Harmonicas aren’t the first instrument that comes to mind that people tend to get excited over. That usually goes to guitars and the rock gods that play that. However, if you happen to be more of a blues fan, then you’ve come to the right place.
One of the most famous harmonica players, John Popper of Blues Traveler, actually goes on stage wearing a vest full of harmonicas. That fact alone can tell you that they are many different options to consider when purchasing a harmonica. To save you the time and confusion, we’ve rounded up ten best harmonicas and will fill you in on what you need to know.
Things to Consider When Buying a Harmonica
- The Comb Is the Most Important Part of the Harmonica. The combcontains the air chambers that cover the reeds. There are three types of materials that are used when making a comb and will affect the sound of your harmonica:
- Wood. Is the most natural sounding of all the materials and is favored by musician Bob Dylan. However, this type of harmonica is sensitive to water.
- Metal. Metal is a more expensive option for the harmonica. It is usually made of aluminum or stainless steel. This is a tough model and won’t break down easily, but it is prone to corrosion.
- Plastic. This is the most popular form of the comb. It is easy to maintain and isn’t hard on the lips. However, it can crack as time passes.
- Don’t Buy a Used Harmonica. Harmonicas are less expensive than most instruments, and people use their mouths to play the instrument and it’s just not very hygienic with a used one.
Top 10 Harmonicas Table
Top 3 Best Harmonica Reviews
The Hohner Special 20 Harmonica, Major C is the overall best harmonica on our list. The Hohner sale page claims that this particular harmonica is played by pros. The Special 20 has a plastic body which makes it good for beginners and for fast playing. The reeds are said to be very responsible and it is made of German quality and craftsmanship.
As mentioned earlier, the plastic make of harmonicas are the ones that are the most flexible and the Special 20 is said to have “superior bendability.” Its tone is described as “sweet.” The Special 20’s unique design makes it the most popular harmonica for players of any style. Whether the player prefers rock, blues, folk, or country. What’s even more amazing is that this particular plastic comb doesn’t absorb moisture making it longer lasting than other harmonicas that are weakened by moisture. The harmonica is approximately 4 inches long.
The Special 20 is rumored to be favored by both John Popper and Bob Dylan. This harmonica also has reed plates that are attached into the plastic comb thus creating a projected mouthpiece, which allows more comfort for the player.
Reviewers warn first time buyers to make sure they purchase the right model (560-BX-C), as purchasing the wrong model would produce a totally different sound. Others say that the harmonica doesn’t sound quite right out of the box. Veterans are quick to point out to the beginners that the harmonica may need some tuning before it is played. Tuning tips can easily be found on Youtube. The only other complaint really seen is the price compared to other harmonicas. But wouldn’t you want the best possible instrument for your budget? I think the answer to that question is yes.
The Suzuki HA-20-C Promaster Hammond Professional 10-Hole Diatonic Harmonica in the Key of C fits snuggly into the player’s pocket for convenience. This model features phosphor bronze (a metal) which means that it won’t wear down easily, but is more prone to corrosion. The harmonica also comes with its own carrying case, which is made from a tough shell.
Some reviewers have expressed their opinion that they would not recommend this harmonica for beginners. As stated before, this harmonica is made of metal and plastic is the designated choice for those who are just starting out. One complaint was that the plastic label easily peeled off, but most reviewers praised the harmonica for its beautiful sound. Since it is made out of a more sturdy material, it is one of the more expensive of the harmonicas on this list.
The Hohner Marine Band Harmonica in the Key of C is claimed to be one of the world’s most recognizable harmonicas. The Marine Band Harmonica is known for its rich tone comb that is made from wood. The wood comb makes this harmonica produce a more natural sound, but be careful not to get it wet. The wooden comb would be damaged. To be more specific, the comb is made out of pearwood.
Some famous players of this type of harmonica would appear to be John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen. This harmonica also comes with its own carrying case. The Marine Band Harmonica is also of German origin and is made with a lot of top quality materials. This fact makes this harmonica one of the pricier ones as well.
Some reviewers have stated that this particular harmonica is harder to clean than others. Others have also recommended that beginners stay away from this harmonica and go for a plastic version. Their reasoning was of the comfort value. Though experts, are often pointed towards the metals.