I’m on the road this week, and I brought my usual road kit with me, including 16 diatonics and two chromatics, a Seydel and a CBH 2016. A few nights ago I pulled the Seydel from its case and discovered that it smelled and tasted like old, dirty socks. Yucky! Yucky! Yucky!

I really don’t know how that happened. It’s possible that at one point in time I carried some laundry in the same bag that I used to carry the harps on the road, and whatever little creatures lived in that stuff found a happy home in the Seydel. Whatever caused it, it was utterly, um, yucky.

Are these disgusting creatures cousins to the ones that attacked my Seydel chromatic?
Are these disgusting creatures cousins to the ones that attacked my Seydel chromatic?

I didn’t want to throw the harp away–if it ended up in a landfill, an entire city might be at risk–so I tried disassembling the mouthpiece and tooth-brushing it with toothpaste. It helped. A little. For a day. Then it began to stink again. (I am obliged to note that the slide worked really, really well after cleaning all those parts. However, it’s no fun playing a slide that tastes yucky, not to mention the anxieties about health consequences that such an odor provokes.)

So I took a bottle of Listerine, the mouthwash whose most voluminous ingredient (after water) is alcohol. (I didn’t have vodka, and if I did, I wouldn’t waste it on a search and destroy mission against bugs in my harp.) I dumped the bottle into a tall glass, then dropped the Seydel in, submerging it completely. I left it in for a half hour. Then I took it out of the glass, flushed it from the front and back with running water for several minutes, shook out the excess, and left it to dry.

The foul odor is gone now, and the thing plays very nicely. Seydel’s valves are pretty good, ain’t they? Even Listerine can’t hurt ’em.

I pass this on for the benefit of any who might find themselves in similar circumstances some day. Believe me, you’ll know if and when you are. In the meantime, try to avoid carrying your (or anyone else’s) laundry in the same bag with your harp case.