The geekiest purchase in the world

Sure, this year I’ve purchased tuberolling supplies, XLR cables and a Pogoplug, but this is probably the creme de la geek:


These are replacement reeds for a harmonica. You buy the reeds, instead of the harmonica, because they’re cheaper than a whole harp — and in my case, since the harp is made from stainless steel with a sealed wood comb, there’s no corrosion in the harp anyway. Harps can and do blow up — I’ve gone to this particular brand of harp because of its durability, as a matter of fact — and buying just the reeds will save me 20 bucks.

I’ve only had to buy a couple of harps or reed plates this year, which is important because the price of harmonicas has soared in recent years. Even at discount, a full set of Hohner Marine Bands — probably the most popular harp in the world — will now set you back more than $400. A few years ago, that would have been $220 or so. And if you play out like I do, you need two sets of harps in case a harmonica blows out doing a gig. And that doesn’t count chromatics or tremolo harmonicas (I play both), microphones, amps or pedals.

My gig rig isn’t very fancy — typically a 1×12 tube amp, a couple of harp mics, a vocal mic, a briefcase of harps, a mic stand and some cables — but if it all got stolen today, it’d cost more than $2,200 to replace. Keep that in mind the next time you think that a harp is a cheap instrument.


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