduction in the harmonica’s lifespan. Regular cleaning helps to keep the reeds in good condition.

Materials Needed

Materials Needed
Soft toothbrush, warm water, mild soap, soft cloth, cotton swabs, cotton bud, toothpick, pipe cleaner, and rubbing alcohol.

Safety Precautions

Safety Precautions

Steps Precautions
1. Unscrew the harmonica Wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges.
2. Soak the comb in warm water Be careful when handling hot water.
3. Scrub the comb with an old toothbrush Be gentle when scrubbing, to prevent scratching.
4. Dry the comb with a soft cloth Be careful when handling the comb, as it may still be wet.
5. Reassemble the harmonica Ensure that all parts are securely fastened.

Always ensure that you follow safety precautions when cleaning a wood comb harmonica. Wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges, be careful when handling hot water, be gentle when scrubbing to prevent scratching, be careful when handling the comb as it may still be wet, and ensure all parts are securely fastened when reassembling the harmonica.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step-By-Step Instructions

Steps Instructions
1 Remove the reeds from the comb. This can be done by slightly lifting the reeds one by one and sliding them out of the comb.
2 Using a soft cloth, wipe down the comb to remove any dirt and dust.
3 Using a soft toothbrush, gently scrub the comb to remove any stuck-on grime.
4 Using a mild soap and water, rinse the comb off and dry it with a soft cloth.
5 Place the reeds back into the comb and secure them in place with a rubber band.
6 Polish the comb with a wood polish to restore its original shine.

Cleaning Tips

Cleaning Tips

  • Carefully open the harmonica reeds and separate them from the comb.
  • Use a brush, such as a toothbrush, to gently scrub the comb and reeds.
  • Rinse the comb and reeds with warm water.
  • Use a cotton swab to clean any hard-to-reach areas.
  • Allow the comb and reeds to air dry.
  • Once dry, carefully reassemble the harmonica.


  • If the harmonica still sounds bad after cleaning, make sure that none of the reeds are stuck in the comb.
  • If the harmonica is still not producing sound, double check that the reeds are correctly inserted into the comb.
  • If the harmonica is producing sound but it is too loud, check if the reeds are properly adjusted.
  • If the harmonica is producing sound but it is too soft, check if the reeds are properly adjusted.
  • If the harmonica is producing sound but it is out of tune, check if the reeds are properly adjusted.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Materials are Needed to Clean a Wood Comb Harmonica?

To clean a wood comb harmonica, you will need a small container (such as a cup or bowl), distilled water, a soft cloth, a soft toothbrush, and a cleaning solution made specifically for harmonicas, such as Hohner Harmonica Cleaner.

How often should a wood comb harmonica be cleaned?

Wood comb harmonicas should be cleaned regularly, at least once a month, to prevent build-up of dirt and grime, and to keep it in good condition. Regular cleaning will also help the harmonica play better and last longer.

What steps should be taken to clean a wood comb harmonica?

Firstly, gently remove the cover plates from each end of the harmonica and set aside. Then, use a soft brush, toothbrush or cotton swab to brush away any dirt, dust, or other debris that has accumulated on the reeds and comb. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any remaining dirt. After this, apply a small amount of white vinegar to a cloth and gently rub the comb and reeds. Finally, rinse the comb and reeds with warm water, allow to air dry, and reattach the cover plates.

Is it safe to use chemical cleaners to clean a wood comb harmonica?

Chemical cleaners are not recommended for cleaning wood comb harmonicas due to the potential of damaging the wood. The best approach is to use a soft, damp cloth and mild soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as they can cause discoloration of the wood comb and other components.

What should be done to maintain a wood comb harmonica after cleaning?

After cleaning a wood comb harmonica, it is important to store it in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight or moisture. Additionally, it is important to lubricate the reeds and replace the airtight seal if needed. It is also important to keep the tuning of the harmonica in check and make sure the reeds are not too tight or too loose. Finally, it is important to clean the harmonica regularly to ensure it is functioning properly.


Cleaning a wood comb harmonica is a straightforward process that requires patience, attention to detail, and the proper supplies. With the proper cleaning method, a wood comb harmonica can be kept in excellent condition for many years. Regular cleaning, maintenance, and proper storage are all important steps to ensure the harmonica’s longevity.


About the author

Hey, my name is John Peters, and I’m a co-founder and Jack’s co-editors. My country sole was born when I was not more than 4 years old and my dad brought several country records home. These were the records by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Asleep at The Wheel, and Neil Young. I fell in love with the genre forever back then. Before entering the university, I managed to gather a collection of over 1200 vinyl records with both classic and modern country releases.

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