Are you tempted by harmonicas?
Here you will find harmonicas in many different models and forms, as well as useful information that will make your choice easier.
Harmonicas are wind instruments. The main part is the metal tongues, which are clamped on one side and free on the other. When blowing and inhaling, they vibrate due to the air flow and thus ringing. Tones are determined by using the lips and tongue to select one or more openings, which are usually sequentially placed in a row, as a kind of mouthpiece. Blowing into a certain opening achieves one tone and another when inhaling at the same opening.
What are the basic components of a harmonica?
The basic components are:
- core - made of wood, plastic or metal;
- two reed plates - usually made of brass, but can also be made of iron or aluminum;
- two covers - usually metal, but also wooden or plastic, with which the reeds are protected, and at the same time they also serve as a reverberator.
They are available in many designs, sizes and tunings. Popular types include diatonic, chromatic, tremolo, and octave-tuned harmonicas.
To make your choice easier, we present you the music genres that you can perform with the harmonica and the most suitable type of harmonica that you can choose to perform each genre of music.
If you are an absolute beginner, we recommend that you buy a diatonic harmonica with reed plate in C key - these are also the most affordable ones. But don’t choose the cheapest offer! The better the quality of the harmonica you buy, the more reliable and easier it will be to play.
Diatonic harmonicas are used by many professionals who play rock, blues, jazz, folk and country music. They are in the ‘Richter’ tuning, which means they don’t have all the scale notes in the octave range, they only have one full major scale. Most textbooks for beginners are written for harmonica in the key of C.
Chromatic harmonicas will be chosen by more experienced musicians. They have a wide range of tones, including highs and lows, which are accessible by pressing a slider that opens another row of vocal cords in the harmonica. Chromatic harmonicas can be used to perform all kinds of music. Usually, the leading melody of the song is performed with those harmonicas, as opposed to playing chords, as is the case with diatonic. Chromatic harmonicas are sometimes also used in blues music, but due to their diversity they are also suitable for many other styles and are often heard when performing jazz, classical music, pop, soul, etc. Experienced performers can play virtually any musical style on this instrument.
Which harmonicas should I choose for different musical styles?
Traditional folk music
Tremolo harmonica. These have double reed plates for each tone, giving them a characteristic rich sound. By playing such an harmonica, you will easily conjure an idyllic alpine atmosphere. You can choose from a variety of Hohner tremolo and octave harmonicas. Tremolo harmonicas are also occasionally found in country and pop music, although diatonic harmonicas are more commonly used there.
Diatonic harmonicas. We recommend quality models from Hohner (MS series, Progressive or Marine Band) and Lee Oskar (Tombo). If you are a beginner or just want to play as an amateur from time to time, you will be completely satisfied with the more affordable Hohner Enthusiast series.
R&B, rock, country and pop music
Diatonic or in some cases chromatic harmonicas. For diatonic ones, the same models are suitable for these musical genres as for blues music. More demanding musicians will be able to choose Hohner chromatic harmonicas for more sophisticated performances.
Chromatic harmonicas. Choose from a variety of Hohner chromatic models.
Chromatic and in some cases also diatonic harmonicas. Choose quality chromatic models from Hohne. However, if you enter the world of jazz music with a diatonic harmonica model inspired by Howard Levy, you will not miss one of his favorite models - Hohner Marine band 1896/20 or Hohner Golden Melody 542/20.
You need to answer some key questions that will help you decide to buy a harmonica.
I am a complete beginner, what type of harmonica should I buy?
The most popular for complete beginners are the diatonic or Blues harmonicas with 10 holes, in a C tuning. The most common is the learning literature for beginners CD with recordings of melodies in this key (C) and with instructions for playing.
How much will I have to deduct to buy a beginner harmonica?
Beginner harmonicas are very affordable compared to most other musical instruments. Quality beginner harmonicas are available from around 10 euros.
I have already progressed in playing and would like a better harmonica, what do you advise?
What about harmonica accessories, do you also sell accessories?
Of course. We offer a large selection of quality accessories, everything you will need!
I want to play the blues. Which harmonica is best for me?
Blues can be played on most of the types. It is most often played on a diatonic or "blues" harmonica with 10 holes. Precisely because of this, this type of diatonic harmonica got its second name!
Where do they make the best harmonicas?
Definitely Germany has the greatest tradition in the production of quality harmonicas. The most recognized and widespread are, of course, the Hohner, as well as the Seydel, which is considered to be the oldest manufacturer of harmonicas. It is followed by Japan with manufacturers Lee Oskar and Suzuki.