Too Many Darn Harmonicas?
Been playing harmonica for a couple months or longer? Starting to accumulate a few keys?
Naturally the question arises: How should I organize/store all of my awesome harmonicas?
The typical answer:
A Harmonica Case.
(But what it looks like can vary drastically.)
Have you ever heard this saying:
Life is about the journey, not the destination.
Well the journey of figuring out how to store your harmonicas can be A TON OF FUN!
Here’s some helpful considerations, whether you’re first embarking on that journey, or considering a level-up:
Repurpose a Box
My first harmonica box was a Backgammon box with faux leather on the outside. The harmonicas fit in there. They slid around, and it got dirty inside. But for my 17 year-old self, it was the coolest box ever.
There are several people on the forum who have turned tackle boxes into great harmonica boxes like this:
Of course you can repurpose anything to be your harmonica box, limited only by your imagination.
But if you’re not in the mood for a DIY project, there are luckily lots of great professional options.
Lee Oskar Soft Case ($18)
And because it HOLDS 8 HARMONICAS, this is a COMMON 1st CASEthat harmonica players will purchase as their collection begins to grow.
The zipper keeps out dirt and debris, and the harmonicas are held in place by elastic bands. I’ve owned 5 or 6 of these over the decades and have always appreciated them. One thing I like is that the elastic bands permit the harmonicas to be rotated at 45 degrees so I can see the key labels easily at a glance.
This is a great case for someone who only has a few harmonicas to allow for their collection to grow.
Hohner Flexcase ($32 - $154)
Comes in 3 sizes:
Medium $32 fits only 7 harmonicas, and I’ve seen several people complain about the smell/taste of these bags. I’d steer clear of these.
Large $83 easily fits 18 harmonicas and still has space for other items as well.
Extra-Large $154 easily fits 48 harmonicas and still has space for other stuff.
I own an Extra-Large Flexcase and LOVE IT. One thing people love about the L and XL Flexcases is that they come with a little detachable tool pouch (tools not included) and a shoulder strap. Tons of pros use this, and Rockin Ron says these are his most popular cases.
Seydel Hardcover Cases ($80 - $147)
Come in 2 sizes:
Hardcover Case $80 Holds 20 harps and has space for more stuff.
Compact Blues Harmonica Case $147 Holds 30 diatonics, a chromatic, a bullet-style mic, and still has space for more stuff.
I own a Compact Blues Harmonica case (and in case you’re wondering: YES, I REALLY DO need all of these harmonicas). It’s a great size, and provides the most protection of all of these options.
Hohner FlexBelt ($50)
This holds 12 harmonicas and is brand new to market, was launched just a couple of months ago (so I thought it would be good to mention!).
Of course if you really want a harmonica belt you can Google said term and see all the myriad of options that come up, but Jimmy Zednik gave me one of these when I was at SPAH and you can attach it to itself so that it stands up in a circle.
While this obviously lacks the protection offered by more expensive options, it could be a great option for someone who owns 12 keys or less and mostly wants to organize them.
Let’s take 4 of these options, put them in a ring, and let them duel to the death.
Lee Oskar comes in for the win. Even if you have more than 8 harps, you could buy 2 of these bad boys and be in great shape. The Flexbelt comes in 2nd here.
The Seydel’s offer the most protection, followed by the FlexCase which for me is plenty of protection, followed by the Lee Oskar soft case. FlexBelt loses.
This is a tough one. All of these have stood the test of time for me so far.
This category is totally dependent on the size of your collection and accessories. If you own 5 harmonicas or less, the Lee Oskar wins. If you own a full set of harmonicas and a bullet mic, the Seydel Blues Case wins.
The Hohner Flexcase XL wins this category, with the Seydel Compact Blues Harmonica Case coming in a close 2nd. Of course if you’re a harmonica lunatic like me, you’ll need one of each.
Of course, the ultimate winner of the battle for you is a personal choice. Don’t forget to ENJOY the journey! Got analysis paralysis? Leave a comment and get some input from folks who’ve been on the journey a long time.