I’m hoping someone will be able to help me with some safe cleaning solutions for my harp. I have a 20+ year-old Salvi harp that doesn’t have much of a gloss, and I’ve noticed that it has, over time, gotten a build-up of some kind of black … something where my right forearm comes in contact with the soundboard. I’ve only seen this one time before (on my harp before it was mine) when the previous owner, a guy, had been practicing heavily in a black suit coat. He got it clean somehow before selling it to me. I’m wondering if this build-up is somehow related to the fabric fibers. It won’t rub off unless I scratch at it with my fingernail, but I’m wondering if anyone else has had this trouble and if anyone has an instrument-safe cleaning solution they would suggest to get it off.
Salvi advise to try a slightly damp cloth
I would call the Salvi rep in California for cleaning advice in this situation. http://www.salviharpsinc.com. Get the harp cleaned, and then maintain it using a microfiber cloth. Also vacuum it like you would good furniture. My Salvi harp looked like new when I sold it after 35 years of ownership.
Yeah, I think I went a good 10 years without really cleaning my pedal harp. One evening at rehearsal I noticed the “black gunk” in the same area on the soundboard. I used a microfiber cloth and some of the bottled water from my gig bag and cleansed it off. It took a little elbow grease! It was even on the other side of the soundboard where my left wrist would come in contact sometimes. Ewww! I now wipe the harp down at least once a week (and vacuum the carvings with the brush attachment) and use the L&H polish once a year when I change the strings. Have fun!
Sid (I noticed your L&H ebony and bronze in your picture)- Is that L&H polish good to use on the painted black, bronze paint (not brass plates), and soundboard decals?
I have been told that a tiny touch of dawn on a wet cloth will also help clean the hard spots, but I haven’t had the guts to use that yet.
Yes Caroline, the L&H polish is good for all wooden parts of the harp. All of our harps (and I hope this doesn’t start an argument) have a finish on them,a varnish if you will, that keeps the wood protected. Even “natural finish” harps have this top coat. That is what we are cleaning with this polish. Saul is right about what the black gunk is. Oil gets trapped on the harp from your wrists, hand and arms, then dirt builds up on it. I used a micro fiber cloth that was just barely damp,followed by the polish. That did the job. I would be afraid that even a “touch” of soap would need to be washed off else it would leave a film that could attract dirt and dust as well.
Sid and Caroline (and all the others),
I use a cleaning solution of one tablespoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid in a gallon of water, well mixed. I use it on my grand piano, harps and other wooden furniture as needed, and yes, you can rinse it off with a cloth dampened with just water after you clean with the Dawn solution.
I arrived at this solution quite by accident for the purpose of cleaning wood finishes! This is exactly the proportion one uses to spray on roses to kill such pests as aphids, mites, etc. Since I have never used harmful insecticides on my roses, I have found this to be the sensible and effective solution to that problem. It has worked well for me over many years. One day when I was spraying the roses, some spray fell on a wooden chair that was on our deck near the roses. I noticed when I wiped it away that it really cleaned the chair! We have used it to clean with ever since.
Wishing you all the best,
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