As far as hand made instruments go, harmoniums are incredibly low maintenance. That said, since harmoniums are made of wood and metal they are sensitive to changes in temperature (hot and cold) and humidity (ex., humid in India, dry in Colorado).
Like any hand made/tuned instrument, over the first six months a brand new harmonium may experience minor shifts that cause sticky keys, buzzy reeds, etc. This issues may go away over time, or not. From my perspective, they seem to crop up a bit more frequently during the winter when it's cold (so the heat is on) and extra dry in states like Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and some parts of California. If you live in one of these states (or a state with a similar climate) I strongly suggest you put a humidifier in the room where you keep your instrument.
This blog post is to designed to help you if...
Every week I receive many emails asking “Where can I buy a great harmonium?”
I LOVE this question. It’s one of my all time favorites. Right up there with “who’s up for a trip to Hawaii?” Or “Anyone want a free ticket to the Krishna Das event?”
This question informs me that another person has fallen in love with Kirtan. In fact, they have fallen so deeply in love with Kirtan they are taking the first step towards launching their home chant practice and chanting their heart open on the regular.
I point these folks to my blogs How to Buy a Harmonium, Not a Headache, What's the Right Harmonium for Me? and Harmonium Taste Test for guidance on buying a great harmonium at the right price. In most cases my recommendations are the Bhava Mini or Bhava Lite harmoniums by Old Delhi Music, which will almost always drop you into a state of harmonium bliss.
Unfortunately, I regularly communicate with folks whose question breaks my heart. They say, “I bought a harmonium and it doesn’t sound right. I’m not sure what’s going on, but it doesn't seem good. Can you help?”
These folks bought (or inherited) a harmonium without expert guidance. As a result, their harmonium is giving them the blues.
Below is a list of problems that show up in broken or low quality harmoniums, instruments ordered direct from India, and old or new instruments in need of repair. If your harmonium is acting/sounding funny, here's what could be happening and how to fix it. Where possible I’ve included a link to a relevant video on the Old Delhi Music YouTube channel.
As a benchmark, a Bhava Mini harmonium will have a 4-7 second sustain. You can expect a slightly lower number for a smaller instrument (like a Bhava Lite), and a slightly higher number for a larger instrument (like a Bhava Classic). Click HERE to learn more about sustain.
If your harmonium has one or more of these issues, here are ways forward:
Please keep in mind, a lousy harmonium - even when in perfect working condition - is still a lousy harmonium. It’s likely to not sound or perform well, even under the best of circumstances. This is akin to the 1988 Ford Escort I drove in my early 20’s. Even at it's best it was no Mercedes.
And, you may have a good, or even great, instrument that's just in need of some tender loving care. If this is the case, email [email protected] and I'll let you know if I know of a repair person in your neck of the woods.
Whether you are seeking to obtain harmonium bliss, or attempting to get rid of the harmonium blues, I hope the resources above help you get behind a great instrument so you can chant your heart open.
Have questions or comments? Interested in receiving information about exclusive offers and discounts? Please click here and we will get back to you soon. Or, check out our harmonium guide - Everything You Need to Know to Buy Your Perfect Harmonium.