Handling diatonics on stage

I used to put my case on a chair or stool.  That was until my band played
the <name deleted> in Plattsburgh, New York one night many years ago.  A
drunk was weaving his way past the stage while we were on break, and I
witnessed the whole catastrophe in slow motion.  The drunk lost his balance
and tried to arrest his fall by grabbing for the stool my harps were on.  My
harps (Lee Oskars at the time - thankfully not the Filiskos, Sleighs and
Gordons that I now play) were launched into near-earth orbit.  And, like the
early space capsules, they landed in an ocean....of beer.  Yes, by third set
the floor of the <name deleted> was about 3/4" deep in beer in the vicinity
of the stage.  (That's nothing, though. You should have seen the bathroom.)

So I built myself a very secure harp stand.  I started with a Gibraltar
cymbal stand, an extremely rugged piece of gear that folds up to compact
dimensions.  It has an adjustable tripod base, telescoping height
adjustment, and a head that both swivels and angles.  That was the easy
part.  Then I built the harp holder out of wood and attached it to the
cymbal stand with large washers and an oversize wingnut.  The harp holder
comes off for transport.

If you are skilled at woodworking and have the appropriate tools, or want to
hire the work out, you could use a single piece of wood and make the slots
that hold the harmonicas with a router.  I am meticulous about certain
things, but not woodworking.  I am a hack woodworker.  Here is the hack

Use **two** pieces of plywood.  One is the base.  Simply cut it to the
appropriate dimensions.  For the second piece, decide how deep you want your
harp slots to be and obtain a piece of plywood of this thickness.  Cut out a
piece with the same dimensions as the first.  Lay out your harp slots on the
plywood using ruler and pencil.  Drill a large hole all the way through at
each end of each slot using a spade bit or hole saw that is the same width
as the slot you have laid out.  Now use a jigsaw to cut out between the
holes.  This gives you slots with nice rounded ends.  When all the slots are
cut, clean them up with a rasp or sandpaper, then nail or screw the slotted
board to the unslotted board.  Drill an appropriate hole so the combined
boards can slip over the fixture on the cymbal stand and you're in business.

Alternative method for cutting the harp slots in the second board:  drill
the four corners of each slot with a drill bit just large enough for the
blade of your jigsaw.  Cut the four sides of each slot, using the holes to
turn the corners.  This yields slots with straight ends.

Cymbal stands are sturdy.  Gori...I mean rock drummers pound on them.  My
harp stand can take a pretty good hit and not drop a harp.  And I can adjust
the height and angle at which the harps are held so that they fall readily
to hand whether I am standing or seated.


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