The Case for Harmonica Cases

If you have only one or two harmonicas, you can just put them in your pocket and just cruise to your destination, and rock the spot.

But as you grow in your harmonica playing, you will probably add more and more keys to your collection (so that you don’t have to sit out on the songs that you don’t have a harp for! Or worse yet, play in the wrong key like I do at the beginning of this vid!)

I have had several different strategies for organizing my harmonicas over the years, and have discovered a CASE is the PLACE to store harmonicas!

Here’s what I’ve done in the past:

Way back in the last century, when I was a wee lad, I found a backgammon box that my harmonicas fit inside of, and I used that for my case. They fit horizontal, so I would look at the front of the combs (where my Lee Oksars’ have nice big key labels.)

This is the same orientation that a case like the Hohner 12 Harmonica case uses, a case which I have owned 2 of in my lifetime, which used to look something like this:

They have 12 spaces for regular diatonic harmonicas, and then they have one space for a big chromatic harmonica. Having 12 slots makes a lot of sense since there a 12 standard keys that you need to have to be able to play in any song a band leader might call.

Since I don’t play chromatic harmonica, I’ve found that the space for the chromatic is handy for a microphone, or any other harmonies I may have above the 12 standard keys. For example, I always have owned a Low F harmonica because the regular F harmonica is so high. Or perhaps a few Natural Minor tuned harmonicas.

The point here being that the chromatic space in the Hohner 12 case provides a great space for your extras, whether that’s a few extra harps you have besides the 12 keys, or a microphone, or a small flask of whiskey. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Inside my first Hohner 12 case, the foam started degrading after some years, and I’d go to play a harmonica and inhale some tiny pieces of foam! Blah! Yuk! Not fun!

There are companies who make custom foam inserts, and some people suggested I could just use the case and buy new foam, but, being a typical lazy American I just bought a whole new case.

It seems like now Hohner is making different style of “flex cases” that have shoulder straps and come in various sizes at different price points. They look pretty cool. Anyone tried one yet?

There have been times that I haven’t owned any case at all, and I’ve just clicked all my Lee Oskars together with their interlocking cases, and taken them to the gig. You can kind of see in this photo how they can interlock, and I’d just bring a few big racks to the gig.

LO slide together

I’ve been able to get through gigs with this setup, but it ended up being a lot more challenging to find where to put my existing harp back, and where to find the new key, if the band leader wasn’t leaving much time between songs. If you’re going to play live with a band a highly recommend buying or building some kind of case.

Lee Oskar also makes a nice little soft case that holds 8 harmonicas which I’ve owned several of.

Screen Shot 2021-05-12 at 11.55.56 AM

They’re fine, and you can kind of tilt the harmonicas in their elastic straps up at a 45 degree angle so you can see the front of the comb. But, 8 seems like such a random number to me. Why not just make it 12? So these end up sitting in the corner holding a few harps I don’t play much, gathering dust…

One of the great things about buying a set of harmonicas that comes with a case, besides the fact that you get a better pice per harmonica is……well, you get a CASE!

Here’s a couple of examples of those:

The Hohner Special 20 Set of 5

The Fender Blues Deluxe Set of 7

These days, I’m using a big honking case that Seydel makes. You can see in my photo that I’m really bad about not putting harmonicas back in the case when I’m done with them (they’re strewn all about my house and car.)

This case works great for me because it has enough spaces for me to have all 12 keys, all 12 natural minor keys, my 5 low keys, my microphone, and then I put a few of melody maker tunings in the slot where the chromatic would go.

I love this case. It works great for me with the sideways orientation of the harmonicas because Lee Oskar is so awesome with their key labeling. I have all my regular harmonicas with their 1st position key showing because I am used to doing the quick “alphabet math” in my head to determine which harp I want depending what position I want to play in.

Also, you can just google custom harmonica cases and all kinds of cool boutique harmonica case makers pop up. There are so many options!!!

So… what are you doing for a case?

Got something you love? Did you make it yourself? Did you buy it?

Please share and show us your cases!!!

I made my harp box from an old metal fishing tackle box I’ve had since a kid. I lined the trays with cardboard and have been using it for years. It’d gained so many signatures and stickers that I’ve sandblasted and re-painted it twice. Gone are the days when you could carry four harps and play with just about anyone. Now days we’re playing lots of flats, sharps, and minors along with the majors. Add in some spares (ever blown a reed during a gig?) and some kind of case is needed to haul that stuff. Depending on where we play, I also carry a little folding table to set my box on.
Here’s another view of my tackle.

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Brah that is so badass! Homemade is the best kind for sure. Proven to add mojo to your harps. :slight_smile:
Rock on Trapper!
Aloha,
Luke

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