beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Buying Second Hand Harps
Buying Second Hand Harps
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113 posts
Sep 18, 2017
6:14 PM
Hi guys not been on for a while. Been busy practicing every day. Anyway i thought i'd ask you folks what you think about buying off like ebay or the like? I saw a couple of chromatics that i wanted to bid for however i can't get my head around the cleanliness aspect. Most of these harps are listed as used or new other which leads me to thinking the new other one's are also second hand but they're trying to palm you off by saying they're new. Reason i ask is because cleaning and disinfecting a chromatic seems like a nightmare and also i don't want to be buying someone else's problems. Be interested what you fellas think about this and have you any experience of it? How do you clean a chromatic properly? I just chuck my diatonic parts in really warm water and scrub them but the chromatic with the windsavers i don't think you could submerge them in water.
92 posts
Sep 24, 2017
12:45 AM
I once bought a Special 20 in D that was listed as 'sanitised'. It was a horrible manky thing that the seller had heavily sprayed with under arm deodorant. Lol.
If I buy second hand harps they get stripped down and washed in Milton's Fluid.
Never done a chromatic.
25 posts
Sep 24, 2017
3:19 AM
I bought an Easttop valveless chromatic that had a horrible smell so I took the whole thing apart and cleaned it. It wasn't too much more difficult compared to a diatonic if you know what you're dealing with. I have no idea how valves would complicate things though.
4997 posts
Sep 24, 2017
4:05 AM
All my chromatic are second hand. Two are 'virtually' new, hardly played. The other half 2 are prewar and i have partly restored one of those.
I think it had been fumigated with frankincense. I discarded the comb, cleaned off the windsavers and scrubbed well. Still smells a bit like church. But clean and playable. I bought new windsavers but yet to fit them because i still need to do some tuning and adjustment. And the chromatic isn't really presenting an urgent case at the moment;even if it was i have well-playable cx12 and modern 270.

Chromatic is a bit more work than diatonic, fiddly parts and moving parts and windsavers and 48 reeds or so, but pretty cool machines if you can take the time to learn how to make them sing
118 posts
Sep 24, 2017
7:51 AM
Yeah the cleanliness issue bothers me a bit. I was on ebay and a guy was selling some of his late father's harmonica's and when you zoom in you can see bit's of dried crud in one or two of the holes! Surely the first thing you'd do is clean them if you were selling? But then again we know about these things whereas i think people who aren't into harps don't even think about anything like it being sanitised and cleane. They just think a harp is a harp and give it no more thought than that. You feel like contacting them and saying 'Has this harp been cleaned properly? Because if it hasn't it's a lot of work when someone buys it to strip it down and clean it.' To be fair some people do say it's been sanitised but most don't. I think they just say take it or leave it.
150 posts
Sep 25, 2017
10:45 PM
I buy vintage harps, mostly the common Marine Band but I've scored a few used chromatic, octave, tremolo... You're right some have been a real mess with candy, tobacco, mold and all kinds of unknown gunk.

I prefer buying harps at antique stores where I can see them in person. But I've bought several online.

I honestly don't expect an average seller to clean a harmonica. That takes some skill. I believe most sellers just use an alcohol wipe and call it "sanitized". But, I'm not really worried about germs on the the surface as I am inhaling something nasty.

I always take used harps completely apart and do a full cleaning or restoration "sanitized" or not (unless it's NOS or from a trustworthy source).

Some old harps have been a real undertaking but it's rewarding work. Yes, a chromatic is quite a bit tougher to clean or restore than a typical 10 hole and more can go wrong. But if you play one I'd say you should know how to clean one.

I have a big ol' Hohner double base that I was nervous about stripping down. But I had to do it, I don't even like seeing my own crud build up on a harp!

There really are a lot of nice old harps out there. Happy hunting.

It's about time I got around to this.

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