If you are confused about the wide variety of harmonicas, I invite you to read my reviews. Even if you already play a diatonic harmonica, choosing a chromatic model might not be easy. It has certain peculiarities. Since I have a lot of experience playing the harmonica, I want to share my tips with you. You will find out how to choose the best chromatic harmonica. This type of harmonica is usually more expensive than a diatonic harmonica. I will tell you about the best budget models and premium-quality options. I’m sure this post will help you narrow down your search and find the beginner chromatic harmonica or the advanced one faster.
8 Best Chromatic Harmonica Reviewed
I am constantly interested in different harmonica models. My friends often share their experiences with me, knowing about my hobby. I have collected information about the most popular harmonica models, and I am happy to share it with you.
- Hohner 64 Chromonica: Best Chromatic Harmonica for 4 Octaves
- Eison 10-Hole: Best Chromatic Harmonica for All Users
- Kmise 10-Hole: Best Cheap Chromatic Harmonica
- Suzuki Chromatic Harmonica: Best for Experienced Players
- Swan SW1040: Best Chromatic Harmonica for Beginners
- Swan SW1664: Best Chromatic Harmonica for Kids
- Hohner CX-12: Best Chromatic Harmonica for Jazz
- Seydel Saxony: Best Chromatic Harmonica for Orchestra
1. Hohner 64 Chromonica: Best Chromatic Harmonica for 4 Octaves
|Item weight:||8 ounces|
|Item size:||7.8 x 1.2 x 1.8 inches|
My friend Ethan shared with me his thoughts on this harmonica. He had been playing the piano for many years before he decided to learn a new instrument. He was choosing between chromatic and diatonic harmonica. Ethan picked the chromatic because it allowed him to play all the notes on one device.
Since he is a professional musician, he needs to play in a wide range, and this 4-octave harmonica does a great job of that. As for the sound, it is lovely and clear.
The Hohner harp has a traditional style and appears expensive and fashionable. It is also well-built. The construction of high-quality materials allows you to enjoy playing for a long time. The eco-friendly plastic comb is unaffected by moisture.
Professional musicians choose this harmonica because, unlike many similar instruments, it allows one to play all four octaves, not only three.
Hohner has been on the market since 1857 and is known for its high-quality musical instruments. They were the first to release the 4-octave harmonica in 1938.
- Range: 4 octaves
- Plastic comb
- Good sound quality
- High price
2. Eison 10-Hole: Best Chromatic Harmonica for All Users
|Material type:||bronze, stainless steel, copper|
|Item weight:||5.3 ounces|
|Item size:||5.12 x 1.5 x 1.02 inches|
My co-worker Olivia gave this harmonica to her brother for his birthday. She believed he could master the new instrument because he had played the diatonic harmonica before. Also, playing chromatic provides an interesting, fresh sound and grants a unique experience. Her brother was overjoyed with the gift because the instrument is both aesthetic and functional. A storage case and a cleaning cloth are also provided.
I would not recommend this harmonica to a beginner in music, but those who already know how to play other types of harmonica will appreciate the capabilities of this instrument. The harmonica has a C key, which is the most popular for most tunes. Additionally, the harmonica’s body features a button. By pressing it, you can play halftones. The harmonica is constructed of long-lasting materials, which impacts its sound quality and durability. The harp is not expensive, so it is challenging to find serious flaws with its low price.
- Phosphor bronze reeds
- Suitable for most musical styles
- Not detected
3. Kmise 10-Hole: Best Cheap Chromatic Harmonica
|Material type:||bronze, stainless steel, brass|
|Item weight:||9.6 ounces|
|Item size:||6.2 x 2.9 x 1.7 inches|
My cousin is new to harmonica playing. She has some diatonic skills, though she can’t boast of long experience. As she was searching for her style, she decided to buy a chromatic harmonica. The tool had to be inexpensive and of good quality, so she opted for a harmonica from Kmise. Given the low cost, no one expected this harmonica to be of excellent quality. It exceeded all expectations.
This instrument is great for beginners for several reasons. First, the C key is present in most basic tunes that beginners learn in the first place. The company also takes care of beginner musicians and puts the necessary marks on the lid, not with paint but using a laser. That means they won’t rub off before the beginner masters the instrument perfectly. My sister notes that the harmonica has a pleasant, soft sound. Overall, she is happy with her purchase.
The harmonica is made of durable material that will last for a long time. The comb is made of ABS plastic, which means it is resistant to moisture. The phosphoric bronze tongues provide a soft and rich sound. At first glance, it might seem that this harmonica is not robust enough. However, even though it is a budget harmonica, it is durable and will not end up in the trash after a few games.
Kmise has been on the market since 2012. The company makes affordable, high-quality musical instruments. Beginners often choose them as their first musical instrument.
- Has a good tightness
- Bronze reeds
- Low-quality case
4. Suzuki Chromatic Harmonica: Best for Experienced Players
|Material type:||chrome, bronze, plastic, resin, brass|
|Item weight:||1.3 pounds|
|Item size:||9 x 5 x 5 inches|
I received this harmonica as a birthday present from my friends. This gift shocked me since this harmonica was expensive. I was proud to add such an unusual piece to my harmonica collection. It is a chromatic harmonica with a tremolo effect, so it has an original sound. The same is with its appearance. The harmonica looks expensive and exotic because of its unusual shape. It is a 4-octave instrument, and when combined with the tremolo effect, it gives an incredible, voluminous sound. I had a lot of fun playing this musical instrument.
I think this professional harmonica is worth the budget. It has handmade elements. The instrument is precisely sculpted to the smallest detail. The comb is made of plastic, and the tongues are from phosphorus bronze. The body is produced of gold-plated and chrome-plated brass. The combination of materials allows the instrument to look elegant and remain in excellent condition for a long time. The only drawback is that the harmonica is quite weighty.
When I see the Japanese Suzuki brand, I know that the tool is of superior quality. The company pays a lot of attention to the materials from which they make tools. They don’t skimp on quality, and this is reflected in prices. If you can afford to buy their harmonica, it won’t gather dust on your shelf as an unnecessary tool.
- Stylish look
- Good sound quality
- Сomfortable mouthpiece
5. Swan SW1040: Best Chromatic Harmonica for Beginners
|Material type:||bronze, stainless steel, brass, resin, plastic, metal|
|Item weight:||10 ounces|
|Item size:||7.32 x 2.72 x 1.85 inches|
My neighbor Liam decided to play a chromatic harmonica after a diatonic one. Since he was a beginner and was not sure whether he could master 16-hole harmonica, he started with 10. The price of this harmonica is quite affordable, so he could buy an instrument with 12 holes or more later. His first impression of the harmonica was excellent. The device looked great and seemed reliable. Sometime later, Liam shared his feelings again. He told me that the harmonica sounded well and that it didn’t take much effort to get the sound. Now he is learning a new half-tone technique, but he is glad he has bought this harmonica.
Even though it is not one of the expensive harmonicas, it will last you for a long time with proper care. The chrome cover is smooth and will retain its original look for a decent amount of time. Specialized laser markings won’t wear off after a few plays. The comb from durable plastic and the reeds from bronze give a clear and pleasant sound. The harmonica comes with a handy case and a polishing cloth.
- Stylish look
- Brass tabs, ABS plastic comb
- Rich sound
- Compact size
6. Swan SW1664: Best Chromatic Harmonica for Kids
|Material type:||bronze, resin, metal|
|Item weight:||1.17 pounds|
|Item size:||7 x 2 x 1 inch|
One of my relatives asked me for advice when picking a harmonica for his son. The boy has talent and would like to become a professional musician. He didn’t need an expensive harmonica but one with a good sound. He was also looking for an instrument with a maximum range to play it professionally. I suggested to him to choose a harp of the brand Swan. Later, I got some feedback on this harmonica. The boy was thrilled with his gift. The harmonica is of high quality and pleasant to hold. The harp is very responsive, creating top-notch sound without much effort. This harmonica quality is worth much more than its actual price. It comes with a convenient case to store the instrument, and the boy takes it with him to a music school.
The instrument looks very unusual and rather expensive. The manufacturer claims that the chrome cover is scratch-resistant. Overall, the tool is solidly built. I haven’t heard anyone saying it crumbled in their hands. Like many Swan models, it is good value for money.
- Stylish look
- Phosphorite bronze reeds
- Easy to play
- Not detected
7. Hohner CX-12: Best Chromatic Harmonica for Jazz
|Item weight:||8 ounces|
|Item size:||7 x 2 x 1.5 inches|
My friend Emma plays this harmonica. She had been looking for a new musical instrument for a long time. She liked the announced features of the new Hohner model. Some of them lived up to the expectations. The mouthpiece of this harmonica is noticeably smaller, which has a positive impact on comfort while playing. The sound is great, but it isn’t much better than other harmonics of the same brand. I also liked the ease of assembly. At one point, Emma thought that something inside was out of order. She quickly opened the harmonica and did not have to worry about being unable to put it back together again.
The harmonica is made of quality plastic. The instrument is easy to care for and promises to be durable. The fewer mouthpiece is an obvious plus of the tool. The harmonica sounds good and responds well, but I don’t recommend expecting anything supernatural from the sound. It is up to you whether to overpay for the instrument or not.
- Durable construction
- Good sound
- Convenient mouthpiece
- Easy to put together and take apart
8. Seydel Saxony: Best Chromatic Harmonica for Orchestra
|Instrument key:||C, G|
|Material type:||stainless steel, chrome, silver|
|Item weight:||12.8 ounces|
|Item size:||7.5 x 3 x 2 inches|
My cousin’s friend Sophia bought this professional harmonica after gaining experience on more budget models. She was a little worried about the sound of the stainless steel reeds. After phosphorite bronze, they do sound different but still great. The large hole spacing eliminates air loss and provides clear notes.
That is not a cheap harmonica but a quality professional instrument. It is made of high-quality materials. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about it even if you have to play in a humid climate. The harmonica is a bit heavy but feels good in the hands. The upgraded mouthpiece makes it very easy to play. The harmonica is available in C and G tones.
Seydel is a well-known German brand that specializes in harmonicas. That is one of the first harmonica manufacturers, so they have developed a formula of perfect quality over the years.
- Excellent quality
- Convenient mouthpiece
- Good sound
Best Chromatic Harmonica Buyer’s Guide
Even if you are already familiar with the diatonic harmonica, the chromatic one has some distinctive features, which you might have already noticed from my chromatic harmonica reviews. Let’s elaborate on some of its properties.
How to choose the best chromatic harmonica
You need to know about the types of chromatic harmonica and how they differ. Below, you will find their essential characteristics.
On a chromatic harmonica, you can play absolutely all tones and use only one instrument. In addition, you can see that harmonicas have their own tonality, such as C or G. Chromatic harmonicas with 16 holes exist only in C tonality.
Number of holes
There are four types of chromatic harmonica: 10, 12, 14, and 16-hole. The more holes, the higher the range of the musical instrument. For example, a 10-hole harmonica has a range of 2.5 octaves, while a 16-hole device has 4 octaves. Typically, if a beginner buys a chromatic harmonica, they start with a 12-hole model. Its range is enough to learn how to play primary tunes. But if you want to have the full range right away so that the question of buying a new harmonica does not come too soon, you can buy a 16-hole harmonica.
The principal materials of a harmonica are metal, plastic, and wood. They can affect the sound somewhat but have more impact on durability. For example, the first harmonica had a wooden comb. Since moisture often gets inside the instrument, it negatively affects the harp. The wood is not resistant to dampness, so the comb swells and deforms over time. These days, harmonica manufacturers make combs mostly out of ABS plastic. It is not toxic to humans and is resistant to moisture. Sometimes, among modern harmonics, there are models with a wooden comb. Then the comb is varnished, so it doesn’t absorb water.
The reeds responsible for the harmonica sound have been made of copper for a long time. Modern models often have reeds made of steel, which positively affects the durability of the harmonica. However, there are opinions that steel does not give as deep a sound as copper.
Harmonica manufacturers can make covers from stainless steel or plastic. That can affect the weight and how comfortable the instrument is to hold.
How does chromatic harmonica differ from diatonic and tremolo?
The absence of semitones characterizes a diatonic harmonica. If you imagine piano keys, this type of harmonica can only reproduce the sound of the white keys. However, I cannot say that this harmonica has limited capabilities. It is still the most popular option, suitable for playing most musical styles. This type of harmonica has ten holes.
Unlike the diatonic harmonica, the chromatic harmonica has semitones. Simply put, it has the white and black keys of a grand piano. Also, this instrument is slightly larger and can have 10, 12, 14, and 16 holes. There is a special switch on the body of the chromatic harmonica that changes halftones.
The tremolo harmonica differs from the previous two types of instruments. Its main feature is that one note has two reeds, resulting in a richer and more voluminous sound. Despite its unusual construction, tremolo harmonica is very simple, even for beginners. It might not offer a lot of variety in playing different styles of music. However, it is a good choice for those who like to experiment with sound. A tremolo harmonica also produces the sounds of only the white keys of a grand piano.
When to choose a chromatic harmonica
To choose a particular type of harmonica, you need to understand your skill level and which kind of music you want to play. A diatonic harmonica is easier to play because, with chromatic, you must know the theory of the tones of the music. A chromatic harmonica is the best in classical music, pop, and jazz. Buying a chromatic is also a matter of budget. Chromatics are more expensive than diatonic harmonicas.
FAQ on Chromatic Harmonicas
By now, you might have a rough idea of which kind of a harmonica you want to buy. I also want to share with you the answers to the frequent questions that people ask me when they are searching for advice.
Which key chromatic harmonica should I buy?
I think that any experienced musician would agree with me and say that starting in the C key is better. This is the most popular key, and you will find it in most of the tunes you play.
Is it difficult to play the chromatic harmonica?
It depends on the skills you already have. Usually, beginners start out playing with a diatonic harmonica. To play a chromatic model, you need to know all twelve tones. However, some musicians find it easier to start with chromatics.
Can you play all keys on a chromatic harmonica?
Yes, it is possible. That is a great advantage of a chromatic harmonica over a diatonic one. You don’t need to buy several chromatic harmonicas to play all twelve notes. You can play all the tones using just one instrument. Nevertheless, chromatic harmonicas are sold in different keys.
It’s Time to Take the First Step
To summarize the aforesaid, I want to emphasize that chromatics are often expensive, but there are decent budget representatives among such harmonics. If playing a chromatic harmonica is still something of a challenge, you can start by choosing a 10- or 12-hole one. Using the C tonality will help you learn to play faster.
I have provided you with the names of several music brands that you can trust. You certainly won’t be disappointed with the quality. After all, you won’t know if a chromatic harmonica is hard to play until you try it. It’s not as difficult as you might imagine. Remember, the road takes the walker.
What are your thoughts on buying a chromatic harmonica? Share your opinion in the comments.