9 harmonicas (and counting)

Ok, I have to assume I now have a case of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). I’m trying to gauge just how severe it is. I thought if I ask the gentlemen here who have been playing more than three years how many harps they currently own I could get an average which would let me know if I am doomed to an incurable chronic case or if I am just feeling a mild touch of it……
Currently after flirting with harmonica for about 3 or so years: I have:
a set of 7 Fender Blues Deluxe, 1 East Top 16/64 chromatic,
and 1 Hohner Chromatica 16/64
( Does not take into account about 2 Fenders and 1 Hohner lost on dark bandstands or gigs outdoors in parks… and maybe 1 stolen? )

I know some guys have suitcases full of harps, and others may be happy with a single harp in their pocket.

( but the East Top 008 set of 7 seems to have some sort of Pheromone that I am drawn to……. :sunglasses:)


I have 12 total . Different keys Different brands. Some I don’t like but can’t throw away.
I’m not a gentleman. I’m a woman. So do the stats count? Because of your advanced age I’ll excuse the sexist based question.


Hello @toogdog,
I just smiled tiredly at the “gentleman’s” speech :blush:. Since I didn’t feel addressed, I won’t tell you which or how many harps I have… :grin:. Didn’t you know that only men play the harp :wink:?


9 after 3 years? Round here I think that almost counts as restrained? LOL!


1 is good but 5 is better . I had two trumpets before I could blow a middle C . I bought 3 Lee Oscars and a special 20 and still couldn’t isolate a note. Go big or go home!!


Hi All, Thanks for your kind reminder, Toogdog, that not all harp players are guys, and thanks to Astrid for pointing out that all guys are not gentlemen (although I have some aspirations in that direction), I was going to address this fine group with “Thanks guys and Lady” but realized I might not be let off the hook again by playing the “Age” card. Statistics were always a little like voodoo to me (could be an age thing) so I’ll just say I am comforted by all your responses (Bender1, and DavidW) . Blessings be upon you all! :sunglasses:


Papa Curly here, gentleman and philogynist. (You’re in big trouble Ren) I only have 2 harmonicas, although I did throw one away. I’ve had a golden melody on order for a month but still don’t have it. I wouldn’t mind trying a rocket low, but 3 harps (when I finally get my GM) are probably enough already for a guy without musical talent.
I haven’t been playing for 3 years though, so who knows how many I’ll have at that point.


Hey, Papa Curly! If the spirit has already moved you to acquire 3 harps then my theory is the more harps we get the more our talent is brought to the surface…. (If we play them…) I suspect you”ll uncover loads of talent!. :slightly_smiling_face:
I had to look that one up (philogynist)
Good on ya mate! Or as our much valued mentor Luke often expresses - “Keep on Rockin’!”


Hello @Ren_de,
I think it’s good that you understand fun. I like your answer :smile:! I started playing the harp about two years ago. Ignorant as I was back then, I thought playing the harp was very inexpensive… I thought you only needed a harp in the key of C :joy:.
Today I have about 18 diatonic harps. But underneath there is a Fender Blues Deluxe set of 7. But I don’t like the harps at all, apart from one harp in the key of B. Among my harps I have several different manufacturers in the pitches C, G and A. Since I now play different genres, I like to use this selection, even though they have the same pitch. Individual ones in Low E, Low F, Pentaharp A and all common pitches.
I opened almost all of the harps and adjusted individual tones. For my harps, I use my existing keyboard again to search for the appropriate notes/tabs and convert them to the corresponding harp. You can’t find the tabs or sheet music for all songs on the internet. Regards from Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:


I started out at 16 with just one C. That was all I needed.

Later that increased to 8 diatonics (A-G and Bb), a low C and C Chromatic That took care of almost any blues song I encountered. I played with John Lee Hooker one summer and only needed one harp. He only sang in one key.

I write my own songs now and things have changed. I had to do a count to answer this question. For jams, my case holds 19 diatonics along with an A Chromatic, my mic, and earplugs. For gigs and recording sessions, I carry 2 chromatics, and a full complement of 27 Suzuki Manji diatonics including minors, low tunings, flats, and non-ordinary keys like Db, Ebm, F#.

You may not care about minor key harps, never require flat keys, and are fine playing an E or F, not wanting to add a low E or low F. No doubt sometime you’ll also buy that key you just had to have and never use it for ten years. Happens.

It’s too bad it’s not like Warby-Parker glasses where they send you half-dozen frames to try and you return any or all that you don’t like. And then send you more to try.

As long as you have what you need for what you’re playing, that’s the right number.


Take a good look at people who are described as ‘talented’ & you’ll find that at some stage in their life (& probaly all through) they’ve put in an awful lot of time & effort to achieve what they have.

If you enjoy music, as you obviously do, then you are ‘musical’. The hard bit for many of us is getting from enjoying music to being able to play what we want how we want. That’s largely a matter of application & desire. Keep playing, keep having fun, & sooner or later someone will consider you to be ‘talented’ too. :wink:


Thank You David for your kind words and encouragement.
Yeah, I’ve read about that Malcolm Gladwell 10,000-hour thing. I guess it’s true, but I still feel like some people have a natural aptitude for one thing or another.
Probably I’m expecting too much too soon and I’m probably a bit lazy also.
“Awful lot of time and effort” Yes, you’re right of course. Whether its sport or music or anything else, the most successful people, natural aptitude or not, work very hard at their craft.
Thanks again for the confidence boost.


Yes @DavidW and @PapaCurly, I always say: “Everyone sees the well-trained dog, but no one sees how much work goes into it.” :smiling_face:


The folks on this forum are absolutely the BEST! The support and encouragement as well as the richness and depth of experience here are priceless. These responses hint to me I haven’t yet crossed the red line where the number of harps are concerned. :sunglasses:
And @BnT when I read that you played with John Lee Hooker I felt a serious twinge of envy ! Must have been so much fun!


I would gladly be able to get by with two or three harmonicas. I carry an A or G with me almost all the time, but playing with the bands necessitates a number of different keys. So, I have a box full at gigs, along with spares. How I wish I could play all if I just “pulled my harpoon out of my dirty, red bandana.” :wink:


It is handy to have a diatonic harmonica in every major key at least, and then some in the same keys in case you need a back up, and then some in minor keys, and some with custom tunings, and a couple chromatics and a handy carry all case to tote them to a gig.


Having played on and off for lets say quite a few years, I started to take it more seriously about 2 years ago when I signed up for Luke’s B2B course. 2022 was an expensive year but I’ve now called a halt at 19 harmonicas! One set of 7 Fender Blues Deluxe plus 8 assorted Hohners and Lee Oskars. In addition I have 2 Chromatics, 1 Octave and 1 Tremolo. That must be it … for now.


Hello @jeffw,
a question about the tremolo. I now know how to play diatonic harps and I also know chromatic harps. Is it hard to play a tremolo? The cockpits look very small and certainly are compared to the others. Unfortunately, I have never had one in my hand in the original. But I would be curious. Which model do you have and are you satisfied?
Thank you very much!
Regards from Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:

1 Like

Still mastering the Tremolo. I just love the sound of it and the Octave harmonicas. Seems to me more forgiving than the diatonic in that you can get away without being too precise and it will still sound OK. Hopefully I will soon get it to sound good! Mine is a Cascha Master Edition 24 hole C Tremolo. The Octave which gives almost an accordion sound is a Tombo 16. My Chromatic is also by Cascha - relatively inexpensive as I really wanted to try them out without spending too much.


Hi @Ren_de,

As one of the gentlemen* here (Ouch! … I’ll put that down to a language problem rather than an attitude issue) I think you have a mild case of GAS.

Here’s where I am after less than three years.

Early 2021 - Going through my late cousin’s effects, I discover two harmonicas that had belonged to his long-dead younger brother - a Hohner Bluesband (C) and a Seydel Bandmaster Deluxe chromatic (C).

I cleaned up the Bluesband and tried it. I had no idea how to play, and It tasted foul and sounded horrible. I also tried the chromatic but quicky realised it was a different beast and put it to one side. But something kept drawing me back to the Bluesband and I started trying to figure it out. After trawling YouTube and so forth for a couple of months, I signed up for Beginner to Boss in July 2021 and started to drive my household insane. A friend gave me his dead sister’s harmonicas - a 14-hole Hohner Echo tremelo harp (G) and a Hohner Super Chromonica chromatic (G); that’s the third dead person supporting my harmonica journey.

Gear acquisition syndrome quickly set in. So, almost three years after first picking up a harp, this is what I have:

Hohner Bluesband (C)
Seydel Bandmaster Deluxe chromatic (C) - currently in the “too difficult” pile
Hohner Echo (G) - interesting for folksy stuff
Hohner Super Chromonica - in the “too difficult” pile
Lee Oskar (A) - broken reed
Lee Oskar (A)
Lee Oskar (C) - destroyed the middle of the comb practising
Lee Oskar (C) - gone out of tune
Lee Oskar (C)
Lee Oskar (F)
Lee Oskar (D)
Lee Oskar (Cm) - natural minor
Seydel Skydiver (G) - 24-hole tremelo harp (don’t ask!)
Seydel Blues Session (G) - hole five has given up and died
Seydel Blues Session (G) - holes 4-8 have retuned themselves to a minor key (didn’t learn from the first one breaking after a week - quite costly)
East Top (G) - not my favourite tone
Fender Midnight Blues (E) - seems strangely identical to the East Top …
Hohner Blues Harp MS (C)
Hohner Marine Band Deluxe (G)
Suzuki Humming Pipe Harmonica (C) - strangely appealing if a bit bonkers

And apart from the instruments, there’s the six-harp gig belt, the Shure Bullet mic plus adapters for playing hands-free, the Hohner Flexrack, the dedicated and pointless harp pick-up someone gave me and, and, and …

Just feed the addiction and all will be well!

(*NB - women play harp).