Parts of Harmonica: Everything You Need to Know

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When you start playing any musical instrument, you need to know what it consists of. I’ve compiled this guide about different parts of the harmonica for beginners. If you know how your instrument functions, you will get a better sound during the performance. At the end of the article, I will answer several questions you might have while reading.

If you have any questions, write them in the comments, and I will try to answer all of them.

What Is Inside of a Harmonica?

A harmonica consists of certain elements, so let’s take a look at the harmonica diagram:

  1. Comb
  2. Cover plates
  3. Mouthpiece
  4. Reeds
  5. Reed plates
  6. Rivets
  7. Slider mechanism button
  8. Windsavers
  9. Body

apart harmonica

I will tell you about the nine components of the harmonica here. Some components are present only in certain harmonicas, so check the description of the item before buying it.


A comb is the main part of any harmonica. It enables you to play sounds. By moving the harmonica, you can produce both higher and lower notes. It can be made of metal, plastic, or wood. The comb is a nozzle with holes through which you blow air. This way, you produce sounds. Wooden combs are susceptible to moisture and can deteriorate, but there are closed combs that do not get wet. Metal options are the most durable. The peculiarity of wooden combs is that they provide you with a softer tone.

Cover plates

The upper part of the harmonica is the lining that protects the reeds and reed plates. Although the pads protect the reeds, they are made so that air can pass through. Linings can be made of different metals that are resistant to corrosion and rust. There are many cover plates on the market that can improve ergonomics and sound quality, according to some musical experts.


This is the front part of the harmonica, which has holes in it. The mouthpiece is located only on chromatic harmonicas. You can choose either chrome or gold-plated mouthpieces, depending on your budget. The slider mechanism is situated behind the mouthpiece.


The reeds are what make the music. That is, they produce the notes. Reeds are made of brass, stainless steel, or bronze. Brass is most commonly found in harmonicas, which is why such models are cheaper. Brass produces softer sounds because the material is soft.

reeds on harmonica

Bronze produces a brighter sound than brass. Stainless steel is most often used in expensive models. The reeds made of stainless steel have a similar sound to brass and are more durable than others. Reeds are factory-tuned, but if they fail, you can readjust them in specialized workshops.

Reed plates

Reed plates are made of brass; they are thinner and have a square shape. These inserts contain holes for certain reeds. In addition, reed plates are screwed on. They are often used in high-quality harmonicas, and experts say they are among the best on the market.


This is another type of plate. These plates have the reeds attached to them, which has given them their name. Such plates are considered the most reliable because they do not break for a long time. When choosing a harmonica, ensure there are screwed reed plates. Due to them, you will not have to repair your instrument at the very start.

Slider mechanism button

This part of the harmonica is present only in chrome-plated models. It is activated by pressing the button at the end of the harmonica. The slider button helps to access sharps and flats. If this slider is pressed, air will go to the second row of reeds. These reeds are already tuned to certain notes. Pressing the slider raises the key by 1. This way, you can achieve a different sound, which is possible only on chrome harmonicas.


This component is also present in chromatic harmonicas. These flaps cover a part of the harmonica, making it more airtight. Windsavers also cover the reeds. Such protection ensures the tool’s safety and durability. It helps your harmonica withstand wind and draft. When choosing a chrome harmonica, pay attention to this detail, as it will secure your instrument.


The body is the basis of the harmonica. The reeds that create the sound are attached to it. The body can be made from various materials, such as plastic, metal, or wood. The price of the harmonica depends on the material used. The wooden case is mostly made of a pear, so this material is popular on the market.

FAQ About Harmonica Parts

In this section, I will answer some questions you might have while reading the article. By reading the answers, you can learn the nuances of the topic and understand it better.

What are the reeds of harmonica made of?

The reeds are usually made of brass, bronze, or stainless steel. Cheaper models are made from brass and more expensive—from stainless steel. The sound depends on the metal used, and the tone can be softer or brighter.

What are the different types of combs used in harmonicas?

Combs can be made from different materials, such as wood, plastic, or metal. Wood can absorb odors and microbes, which is why it is the most short-lived. It is best to use metal combs. They are the most durable ones but also expensive.

How long do harmonica reeds last?

The reeds last for about six months. If you use a harmonica with wooden reeds, you might need to repair your instrument more often. Metal reeds last longer. That’s why it’s important to buy a quality instrument.

Discover Top 3 Harmonica Bestsellers

Bestseller No. 1
East top Diatonic Blues Harmonica Key of C, Blues Harp Mouth Organ 10 Holes 20 Tones 008K with Blue Case, Standard Harmonica For Adults, Professionals, Beginners and Students
  • Professional harmonica for adult-East top 10 hole professional diatonic harmonica, suitable for Blues, Folk, Rock, Country, Jazz etc. Great for professional harmonica players and beginners. This Professional Blues Harmonica has exquisite workmanship, beautiful appearance, accurate tone and responsive.
  • Rich sound, responsive, airtightness - Precision-made plastic comb with phosphor bronze reeds; 1.2mm thickness reed plate is easier to get the higher pitch, rich sound and timbre. The reed plate with electroplating antirust, the hole, reed gap is better after electroplating. At the same time, you will feel comfortable when playing, easy to use the skill, such as over-blowing and bending, giving the performer a new experience.
  • Pocket size and easy to bring-(4.01x 1.06x 0.75)"/ (102x 27 x 19)mm(L x W x H), you can put it into your pocket, it can be played everywhere, such as party, school, office and trip etc.
  • Beautiful packaging- The package is exquisitely small and can be used as a birthday present, a gift for further study, a holiday souvenir or a business meeting gift and wedding anniversary etc.
  • Package includes 1x harmonica (key of C); 1x instruction and 1x cleaning cloth. We are the harmonica manufacturer of the East top brand.Backed Up with East top 30 Days Unconditional Money Back . You can rest assured to buy our products.
Bestseller No. 2
JDR Harmonica Set of 7 (Key of C D E F G A Bb) 10 Holes 20 Tones Blues Harp Diatonic Mouth Organ armonica with EVA Protective Case for Adults Kids Beginner Professional Intermediate Student Gift Black
  • ♪ Professional harmonica set: Excellent design and exquisite workmanship 7-pack of harmonicas includes keys of C, G, A, D, F, E, and B♭. Great harmonica system suitable for blues, folk, pop, jazz, country and classical music.
  • ♪ High-quality Raw Materials: The JDR harmonica high-sensitivity phosphor bronze reed plate differs from inferior aluminum, it is made of copper. The 1mm of copper reed plate is conducive to the sound more clear and melodious.
  • ♪ Precise Manufacturing: The JDR harmonica comb is specially crafted with non-toxic food-grade ABS resin and chrome-plated mirror. It is not only lightweight, but also can prevent rust and corrosion. JDR harmonica set is child-friendly and safe, and has also passed Food Safety Certification.
  • ♪ Portable Size: The JDR 10 holes 20 tones key of C harmonica is cleverly designed with a streamlined body. Each harmonica is 4.09"x0.31"x1.10", you can slip into the pocket wherever you go. Each harmonica is carefully tuned and tested during manufacturing to ensure best sound and quality.
  • ♪ JDR Service Policy: Package includes 7-pack of Harmonica, premium protection box. For any possible defective products 90 days no reason to refund, 180 days replacement service.
Bestseller No. 3
Fender Blues Deville Harmonica, Key of C
  • Key of C
  • Designed to sound as good as the Fender brand name would suggest
  • Its richer tone and pitch is made possible with a molded PVC comb and precision phosphor bronze reeds
  • Traditional shape and black satin covers will make your harmonica look as good as it sounds
  • Includes vented hard plastic case

Not That Complicated as It Might Have Seemed

As you can see, a harmonica consists of numerous elements that complement each other. Harmonicas’ components can differ, which affects the model price. The most expensive and durable option has a metal case and stainless steel reeds. Which kind of harmonica do you want to buy? Have you already tried your hand at playing the harmonica? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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