You may have noticed that harmonicas can be bought in several different keys. This can be difficult for a new harmonica player who is tying to figure out the best key to buy their harmonica in. There are many different reasons to buy harmonicas in different keys, and a lot of that will come down to preference.
If you already have an idea of what to look for and just need recommendations, check out this page for some of our favorites. They are mostly, low cost, but still high quality harmonicas that are better for playing long-term. This way you don’t have to go get a new one every few months.
Or, if you already have a Harmonica in the Key of C, You might be wondering Which Harmonica Key to Buy next. These ones are great options to expand your collection
You may be wondering: What is the Most Common Harmonica Key to Use? How should you know, as a beginner, what a Good Starter Harmonica Keys to Buy is? While it is not the end all determining factor, once again, preference does play a role.
However, buying a harmonica in the Key of C can be a good start when buying a harmonica. The key of C is right in the middle, not too deep such as a key of G or too high pitched such as a key of F, and can be a great option for new or advanced players.
The key of C can also be paired with many other instruments and is a great standard harmonica key to start with. This article will look into all the benefits of buying a harmonica in the Key of C Major.
Many beginners are advised to start with a harmonica in the key of C. You will notice that all beginner tutorials, lessons, and videos will all start you with a harmonica in the key of C. You can even learn the 12 Bar Blues in the Key of C. These harmonicas can be picked up online or at any music store and usually have a ‘C’ printed on the box.
However, in case you are unsure, you can ask anyone at your local music store to help you find what you need. To understand why you need to buy in the key of C, we must first understand the basics of harmonica scales and keys.
The Lee Oskar Diatonic Harmonica would be a great option, and one that wouldn’t need replaced any time soon!
Lee Oskar Harmonicas are great products from a great brand, and worth looking at when picking a harmonica. Since they have been around for some time, they are known to be reliable and well-respected.
Scales and Keys
Music notes are indicated by letters ranging from A to G. Depending on the root note that is being played will determine whether the major or minor scales are being used. This is how you can tell what key an instrument is playing in. For example, a harmonica in the key of C, starts with a C-note as the root and is played in a C major scale.
This scale is most similar to “do re me fa so la ti do” that you may have learned in school, or even on the recorder (a popular instrument to teach music scales to kids in early grade school). So what does this mean for your harmonica playing?
The most common harmonica on the market is a standard 10-hole diatonic harmonica. This means that your instrument is only designed to be played in one key, but this also means that there are some notes that are missing.
There is a more advanced technique called ‘bending’ that allows a musician to recover some of these missing notes and widens the performance of the harmonica. However, this is a very advanced method used by veteran harmonica players. It can be used for tricks like the Pentatonic scale.
The bummer about this is that without the bending technique, you may be limited in your playing. On the other hand, the great news about this is no matter what you play, any note is considered in key. In my opinion, this outweighs the negative of having missing notes. And if those notes are so important, Chromatic harmonicas are always an option.
Jamming with Others
One of the greatest benefits to buying a harmonica in the key of C is the ability to play along with many other types of instruments. Whether you are looking to jam with other musicians, expand your own musical knowledge, or add a harmonica into your own musical routine (many people choose to play the harmonica and guitar at the same time) a harmonica in the key of C is a great place to start.
When playing with other players, harmonicas in the key of C will align closely with other instruments, especially a guitar. The beautiful thing about the harmonica is that if the song you are playing along to is also in the key of C, you cannot play a bad note on your harmonica since it is also in the key of C. No matter how beginner you may be, or how much you may mess up and stumble at first, you will also be in tune with the rest of the band.
Playing in First and Second Position
When playing with other musicians, there are a few important things to know, including how to play in first or second position. First position, or straight harp, on a C harmonica, means that you will be playing in the key of C.
First position has a distinct folksy sound to it, and is also usually played in blues and pop songs. The nice thing is, many harmonicas have even labeled “first” or “second” positions on their harmonicas, making it easy for new beginners to differentiate where they should be starting (1).
Second position, or cross harp, is the 5th up for the 1st position key. If you are not familiar with finding this key, the easiest method to locate it is to count by letter notes. So, if the first hole is C, we would count up to the 5th hole which is actually G.
The 2nd position is normally described as a more blues, soulful sound. Typically, if you were playing the blues genre, you would want to start on second position. It is possible to play blues music from first position, but doing so requires advance skills, knowledge, and lots of practice to master (2).
In conclusion, many teachers, musicians, and experts will tell any new player to start with the most standard harmonica option, a 10-hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C. This is easiest to learn on, especially if you are new to music altogether, and you will find that majority of online lessons, tutorials, and most teachers will start you in this key. Besides it being the easiest to learn, it is also the most versatile.
There are tons of Great Instruments, including some of the Best Inexpensive Harmonica instruments back on the home page. So with the new information on hand, that might be a great place to start looking. Anything in the Key of C Major is your friend!
Many players choose to start here, because it aligns too easily with other instruments. Once you have mastered both straight harp and cross harp positions, you are ready to start playing with other musicians. As you continue to get better, you will be able to closely identify where you need to be on your harp in order to match up with other instruments.
The benefits of playing a harmonica in the key of C, is that you will most likely match the other instruments most of the time, getting that hang of your own harmonica playing styles. The harmonica is a very compact and cost-effective, but unique instrument. Many choose to pick it up, but few choose to master it. Even the most professional of players had to start somewhere, and after years of paving the road, the masters will always advice starting with a harmonica in the key of C.