Cleaning a Hohner Piano 26 (HM-26)

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    I tried washing a couple of Hohner melodicas yesterday and learned a lot. Let’s take the Piano 26 as an example.

    (I included some photos below to show the washing steps. These photos are of the Cassotto 26, not the Piano 26, but the steps are similar.)

    The Piano 26 was old and had four notes really out tune (the low E, F, F#, and G). It leaked at low pressure to an extent that bordered on unplayable. When playing octaves up the keyboard, the instrument showed a less-than-perfect (but not horrible) tuned state. I bought this instrument off of Ebay from someone in the west, and it was one of few times I got burned in the sense that the four out-of-tune notes may be damaged. Not sure. I will find out. I plan to use this melodica as my first tuning experiment. I ended up paying 25 dollars for this instrument (got a partial refund) including shipping. When I get done with cleaning and tuning, poking and prodding, and making discoveries that I will post separately, I will have gained a $1,000 in knowledge; so this was a good investment. You will not believe what I have learned from spending a few hours with this melodica on an investigative journey. Anyway, I digress.

    I took the melodica apart. In the case of the Piano 26, that means two parts: the back cover and the remaining assembly of keys and valves. Basically I unscrewed the 12 back-cover screws and took off the back cover. I threw the two parts in my kitchen sink with about 50/50 mix of warm water and vinegar, and a touch of dish soap. They were in the water for about 30 minutes as I washed and agitated the parts. I used a paint brush to brush the reeds. I used a sponge to clean the large surfaces and lightly brush the gaskets. After cleaning two melodicas, the water looked a bit scary.

    I took the parts out, shook them, rinsed them, patted the gaskets with paper towels, and let the instrument dry for an hour. I inspected the gaskets and key action and other things. I reassembled the instrument.

    I cleaned the parts so well that I could not see any advantage to placing the parts in the dishwasher even though I had done that before with damage (to a 901). I also learned something later about the gaskets that suggests, for the HM-26/27/32, a dishwasher cycle is probably not a good idea.

    Pat, I would not recommend you place your Piano 36 in the dishwasher.

    So what did I learn?

    (1) The Piano 26 sound unbelievably better after cleaning! The notes were bright and clear. Minor tuning issues were cured. Response was sharper. I could not believe my ears. But remember, I started with a rough instrument. (2) The leak was worse! (3) I found a new source of leaks for these melodicas that explains many of the leaks I have found in these instruments. This discovery will go in a separate post as it deserves its own space.

    Photos below.



    Parts (Cassotto 26) ready for a bath

    Parts in the sink with water and vinegar

    Use a sponge to clean surfaces

    Use a paint brush to clean the reed


    Typo in my last post:

    “I cleaned the parts so well that I could not see any advantage to placing the parts in the dishwasher even though I had done that before with damage (to a 901).”

    Should read “… WITHOUT damage (to a 901).”

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