Fans of folk, blues, jazz, country and even rock music will know that there is a particular small instrument that many artists use that produces a very beautiful sound. This instrument is known as a harmonica or a French harp.
Many artists use a harmonica to play tunes due to the range of different pitches it can produce in just one instrument. Anyone can play a harmonica regardless of their level in music.
However, since many find harmonicas an excellent starting instrument for those who want to learn how to play, a lot of varieties and types have now been developed. These selections make it difficult for users to discern which harmonica they should pick, especially if they are just beginning to learn.
Playing harmonica is an enormous amount of fun, especially since it can add a little something to a band, but it is only fun if yours is functional and isn’t cheaply made.
Here we aim to provide you with a detailed guide on how you can pick your very first harmonica and what to remember when purchasing one. We have also listed some good selections that we believe will work for you or anyone who is just starting.
Before you go to the store to make a purchase, it’s best to know what things you need to look for to start out with the best harmonica for beginners.
What to look for in a good harmonica?
When you are looking for a beginner’s harmonica, you need to consider several factors which will help you narrow down your choices.
- Price: For harmonicas, a very good quality beginner harmonica can cost from $35 to $45. There are great less expensive ones for a lower price, but their durability may be questionable. Buying a cheap harmonica is a sure way to make multiple purchases instead of one solid purchase, since a reed can go flat easily.
- Brand: There are several good brands you can check out first for their beginner harmonica offerings. Suzuki, Lee Oscar and Hohner are some of the best-known brands of harmonicas.
- Key: Harmonicas can be specialized depending on what key you need to play in. Harmonica keys make a difference when playing with a band, so it is imperative that you get the right one. If you’re just starting, consider the most common harmonica keys. Getting a harmonica in the key of C would be a good place to start to learn the basics.
- Ease of use: Some harmonicas are made from a variety of materials which may affect how it is played. Check if the reefs are made from brass, the body is plastic and it has a cover.
- Maintenance: Can you clean your harmonica once you are done? If you do not want to experience rust, pick one which is made from plastic. Some harmonicas can even be cleaned with running water without having to spend tons of time cleaning.
How to Choose a Good harmonica?
When you have sorted out the things you need in a harmonica, you need to narrow down your choices and pick the best of the selections you have.
Even if one harmonica is similar to the other harmonicas in the market, they may not be the same at all. Here are some of the questions which you can ask when choosing your harmonica.
- What level are you? It is important that new harmonica players start with the key of C first as this will help you learn the theory.
- What type of harmonica are you after? If you are going to stick to pop, blues and folk, a diatonic harmonica is the type you should pick since they are designed to play one key. Chromatic harmonicas enable players to influence the air flow within the harmonica to adhere to the western scale. It tends to be more of a challenge to play a chromatic harmonica over a diatonic harmonica for beginners. Tremolos produce echoes that are usually similar to a 12-string guitar when played.
- Will it work well with electronic equipment? Will your harmonica sound well if you use it with a mic?
- Will it work with your budget? The price of a good diatonic harmonica for a beginner can be less than $10, but durability may be an issue.
- Does it come with a decent case? If the case is cheap, or it does not have one, it is worth grabbing a good one, since you will only ever need to buy one.
These are some of the key items to look for, though we have a more exhaustive list on What harmonica to buy.
In high hopes of finding the best products out there and one that will be the ideal next purchase, here’s a list of the best harmonicas we found:
|East Top 10 Hole Chromatic Harmonica||$||4.6/5|
|Hohner Special 20 Harmonica||$$$||4.7/5|
|Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica||$||4.7/5|
|Hohner 3P1501BX Bluesband Harmonicas||$$||4.1/5|
|Hohner 1501BX Blues Band Harmonica||$||4.1/5|
|Lee Oskar Harmonica||$$$||4.6/5|
|Suzuki HA-20-C Harmonica||$$$||4.6/5|
|Suzuki 1072 Harmonica||$$||4.1/5|
|East Top 24 Hole Tremolo Harmonica||$$$||4.9/5|
East Top 10 Hole Chromatic Harmonica
Do you want to express your emotions – from love to heartaches – in music? Are you a fan of folk and world music?
If so, getting a harmonica would be good for you. However, which harmonica would give you the sound that would reflect your emotions and blow everyone away? Why don’t you check out East Top 10 Hole Chromatic Harmonica?
Here are the things you will get with every package of East Top’s 10 Hole Chromatic Harmonica:
- The base and cover plates of the harmonica are made from stainless steel plates while they utilize bronze brass reed plates and phosphorus bronze reeds.
- The logo of the harmonica is printed on the nameplate and it comes with its very own high-quality, durable carrying case.
- The notes played by this harmonica are those of the key of C.
Aside from the harmonica and the carrying case, you also get a cleaning cloth to take care of your harmonica and keep it playing well.
In terms of its sound quality, some remarked it does not hold up to its claim as a professional harmonica. It has been said to be on the cheap side.
On the other hand, many responses to using this harmonica have been overwhelmingly positive.
It is easy to play, and a great starting point for those learning to use a chromatic harmonica. Comparatively, it stands up well against other professional, and more expensive, harmonicas.
Players love the fact this harmonica comes with its very own carrying case.
The overall consensus is that the sound was crisp and clean, and that the harmonica is all together easy to play.
Playing a harmonica creates music that soothes the heart of anyone who hears it. This harmonica promises to play music like no other and will help you relax at the same time. This is an investment you won’t want to miss out on.Buy Now on Amazon
Hohner Special 20 Harmonica
Many use harmonicas to learn how to make music because they are easy to learn and maintain. Harmonicas can also play quite a lot of music styles, from blues to rock.
However, with the numerous types and brands of harmonicas in the market, which one delivers that flexible sound and quality? The Hohner Special 20 Harmonica may be the solution for you.
Check out the specifications of the Hohner Special 20 Harmonica below:
- This Special 20 Classic features a durable, airtight, plastic comb that ensures that playing this harmonica will be easy. The reed plates are recessed into the injection-moulded plastic comb to help produce a sound faster.
- The rounded covers without side vents give a powerful and warm tone that is perfect for rock, blues and country players.
- The harmonica is sure to play a rich chord sound with its 20 classic reeds thanks to its traditional Hohner tuning.
- Users will also get a classic case to keep the harmonica safe when traveling.
Users said that the harmonica is not well-assembled as they found the cover plates were not screwed on properly and some were misaligned. As a result of these misaligned parts, the sounds were offbeat when they started playing the harmonica.
Its durability has also been put into question as some have reported that they only used the harmonica for a few weeks before it completely broke.
The durability and assembly quality of this harmonica is undeniable as users saw no problems with the assembly of this harmonica.
They also said that it is very easy to clean since it has a plastic and metal construction, allowing them to clean this easily with running water. Users have also said that it is very easy to play as one only has to inhale and exhale without much effort for it to produce a sound.
The sound it produces is also very clear and crisp, allowing users to try blending the music styles they want to try, from blues to rock. Users have also said that for its cheap price, its actually quite a bargain.
If you want to play a song like a pro using a harmonica, you need to have a harmonica that will deliver the sound necessary to match your song. The Hohner Special is a favorite among many professional harmonica players, promising users that this is a harmonica that will deliver the emotions you want to convey in your music.Buy Now on Amazon
Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica
Harmonicas are well-known for their versatility, allowing any type of player to play this instrument in any music style. Since it is pretty small, it can be brought anywhere. However, if you are looking for a harmonica that is easy to play and made from professional quality materials, why not check out Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica?
What will you get if you buy yourself a Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica as your first harmonica? Here are some of the instrument’s main features:
- This harmonica plays in the key of C (other keys are available)
- It promises to be usable for players of all levels, whether they be beginners or advanced players.
- The molded PVC comb and brass reeds ensure that it plays a classic tone and pitch that is easy-on-the-ear for players and listeners.
- It also comes in a traditional shape and chromed metal covers which ensure that it is comfortable to play and easy to use.
It comes with a vented hard plastic case so users can store their harmonica safely when they are not playing it.
Users said that the sounds produced by this harmonica are not very strong and bright. It also needs to be blown hard before it can reach the volume users want, but this is easier than with several other brands.
One reviewer reported that the phosphorous reeds were very scratched and grooved, which should not have been the case if it was brand new. Another user reported that their harmonica did not play any notes at all no matter how hard they blew, despite it being brand new.
Buyers and current users said that they found the harmonica to be perfect since it was well-built. It also felt comfortable, especially for beginners.
While the sound is not very loud, it was not out of tune and the sound was also very clear and crisp for the ears. Others said that it was very easy to clean and well-packaged when they have received it.
Satisfied users have also said that this harmonica is very affordable and plays very well despite the low price.
Fender has been of the major names in the music industry for decades and delivers quality musical instruments and accessories in the market.
For their Fender’s harmonicas, the Fender makes a product versatile in a way most other harmonicas aren’t, and will let you get playing without having to pay huge amounts.Buy Now on Amazon
Hohner 3P1501BX Bluesband Harmonica, Pro Pack, Keys of C, G, and A Major
If you are looking for a harmonica pack that will help you get the other keys and not cost a lot of money, check out the Hohner 3P1501BX Bluesband Harmonica, Pro Pack.
Here are some of the things you will receive if you buy yourself a Hohner 3P1501BX Bluesband Harmonica, Pro Pack, Keys of C, G, and A Major.
- Each pack will have three harmonicas for keys of G, A and C
- All three have molded plastic bodies, enabling users to play them without problems.
- It also has stainless steel covers with the label of the harmonica on top.
- The reeds of this harmonica are made from brass
Buyers have said that the assembly of these harmonicas in the pack was not properly done as there were defective holes in them, disabling them to produce any sound or produce a high pitch and off-key.
One reported that half of the reeds in his harmonica did not make any sound at all except the sound one made by blowing air into them.
Another said that one of his harmonicas works, but the other two do not. They recommended that others get a better harmonica for the price of this value set.
Satisfied users have stressed that this harmonica is well-made and they did not see any flaws in the harmonicas’ functions. Users said that they found it very easy to bend notes with this harmonica and learn how to play each note.
It is also very comfortable to the lips, ensuring that users can play it without problems. The harmonica also sounded great and not out of tune. The customer service is also excellent: when one reviewer asked for a replacement they received one almost immediately. They also love the fact that this set comes with free lessons which can be accessed online, allowing the users to study and learn how to properly use it.
When it comes to playing blues, rock, country, and folk, you have to have the right tools for the job. The Hohner 3P1501BX Bluesband Harmonica, Pro Pack, Keys of C, G and A will would help you do just that without having to shell out money getting individual pieces.Buy Now on Amazon
Hohner 1501BX Blues Band
When you want to play the blues, rock, country and folk for the first time, you need to get a harmonica that is properly tuned so you can play in the prominent key for each music type. If you are looking for a good harmonica in the key of C (other keys available), Hohner 1501BX Blues Band could be the harmonica for you.
Here is the list of specifications you will get if you purchase your very own Hohner 1501BX Blues Harmonica:
- It comes with solid brass reed plates.
- It also has a stainless steel coverplate and a plastic body.
- Free online lessons are also available for this harmonica for beginner users.
Some buyers reported that it is poorly assembled as some of the reeds either took a lot of effort to play or would not play at all. If they did play, it would produce an out of tune note.
The poor assembly also affected the quality and durability of this instrument and some said that the harmonica broke almost immediately after they used it. They also reported air gaps in the harmonica.
Buyers said that this harmonica is good as a child’s toy rather than a quality harmonica for beginners given its various flaws.
In terms of its quality and assembly, many users said that they were impressed with its make. It felt like the Hohner Special 20 in terms of how it felt in the hand and the parts are similar since it comes with a black plastic comb, stainless steel covers and brass reed plates.
The sound is also very good and it sounds like the Hohner 20 Special or a quality harmonica that would be worth more than this harmonica. Some also added that it is very versatile, allowing users to play blues, rock and folk once they get used to it.
Beginners also said that they like the fact the reeds are numbered so they know which part they need to play. Also, it has an instruction manual for maintenance which includes information on how to learn chords.
As one of the most notable brands of harmonicas in the market, Hohner promises that any harmonica they make is top class. For beginners, the Hohner 1501BX Blues Band Harmonica promises to help you learn your favorite music pieces with ease.Buy Now on Amazon
Lee Oskar Harmonica
A great elementary harmonica that is perfect for beginners is the Lee Oskar Harmonica. It is a fantastic starting point, or even an upgrade from your first beginner harmonica.
Regardless of your current experience, this is one worth looking at.
- Each pack will have a quality blues-rock harmonica in the key of C.
- The Lee Oskar Harmonica has responsive reeds that can be easily and cost-effectively replaced.
- Large holes in the comb allow for easy playing.
- Comes with a protective case.
Some parts are plastic, which is not the highest quality material, though it does lower the cost of the product.
May require tuning every so often as some reeds may bend out of key.
The shape is comfortable and it may be much easier for beginners to play. Commonly referred to by many aspiring harmonica players as a fantastic learner’s and transitional harmonica.
They are known to be a great long-term purchase that will hold up well with the appropriate care and attention in maintaining them.
All in all, this may be one of the best places to go once you have a little bit of experience under your belt, or if you are just starting out.
The price is not too high, and the parts are quality enough to last for some time. Before spending upwards towards $80-100 on a high-end harmonica, check this out as a style alternative.
Since each brand looks, feels, and handles a little bit differently, it is worth grabbing a Lee Oskar Harmonica to see if it is the style for you down the road with higher end harmonicas as well.
You never know until you try it!Buy Now on Amazon
Suzuki HA-20-C Harmonica
High quality harmonicas are not too hard to come across, but that does not mean every one will be the perfect harmonica for you. Taking note of different shapes and different materials is key to finding the ideal instrument.
The Suzuki Harmonica is a stellar instrument with a beautiful rounded shell in stunning black.
Here is the list of specifications you will get if you purchase your very own Suzuki HA-20-C Harmonica:
- A sturdy harmonica in the key of C
- It has bronze phosphor reeds
- Comes with a hard carrying case
- An ideal harmonica to keep in your pocket, just in case.
Durability may be an issue with this harmonica, as some time with it may cause the notes to flatten out.
Noted to be easier to play. A wonderful experience with the smooth sound it produces.
The rounded shape makes playing a bit more fluid. The look of the whole harmonica is noteworthy. They certainly made an effort to have this instrument stand out among the ones comparable.
This harmonica has some astounding qualities, which is why we placed it on our list. While the shape may not be a night and day difference, the feel and way this harmonica plays certainly is. The sound is smooth and bright, gliding and bending is easy.Buy Now on Amazon
Suzuki 1072 Harmonica
Of all the harmonicas we played, this one surprised us as a cheaper option that still holds up to the decent level of quality of its competitors. A happy instrument such as this, with its bright, chipper sound is not something to just pass over.
Here is the list of specifications you will get if you purchase your very own Hohner 1501BX Blues Harmonica:
- A harmonica in the key of C
- Good quality for a low price
- Easy to bend notes on a well-tuned instrument
It is cheap in cost, which means the parts are not as high quality as other harmonicas. Though they may have found a way to make it sound wonderful for being so cost-effective, it may not last as long as one that costs a bit more.
Lower cost means if you buy it and something happens to it (lose it, break it, etc.), there is less of a loss because it will be easier to replace. Additionally, if you play it and decide it just isn’t ideal for you, moving on to another harmonica is within financial possibilities.
The classic look and feel of this harmonica is great as a transitional harmonica for beginners who might be looking to get more serious with their playing.
Using the Suzuki 1072 as your primary harmonica is a great way to go as well!Buy Now on Amazon
Now one harmonica that caught our attention was the Pulmonary Harmonica. This harmonica was designed for an additional purpose alongside a beginners harmonica: it was designed to help with lung capacity.
Right on the front it says it was made for non-musicians! That screams beginner friendly harmonica!
With a different initial purpose in mind, it is good to be reminded that it can still serve the same purpose as a beginner harmonica.
- It comes with a low frequency harmonica, excellent for a soothing experience.
- Exceptionally easy to clean.
- Comes with a protective case, a cleaning cloth, and an instruction manual for easy learning.
Comparatively, it is expensive for a beginner harmonica. May not be the ideal tone that a beginner is looking for.
The health benefits advertised for the Pulmonary Harmonica may be dominant over the musical outcome of putting time into this instrument.
The quality of the parts is exceptional for a beginner harmonica. It should easily last the entire beginner phase until you need a new harmonica to practice different styles and techniques.
If it were to become dirty, it can be soaked in 70-90% alcohol and rinsed with water to clean. It is durable enough to last through a beginner’s learning process and easy enough to take care of where you won’t need to replace it while still learning the basics.
Beginners who are serious about playing may consider starting here. Though it is a decent investment comparatively, it is the only beginner harmonica you will need, while others may burn out rather quickly due to cheap components.
Additionally, the health benefits are great for this harmonica, should that be something you are looking for.Buy Now on Amazon
East Top 24 Hole Tremolo Harmonica
Once you have the diatonic and even the chromatic harmonicas mastered, you might be interested in taking on a whole new beast: the tremolo harmonica!
This wild instrument is like learning a guitar with the strings all tuned in a crazy new order! However, if you take the time to learn and master it, the results will be beyond this world.
Here is the list of specifications you will get if you purchase your very own Hohner 1501BX Blues Harmonica:
- It comes with one East Top 24 Holes Professional Tremolo Harmonica.
- Each harmonica is packed carefully in its own leather carrying case with a cleaning cloth.
- The reeds are phosphor bronze with a brass reed plate and brass cover.
It can be frustrating to learn because of how unique the tremolo harmonica is.
Since it is a different breed of harmonica, it has a different sound, which may not be appealing to everyone. It also may be difficult to play without proper techniques and experience.
The volume is perfect on this harmonica, as is the range. The components are quality metals and the sound reflects that.
An inclusive range of keys are available in this model of tremolo harmonica, giving ample opportunity for musicians.
The price is low for the professional harmonica level sounds and feel produced.
This harmonica is not for the fainthearted. For those who dedicate themselves to learning it will reap the benefits of the musical diversity that this tremolo harmonica produces.
The price is right and the quality is up there. East Top made a solid one here!Buy Now on Amazon
At the end of the day, it’s hard to go wrong for your first harmonica, the second one and on will require some research though. Even though a chromatic harmonica may seem enticing when learning, a diatonic harmonica is most definitely the best way to learn. Later on in more intermediate playing, chromatic harmonicas can be heaps of fun! There are plenty of different types of harmonicas that provide so many unique experiences.
There is no doubt that the brands here are some of the more prestigious in the harmonica world, and they are worth looking into for your next purchase. There is a reason why long-time harmonica players have such intense brand loyalty.
Among the ones that we listed, some of our other favorite brands are definitely Lee Oskar and Suzuki. Suzuki has two of our favorites, including the 1072, which is worth reading about. Lastly, the HSSOT is a great harmonica for those adventurous and looking for a fun new challenge.
For an overview of some of the best brands out there, check out Best Harmonica’s Guide Here, where we share some of the best advice we ever heard before making our first harmonica purchase.
Commonly Asked Questions:
There are tons of questions people have when it comes to purchasing an instrument, whether for the first time or even the tenth time! So if you have any questions, you are not alone. Here’s a few questions and answers that will help the buying process go smoothly.
Why You Should Learn to Play the Harmonica
Many people wonder why they should bother learning an instrument, or pick up a new one when there is so much to learn on the one they are already practicing. Playing multiple instruments can help transfer different skills and methods from one style to another. This way, you actually start to play in ways you had not before.
That is not all though! Here are some of the crazy benefits that come alongside learning to play the harmonica. They cover everything from being more relaxed to an increase in intelligence. Learning to play cannot be pinpointed to just one overarching reason that justifies it; there are so many great reasons to learn!
What is the Best Harmonica for Beginners?
Without a doubt, it is crucial to go with a diatonic harmonica. Anything else will be confusing, and honestly a bit of a handful to try to tackle. Right out of the gate, diatonic harmonicas will be easy to handle and prove to be tremendously helpful in taking on some of the more difficult challenges down the road.
You’ll probably want to grab a harmonica in the key of C major. Later on you can look into the other Most Common Harmonica Keys, but virtually every lesson and tutorial is designed to be taken with a harmonica in C.
Here’s a guide for how to choose the best harmonica for beginners, especially harmonicas for kids. This provides some helpful tips on the basic techniques that speed up the process of mastering the harmonica. It is necessary to start simple, but with dedication, you won’t have to stay there for long!
Like any new skill, setting time aside is huge. Make sure you commit to your new hobby, taking some time to practice each day. Sometimes when you’re stuck in one place for a while, that can be the best time to practice. Be ready to dabble wherever you are in any genre is available!
Why NOT to Buy a Cheap Harmonica?
The problem with going for a cheap harmonica is how easy it is to damage a reed. When playing more aggressively, once you have some confidence playing, you might try to bend notes, which sounds wonderful! The issue arises with very inexpensive instruments; bending can cause the reed to fall out of key. While fixing this is possible, it is not an easy task.
It is best to start out with a quality instrument rather than get one that constantly needs surgery in order to tune. The best way to avoid all of this is starting with a better one.
Now here’s the fine line: if it is your First Harmonica, it may be a good idea to go cheap. But how cheap is too cheap? Too low of a price almost guarantees a short lifespan of the harmonica. With that being said, $10-$20 is a great range for your First Harmonica. Anything Under $10 can be risky. I know because I payed $6 for my first harmonica, and it didn’t last more than a few weeks. As much fun as it is to get a New Harmonica, it’s no fun spending money needlessly.
All that to say: Grab a Harmonica Under $20, but above $10, if you’re able. This range is likely to get you through the learning phase and last at least a couple months.
What Kind of Harmonicas Do the Professionals Play?
It’s no secret that the list here is not the same as what many Professional Harmonica Players use. The Harmonicas they use are far more expensive, and some are much more difficult to play. We have an ever growing list of Professional Harmonica Players. We include a few videos of their performances, music, any books on them, and the Harmonica they play. If you are ready to learn about the professionals in the Harmonica World, Click Here!