Time to do some maintenance on my harps. The band is coming out next weekend (playing our first gig with this line-up), so I want to make sure all my harps are playing good as can be. Here's my maintenance regimen:

Special 20s: Take them apart completely (one at a time), and emerse in a solution of soapy water, as warm as I can stand it. I usually use a loaf pan. Let soak for a few minutes, then scrub reed plates, covers and combs with a toohbrush. Any crud on the inside or edges of the covers I scrub with an abrasive ("Scotchbrite") cleaning pad. Rinse thoroughly and place on a clean towel to air-dry. I usually scrub 4 or 5 before re-assembly, but I'm careful to keep all the parts for each harmonica together. I use a can of compressed air (like you blow your computer out with) to drive out any excess moisture that I can't towel off.

CX-12s: Same drill. I take the reed plates off completely. During re-assembly, I drag a clean sheet of paper between the 2 parts of each wind-saver. Chromatic wind-savers are my least favorite part of playing chromatics - the sticking, buzzing, flapping bugs me to no end. I'm not experienced enough yet to have ant real good answers, but I'm learning.

Super 64s: The CX process above reflects my deep cleaning drill for my Supers which I'll only do 2-3 times a year. I mostly just do Slide maintenance on them. I don't have half as much trouble with the wind-savers on my Supers as my CXs, even though they get played much more.

Swan: I use a Swan 14-hole as a knock-around practice chrom. It's adequate, although a little leaky and quiet. So far, I've only cleaned the slide on the Swan.

Chromettas: These get as little cleaning as possible, but when I do clean them, I go through them thoroughly like the CXs.

270s: I don't take the reed plates off of these wood-bodied harps unless absolutely necessary. In fact, I got a used one (never a good idea) with a broken comb which I repaired with beeswax with the reed plates still on! Most of my chroms require slide cleaning most frequently, deep cleaning less often.

Slide cleaning: Completely remove all slide components from the instrument. Everything gets a bath as per the above process. Everything but the Mouthpiece gets scrubbed with the abrasive pad first (I try to avoid scratching the MP). Then all pieces get a good going over with the toothbrush, usually under strong magnification. The first time I have the mouthpiece off a chrom, I put a gentle arc in it so the center is just a bit lower than the ends, (relative to the body) when I reassemble. The other trick I learned is mineral oil. I use a very light coating of mineral oil on the slide when I re-assemble. The type of mineral oil I mean is the "food grade" type a chef will use to treat a wooden cutting board. Just apply a very light coating (so that you wipe off all the excess) with your finger. Keeps your slide moving as free as possible. I don't use the "water lube" method on my slides. I clean the slide on my chroms about every 7-10 playing hours, or when they seize up (from dried saliva), whichever comes first.

By the way, those little vinyl bumpers that go around the screws that hold the MP on (if lost) can be replaced with a little insulation from an 18 guage wire - not a perfect replacement, but a serviceable one.

One last thing: I never eat immediately before playing (and always brush and rinse before playing), and I rarely drink anything but water while performing. what do y'all do?