Harmonica Buyer’s Guide

Harmonica! Harp! Tin Sandwich! Whatever you call them, they are a great instrument — extremely portable, affordable, and a hoot to play!

Are you ready to start your harmonica lessons at Boise Music Lessons? Or perhaps you’re looking to add a new instrument to your music corner, or give a harmonica as a gift? No matter the reason, we think adding more music into your life is always a good thing, and we’re happy to help you find the perfect instrument! Read on for our curated list of harmonica recommendations.*

Harmonica Styles

There are a few styles of harmonica out there but diatonic and chromatic are the most common in our musical culture.

Diatonic: This is the most common style for modern music (blues, rock, country, pop). This instrument was build to play chords and melody within a single key signature (key of C, key of G…) therefore, they are made in all 12 keys. This is the style of harmonica we teach in our studio.

Chromatic: Is able to play in any key with a single harmonica. It usually comes with a button on the side that slides a plate over the mouth piece to allow more notes to be played. This harmonica can be used for a variety of musical styles but is less common than the diatonic harmonica.

Harmonica Brands and Models

There are a number of reputable companies making quality harmonicas these days. We suggest a few diatonic (blues/rock/pop style) harps below, made to produce that classic “bluesy” sound. We encourage you to start your harmonica collection with the key of C and build from there.

We have found the sweet spot for well built instrument to be between $35-65. That said, there are incredibly well made instruments above that price point. If you would like to explore this grade of instrument, please feel free to give us a shout and we’ll help you narrow down a few higher ends models.

Honer: “Special 20” and the more affordable “Blues Band”. If you want to produce clear single notes, try the “Golden Melody”.

Lee Oskar: “Major Diatonic ” has fantastic playability, and beginners seem to enjoy the ease of bending notes with this harmonica.

Suzuki: “Bluesmaster” or “Harpmaster” are a terrific instruments for the price/quality ratio.

Johnson: “BK-520” You can usually find these for under $10 — score! They won’t give you the fit and finish of the other harmonicas we listed here, but they are an affordable solution to get the beginner player going.

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