This small musical instrument can easily fit in your pocket and play wonderful melodies. The bright and authentic sound of the harmonica can often be heard in many modern compositions: from pop music to blues. If you want to start learning how to play, you should first choose the best harmonica. There are many options on the market for beginners and professionals. My harmonica reviews contain only quality models, and I personally perform music on some of these instruments. My friends also shared their impressions of harmonicas so that you can read an honest review and learn the main pros and cons of popular options. I hope this article will make it easier for you to select the best harmonicas to buy online.
Top 10 Best Harmonica Overviews
|Hohner 64 Chromonica||Best Chromatic Harmonica||Plastic||C||16|
|Lee Oskar 1910-G||Best Diatonic Harmonica||Plastic||G||10|
|East Top T2406S||Best Tremolo Harmonica||Phosphor bronze reeds with welded, brass reedplate with electroplate, brass cover with electroplate, ABS comb||G||24|
|Fender Blues Deluxe||Best Harmonica for Beginners||Plastic, Metal, Polyvinyl Chloride||C||10|
|Suzuki SCT-128||Best Professional Harmonica||Chrome, Bronze, Plastic, Resin, Brass||C~d4||16|
|EastRock Harmonica||Best Cheap Harmonica||Bronze, Stainless Steel, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene||C||10|
|Fender Blues DeVille||Best Blues Harmonica||Bronze, Plastic, Polyvinyl Chloride||C||10|
|Harmo Polar||Best Bluegrass Harmonica||Phosphore bronze reeds, Acrylic comb, Stainless steel covers||A||10|
|Small Fish Harmonica||Best Harmonica for Kids||Plastic||C||10|
|Fender Midnight Blues 7-Pack Bundle||Best Harmonica Set||Bronze, Stainless Steel, Brass, Plastic, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene||A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G||10|
Determine for yourself a list of qualities that your ideal harmonica should have. Guide them in your choice. In this list, I invite you to detail the advantages and disadvantages of popular models of decent quality.
1. Hohner Accordions: Best Chromatic Harmonica
Those who value durability and traditions should turn their attention to the harmonica from the Hohner. This model appeared in 1938 and was the first chromonica with a range of more than 4 octaves (C3-D7).
The combs of the first models were made of pear wood, and the modern design has plastic combs. The key of this instrument is C. However, the zigzag slide allows you to play in other keys. 16 holes and 48 reeds guarantee clear and bright sound.
You can play music in any genre: rock, jazz, tango, blues, new age, and gypsy jazz. Almost every professional has such an instrument. This is the most popular harmonica on the market. I also purchased this proven option many years ago. The chromatic harmonica has a lot of potential and will sound even better when you get the hang of it like a pro. I love its ability to convey emotion and soul while performing.
This version is heavier and stronger than most other instruments. More suitable for those who have an intermediate and advanced level of the game. The downside is that the plate is made of nickel, and those who are allergic to this material will not be able to appreciate the harmonica. In my opinion, this is the best harmonica on the list.
- Bright and deep sound
- Traditional design
- Suitable for performing various compositions
- Could be a nickel allergy
2. Lee Oskar: Best Diatonic Harmonica
|Item Weight:||0.02 Pounds|
Every experienced musician knows that Lee Oskar makes good harmonica. This option is in the key of G and is ideal for country folk, jazz, rock, and blues. The diatonic harmonica has a sealed design, and it also has 10 holes.
The manufacturer offers a plastic comb with large holes. This is a great solution for ease of performance. However, if you have played harp with smaller holes before, you will need time to get used to this instrument. Another benefit is that if the reeds wear out, you don’t have to buy a new instrument. Replacement is easy and inexpensive.
My friend has a huge collection of harmonicas. He loves the solid and beautiful body of the Lee Oskar diatonic harmonica. He has many options to compare and confidently claims that this musical instrument lasts much longer than similarly priced models from other brands. In his opinion, this is an excellent choice for playing blues melodies. The sound is smooth and loud, and the notes bend easily. This quality harmonica sounds great for playing first position or cross-harp (blues).
- Durable and sealed design
- Easy to replace reeds
- Plays crisp notes
- Large holes for easy play
- You need to get used to the large holes in the comb
3. East Top: Best Tremolo Harmonica
|Material:||Phosphor bronze reeds with welded, brass reedplate with electroplate, brass cover with electroplate, ABS comb|
This model from the East Top brand is one of the top rated harmonicas. This musical instrument is a diatonic harmonica, the distinguishing characteristic of which is the presence of 2 reeds per note. This feature allows you to create special effects and play simple melodies. Tremolo has 24 holes, which guarantee a rich sound and timbre.
The manufacturer offers an exquisite design with electroplated coating on the cover and plate, which protects the instrument from rust. The combs are plastic. My friend has been looking for a suitable tremolo for piano accompaniment and performance of folk compositions for a long time. As soon as a friend received the harmonica and played the first song, she was disappointed. It was hard for her to blow. However, the reeds loosened a little after playing again, and everything returned to normal.
For half a year, she performs various melodies on this harmonica, noting that this is an ideal option for Irish and Scottish tunes. She likes how the instrument sounds in the key of G. It makes a loud and resonant sound. She also noted that the harp is easy to hold.
- Ideal for creating special effects
- Electroplated coating
- Beautiful design
- Loud and resonant tone
- Not suitable for playing complex melodies
- During the first game, the reeds are not flexible enough
4. Fender Blues Deluxe: Best Harmonica for Beginners
|Material:||Plastic, Metal, Polyvinyl Chloride|
|Style:||Key of G|
If you want to start playing the harmonica without making a huge investment, take a look at this model. In addition to the low price, the manufacturer offers high quality. The combs are made of ABS plastic, which is resistant to moisture. They also provide bright and clear sound. Tuning such a harmonica is easy, even for a child.
An instrument with the key of C is not only the best first choice for a beginner but a worthy option for a professional. The covers are made of chrome-plated metal. A nice addition is that the reed plates are replaceable. The model has 10 holes and brass reeds for a classic tone.
My friend became interested in playing the harmonica, and his children also wanted to learn this instrument. He ordered 2 harmonicas, wishing to replace them with more expensive ones later. A friend was surprised by the high quality and liked the traditional design. The instruments were easy to clean. Even when his children dabbled in improvised tunes, it sounded great. The downside was the slightly sharp edges, which he filed for greater convenience. These harmonicas are so good that the kids learned quite a lot of melodies in just a few months.
- Low price
- Suitable for both beginners and professionals
- Pure sound
- Sharp edges of the harmonica body
5. Suzuki: Best Professional Harmonica
|Item Weight:||0.59 Kilograms|
The Suzuki brand offers truly great harmonicas. After I picked up this instrument, I realized it would be one of my favorites. This is the best option for those who play the harmonica professionally and want to have a luxurious musical instrument of the highest quality in their collection.
This option is universal, combining chromatic harmonica and tremolo functions. 16 holes and 4 full octaves provide a wide range of performance for any genre of music. The design deserves a separate review. The harmonica fits comfortably in hand, has an unusual streamlined shape, and looks expensive. The cover plates are made of chrome-plated brass, and the mouthpiece is made of brass with gilding. The reeds are made from high-quality phosphor bronze. All details are handmade. I admire the beautiful sound of this harmonica. This is a great gift for experienced musicians. The disadvantage is a heavy weight, which you need to get used to.
- High build quality
- Clear and beautiful sound
- Hybrid of chromatic harmonica and tremolo
- Luxurious design
- Perfect for professional musicians
- High price
6. EASTROCK: Best Cheap Harmonica
|Material:||Bronze, Stainless Steel, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene|
|Item Weight:||0.22 Pounds|
Many harmonica brands offer cheap musical instruments. However, not all of them have a good tone and durable design. Harmonica from the EASTROCK looks stylish and sounds beautiful.
This is a diatonic harmonica of the key of C. It has 10 holes. The reeds are made of high-quality phosphor bronze, and the cover is made of stainless steel, guaranteeing durability. The combs in this model are made of food-grade ABS resin. Good build quality gives a soft sound.
This versatile instrument is designed for beginners and intermediates playing blues, folk, jazz, country, and rock-n-roll. I know several musicians who started playing this harmonica. One has already achieved considerable professionalism in performance but often plays this harmonica in concerts. Another musician claims he will not trade this cheap model for a more expensive one because it is ideal for playing the blues. I also like the glossy design; you can choose the body color (black, silver, gold, blue or red). It looks expensive — an excellent option for this money for both children and adults.
- Low cost
- Stylish and durable design
- Beautiful sound
- Suitable for both beginners and intermediates
- It is small, so it is inconvenient for those with large hands
7. Fender Deville: Best Blues Harmonica
|Material:||Bronze, Plastic, Polyvinyl Chloride|
|Style:||Key of G|
The diatonic harmonica in the key of C is ideal for playing the blues. With 10 holes, phosphor bronze reeds, and an ABS comb, the instrument makes it easy to bend notes and make beautiful sounds.
I bought this model because I liked the unusual design. The grips with a matte black finish look solid and unusual, do not slip in your hand. I love how natural it is to play blues songs on this harmonica: the tightness and high-quality assembly guarantee coordinated tuning and intonation.
I gave the same harp to my sister. She is an amateur, but she also had no problem playing notes. The downside is the slightly uncomfortable sharp edges that take some getting used to.
- Stylish design
- Perfect for blues
- Easy to play
- Sharp edges
8. Harmo Polar: Best Bluegrass Harmonica
|Item Weight:||4 Ounces|
The streamlined body has an unusual design and a non-standard tuning. Key A is great for those who play songs in Irish, Celtic music, and bluegrass genres. The harmonica produces an authentic resonant sound.
It is made and tested in the USA and will be an excellent choice for both beginners and intermediate players. This model gives you more flexibility and a smoother ride for standard major songs in the key of your instrument. The reeds are made of phosphor bronze, the white caps are stainless steel, and the comb is dark blue acrylic. It has 10 holes.
I gave this harmonica as a gift to my friend who plays professional bluegrass music. He liked the traditional, lively and loud sound. The model has an unusual but simple design and stands out from others in his collection. A friend noted that the smooth, rounded edges make it comfortable to hold the instrument, as many harmonicas have sharp edges that dig into the palm of your hand. The disadvantage is that the blue paint is erased.
- Non-standard setting
- Convenient and unusual design
- Ideal for bluegrass
- The blue paint wears off over time
9. Small Fish: Best Harmonica for Kids
This diatonic harmonica in the key of C is designed specifically for children and beginner players. It is lightweight, compact, and has rounded edges. It has 10 holes, stainless steel coating, a phosphor bronze reed, and an ABS plastic mouthpiece and comb. The harmonica is easy to clean and wash.
As a person fond of collecting various musical instruments, I chose this small harp as a gift for my little niece. The girl is only 6 years old, but she can already easily reproduce beautiful improvisations. Later, I plan to teach her a lot of tunes because, with this harmonica, you can play blues, jazz, rock and roll, and country. This gift has become a great way to draw the child’s attention to the world of music. However, the build and sound quality make this instrument suitable for adults.
- Suitable for children from 5 years
- No sharp edges
- Beautiful sound
- Due to the small size, it is not suitable for adults with large hands
10. Fender Midnight Blues: Best Harmonica Set
|Material:||Bronze, Stainless Steel, Brass, Plastic, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene|
|Instrument Key:||A, Bb, C, D, E, F, and G|
This set is the best choice for beginners who do not know what key will be optimal for them. It contains 7 harmonicas in different keys: A, Bb, C, D, E, F, and G. You also get everything you need to start playing: a protective carrying case, cleaning cloth, and manual.
Each harmonica has 10 holes, phosphor bronze reeds, and ABS plastic combs. The covers are made of high-quality chrome-plated metal. I recommended the Fender set to a friend as the brand offers professional instruments at a low price. This purchase was his first step in learning to play the harmonica. All instruments in the set have a clear sound and are easy to learn. They fit comfortably in hand and are rather durable. This set allowed a friend to learn a lot of blues and jazz tunes in a few months. The downside is the small print in the attached brochure.
- Decent quality
- Beautiful and clear sound
- 7 harmonicas of different keys in a set
- Affordable price
- Difficult to read the text in the manual.
Harmonica Buyer’s Guide
When choosing your ideal instrument, it is crucial to determine which playing style you plan to master first. Some types are universal and suitable for the performance of most modern genres, and others are special niche models for professionals. Pay attention to such basic characteristics as dimensions, weight, and material from which the harmonica is made.
You need to know about the types of harmonicas and how they differ. Below are their basic characteristics.
Types of harmonicas
Although there are many different types of harmonicas, the most common are diatonic, chromatic, and tremolo.
This musical instrument is also called a “blues harp.” It is a standard 10-hole harmonica that is great for blues, country, folk, and rock. The full 7-note major harp scale is available, but you can play additional notes outside that scale by learning the note-bending technique. Such harmonics are lighter, smaller, and cheaper than chromatic ones.
The chromatic harmonica is easier to learn to play. However, note bending does not work as well as on a diatonic instrument. This type of harmonica has a button on the side. When enabled, you can play any missing half-step notes between the notes of the major scale. Accordingly, any key and type of scale are available to you. It is common in many musical genres, especially jazz and classical music.
This harmonica is not for you if you want to play complex blues melodies. It is designed for simple compositions and special effects. This type of diatonic harp has double holes, and each hole has 2 scales tuned to the same note. Thus, during the game, a unique vibration effect is created.
- For beginners, the best option would be to choose a harmonica with 10 holes in the key of C.
- If you plan to play solo, choose instruments in the keys that you like and that suit the genre of music you play.
- The best way to practice note bending is to use the harmonica in the key of D.
- Key A provides a deep, low sound.
- To play jazz music with a band, purchase harmonicas in the keys of Ab, Bb, Db, Eb, and F#.
- To play with other musicians, blues, country, or rock, you need to have harps in the following keys: A, Bb, C, D, E, F, and G.
Number of holes
- The standard diatonic harmonica has 10 holes. There are also 4-hole diatonic sets for beginners.
- Chromatic harmonicas are available with 8, 10, 12, 14, or 16 holes. More holes allow you to play melodies in a wide range of notes.
- An instrument with 20 or 32 playing holes is a tremolo.
The material from which the harmonica is made determines the nature of its sound.
- Wooden combs will appeal to those who love a soft and warm sound. However, such parts are sensitive to water and can quickly deform. Many manufacturers produce models with treated wood resistant to water.
- Metal combs have a longer life. They are typically made from aluminum or stainless steel. These materials are more expensive.
- Plastic is the most common material for making combs. It is cheap and does not wear out as quickly as wood.
The coating affects the acoustics of the harp.
- The plastic is easy to clean and has a soft sound.
- Metal provides a bright and punchy sound. Expensive models are made of lucite or silver alloys.
- Bronze reeds give a brighter tone.
- The most common material for making reeds is brass. It is a soft metal that makes a nice soft sound.
- Top-quality models have stainless steel reeds.
- There are 2 main types of harmonica design. They determine how the cover plates are attached and affect the quality of the musical instrument’s tonality.
- Open cover plates are traditional. These are stamped metal or plastic plates that must be held by hand.
- Modern closed designs give you a louder and brighter tone as the sound doesn’t scatter.
FAQ on Harmonicas
These questions are common among those who want to start playing the harmonica.
What is the most popular key harmonica?
The most common key is C. Since most educational materials are created specifically for this standard key. Also, the key of the C harmonica is easier to play and is typically used to perform blues, folk, and country compositions.
Do you need a harmonica for every key?
You can play songs in other keys, but this requires some skill. To do this, you can use the bending of notes. In addition, many blues compositions in the key of G are played on harmonica in the key of C. Replenishing your collection with harmonicas of all keys will be the right solution if you plan to play in different genres.
How long does it take to get good on the harmonica?
It usually takes several months of regular daily practice (minimum 15 minutes) to build muscle memory and learn how to play simple tunes. It takes a year to master complex techniques like a professional. Studying on your own is quite difficult and long, so finding a teacher or online courses is better for more effective learning.
Which Harmonica Is Ideal for Your Melodies?
Despite its small size, this musical instrument can create beautiful, unique melodies. It will enliven any composition, whether it be blues, jazz, rock, classical or pop music. Select a harmonica based on your playing level and the music you plan to perform. I recommend Hohner 64 Chromonica. This model allows you to play a lot of melodies, is time-tested, has a 4-octave coverage, and is suitable for both beginners and professionals.
Who inspired you to learn how to play the harmonica? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and experience in the comments below!