What Kind of Harmonica Does Stevie Wonder Use? Find Out Here!

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I am a huge fan of Stevie Wonder’s music and have often wondered what kind of harmonica he uses to create his signature sound. After some research, I realized that the answer to that question was a well-kept secret. In this article, I will uncover this secret by exploring the type of harmonica Stevie Wonder uses and how it contributes to his unique sound.

Background on Stevie Wonder

Background On Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder is an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He is widely considered one of the most successful and influential musicians of the 20th century. Born as Stevland Hardaway Morris in Saginaw, Michigan, Wonder developed a passion for music at a young age. He signed with Motown Records at the age of 11 and released his first album, “The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie,” in 1962. His 1964 single “Fingertips” became a number-one hit, and he released his first full-length album, “Up-Tight,” in 1966. Throughout the 1970s, Wonder released a series of critically and commercially successful albums, including “Songs in the Key of Life,” “Innervisions,” “Talking Book,” and “Fulfillingness’ First Finale.” His music has earned him 25 Grammy Awards, and he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Early Life

Early Life
Stevie Wonder was born as Steveland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan, on May 13th, 1950. His mother, Lula Mae Hardaway, was a songwriter, and his father, Calvin Judkins, was a street-corner preacher. Wonder was born six weeks premature, and suffered a condition called retinopathy of prematurity, which caused permanent blindness. At the age of four, he began playing harmonica and showed an interest in music. At the age of eight, Wonder began playing piano, and soon after he joined his church choir. He later began playing drums and was eventually signed to Motown Records at the age of eleven.

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Musical Career

Musical Career

Stevie Wonder is one of the most influential musicians of all time. He began his career as a child prodigy in 1962 when he signed to Motown Records. He released his first album, “The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie”, in 1962. Over the next two decades, he released more than 30 albums, scoring numerous hits and winning multiple Grammy awards. He has collaborated with many notable artists, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Bruce Springsteen.

Wonder has been playing harmonica since the early stages of his career. His most famous harmonica playing was featured on his 1971 hit single, “Superstition”. He also used a harmonica to great effect on the song “Sir Duke” from the album “Songs in the Key of Life”.

Wonder primarily uses a standard 10-hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C. He is also known to use a chromatic harmonica, which is a more advanced type of harmonica that allows for more precise pitch control. He often uses both types of harmonicas in his performances.

History of the Harmonica

History Of The Harmonica

  • The earliest known harmonica was created in 1821 by Christian Buschmann, a German clockmaker.
  • Buschmann’s design was an adaptation of a free reed instrument called the sheng, which was invented in China in the 11th century.
  • The harmonica was quickly embraced in Europe and America and became a popular instrument for folk, blues, and classical music.
  • In the early 1900s, the harmonica became a popular instrument in jazz and blues, and in the 1930s it was used heavily in country and western music.
  • By the 1960s, the harmonica had become a popular solo instrument, with a range of styles and techniques that were developed by some of the most influential harmonica players of the era, such as Larry Adler and Stevie Wonder.
  • Today, the harmonica is one of the most popular instruments in the world, with a range of styles and techniques that are still being explored and developed.

What type of Harmonica does Stevie Wonder Play?

What Type Of Harmonica Does Stevie Wonder Play?

Harmonica type Key
Chromatic C

Stevie Wonder is known for his mastery of the harmonica, playing a chromatic harmonica in the key of C. Chromatic harmonicas are different from the traditional diatonic harmonica, as they contain more notes and can be used to play in any key.

Chromatic Harmonica

Chromatic Harmonica

  • A chromatic harmonica is a type of harmonica that uses a button-activated slide to change the pitch produced by the instrument.
  • Unlike a diatonic harmonica, which produces different notes in different positions, a chromatic harmonica can produce all 12 notes of a chromatic scale.
  • In order to play chromatically, a chromatic harmonica uses a slide mechanism that raises or lowers the pitch of the reeds.
  • The slide mechanism is activated by pressing a button, which allows the player to play notes that are not available on a diatonic harmonica.
  • Stevie Wonder is known to use a chromatic harmonica, which allows him to play in a wide range of musical styles.

Diatonic Harmonica

Diatonic Harmonica

  • A diatonic harmonica is a type of harmonica with a 10-hole design.
  • The holes contain a different note for each hole, and the notes are arranged in the same pattern.
  • This type of harmonica is typically used to play blues, country, folk, and some jazz music.
  • The diatonic harmonica is the most common type of harmonica, and is the type of harmonica that Stevie Wonder uses.
  • The diatonic harmonica is also known as a blues harp, and is the most popular type of harmonica among beginners.
  • The diatonic harmonica is usually played by blowing and drawing air through the holes in the harmonica.
  • It can also be used for special techniques, such as bending notes and creating vibrato.
  • The diatonic harmonica is a versatile instrument and can be used to create a wide range of sounds.

Benefits of using the Harmonica

Benefits Of Using The Harmonica

Benefit Description
Versatile The harmonica is one of the most versatile instruments, capable of playing a wide range of musical styles.
Portable It is small and lightweight, making it easy to transport and carry.
Affordable The harmonica is an affordable instrument, making it accessible to almost anyone.
Easy to Learn The harmonica is a relatively easy instrument to learn, even for beginners.
Dynamic Sound The harmonica can produce a wide range of sounds, from bright and cheerful to dark and mysterious.

The harmonica is a great instrument for both experienced and beginner musicians alike. It is a versatile, portable, and affordable instrument that produces a dynamic sound. With a bit of guidance, anyone can learn to play the harmonica.


  • Stevie Wonder typically uses a chromatic harmonica, a type of harmonica that is versatile and can be used to play a variety of musical genres.
  • The chromatic harmonica has reeds that are tuned to different notes, allowing users to play a wide range of notes.
  • The versatility of the chromatic harmonica is ideal for Stevie Wonder, as it allows him to easily switch between rock, blues, pop, folk, and jazz.
  • The chromatic harmonica also has a wide dynamic range, allowing Stevie Wonder to easily shift between soft and loud tones.
  • The chromatic harmonica is also capable of sustaining long notes and can produce a wide range of sound effects.



Stevie Wonder is renowned for his unique style of music and his incredible harmonica playing. He is often seen playing a Hohner CX-12 Jazz harmonica, which is a 12-hole chromatic harmonica. The CX-12 has a unique sound and is capable of producing a range of sounds and expressions. It is designed to be used with a wide range of musical styles, from jazz to blues, rock and pop. The CX-12 has a special “slide” mechanism which allows for expressive playing and can be used to create a range of tones and effects. The CX-12 also has a special “slide valve” which allows the player to control the volume and tone of their performance. The CX-12 is the perfect instrument for Stevie Wonder’s unique style of music.

Harmonica Hohner CX-12 Jazz
Type 12-hole chromatic
Features Slide mechanism, slide valve
Musical Style Jazz, blues, rock, pop

How Does Stevie Wonder Use His Harmonica?

How Does Stevie Wonder Use His Harmonica?

Stevie Wonder is known for his use of the harmonica. He has used the harmonica in a variety of different styles, from blues to jazz, to create unique sounds. He has even used it in combination with other instruments to create a unique sound.

Wonder plays his harmonica in several ways. He plays a single note, by either blowing or drawing air through the harmonica. He also plays chords, by playing multiple notes at the same time. He can also create a vibrato effect by quickly alternating between two notes.

Wonder also uses a variety of techniques to create unique sounds. He often uses a tremolo effect, by quickly alternating between two notes. He also often uses a vibrato effect, by quickly alternating between two notes and then again releasing them.

Wonder also often uses a technique called “tongueblocking”, which involves blocking the air from entering the harmonica while playing. This technique is used to create a variety of sounds, including a wah-wah effect.

Wonder’s choice of harmonica is a Hohner Special 20. This harmonica has a chrome-plated brass comb and is considered one of the best harmonicas for blues and jazz. It is tuned to the standard C major scale and features 20 reeds.

Technique Description
Single Note Blowing or drawing air through harmonica
Chords Playing multiple notes at the same time
Vibrato Alternating between two notes quickly
Tremolo Alternating between two notes quickly
Tongueblocking Blocking the air from entering the harmonica

Wonder’s use of the harmonica in his music has become legendary. He has used it to create unique and memorable melodies, as well as to provide accompaniment to other instruments. His skillful use of the harmonica has made him one of the most respected harmonica players of all time.

Techniques Used in Stevie Wonder’s Harmonica Playing

Techniques Used In Stevie Wonder'S Harmonica Playing

  • Harmonic Bends: Stevie Wonder uses this technique to create a unique vibrato effect, by bending the notes with his tongue.
  • Vibrato: Stevie Wonder uses this technique to create a vibrato effect on the harmonica. He does this by rapidly changing the pitch of the note he is playing.
  • Tongue Blocking: Stevie Wonder uses this technique to create a unique sound by using his tongue to block the airways of the harmonica. This technique can be used to create a range of different sounds.
  • Tongue Slaps: Stevie Wonder uses this technique to create a percussive sound on the harmonica. He does this by quickly moving his tongue in and out of the harmonica.
  • Reverb: Stevie Wonder uses this technique to create an echo effect on the harmonica. He does this by playing the harmonica in a reverberant space, such as a large hall or cave.
  • Octaves: Stevie Wonder often combines two notes to create a harmony. He does this by playing two notes at the same time, usually an octave apart.

Harmonica Styles Used by Stevie Wonder

  • Chromatic Harmonica
  • Diatonic Harmonica
  • Reed Plate Harmonica

Stevie Wonder is a legendary musician and harmonica player. He has used several different styles of harmonicas over the years in his music. Chief among them are the chromatic harmonica, diatonic harmonica, and reed plate harmonica.

The chromatic harmonica is the most versatile type of harmonica and is usually used for classical and jazz music. It has a range of 4 octaves and is well suited for improvisation. Stevie Wonder has used this type of harmonica in a number of his songs, such as “Superstition” and “Part-Time Lover”.

The diatonic harmonica is the most commonly used type of harmonica and is typically used in blues music. It has a range of 2 octaves and is often used for playing melodies. Stevie Wonder has used the diatonic harmonica in a number of his songs, such as “Higher Ground” and “Living For The City”.

The reed plate harmonica is a type of harmonica that uses a vibrating reed plate instead of a traditional reed. This type of harmonica is often used for playing faster tunes and is often used in country music. Stevie Wonder has used the reed plate harmonica in a number of his songs, such as “My Cherie Amour” and “Sir Duke”.

Overall, Stevie Wonder has used all three of these styles of harmonicas in a variety of his songs over the years. His use of these different types of harmonicas has helped to create the unique sound of his music.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of harmonica does Stevie Wonder play?

Stevie Wonder is an accomplished harmonica player and uses a 10-hole, diatonic harmonica in the key of C. He is known for his use of advanced techniques such as overblowing, bending, and vibrato. Wonder has also been known to use a chromatic harmonica and a harmonica octave.

Is Stevie Wonder a professional harmonica player?

Yes, Stevie Wonder is a professional harmonica player. He has been playing the harmonica since the age of 11 and has become well-known for his skill and mastery of the instrument. He has played on many of his own recordings and has also collaborated with other artists. Wonder is known to use a variety of different harmonicas, including Hohner Marine Band, Special 20, and Big River harmonicas. He also uses diatonic and chromatic harmonicas for different musical styles.

What is the significance of Stevie Wonder playing the harmonica?

Stevie Wonder is an iconic musician who has used the harmonica to create some of the most memorable songs of all time. His use of the harmonica has influenced generations of musicians and helped to popularize the instrument. Wonder has mastered a variety of musical styles, including blues, funk, soul, and jazz, and has used the harmonica to create a unique sound. His playing style has inspired a whole new generation of harmonica players and his influence continues to be felt today.

How does Stevie Wonder use the harmonica to create his signature sound?

Stevie Wonder is renowned for his masterful use of the harmonica. His signature sound is created by combining a variety of techniques such as cross-harping, bending, and overblowing. He also employs a range of vocal effects and multi-phonics. Wonder often uses a chromatic harmonica to create a range of unusual and complex sounds. He also often uses a harmonica rack to play multiple harmonicas at the same time, enabling him to create complex musical phrases.

What techniques does Stevie Wonder use to master the harmonica?

Stevie Wonder is renowned for his exceptional harmonica playing. His technique involves circular breathing, which is a method of inhaling through the nose while the breath is still being exhaled through the mouth. He also uses vibrato, which is a technique of producing a wavering sound by quickly oscillating the pitch or volume of the note. Additionally, Wonder employs tongue blocking, which is a technique used to create a fuller sound by blocking off certain holes with the tongue while playing.


Based on the evidence found, Stevie Wonder’s preferred harmonica is a Hohner Marine Band 1896, which he has been using since his early days. It is known for its superior sound quality and durability, and has been a staple of blues harmonica players for decades. The Marine Band 1896 is a versatile instrument, and its bright, full-bodied tone makes it well-suited for Stevie Wonder’s unique and captivating style of music.


About the author

Hey, my name is John Peters, and I’m a co-founder and Jack’s co-editors. My country sole was born when I was not more than 4 years old and my dad brought several country records home. These were the records by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Asleep at The Wheel, and Neil Young. I fell in love with the genre forever back then. Before entering the university, I managed to gather a collection of over 1200 vinyl records with both classic and modern country releases.

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