Lately, I've been trying to up my piano & harmonica, and also guitar & harmonica game, and I got pretty frustrated with my 15$ holder that I used to use all the time. It keeps on slowly drifting away from my face, (no matter how hard I tighten it) and it's just a hassle to use – since changing harmonicas on it is a mess and takes some annoying physical effort. Also – it feels very cheap – and I don't like using products that feel cheap.
So I was surfing online for a better holder and got to the website of a company called Farmer Foot Drums which claim to have found the harmonica holder design that's the closest to perfection. I had to give it a try – and I emailed them over at the company. The friendly folks there (it's a small family business located in Michigan, and the products are all handmade) happily agreed to send me over their Archtop model for a test drive.
Here is what I thought about it: (below the video, you'll find my likes and dislikes, arranged for you right here in a text format as well)
The Farmer Archtop: What I Liked About It
- It's VERY easy to switch between different harmonicas on it, since instead of having to wrestle with a mechanism that locks from above and below the harmonica, there is a magnet that you can just easily attach and detach your harmonicas to.
- The harmonica cannot fall forward since the mechanism makes it impossible. So no more “harmonica holder drifting away from your face” syndrome.
- It's aesthetic! Unlike most harmonica holders that feel and look huge in your face, since they are very wide (wider than what they actually have to be – since they are wider than a harmonica) – here you get a holder that's just as wide as it needs to be. Also – there is nothing above the harmonica – so it looks a lot cleaner when you perform with it for a crowd. That's the same reason that in the bottom part of your eyesight you only see a harmonica instead of a huge mechanism – which is nice as well.
- The mechanism allows to easily drop it down to open position (when it's laying on your chest) and bring it up only in the middle of the song, (with just one hand) just in time for your solo. See my video for a demonstration of what I mean. (both in the review and in the “Under the Bridge” video below)
- It feels very comfortable on your body. You barely notice it's there – thanks to a well-distributed weight and nice materials.
- This is personal, but I think it's still important: I always feel better about supporting small, friendly family businesses that seem like they are driven out of a real passion for music AND actually have the best products around. That's the case here in my opinion, and kudos to Pete and Kate Farmer for their great work.
The Farmer Archtop: What I Disliked About It
- Price: While I do think this is easily the best harmonica holder I've tried – 70$ (not including shipping) is still a lot of money for an accessory piece. However, since it's most likely the last holder you'll buy – I still highly recommend it. At this price range you only have the Hohner Flex Rack – which is a terrible choice in my opinion. (huge, heavy, and very messy to handle and switch harmonicas on)
- The magnet was totally indifferent to my Suzuki Hammond harmonica, and that wasn't a lovely surprise – since it's my only harmonica in the key of E. Their website states that there are a couple of other Suzuki models that do not attach as well, so check it out to make sure that you're not getting it if most of your collection is one of these models. However, with all of my other harmonicas (many Hohner models and some Lee Oskars) there weren't any issues.
So this is it. I am still very happy that I discovered this great holder – my whole piano & harmonica and guitar & harmonica experience just became a lot more pleasant and easy – and the bottom line is that I now use those combinations a lot more often and improve faster – so I think it's worth it all.
I hope you'll find great luck with this holder as well.