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I was wondering if anyone has any tips on getting rid of the mildew smell in a old Hochiku.It doesn't seem to be really bad yet,but it is starting to smell like somebodies basement.
Some of my flutes are more prone to this than others, and it also depends on how wet I keep the humidifying sponge piece that's in the poly bag with the flute(s). I live in a very dry climate, so attention to humidity is important.
For the ones that get funky (usually ji-nashi flutes), I make up a mild solution of Chlorox bleach and water: a few tablespoons of bleach and a couple cups of water. I take an old toothbrush and scrub the offending area (usually the root end) with the solution, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it off with tap water. All my flutes have urushi in the bores, even the ji-nashi ones, so mildew doesn't grow there. You should also soak your sponge(s) in the bleach solution (assuming you use them), as they are a good place for mildew to grow. Rinse them out pretty well and re-moisten.
Perry Yung has a pretty good spiel on mold/mildew issues, and I thought he'd posted it here a while back; if you email him about this, I bet he'd post it when he gets a little time...
I have several Chinese root end shakuhachi from Ken LaCosse that I love. They are basically hocchiku...bare bamboo with no inlay.
I am deathy allergic to mold. It will kill me in any significant quantity.
After reading in several places about mold problems with hocchiku I have started treating the bores with wood hardening resin. I plug the root end, tape off the holes, pour in wood hardening resin, let is stand for several minutes and then pour it out. None of my hocchiku has ever developed mold with simple cleaning after each use.
I guess this might affect the tonal quality of the shakuhachi somewhat as the bore is at least more visually reflective, but most of the resin soaks into the bamboo rather than coating it.
I realy have no choice as I cannot afford to have ANY mold in my shakuhachi. I would be interested in hearing from any professional on this.
The problem with mold is there is no way to get rid of it. It just goes dormant. The next time the flute gets overhumidified the mold will return. This is particularly a problem in the US where many people put Dampits inside their flutes and then seal them in plastic bags. They get overhumidified. This also results in cracks because when you take them out of the bag it subjects the flute to a bigger change than it should go through.
If you're not allergic to mold and the main thing that's bothering you is the smell, light some incense and hold the shakuhachi over the smoke for a few minutes. That usually works to get rid of mold smells, cigarette, beer, whatever.
I do not use Dampits or any other form of humidifier. After cleaning the shakuhachi bore with a cleaning cloth, I simply breathe in the plastic bag and then use rubber band to seal it. I store all my bamboo shakuhachi in vapor barrier bags as well. So far, no cracks, but I do try to play my bamboo shakuhachi (plural) at least every other day. I also bind them as a preventative measure.
My hocchiku mold/mildew experience... Last winter, I took to storing a hocchiku in a long plastic bag between daily use. After just a few months of storage in this manner, I had significant black growth in the bore, concentrated in the topmost third of the flute. It was accompanied by a slight moldy/mildewy odor. This is my favorite fat jinashi flute with no bore treatment.
I ran the flute under the bathtup tap for a minute, scrubbed the bore a bit with a cylindrical plastic pipe cleaner brush on a long thin handle, flushed more water through it. Much blackness flowed forth. I ran a dilute solution of tea-tree oil through the bore a couple of times. (Mixed in a bowl and poured down the bore while turning.) I shook out the remaining water, ran a cleaning cloth through it a few times and let it air dry in a room with fan going.
The rationale for the tea-tree oil is that 1) it smells better than mold, 2) it has one more of the following properties, depending on who you ask: antiseptic, germicide, antibacterial, fungicide, 3) I thought I'd try a "natural" chemical before resorting to a man-made chemical. Apparently, grapefruit seed oil may be another contender for such treatment, but I didn't have any on hand.
The tea-tree oil smell was a pleasant change and it diminished over several months. Since, then no problems. Though I now avoid storing my flutes in bags at all unless I'm exposing them to large humidity or temperature shifts.
I also try to be careful about not blowing directly after eating or drinking, to avoid leaving trace nourishment for fungus or bacteria.