When first choosing to pick up a Harmonica as your next instrument, you are met with a wave of excitement, motivation, and hunger to get started on your musical path. However, it can be intimidating for new players to know where to start and what type of harmonica they need to get in order to play the music they desire.
Harmonicas are typically used across a wide array of different genres. Some of these genres include rock, folk, jazz, blues, country, and sometimes even classical music. No matter what your preferred genre of music is, it’s important to know what options you have for harmonicas and what the best brands to buy are.
While many of these little instruments range in prices from affordable to expensive, you don’t need to drop a lot of money to achieve that professional level quality you deserve. So with so many different brands, models, and types of harmonicas out there, which ones are high quality and well loved by many users?
Below, we will go through some of the most popular harmonica brands. These, however, are not going to be your typically bottom shelf, $3 plastic harmonicas, and are not going to be good options for Harmonicas Made for Kids. If you think you need a little more information before setting your budget, check out this guide on Cheap vs Expensive Harmonicas.
Here are some of the notably high qualities, mid-range harmonicas on the market that you can try out if you are looking for a good first harmonica to start out, a Good Starter Harmonica in different keys or even an upgrade for your current harmonica set.
Cheap but Good Harmonicas Worth Upgrading to
Boseno 24 Holes Double Tremolo Best Harmonica, Key of C Prime
If you are on the lookout for a beautifully crafted harmonica that will produce the best high quality sound, the Boseno harmonica is a good option to consider. Typically tremolo harmonicas offer a very unique sound, and 24 holes to blow and draw. Each hole contains a bronze reed plates tuned to the same key, with one tuned slightly higher than the other. This unique sound adds a new feel to the harmonica world and is explored by many different musicians in many different genres. Keep in mind that when you attempt to use bending techniques on this harmonica, you can actually bend the bronze reeds. So be careful to not force reeds to bend, and play with finesse and technique.
While harmonicas come in many different keys, according to the song you are playing along with, this harmonica in particular comes in the key of C. Harmonicas in the key of C are among the most common for both professional and beginner players. It’s universal key makes it easy to jam along with other players, and can even use different techniques to achieve other keys without having to buy a new harmonica in that particular key.
The Boseno harmonica is designed with quality phosphor bronze alloy imported from Chile. The phosphor bronze alloy guarantees your instrument will resist corrosion and issues related to aging as you continue to play the harmonica. The phosphor bronze alloy also guarantees that the sound quality remains stable and beautiful, even as your harmonica ages.
It is designed with a black stainless steel cover plates, and focuses on comfort on feel and taste. Holding close to its roots, this harmonica does not only have an outstanding appearance, but is a very fashionable style as well.
It is easy to learn, comfortable to play, and comes with high grade responsive reeds that spring response quickly, creating a beautiful, clean sound. This harmonica also comes with a secure carrying case and cleaning cloth to not only keep your harmonica looking sharp, but also to extend the lifespan of your instrument. In addition to this, when you buy the Boseno harmonica, you will also receive free online instructions on how to play and care for your new tremolo harmonica.
The reviews on this particular harmonica are glowing. Many experienced players and beginner harmonica players alike have attested that the Boseno harmonica is easy to hold, produces a deep, rich sound, and can be a great harmonica for beginners. Musicians have also reviewed that this harmonica is extremely airtight due to its internal multi-point support system. Inside the harmonica are 11 screws holding together the reeds and cover plates. It also has 2 screws on the exterior making the overall structure more robust, ensuring the air tightness of the harmonica. Using food grade resin ABS engineering materials for the harmonica comb allows this instrument to also be non-toxic and waterproof, preventing damage as you play.
Overall, this harmonica is a great harmonica for any beginner player, players looking to explore the tremolo harmonica model, or even professional players. The Boseno is not only known for its beautifully handcrafted design, but also for its smooth, natural, and unique sound.
Harmo Angel 16 Chromatic Harmonica
Easily one of the most elegant harmonica designs we’ve had the pleasure of laying eyes on, the Harmo Angel 16 Chromatic Harmonica plays just as beautifully as it looks. The Harmo Angel 16 is a precise, comfortable, 16 hole harmonica with a stylish acrylic white comb and stainless steel cover, great for jazz, classical, tango, pop, or blues music. With 16 holes, and 64 phosphor bronze reeds, this harmonica is a full range, 4 octave chromatic harmonica.
Chromatic harmonicas are known for the slider button on the side or the “gear shift”. Pressing this button allows players to reach different octaves, widening the harmonicas abilities. From there, with practice, technique, and specific maneuvers, advanced players can hit different keys, octaves, and sounds with the chromatic harmonica beyond what the slider provides. The Harmo Angel 16 has an extremely responsive “gear shift” slider allowing players to shift quickly to the next octave without skipping a beat. It is smooth to play, and is one of the most highly reviewed harmonicas on the market.
Made by musicians for musicians right here in the United States, the Harmo Angel 16 is crafted with round shape holes to make playing easier and smoother and allowing you to play for longer periods of time. With its professional quality, fast, clean response, and precise reed set up, the Harmo Angel 16 is quickly rising to the top as one of the most popular chromatic harmonicas available for musicians.
It also comes with a beautiful white sturdy case lined for protection while you travel with it. In addition to this, the Harmo Angel 16 comes with a soft, micro fiber cleaning cloth to keep the stainless steel metal cover clean and shiny. Its beautiful appearance, rounded edges and holes.
Many musicians have reviewed that the Harmo Angel 16 delivers a surprisingly sharp quality and sound, and plays well with the extra octave. In fact, this extra octave being such a low register opens up the possibility to play saxophone or even violin pieces. With is beautiful white acrylic comb and silver stainless steel cover, this little harmonica looks even better in person.
While this harmonica is extremely precise, it is not the affordable option. Sitting around $200, this harmonica is the higher-end expensive option for harmonicas, although its sound is easily unmatched to anything else on the market today. This harmonica in particular would be a great option for more intermediate to advanced players. As one continues to sharpen their skills, they need a harmonica that can do more. The Harmo Angel 16 is the harmonica that will take your playing to the next level.
Suzuki HA-20-C Promaster Hammond Professional 10-Hole Diatonic Harmonica
If you want the ability to play the Hammond organ while also prioritizing affordability and portability, the Suzuki HA-20 Promaster Hammond Professional 10-Hole Diatonic Harmonica is a great option.
First manufactured in 1935 by John M. Hanert and Laurens Hammond, the Hammond organ is an electric organ that has since been produced in various models and types. It’s deep, vintage sound is extremely appealing to musicians, but it does not come at a cheap price, let alone portability.
The Hammond harmonica, however, resolves this problem. It provides the same rich sound as the Hammond organ all into a compact, pocketsize instrument. The Diatonic 10-hole is by far the most common option for beginners. Being that it is only 10 holes, the diatonic harmonica is easy to learn, and great for beginners. In fact, most music teachers and professionals would suggest that if you are just getting started on the harmonica, to start with a 10-hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C. Not only is this the easiest to learn, but majority of online lessons or instructors will base their lessons off of this model of harmonica.
The Suzuki brand name has long stood the test of time. Crafting quality instruments time and time again, their professional expertise does not fall short of the harmonica. The HA-20 Promaster Hammond harmonica is comfortable to hold and play, and produces a clean, beautiful sound. This harmonica too, contains phosphor bronze reeds and is available in 14 different keys. However, with advance playing techniques, musicians can use a technique called ‘bending’ to achieve other keys or bend notes without having to buy a new harmonica. This is especially common and easily achievable on a diatonic harmonica in particular.
The HA-20 harmonica carries the classic Hammond logo against the black outer shell. In addition to the brass outer shell, many reviews have said that the aluminum comb makes it heavy, and easy to hold and comfortable in your hands. Many reviews claim this is the best 10-hole diatonic harmonica for beginners, or anyone starting out on the harmonica for the first time. It also provides that vintage Hammond organ sound, for even the most avid music enthusiasts and those looking to keep the sound of the Hammond organ alive in a more portable way.
It plays very smooth and precise, delivering the professional quality without the professional price. Priced at only around $60, the HA-20 harmonica is the best option for beginners at an affordable price. It also comes with a sturdy carrying case and cleaning cloth to keep your harmonica looking sharp.
Overall, this is an amazing option for beginners. Not only does it provide a clean, professional, high quality sound scales, but it is built to last again aging or corrosion and even comes with a manual on how to take care and clean your harmonica. The Suzuki HA-20 Promaster Hammond Professional 10-Hole Diatonic Harmonica is a fantastic option for any player.
Lee Oskar Harmonica, Key of C Major Diatonic
The Lee Oskar Harmoncia is another one of the best 10-hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C and an even better option for beginners (1). Typically found in Blues and Jazz music styles, the Lee Oskar Harmonica provides the classic, raspy harmonica sound for your soulful music playing. While many manufacturers and instrument brands make a diatonic harmonica, Lee Oskar has provided a brand name you can trust. With years of expertise, professional experience, and constant refining, Lee Oskar has and may always be the top brand name for diatonic harmonicas in the market.
In 1983 Danish musician, Lee Oskar introduced his new harmonica. Built and manufactured in Japan, Lee Oskar incorporative new and innovative techniques and materials to create a radically different harmonica design to his exact standards. Frustrated with the lack of consistency with the harmonicas on the market at the time, Lee Oskar set out to change the way we play the little mouth harp. His unique design made is easier to play, more affordable, and much longer lasting than any other harmonica on the market then, and even now.
Lee Oskar Diatonic harmonicas are built with a smooth, durable plastic comb that doesn’t swell like traditional wood, tearing up the lips of the player. While also being easy to clean, the plastic comb is impervious to moisture damage, creating a much longer lifespan for your instrument than traditional harmonicas.
Typically when a reed is damaged, cracked, or broken you must either pay for a professional technician to repair your harmonica or buy a new one completely. Lee Oskar set out to solve this issue by creating affordable replacement reeds making it easy to refurbish. Gone are the days where you must toss out your harmonica because a reed or two went south. Replacement reeds are actually easily available for any Lee Oskar harmonica model, and are easily replaceable. It’s simple design makes it easy to take apart to clean or repair, and is a durable, affordable option for many harmonica players.
The reed plates are crafted with much wider chambers and narrow dividers for a quicker, more responsive sound. Precise molding allows the diatonic harmonica to produce a bigger sound while also remaining airtight and waterproof. Its stainless steel metal cover plates provide excellent projection while also providing a sleek, classic harmonica style.
Lee Oskar Harmonicas strive to be the best, most affordable option for beginner and professional players alike. Their clear bright tone, rich notes, and loud projection scales makes them incredible harmonicas. Sitting at only around $45, this harmonica is a fantastic first harmonica at an extremely affordable price. With it’s simple design structure making it easy to take apart for maintenance, it’s the best first harmonica for new players to become comfortable with. It also provides replacement parts for every part of the harmonica, including the reeds, extending the lifespan of your harmonica for years.
Hohner Marine Band 1896 Harmonica, Key of C
In 1857, clockmaker and business entrepreneur, Matthias Hohner, decided to abandon his current trade to get into the business of harmonica making. It was in that year that Hohner opened a factory dedicated to the crafting and manufacturing of harmonicas. Although these little instruments were typically made by hand, Hohner used the technology and machines of the day to mass-produce beautifully crafted harmonicas, giving him the monopoly in the market.
Ever since then, Hohner remains the most prestige, well-respected brand in the harmonica world. With centuries of experience behind them, Hohner is a name that has and always will stand the test of time. Their product remains the same throughout the years, sticking to the recipe they know best, and only delivering high quality harmonicas for every type of musician. The Hohner Marine Band 1896 is no exception to this.
The Hohner Marine Band 1896 harmonica is one of the original harmonicas designed by Hohner, and remains a staple in the world of harmonicas (2). Since it’s release in 1896, the Hohner Marine Band 1896 harmonica has been played by some of the most renowned musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and John Lennon. It still remains a popular choice among professional musicians today all around the globe. It has a reputation for being a full-bodied rich tones, unique design, and wooden comb.
This harmonica specifically is a diatonic, 10 hole harmonica in the key of C, making them the best harmonicas for both expert and beginner harmonica players. It is made with a Pearwood comb and 20 brass reed plates, all protected by a stainless steel cover. It is extremely versatile and reliable for it’s price, sitting around only $47. Its bright, full tones make it great to play blues, jazz, rock, and even country music genres. Professional harmonica players worldwide have long praised its comfort, responsive reeds, and classic overall aesthetic.
These Hohner blues harmonica also comes with a small plastic carrying case and soft cloth making it easy to throw in your pocket. This case features information on how to care for your Hohner Marine Band harmonica, as well as a brief history, and some instructions on how to play. Since this is such a popular harmonica choice, there are hundreds of hours of free online resources dedicated to helping beginner, intermediate, and advanced players master the Marine Band harmonica.
On the other hand, since this harmonica does come with a wooden comb, it can be subject to moisture corrosion over time if not cleaned properly. The wood can swell and may cause lip injury if not cared for correctly. It takes a little effort to dissemble, but with the proper care and maintenance, the Hohner Marine Band harmonica is built to last.
Some reviews have mentioned that the holes were a little smaller, and the wooden comb much stiffer than those of other harmonicas, making it challenging to play at first, but easy once you get the hang of it. Reviews did say that this harmonica is still the superior model to Hohner’s other popular harmonicas, the Hohner Special and the Hohner Blues Harmonica.
Overall, this is a fantastic, traditional harmonica for any level of player. It’s long standing history, excellent craftsmanship, and well-respected Hohner name makes it the go to harmonica for musicians all over the world.
Fender Blues Deville Harmonica, Key of C
Fender is one of the most famous musical instrument brands in the market today. Ranging anywhere from guitars to pianos, ukuleles to harmonicas, the Fender reputation stands strong with years of experience behind their name. Their harmonicas too live up to this prestige reputation. Thanks to its unique style and design, the Fender Blues Deville harmonica is the best harmonica for any level of player.
The Fender Blues Deville harmonica is also a 10 hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C, another classic addition to any musician’s collection (3). With its moisture resistant ABS combs, phosphor bronze reeds, and gold etched Fender logo against the black satin plate cover, the Blues Deville harmonica is an excellent choice for any serious blues harmonica player.
This harmonica also provides protective vented plastic case that allows the harmonica to remain airtight but dry after playing. This keeps your harmonica safe from moisture corrosion and aging issues. But in addition to this, you can also buy reeds to replace if needed. Over time, the more you play and jam on your harmonica, the more susceptible your instrument will become to damage. While all harmonicas have a shelf life, Fender works to extend this by making parts replaceable and durable. At an affordable price, you are able to easily take apart your instrument and replace reeds, combs, plate covers, or whatever may be damaged on your instrument.
Available in all 7 keys, the Fender Blues Deville comes in at the affordable price of only $35, making it the most affordable harmonica with the professional quality we’re all looking for. The Blues Deville may be the best harmonica on the market for beginners, and is a better model to the comparable Fender Blues Deluxe.
When people hear the name Fender, they immediately think of their guitars they are so famously known for. However, the harmonica they have crafted emits a soft, traditional sound and is marketing as the best options for any level of player, both beginner and seasoned. Many reviews have pointed out that this harmonica, although plays very smoothly, is not very loud compared to other harmonica brands.
This harmonica also comes with a carrying case and cloth, as well as instructions on how to care for your harmonica. The nice thing about this harmonica being made out of plastic comb is that there is very little maintenance required to keep your instrument lasting compared to other brand names. It is a solid, durable option on the market, at an extremely affordable price.
Overall, the Fender Blues Deville harmonica is the best option for musicians. The shape and structure is traditional so you won’t have any trouble or discomfort while playing the harmonica. It offers a soft, bright sound quality, comfort, and tuning stability making it the best first harmonica. Tuned to the perfect key of C, the Fender Blues Deville harmonica is the best choice you could make in a first harmonica.
While there are many options for different types of harmonica brands and models on the market, we searched high and low for what we believe to be some of the best options on the market today. With decades of experience and brand names you can trust, our top harmonica suggestions include Boseno, Harmo, Suzuki, Lee Oskar, Hohner, and Fender. Makers that ultimately provide that prestige, top shelf quality in an instrument.
While each harmonica is crafted slightly different depending on the needs and playing style of the musician, they do all come with carrying case, a soft cleaning cloth, and instruction on how to care for your harmonica. Many of them, in fact, also come with beginner’s lessons and the basics to help you get started if you are totally new to the harmonic. In addition to this, there are tons of free online resources dedicated to helping you learn how to play and master the harmonica. While this is a small, powerful little instrument, it is surprisingly easy to pick up and learning is made easy.
Ranging in materials, builds, and qualities, each of these harmonicas still remains the top options of instruments on the market. Regardless of the type of harmonica you are buying, it is always important to remember to maintain and care for your little instrument. While most are immune to corrosion, due to their materials, many do require constant and regular maintenance to keep your harmonic sound bright while also extending its lifespan.
Overall, these harmonicas are all built for experts and beginners alike. They are designed for the most basic players all the way up to the most seasoned players. However, if you are looking for a different type of harmonica of some sort, head back over to the home page. You never know what kinds of tips, tricks, and other neat finds will be appearing each day.