12 Best Harmonicas for Beginners in 2017

If you want to start playing your first musical instrument, chances are you may very well choose the harmonica. Its modest size, playability, and affordability make it a natural choice for beginners, as well as a wonderful addition to your instrument collection should you already be an experienced musician.

But how do you know which is the best harmonica for beginners?

Before making your purchase, ask yourself some questions. What key do you want your harmonica to be in? What types of songs do you hope to play? How big do you want it to be?

Don’t worry if you don’t yet know the answers! After reading our article and perusing the chart below, you’ll have a good idea of which is the best beginner harmonica, and more specifically, which is the absolute best harmonic for you!

Top 12 Harmonicas for Beginners Comparison Table

DesignNameExternal DimensionsKeyRating (1-5)
  1. Hohner Special 20 Harmonica, Major C 8.5” x 5.4 “x 1.5” C 4.6
  2. Hohner Special 20 Harmonica, A 8.5” x 5.2” x 1.4”A 4.6
  3. Hohner Marine Band Harmonica, Key of C 5” x 1” x 1.5” C 4.6
  4. SEYDEL Blues Session Steel Key of C Harmonica C 4.5” x 1.9” x 0.9” C 4.6
  5. Lee Oskar Harmonica, Major Key Low F 6” x 3” x 1” F 4.6
  6. HDE Silver Swan Diatonic 10 Hole Key of C Blues Harmonica 4” x 1” x 1.5” C 4.5
  7. Lee Oskar Harmonica, Key of C 6” x 3” x 1” C 4.5
  8. Suzuki HA-20-C Promaster Hammond Professional 10-Hole Diatonic Harmonica 3.9” x 1.6” x 0.8” C 4.5
  9. Hohner 532BX-C Blues Harp, Key Of C Major 19″ x 13″ x 8″ C 4.4
  10. Lee Oskar Harmonica, Key of G, Major Diatonic 6” x 3” x 1” G 4.4
  11. Hohner 38C Mini Harmonica, Major C 2” x 1” x 1” C 4.0
  12. HDE ™ Gold Swan Harmonica 10 holes Key of G 4” x 1.5” x 1” G 4.0

Important Details

As you browse through the harmonicas, here are a couple details you should keep in mind as you search for the right harmonica for your needs.

  • Size – Harmonicas are thought of as small instruments, and understandably so! But, small or not, they still come in different sizes. The size can affect the amount of holes on the harmonica, as well as how comfortable it is to hold.
  • Key – The key you choose to buy your harmonica in determines what types of songs you can most easily play on it. Also, if you plan to play while others sing or play another instrument, the key will affect that as well.
  • Holes – The more holes your harmonica has, the more notes you can play!

Understanding Keys

How much does the key of your harmonica really affect you? Which key should you buy yours in? It all depends on what you want to use your harmonica for.

  • Playing Alone or Not – If you plan to play your harmonica while others are playing other instruments or singing, you definitely need to keep your harmonica’s key in mind. What key you should buy depends on what key the others will be singing or playing in.

If you plan on playing by yourself, you can choose any key you want, regardless of whether the songs you are playing were originally played in that key or not.

  • Type of Music You Want to Play – Even though you can play any song in any key, different types of music work best with certain keys. What kind of music do you like to play?

 If you enjoy playing folk music, for example, you should by a harmonica in the key of C. If, on the other hand, you prefer Rock or Pop music, the key of G would be better suited.

The best selling keys are C, A, G, D, and E (in that order). Remember, whatever you choose, you can play any song. It can be helpful though to consider what exactly you’re likely to play, and with whom (if anyone).

We found some awesome harmonica choices! Here are my four favorites that I know would perform well for you for many years of happy playing.

Top 4 Best Harmonica for Beginners Reviews

1. Hohner Special 20 Harmonica, Key C

This harmonica has a lot going for it! The notes are clear and it’s great for continuous playing. Perfect for beginners!

It is made out of plastic and metal, rather than the wood some harmonicas are made of. A benefit of this is that if you want to wash it out with water, you can go ahead and do that (not suggested for wooden harmonicas). You just need to be careful to not leave any moisture in it too long whenever you wash it.

It feels nice and smooth in your hand, and should last you a good long time. This is definitely my top choice for the best harmonica for beginners!

2. Hohner Special 20 Harmonica, Key A

Notice something similar between this harmonica and the last one? They look nearly identical! There is one very large difference between the two though, and that is the key. The review for the harmonica you just read was in key C. This key, if you remember, is best for folk music. It is the most commonly used key for beginning harmonica players.

This second harmonica is in key A. A, although not quite as popular as C, is an excellent choice for other types of songs. This can be particularly helpful if you are hoping to play your harmonica while others are singing or playing in the A key.

If you’re hoping for a harmonica in the A key, I highly recommend this one!

3. Hohner Marine Band Harmonica, Key C

This awesome harmonica is one of the most recognized ones in the world with its full tone and wooden comb. It has the classic ten holes, and is a good hand held size. Some people don’t consider wooden harmonica to be as comfortable as plastic ones, but if you like wooden ones, this one is well made and very durable. Its wooden comb gives you a warm, thick tone.

Overall, this is another excellent quality harmonica. Whether you’re looking for a new one, or hoping to start out with your first, this instrument will meet your playing needs with excellence.

4. SEYDEL Blues Session Steel, Key C

This harmonica offers great sound quality and a solid feel. It comes in a leather pouch instead of a hard case, so keep that in mind if you’re afraid of crushing it. But its sturdy build would make breaking it a difficult chore.

This one is the smallest out of these four harmonicas, so if you have small hands, the size will come in handy! Likewise, if you have larger hands you may feel comfortable choosing one of the larger instruments. The stainless steel coverplates make it a very comfortable fit in your hand as long as you are happy with the size.

This one is another worthwhile buy!