As with buying a guitar, piano or other musical instrument, harmonicas are also available in a range of brands that each has different qualities. There are many brands offering harmonicas to buyers today and many of these brands have an interesting history.
Even before considering brand, there are other things you may want to know or look into regarding your harmonica purchase. Here is the best Harmonica Advice I’ve ever received.
After you have decided What Harmonica Key to Get, it is a natural next step to take a look at some brands.
Two of the earliest brands of harmonicas which became available in the market are Seydel and Hohner, which were founded in 1847 and 1857 respectively. Both brands had a rivalry with their respective harmonicas; Boomerang and the Marine Band. However, Seydel lost their rivalry when they found themselves on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.
After the loss of Seydel in the race, the US company Kratt tried to compete in the harmonica market as German brands like Hohner lost their luster in the Second World War and its aftermath. However, Hohner regained its prominence after the war and became one of the major players in the harmonica market.
Aside from Hohner, several brands have also gained prominence worldwide. Some of the notable examples are Lee Oskar, Suzuki, Hering and Huang.
These brands are quite good for specific styles of music. Additionally, they may be the kind of harmonica you want to look into if you are buying your first harmonica.
Without any further delay, here are the Best Harmonica Brands!
The Top 10 Best Harmonica Brands and The Most Popular Harmonicas They Make
Suzuki has been a widely popular, long-standing name in the harmonica world. Established in 1953, harmonicas are actually the first instrument the brand Suzuki ever produced in the music world. Ever since then, the name Suzuki has been reliable for both beginner musicians and professional musicians alike. With a focus on innovation and creativity, Suzuki works to push the boundaries and redefine the harmonica instrument.
They are constantly re-evaluating and looking to see where they can make tweaks or improvements with their next release. Their goal is to keep advancing the harmonica while holding on to its roots to create a new generation of harmonica playing. Their products are affordable, and come with many different options ranging for beginner players up to professional players.
Hohner has and will continue to have a monopoly over the harmonica industry, simply because their harmonicas are timeless and top-shelf quality. Many professionals run to the Hohner name for their harmonicas and choose to play this brand exclusively. In fact, some of the legends such as Adam Gussow, Bob Dylan, and two time Harmonica Solo World Champion Cy Leo have all stuck to the tried and true brand of Hohner.
Established in 1856 in a small town in Germany, Hohner has kept the same aesthetic and design for their harmonicas for generations. Their harmonicas are beautifully crafted and incredible quality. Many of their instruments provide this professional level quality while still staying within an affordable price.
Established in 1847 and produced in Klingenthal, Germany, what makes SEYDEL especially unique is that they are one of the few producers left to still hand make each of their harmonicas rather than mass produce them. Their instruments are each carefully designed and crafted, holding on to its original roots and aesthetic. They are crafted out of stamped, stainless steel plate covers, ABS comb to prevent moisture damage, and brass reeds for responsiveness, make them a bright, snappy option for harmonicas.
Aside from being hand crafted, these harmonicas have rounded edges to make them easy to hold in your hands as well as easier to play on your lips and tongue. With their smooth ergonomic design, these harmonicas are lip and beard proof, meaning they won’t cause any damage to you while playing.
Lee Oskar Harmonica
Lee Oskar Harmonicas, designed by harmonica musician, Lee Oskar, himself, have been especially noted for their clear sound quality, sleek design, brilliant construction, and high end materials. Globally recognized for their design, reliability, and quality, Lee Oskar Harmonicas are superior because of their ability to be completely interchangeable.
For most harmonicas, if a reed cracks or the comb becomes swollen with moisture damage, you can either buy a new harmonica, or pay a professional technician to repair the harmonica for you. Lee Oskar is the first brand to make all of it’s parts, from reed plates to combs, and even cover plates completely interchangeable if anything were to become damaged. Not only is this most cost-effective, but it extends the lifespan of your harmonica so you can keep playing years if maintained properly.
The SWAN Harmonicas are ideal for a variety of different types of music including jazz, folk, country, rock, and especially blues. These harmonicas offer a clean, unique sound slightly different than most traditional harmonica brands. Because of this slight feature, it actually makes them very versatile in the music industry. While traditionally being a 10-hole chromatic harmonica, these harmonicas are able to reach 40 different tones, making them easy to jam along with any genre of music and extremely enjoyable to play.
These harmonicas are light and comfortable to hold, easy to play, and come with a beautiful design. Many have reviewed that although these harmonicas are extremely versatile, they are still cheap in price and materials. Therefore, if you are a beginner player to the harmonica, this brand is a great first option.
Boseno Tremolo harmonicas are extremely unique and offer a very non-traditional sound in the harmonica world. Tremolo harmonicas come with double holes and double reed plates. Boseno actually imports their phosphor bronze alloy from Chile to ensure high quality and responsive sounds from the reeds. This quality bronze ensures your harmonica reeds will resist damage, and overall extend the lifespan of the instrument.
In addition to this, Boseno harmonicas are designed with black stainless steel cover plates for a beautiful aesthetic and classic look. These harmonicas are sturdy, reliable, and focuses on comfort and taste for beginner and professional players. While tremolo harmonicas are not meant for every genre of music, they can be used on classical stages, or for unique sound effects. These little instruments are perfect for any level of musician and are extremely fun to play.
The Harmo is one of the most beautiful harmonica brands on the market today. Established in 2016 by professional harmonica player, David Herzhaft, each harmonica is careful hand crafted and tested for quality right here in the United States. Being new to the market, the Harmo brand has quickly taken flight and has easily become one of the top harmonica makers in the market. Their harmonicas are each crafted with a sleek, minimal design with their logo etched into the stainless steel cover plate.
They are comfortable to hold, heavy in your hand, and easy to play. Because of their extremely high quality, these harmonicas are aimed for intermediate to professional level players. They are the more expensive option compared to other brands, but the quality you will receive from these little instruments is unmatched.
When people first think of the brand name Fender their minds go to their guitars. In fact, Fender crafts many beautiful instruments aside from just guitars. Their harmonicas are one of the top brands chosen by players around the world. Designed for comfort and durability, the Fender harmonicas have made a name for themselves for being one of the loudest harmonicas available.
Compared to other brands, these harmonicas have loud, responsive reeds, great for jamming or playing for an audience. Fender also offers the convenience of interchangeable parts. Similar to Lee Oskar, Fender provides replacement parts for your harmonica to extend its lifespan and keep you playing your instrument. Their wide variety of different harmonicas offers different types of playing depending on your music genre and skill level. This brand is fantastic for both beginners and experienced players.
With over thirty years of experience in the music making industry, PowerBender works to create a strong, powerful little instrument to the music world. PowerBender tuning builds off of the best qualities of the Richter Tuning while slightly altering the scare to make your power notes easier to hit though a three-octave range. Overblowing is also easily obtainable for each hole, making it easy to hit different notes and chords.
The PowerBender harmonica is built with quality and design in mind for beginner to intermediate players. While still built durable, the PowerBender is not quite sturdy or versatile enough for long term playing or professional players. That is why this brand is ideal for new harmonica players.
SonnyBoy’s Classic Harmonicas
Started by two passionate music professors in the UK, Pete Smith and Ben Hewlett, founders of the SonnyBoy’s Music Store, have worked together to create a top of the line products for their students and any new musician. Their goal is to provide a product that is professional quality without the professional price tag. With over 45 years of harmonica player experience, Pete and Ben have worked to create an incredible instrument for all new harmonica players.
In addition to already having an incredible product, the pair also release a YouTube video review of each of their new products they release so you can hear the harmonica being played before you purchase it. They also teach online lessons, and strive to ignite a passion for the harmonica in their students. In fact, with each purchase you will also receive a free, one-hour beginner, intermediate, and advanced lesson from them.
The passion they have for teaching, music, and the harmonica comes out in their product. While they are a smaller brand name, they are quickly being recognized as one of the finest quality harmonicas at an affordable price.
For blues players and regular harmonica players, Lee Oskar, Hering, Seydel, Huang and Suzuki are mostly preferred aside from Hohner’s Meisterklasse. Lee Oskar’s harmonicas look very sleek and play very well in a variety of keys, including the most common harmonica key of C
Hering is now making great harmonicas too for blues players with its chromatic harmonica now becoming a favorite for players like Peter Madcat Ruth.
Seydel’s 1847 harmonica is also a great favorite for blues players such as Charlie Musselwhite and James Cotton as it is easy to play and inexpensive in cost. Their other harmonica, the Session Steel, is becoming another harmonica of preference as it has stainless steel reeds and is cheaper, with a sound that can compete with other harmonicas.
Suzuki’s Promaster series can compete against Hohner’s Meisterklasse when it comes to its sound quality and the quality of the harmonica’s body.
Suzuki’s other variants such as Bluesmasters, Harpmasters, Manji and Olive are also very good for playing the blues. The price range of these top-class blues brands is about $35 to $100+, depending on the brand and series.
Cheap Yet Quality Harmonicas
For cheap yet quality harmonicas, brands like Johnsons and Meranos, Huang – for its Huang Bacpac series -, Suzuki – for its Easy Rider and Folkmasters series – and Hohner’s Blues Band are your options.
It is also not a bad choice to try out Hohner’s Big River and Huang Star Performer as a cheap yet quality harmonica for your collection. These harmonicas prove that you don’t need to spend hundreds to get something that is functional and satisfying.
If you want to buy a cheap harmonica for your kids, you can also check out Hohner’s Fuego Azul and China’s Golden Cup, Hero, and Parrot brands. Each of these have been called the best inexpensive harmonica at one point or another, as they are fairly cheap, yet they would still be able to produce great music.
In the chromatic harmonica section, several brands would work well for you. The first notable one is Hohner’s Chrometta series or their Discovery series. The Discovery series is actually quite a bit cheaper than the Chrometta, but it still has a high-quality sound.
The Hohner 270 Deluxe is also not a bad choice for a chromatic harmonica. If you are willing to spend more, you should consider the Meisterklasse and Amadeus models. Hering also makes top-notch chromatic harmonicas, for example their 64-hole chromatics.
Suzuki is also another brand you can check out for their chromatic harmonicas. Several series from this brand are notable chromatics including the SCX series, Gregoire, Fabulous and the Sirius series.
Seydel also has its very own chromatic harmonica series, the Saxony Chromatic, which people say is similar to Hering’s chromatic harmonica in terms of its mouthpiece and design.
If you want to try out Huang, they also have good chromatic harmonicas for example their 12-hole chromatic series as seen in the Huang Cadet Soloist series.
Given all these brands, it is still crucial that buyers double check each one of these brands before purchasing to ensure that it will fit their needs. Check out a general overview of the best harmonicas out there.
The above categories lay out why some people might lean towards one harmonica or another, but we think there are some brands that stand out above others and are worth the mention.
Hering Blues Harmonica Review
The Hering is a Harmonica Brand that has held its own among the mess of other huge names. They make harmonicas like the Hering Free Blues Harmonica. This one is not with the bottom tier harmonicas and we like it that way! It’s lightweight and proves itself to be consistent. Some complain about the weight, and we did question why it was so lightweight. Could something this lightweight really be considered a professional harmonica?
But we decided it didn’t have to feel like a professional harmonica. It was fun to play, and the price is right! If we really wanted a professional harmonica, we wouldn’t have gone bargain hunting in mid-range priced harp.