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When it comes to affordability, portability, and easy playability, you will be hard-pressed to find a better instrument than a harmonica. Even with their cost and modest size, harmonicas can produce an awesome range of tones, and this incredible versatility is echoed in the music genres in which they are used. From the more apparent categories like rock, country, and blues to more unexpected genres like classical music and jazz, the harmonica fits in easily with its human-like sound.
However, choosing the best harmonica is never an easy task, and that’s where we come in. In this guide, we have compiled the six best harmonicas on the market based on some factors we took into consideration, including type, key, number of holes, comb, size, and weight, and such bonuses as a carrying bag included. A harmonica can be a blessing when you choose the right one, but it can also be a curse when you opt for the wrong model, and that’s why it’s crucial to consider the factors above before opting for one.
To bring you the best harmonicas on the market for different music genres, we have invested several hours into research. We have read articles, guides, and customer’s feedback to ensure that the products featured on this list are the absolute best. Before taking a plunge into the deeper sections of this article, we urge to you take a look at the table below which compares our top six picks with each other. Moreover, you’ll get a chance to read our reviews of each product, and a comprehensive buying guide at the end.
Carrying case: hard shell, material is not specified
Dimensions: 3.9 x 1.6 x 0.8 inches
More features: substantial in the hands, comfort for lips, rich sound
If you are looking for a compact and portable harmonica that produces high-quality sound, you can’t look beyond the Suzuki HA20 Promaster Hammond professional diatonic harmonic. It will provide you with the deep, mellow tone you desire. The tone produced by this harmonica is uniquely rich and smooth, yet being clear. If you want it to, it can play softly and quietly while still retaining the tone quality. It also comes with an aluminum comb that allows it to get louder than most harmonicas.
Furthermore, the HA20 allows you to have excellent precision and control. The notes blown through any hole are very clear and stay in pitch. It provides you with equal definition regardless of whether you are playing riffs and single-note melodies or chords. Along with the tone’s incredible warmth, the bends’ quality makes this harmonic awesome for blues players.
Also, the harmonica’s external casing is very durable and will withstand a lot of play. The comb and reed plates are also well-made, and the whole unit is well-built to avoid air leakage.
What are its best features?
Solid construction all through
Comes with a durable carrying case
Aluminum comb enhances playability and dynamics
Stays in tune brilliantly
Reeds are easy to replace and durable
Very affordable price
What could be improved?
Breaking in can take a little longer than other harps
Materials: single lacquered pear wood comb, arched stainless steel covers with side vents, nailed
Carrying case: zippered neoprene
Dimensions: 9.5 x 5.5 x 2.5-inch set
More features: handmade, excellent tone quality
Hohner is a well-known music instruments manufacturer which invented and produced many harmonica models used today by professionals and enthusiasts. And this particular set of harmonicas proved to be suitable for lots of situations. From players in the beginning level to those in the intermediate level, this harmonica will be useful to a lot of people. Further, it is a great option for musicians looking for a set of harmonicas to take along. It comes with a carrying case which has seven slots in total and will be suitable for any regular harmonica.
This set comes with keys that are sure to be perfect for nearly all of your needs, particularly if you play in a rock or folk ensembles mostly. One of the most impressive things about this harmonica is its consistency through the keys. This is particularly nice if you switch a lot during your performance because there would be no need for regular readjustment.
However, this package may seem too expensive for hobbyists. Although, if you are playing along with other people, you’ll find the range of keys on the set really useful, as it allows you to play a broader assortment of songs.
More features: replaceable reed plates at half the cost, durable
The Lee Oskar harmonica is another product that is highly recommended for novices. It has a high-quality construction that makes it easy to play without breaking a sweat. Besides, it’s affordable price is ideal for beginners. Despite being one of the best harmonicas for people just starting out, it doesn’t sound like a starter harmonica. It’s also perfect for professional players due to its consistent quality and unique tone. Overall, it is a great harp for players of all levels.
Furthermore, the Lee Oskar harmonica produces clear and bright sound, which makes it ideal for rock and country players. Its cover is made to provide the reeds with more room to echo, thereby improving the projection, which makes this harmonica a great choice if you are playing with a louder group. For rapid playing, the reeds of the harps are tightly-spaced and sit in lower beds that lessen air leakage. Besides, bending them is much easier than other harmonicas in the same price range. This allows you to do all the emotional blues you want.
One outstanding thing about the Lee Oskar harmonica is that the reed plates can be easily replaced if worn out, since the company manufactures and sells spare plates for all of their products. They are attached to the comb with three self-tapping screws, which makes them incredibly easy to swap out.
Why are we impressed?
Lively tone with solid projection
Brilliant for bending
Replaceable reed plates prolong the life
Precision-molded for less air leakage
Very easy to play
What negatives must you be aware of?
Can quickly go out of tune
Plastic comb doesn’t have the warmness of wooden ones
More features: durable, versatile for all levels of players
Fender is one of the most renowned music instrument manufacturing company in the world, and it shouldn’t be really surprising that we included their product in this guide. With this harmonica from the well-respected company, you’ll be buying a product that will enable you to faithfully display your skill level.
This harmonica particularly comes in seven harmonica keys: C, Bb, A, D, E, F, G. While the C sounds fairly deep, smooth, it has a trace of cheekiness as well. This product from Fender is designed to be very versatile and is perfect to play all sorts of genres. It is unique amongst band practices, making it perfect for beginners and professional players alike.
The Fender Blue Deluxe harmonica has the regular, customary harmonica shape that makes holding and playing it very easy. Besides, it’s coated with chromed metal covers to help you have a totally comfy performance, with a solid grip. The harmonica has a vented case that enables it to stay dry after every playing session. Also, it is portable due to its compact size, and a small cleaning cloth is included in the package.
More features: lip-friendly, washable, portable, stably rich tune and clear sound
Even though the Mugig diatonic harmonica hasn’t been around for more than a year, the product has quickly risen to become one of the most popular harmonicas out there. It has a bright, lively sound quality that is sure to suit nearly any kind of performance.
This harmonica has been specially made to suit novices and individuals with little or no experience with harmonicas. It’s also great for practice if you don’t want to risk taking your more expensive harmonicas along. In addition, this harmonica goes very well with an acoustic or electric guitar accompaniment.
The Mugig Diatonic Harmonica is sturdy and reliable and has a stainless steel coat and phosphor bronze reeds that will stand up to any wear and tear. Besides, it’s pocket-sized, and adequately small to be carried around. The overall dimensions of the harmonica are 4.1 x 1.4 x 1 inches.
Due to the bronze reeds of the harmonica, you’ll have the ability to blow easily into the musical instrument, creating sound immediately. With this, the sounds are more steady, and it enables you to reproduce songs better. The Mugig Diatonic comes with 10 holes, allowing the user to have 20 notes accessible. With this, you’ll be able to play every chord and melody all in the C key.
Carrying case: vintage style, golden locking mechanism
Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.3 x 1.9 inches set
More features: rich and pure blues sounds
While Reckless Harmonicas can’t be considered as a household name in the harmonica-manufacturing industry, this Blues Harmonica from them indicates that they are on the right path to becoming one of the biggest brands in the industry. This harmonica set is engineered with quality in mind, and that’s echoed all around the parts of the harmonica set.
Featuring five harmonica keys of A, C, D, E, and G, a wide range of sounds are possible with this excellent harmonica set. Besides, it is packaged in a wooden box with 10 holes. You are also guaranteed high-quality sound each time you use this set as it emits pure and rich blues sounds. With all the quality and affordable price, this set is ideal for novice and beginner musicians.
Furthermore, it comes packaged in a sturdy case for an amusing collecter-style appearance. The harmonica set is also made with phosphor bronze reeds, which is one of the finest reed materials out there.
What makes it special?
Makes a great gift
Comes with a durable carrying case
What cons did we find?
Housing material may have a bad smell
Things to Consider
Before choosing the right harmonica for yourself, you might need to read our buying guide carefully. This guide is created to direct you to the best harmonica for your needs.
The type of harmonica greatly affects how and what you can play with it, so let’s sum it all up.
Diatonic harmonicas are harmonicas that are designed in such a way that they can be easily played in a single key. This does not mean though that they only play in that key only, since there are shared notes from one key to another. For instance, you can play a C key diatonic harmonica in A minor since A minor and C key share the same notes. While you will need to play them differently, it is surely possible. A diatonic harmonica is the most ideal type for beginners since it’s easy to play because of its limited features.
On the other hand, a chromatic harmonica is designed to aid playing in all keys, while a diatonic type is restricted to only its branded key, relative minor, and a couple of close keys. However, you can play a chromatic harmonica in every key.
The third type of harmonicas is referred to as the tremolo harmonicas. Also called the echo harmonicas, they use two reeds for every note, with only minor tuning difference between the two.
These are usually large instruments that can produce up to 48 different chords and are typically laid out in blocks of four-note clusters. Each note usually has two reeds tuned an octave apart. Chord harmonicas provide rhythmic and melodic support in harmonica ensembles.
Keys and the number of holes
In diatonic harmonicas, the key will let you know the notes you can play on them. A diatonic harp plays every note on the main scale of the specified key. This does not necessarily mean that it can play in only that key: jazz players, in particular, may want to utilize the harmonica a 5th away from their given key to make it sound like blues.
The keys and the number of keys you will require in your arsenal always comes down to personal choice. Majority of the harmonica players begin with the C key, which is a great general baseline key because it is the most common key in many genres. Going on from there, the keys of D, A, and G are the most used in the main genres of rock, blues, and folk.
Majority of harp come in sets. Sets are harmonicas that come with extra accessories such as a case, and a cleaning cloth. On some occasions, they will come with a user’s manual, a booklet teaching how to play or an instruction manual to help you get started. Buying a set is great for beginners since it is their first harmonica and the probability of them not having the items usually included in a set is very high.
It is vital to note that most high-end harps do not come with carrying cases, and if they do come with a carrying case, you probably should find something more sturdy that will make sure that your valued possession is completely protected.
How to clean a harmonica?
It is crucial to take care of your harmonica very well since most of them are not replaceable because of health regulations. Cleaning your harmonica regularly will make sure that you will not see any drop in the quality of tone your mouth organ produces. If your harps is a plastic comb, rinse it in lukewarm regularly to ensure it stays clean and fresh at all times. However, don’t do this if its metal as it can cause corrosion.
To take your cleaning a step further, you can always buy isopropyl, which is a type of alcohol that comes in a spraying bottle. It helps disinfect your harmonica and keeps it clean, fresh, and shiny.
When you open the harmonica up, be very careful not to mess up the reeds at all. It is important to handle them with care, and when cleaning, rub them gently with the alcohol. When you are done, wipe the residue of the alcohol off with a very soft cloth.
Things to Consider When Buying Harmonicas
A harmonica is a complicated or complex instrument, and its purchase needs to be treated as such. With all necessary factors considered, you’ll rest assured to get the best instrument for your needs.
As we already mentioned above, there are many types of harmonicas, and it’s always logical to consider the types before choosing a model. The diatonic type is recommended for novice and blues players. Diatonic harmonicas usually come with ten holes are usually tuned to a minor or major scale of a particular key. For instance, if it is tuned to the G key, it will play the G major scale only. While you can play blues on chromatic harmonicas as well, diatonic harmonicas are the ideal option for blues, folk, and country due to the extra bending and drawing techniques required to create the bluesy sound.
Picking a comb matter is more important for maintenance. There are 4 types of materials produced: plastic (ABS), wood, metal, and plexiglass. For starters, it is ideal to opt for plastic because maintaining it is very easy and it is comfy on the lips. Also, metal combs are another option that is less susceptible to wear and tear thanks to screws, though they are costlier. Another common material used for harmonicas is wood. Wood is a lot susceptible to humidity, which can lead to swelling and leave wounds in your mouth whilst playing the harps. Although some individuals say that wooden harmonicas produce a warmer sound and do not care about the efforts required to maintain it.
The harp cover is what produces the acoustics. Everything depends on the kind of sound you’re aiming for when it comes to picking the kind of cover design. Many cheap to mid-range priced harps come with traditional covers where the cover’s back is more open, thereby producing a clear and bright tone. Another kind is the cover-all, which muffles the harps slightly, but echoes it more to create a full, mellow, and warm sound. Metal covers generate a brighter tone while plastic generates a softer tone. Your choice when it comes to cover always comes down the type of sound you want to produce.
The quality of the harps is always determined by the price, particularly models that are well-built with high-quality materials. If you are just a hobbyist, you should be good with a budget option. However, it is harder to learn with a cheap harmonica if you’re serious about learning since its poor built causes air leakage, thereby making them difficult to play. It is ideal to go for harmonicas within the range of $30 to $65.
The harmonica is an instrument that can be played by anyone of any age. While there are some toy harmonicas specifically made for children, there are still some children-friendly real harmonicas that can be played by teenagers. An example is the Hohner Marine Band Harmonica. It has a small built, making it ideal for children whose hands aren’t fully developed.
A – When just starting out as a harmonica player, the best thing is to learn with one in the key of C. Of course, there are numerous brands to pick from, Hohner, Suzuki or Lee Oskar. As a beginner, you can choose either the Lee Oskar Major Diatonic or the Hohner Marine Band.
If you want to be using your harmonica outdoors, there are some things you must consider. Firstly, the harmonica you’re buying has to be consistent through the keys so that you wouldn’t need to be making frequent adjustments. Additionally, it must be durable so that will be able to stand up to any sort of rough abuse.
Having reached the end of this guide, it’s safe to say we all now agree that the harmonica is a great musical instrument. Besides, it is very portable and can be played by just one person. As soon as you hone your skills, you can play just about any song out there.
In the guide above, we reviewed some of the best harmonicas on the market. While it’s hard to choose the best among them because of the close completion, we will give it a try. The best harmonica according to us is Suzuki HA-20-C Promaster. With an aluminum comb that enhances playability and dynamics, the reason we rate this product so highly isn’t far-fetched. It stays in tune brilliantly, its reeds are easy to replace, and most significantly, it is very affordable.
Also great is a similarly priced harmonica from Lee Oskar. Despite being very affordable, the harp has a high-quality construction, comes with replaceable reeds, and produces amazing sounds.
The best harmonica set, in our opinion, is the Hohner set. Although it’s pricier than most harmonicas on the market, it boasts of great quality and includes A, C, D, E, and G key to play anything you like.