A harmonium can last for decades with proper care. Following are the simple steps to remember as you enjoy your instrument.
- Always store your harmonium in a climate-controlled place. Especially here in Delhi, this is vital to the well-being of your instrument. Never leave your harmonium in your car, especially when the temperatures inside your car can reach more than about 35" or lower than 15". The high heat can permanently warp and damage wooden parts and also can bubble the finish on the instrument. Very cold temperatures can cause the wood to contract, which can also be problematic. Take your instrument inside instead of leaving it in the car. I have seen tremendous damage to harmoniums left in cars. I have also seen harmoniums that have been left in garages or places with no climate control become un-salvageable.
- If possible, store your harmonium in 40% - 60% humidity. Everyone does not have humidity controlled environment, and it is not essential, but if you have the choice, it is optimal. If you have live plants in the room in which you store your harmonium it will tend to create a better humidity level.
- Most harmoniums go through a great adjustment within about four weeks of arriving in any dry & hot climate. It is not unusual for the wood to dry out and certain moving parts may need a little tweaking. If keys stick, if it seems a little lackluster when you play, it seems like it is not holding air properly, or any other oddity, bring it in for a check up. These things are usually quick and easy to fix.
- Be aware that when the seasons change in the area, your harmonium may need a little extra care as well. Notice if any notes lose their tune, if keys either stick or wiggle too much, if the instrument has trouble holding air and sustaining a note. These are signs that some repair is necessary.
- Always cover your harmonium with a cloth or cover when you are not playing. Dust is one of the greatest enemies for a harmonium. Dust can filter down into the reeds and create major problems, including broken or cracked reeds.
- Always close the bellows when you are finished playing your harmonium. Push in the stops and drones, then cover your instrument. This will mitigate the possibility of bent stops and drones and keep the bellows from accumulating the dust and debris that can cause degradation.
- About once every six months or so, lightly rub the wooden exterior with a high quality natural wood conditioner and a soft cloth. I like using Wax, which can be find easily at your nearest market place.
- Have your harmonium serviced whenever a problem arises. Buzzing reeds and keys that stick are not uncommon problems. It is important to take care of them so that they do not cause further problems. You may also find that your harmonium stops retaining air, meaning that as soon as you stop pumping the instrument, the sound immediately stops. You may find that a particular note may go out of tune. These are all usually easy things to fix. Reeds are very delicate and I do not recommend that you attempt tuning or attempting to repair them unless you have been well-trained to do so. They are very easy to break.
- I recommend that you service your instrument about once a year. A general service includes checking the tuning, checking all air seals, conditioning the bellows, and checking all moving parts.