12 Best Harmonicas in 2017

The harmonica, which is also referred to as the blues harp, is a small instrument used in an array of music genres such as jazz, blues, rock, and country. Considering the simple nature of the harmonica, it is the first option for music enthusiasts that want to learn to play an instrument. Not to mention that its sweet, melancholic sound makes it a favorite for adding a particular feeling or characteristic to a music genre.

Still, as a beginner, you may find it difficult to choose just the right product for you. On that note, we have started by compiling a list of products that qualify as the best harmonica, and we attentively reviewed each and one of them. Apart from that, we want to present to you some helpful suggestions and tips that will make the search easier.

Top 12 Harmonicas Ultimate Chart

Design Name Dimensions Key Rating (1-5)
 1. Hohner Marine Band Harmonica  5 x 1 x 1.5 inches  C  4.6
   2. Suzuki HA-20-C Promaster Hammond Professional 10-Hole Diatonic Harmonica  3.9 x 1.6 x 0.8 inches  C  4.5
   3. HDE Silver Swan Diatonic 10 Hole  4 x 1 x 1.5 inches  C  4.5
   4. Lee Oskar Harmonica Major Diatonic  6 x 3 x 1 inches  C  4.5
   5. Johnson BK-520-C Blues King Harmonica  4.5 x 2 x 1 inches  C  4.5
   6. Boseno 24 Holes Double Tremolo Harmonica  8.5 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches  C  4.5
   7. PLCEO Suzuki Folkmaster Standard 10-Hole Diatonic Harmonica  4.2 x 1.9 x 0.9 inches  C  4.4
   8. Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica  11.4 x 7.5 x 3.5 inches  C  4.4
   9. HSSOT Harmonica Key of C,24 Double Holes with 48 Reeds  7.6 x 2.2 x 0.7 inches  C  4.1
   10. I-MART Diatonic 10 Hole Key of C Blues Harmonica  4 x 1.5 x 0.9 inches  C  4.1
   11. Hohner 1501BX Blues Band, Harmonica  8.5 x 5.2 x 1.4 inches  C  4.0
   12. SUZUKI Folkmaster Harmonica  101 x 26 x 20 (mm)  C  3.9

Types of Harmonicas

After deciding that you want to buy the best harmonica, you’ll have to choose from diatonic, chromatic and orchestral instruments.

  • Diatonic – Players claim that diatonic harmonicas are recommendable for beginners. A standard diatonic harmonica has ten holes and 12 music keys. It is primarily used for blues music, country, rock, bluegrass, folk, Celtic and gospel music.
  • Chromatic – Chromatic harmonicas are essentially used in classical and jazz music, and seldom in blues. When it comes to this type of harp, the player has a single reed plate, featuring a full key range.
  • Orchestral – As a thumbs rule, an orchestral harmonica is used for ensemble performances. Considering that there is an array of musical styles, this type of instrument might be better suited for experienced players.

Buying Tips

As a newcomer harmonica player, you should factor in a range of elements, to ensure that you make a decent choice.

  • Harmonica Assembly – For optimal functioning, your harmonica should be characterized by an airtight construction. That deters air from escaping while playing the instrument. As we tested various harmonicas, we couldn’t stress enough the importance of this feature.

In plain English, as you play the harmonica, no air should be coming out from unwanted places; on the opposite, the air you do put in should activate the reeds. Since many instruments aren’t sealed properly, air leakage is a common concern. That will hinder you from creating the music you want.

  • Cover Design – The design of the harmonica plays a crucial role in determining the way in which it feels during use. After reviewing various harmonicas, we can confirm that some instruments tend to be more comfortable than others.

Apart from that, you should be able to reach every hole of the instrument effortlessly. Blowing air from the side of the mouth has turned out to be quite helpful for plugging the holes as needed.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Harmonica

Similar to any other purchase, after selecting the product that fulfills your expectations, the next thing you need to do is embrace the correct maintenance practices. The harmonica makes no exception to this rule. That’s why we would like to present to you a handful of useful maintenance tips.

For starters, after you’re done playing the harmonica, you should tap the instrument against your palm, to remove any remaining saliva. Ideally, you should allow it to air dry for a while. Only afterward should you place it in its particular case. Most cases are manufactured with plastic and are featured by small vents.

Apart from that, it is recommendable to wipe off the harmonica after you’re finished playing.

There are cases in which a more thorough clean may be necessary. Some harmonicas are more challenging to be taken apart than others. Note, however, that re-assembling the instrument after you have taken it apart requires a lot of skill. Also, this matter of harmonica dissembling is much debated. It all comes down to this: how often you play and how attentive you are.

How Much Should I Spend on My First Harmonica?

In spite of its small size, the harmonica is still a beautiful instrument that enables you to make music. That’s why the price range for harmonicas varies a lot, depending on the comb materials, manufacturer, functions, properties, durability, so on and so forth.

As for the amount a beginner should spend on a harmonica, this is entirely dependent on your budget and expectations. We couldn’t say that there is a product that will be the perfect match for every reader.

What you need to do is compare and contrast different products and see what matters most to you. That will aid you to make the right decision.

Top 5 Best Harmonicas Reviews

1. Hohner Marine Band Harmonica

This harmonica is acknowledged as one of the best options for beginners, in particular. And there’s a reason for that.

Firstly, Hohner is a leading manufacturer that has made a name for producing reliable, qualitative harmonicas. This is one of their best-sold models, being preferred by famous artists such as Bruce Springsteen and John Lennon. This is certainly reassuring considering that this instrument comes at a decent rate.

We find that this is an excellent choice for rock and blues musicians alike. The sound is pure and clean, much richer than we expected. It became apparent to us why this harmonica is one of the most popular models of all time.

What is more, the instrument is effortless to play. The comb is made of durable pear wood, stainless steel covers, and 20 reeds on 0.9 mm.

The item is also easy to clean and to maintain. It responds immediately, and, due to the precise construction, it is airtight. It is also well-made and looks durable.

Whether you’re a beginner or you only want to replace your harmonica, you’ll be more than content with this harp.

2. Suzuki HA-20-C Promaster Hammond Harmonica

Although Suzuki is primarily known to produce cars, it has been manufacturing harmonicas since 1953.

The Promaster Hammond is a fantastic option for players that are looking for a harmonica that resembles a professional instrument.

We can affirm that this is one of the very best products in its price range. The sound of this item made us fall in love with it. The music seems warm, while the instrument is responsive delivering clear, precise notes every single time.

It is also an excellent choice for beginners that have an inclination towards music.

Regarding the construction of the instrument, we couldn’t have been more content about it. It has a solid construction and beautiful finishing touches.

All things considered, this is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a clean, crisp sound quality. We guarantee that this harmonica will exceed your expectations.

3. HDE Silver Swan Diatonic 10 Hole

This is a great product for players that are on a budget. Choosing a more affordable product when you first start learning to play the harmonica is a good idea to establish whether an instrument is right for you or not.

After reviewing this item, we can say that it is a decent choice. Nonetheless, in regards to air tightness, we believe that this could do with some improvements. We observed some air leakage now and then.

Even so, this problem wasn’t genuinely disturbing as with other less qualitative products.

On the whole, this harmonica is excellent value for the money, particularly for a child or a person who wants to learn how to play without making a significant investment.

4. Lee Oskar Harmonica Major Diatonic

This harmonica is most commonly used for rock, jazz and blues music. We liked the airtight design that makes the instrument highly responsive. As for the sound, it is a bit more vibrating than the ones produced by other items of this kind.

In fact, this harmonica is renowned in the realm of blues music due to its authentic sound, being highly appreciated by professional musicians.

Nonetheless, it is a matter of personal taste; what some players would convey as excellent may mean the exact opposite to others.

Due to the embossing of the hole numbers on the cover plate, playing this instrument can be a tad uncomfortable, which can be conveyed as a drawback.

On the whole, this is a good choice for a traditional blues harmonica.

5. Johnson BK-520-C Blues King Harmonica

This is another inexpensive item that has earned its spot on our list. In comparison with other budget harmonicas, this one exceeded our expectations.

The comb is made of plastic while the reed plates and reeds are manufactured from brass, and the covers appear to be steeled.

This instrument is decent when it comes to air tightness since we noted minimal air leakage on occasions. The reeds are quite responsive as well, and we didn’t hear any funky sounds or squeaks while playing this harmonica.

The tone is right as well; of course, this item could be improved. Nonetheless, considering the price and its overall quality, we believe this is worth a look.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, the best harmonica for you can be one of the products mentioned in our list! We ensure you that you cannot go wrong with either of our recommendations. What remains for you to do is determine the sound you’re looking for, your budget, and what you expect from the instrument. Fortunately, harmonicas are affordable items that can really liven up numerous music genres!

We hope that the information in our guide has aided you in your search. If you have further suggestions on how to make the purchasing process easier, do let us know in the comment section. Until next time!