How to dissassemble and Clean a Hohner Super 64 Chromonica

The Hohner Super 64 Chromonica is a nice chromatic harmonica. I inherited one from a dear relative. A dear old relative who could really croon, but whose slobber and old food bits I don’t care to inhale or smell while playing.

A shiny Hohner 64 Chromonica in its case

So I set about learning how to clean it. Some instructions recommended soaking in water, mineral oil, bees wax, or other materials. Really there weren’t very thorough instructions. Still, the slobber wasn’t going away, so I got started. It turns out that cleaning the harmonica is really easy if you’re willing to take it all apart. If you’re looking for a shortcut, I don’t really have one. If you are afraid of losing a screw, this is not the how-to for you. In fact, it’s not really a how to at all. I am not a professional harmonica cleaner. This is just what I did. Your Super 64 was expensive, follow these instructions at your own peril.

You will need a small thin screwdriver, the screws are somewhat recessed so if you don’t want to scratch your harmonica, the screwdriver needs to be thin and narrow. I used a small electrical screwdriver and a small pocketknife.

Hohner 64 and screwdrivers

Unscrew everything, and keep track of each screw! Laying out each piece is a bad idea since it would make it easy for a screw to roll off the table. At least if you’re like me. I end up bumping the table, or brushing against something, and suddenly a screw rolls on the floor and I’m crawling around wondering why I didn’t put the screws in a tupperware like I meant to.

If you do lay out each thing on the table, it will look like this:

Exploded view of a Hohner 64 Chromonica

With the Chromonica taken apart cleaning becomes a pretty simple task. The all metal parts and the plastic piece can be cleaned with rubbing alcohol. The tricky part and the part you are probably most interested in cleaning is the reed plates.

Here’s the trouble with the reed plates, at least on my model. The reed plate are made of a brass (?) plate with thin reeds riveted to it. You will also notice some paper and plastic valves (the little strips). The paper and plastic strips are the valves that make the harmonica play just one one when you blow or suck. They also complicate cleaning the reed plate. If you get the paper wet it will stick to the reed plate.This means you have to keep alcohol and water off of the paper valves. Worse than sticking is if you crinkle one of the valves it may make the note unplayable or cause it to always play when thatĀ  hole is blow in to.

Harmonica reed plate with wrinkled values
Harmonica reed plate with wrinkled values

So….what do you do? I dipped q-tips in rubbing alcohol, dabbed them till they were just damp and not dripping. I then carefully avoided the valves. Does it make it 100% cleaned? No, but hopefully it is enough to bring down the dried spit levels to something reasonable.

If you do happen to wrinkle a valve orĀ  the valves came wrinkled, you can try pressing them flatter. Doing this fixed 4 of the 6 notes that wouldn’t play on mine.

Once you’re done, just screw it all back together. If you have a gap between the mouthpiece and the top plates as you put it back together loosen the top plates slightly until you can push them forwards.

If someone else has better way of cleaning your harmonica, let me know in the comments!

And now, I’m off to learn something more than “I’ve been working on the railroad”.

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11 Responses to How to dissassemble and Clean a Hohner Super 64 Chromonica

  1. david says:

    hi
    where can i purchase a new slide for mine the knob broke off thanks dave

  2. stuporglue says:

    You can get your parts directly from Hohner USA, right here: http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?1625

    Looks like a slide is about $30, and shipping is $9.

    Good luck!
    Michael

  3. Jeff says:

    The strips u r calling valves r actually wind savers. they block the hole when air is going the opp. direction so u dont need as much air to make a tone. stops u from having to blow as hard. hence wind savers. They can b completely gone n wont make a note unplayable or play all the time. u can order a set (comes with extras) directly from Hohner. they may need to b cut to size because the kit is universal. then u just glue them on. or if this is above ur skill level u can send ur chromonica to hohner and they will do it 4 u.

  4. Satyajit says:

    Hi,

    I accidentally dropped my super 64 and both the screws holding the mouthpiece broke. Any
    idea where to buy them and their size? The hohnerusa price list doesn’t have them. I notice
    that all the 4 screws on the super 64 are interchangeable.

    Thanks,
    Satyajit

    • admin says:

      That’s unfortunate!

      If you want genuine Hohner pieces, I’d go to a music store or call Hohner directly and ask. If you just want it working again, you could try visiting a hardware store. The screws are probably a standard thread size — I can’t imagine that Hohner had a special screw machined just for its harmonicas.

  5. Gerry Schofield says:

    Have found WAHL professional Disinfectant /Cleaner used by hairdressers to clean their clippers etc., good for cleaning bright parts and slides . Spray on ,wipe off using lint free cloth

  6. Avon Dews says:

    As I read this post all I could do was smile because I was once faced with the same task of learning how to clean what was then my most expensive harmonica. My Horner Super 64. So I’m just going to add my two cents worth to an already good advice. Assuming your harmonica is apart and pieces secure take your reed plates, cover plates, mouth piece and comb and place them in a container of warm soapy water. I use dish detergent. Don’t worry about the windsavers, the water will not harm them nor make them come off (if they do come off you can use a spot of liquid nail to attach them back) This will guarantee to get all of the dried saliva. Rinse each piece under warm water paying attention to between the reed plate and windsavers as to get all soap residue. Tap each piece against hand to get rid of excess water and let dry. Before assemblimg make sure windsavers are not sticking. You can use alcohol and q-tip to clean between windsaver and reed plate to stop sticking. Remember the lower register windsaver consist of two pieces. With the top piece acting as a spring to help the lower piece spring back aginst the plate. Make sure they are not sticking together. Reassemble and have a wonderful time playing your clean harmonica.

  7. Terry Steffen says:

    From Hohner- This workshop shows how to clean a HOHNER Chromatic Harmonica.

    http://us.playhohner.com/service/hohner-service/harmonica-service/#video_19

  8. Carl says:

    Hey Michael.
    I’ve got 3 old chromatics. All Hohners.
    Including a 64 Chromonica
    It seems like the brass reedplates are glued or held onto the combs with something,
    The reedplates do not have screws /:
    Since your photos don’t include that step, but it DOES look like your reedplates have screw holes,
    and looks like they are held on by screws, I’m thinking maybe Hohner just used to make full chromatics that were…disposable and unfixable? Seems like a waste.
    Do you know anything about this?
    Thanks for any reply, I’d love to fix this if possible, but it might be a bin-job.

    • stuporglue says:

      The reedplates on mine were nailed in with about 8 nails on each side. The nails go through both plates and require some firm pressure to pop out. I can’t remember what I used, probably the side of a pocket knife, pressed with my thumb.

      If you get those nails out (or don’t have them) I would suspect that the plates are just stuck with years of dried spit rather than actually glued — that said, I’m not a Hohner or harmonica expert.

      If they were mine, and depending on the sentimental value, I would recommend double checking that there are no fasteners of any kind, and then use a thin blade to try to gently pry up the reedplate.

      If it really is glued down, post back here again, I’d love to know about it.

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