[Harp-L] Custom Cases/Foam Inserts

I have been reading the posts on here about custom cases and foam inserts
etc. As a custom harp case builder since 2006, I would like to share some
insight. Some of you may be familiar with our cases www.harpcase.com. We do
not use foam, we invented a system of lexan plastic (bullet proof glass)
dividers that fit together like a puzzle piece. You can move them around,
create different configurations to hold mics, cords, pedals, chromatics etc.
Pictures are on my site.

How did this case get invented? Scott Hetrick, the engineer behind Hetrick
Harmonica, had a foam case and did not like the foam taste, flaking and
particles that got into his harps. He had the Hohner foam case. Well, he got
pissed off and sat in front of his CAD drawing program and designed case
with vertical standing dividers and cut it out on his CNC machine. Almost 5
years later here we are.

I mean no disrespect to custom case builders or custom cases that use foam,
but here is the bottom line:

1) Foam disintegrates, it may take months, it may take years...but it does.
2) Our case is made with food safe lexan dividers and there is a very thin
layer of flat foam inside the case lining, but it is flat, no pores and does
not leave odors or flakes.
3) From the lips of Richard Sleigh "Harps need to air out for several hours
after playing to avoid problems with built up moisture." A few years ago, he
looked over our case and was particularly impressed with the room for the
harps to air out and the additional air holes that we drill in the case
dividers. After a gig, you can simply place your case down and open the
lid....they will air out fine.
4) Foam is tight and is not conducive to letting air flow through the harps.
So essentially, if you own a foam insert case, after a gig, you should take
them all out and let them air out. This is from Richard Sleigh's advice.
5) When I purchase a custom, expensive harmonica or accessory, I would
expect it to last for a long time, if not a lifetime. Many of us know that
custom harps build by geniuses like Filisko, Chris Michalek and Joe Spiers
can last a lifetime, with some occassional tuning and tweaking, hence the
value of the investment in the harp.
6) In my humble opinion, buying a custom harp case, with foam inserts is NOT
a lifetime investment. Eventually it is going to flake and fall apart,
getting nasty little particles in your harp. BUT I guess you could buy a
replacement insert if that is acceptable to you
7) Now saying that, buying a custom case (like ours) with bullet proof glass
plastic is a LIFETIME investment. The only thing that might go bad is the
actual case shell if you beat the crap out of it. If you buy a custom case
from us and the case shell breaks or malfunctions, we will replace it at our
cost, in addition to the minimal cost of the engraved metal plaque (unless
you don't want it).
8) Our downside: we don't offer fancy tweed or other types of fancy cases
like some other vendors. We just offer the industrial looking black case.
9) We are in the process of developing a different type case, made out of
different material (non-metal), with the same divider system, and a MIC
STAND ATTACHMENT. Look for this in 2011. We have been bugged for years about
doing this and we are finally going to do it.

In conclusion, these are just my opinions, research, facts, experience..I
just wanted to weigh in on this discussion. I mean no disrespect to anyone
or any case vendor for that matter.

Happy holidays to all.

Matthew Smart

Matthew Smart

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