How to Buy the Right Harmonica – What Really Matters?
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How to Buy the Right Harmonica – What Really Matters?

How to Buy the Right Harmonica – What Really Matters?

Are you looking to purchase the perfect harmonica? Do you already have a budget in mind?

Which harmonica brand is better? More importantly do you know which harmonica you want?

At Harmonicaland we’ve been selling harmonicas for years so we’ll be glad to help you understand how to choose a good harmonica and what really matters when it comes to purchasing the best harp for you! 

- First of all there are several types of harmonicas and this is most likely where you want to your shopping journey:

- The diatonic harmonica is the most common one it’s a 10 hole harmonica that started to be sold in the late 1850s. Musicians use if for Blues, Folk and Country-music but also Rock, Pop and even Jazz nowadays.

The diatonic has only 19 natural notes that you can play on 3 octaves out of 36. But using special techniques like bending and overblows you can actually get all the missing notes. This requires a lot of work and practice but these extra note have a special sound and flavor unique to the blues harp

- The chromatic harmonica is based on the piano and notes are laid out in a very symmetrical and logical way. It is usually a 12 hole that covers 3 octaves but some models have 14 or 16 holes to cover a wider range. When you blow and draw you get natural notes and when you push the slider in and blow or draw at the same time then you get the missing notes that are flats and sharps.

- The tremolo harmonica is a more basic model that has double reeds slightly detuned to create a tremolo / accordion effect. They are also diatonic but you can not bend notes on this model so you are really limited to playing simple diatonic melodies in one key. It is popular among folk music players all over the world. We usually sort them by reed number (each hole has 2 reeds and small holes) and they come in 48, 54 and 56 reeds.

If you want a full range instrument that is easy to understand and can play in any key the chromatic harmonica is the obvious choice

If you really love Blues bended notes and cowboyesque sounds you might want a diatonic

If you’re into popular folk music the tremolo is for you

The diatonic is also be played in Jazz and Pop music but the learning curve is harder than the chromatic

- Brands and models

Harmonicaland only sell professional quality models from reputable brands. We actually test all our products and refuse to sell low quality harmonicas.

Hohner and Seydel are old manufacturers from Germany delivering a wide array of harmonicas and models. The Hohner Special 20 is a classic diatonic harmonica whereas Seydel just released the Volcany a high end brass comb chromatic.

Lee Oskar is made by Tombo Japan and has actually only one sturdy diatonic model with brass reeds.

Suzuki started in the 1960s and their catalog ranges from entry level diatonic models like the Bluesmaster all the way up to top shelf chromatic harmonicas like th eFabulous 64 retailing for $4,500!

Harmo is the newcomer founded by harmonica player virtuoso David Herzhaft they offer very competitive models like the Polar and also Custom made harps using wood, brass and aluminum.


Like for anything the more money you put down the higher quality instrument you get. The most expensive models use more expensive material such as brass, aluminum, stainless steel reeds or phosphore bronze reeds or even have manual work involved like the Harmo Custom.

Whereas cheaper models are factory stamped harmonicas using brass reeds and plastic combs.

For a diatonic harmonica $40 will get you a professional quality model: Hohner Special 20, Harmo Polar, Lee Oskar - Seydel Session steelcompetes at $60.

Then anything above will involve better finish or material.

For a good chromatic model the Harmo Angel 12 is a bargain then you also have the classic Hohner Chromonica 270 and Suzuki SCX series in the same price range. The price for chromatic harmonicas can go really high and then it’s really a matter of can you tell the difference and do you like such material and look? Usually on higher models like the Seydel Saxony the slider is smoother and the flow a bit more airtight.

For tremolo models the options are more sparse Suzuki SU-21H is a very good choice for anyone looking to get various keys whereas Seydel Skydiver and Sailor are nice traditional models with a modern touch. For a classic look and sound try the Hohner Echo 56/96.

Last we do sell signature and collector models like the Hohner Bob Dylan that comes in a nice gift box or the Seydel 1847 limited where they only manufactured 150 units.

What really matters to select the perfect harmonica?

As we’ve just seen what really matters is to know which harmonica you need then obviously budget will come into play but we have sort of made a selection for you offering only great quality models made by the best brands of harmonicas.

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