How to Choose a Harmonica

By Contributor
Choose a Harmonica

How to Choose a Harmonica. There's a wide variety of harmonicas to choose from, so how to decide which one is best for you? This is largely a matter of personal preference, but a few tips may help you make a more educated decision.

Which Harmonica Is the Best?

Go to a music store that offers more than just one brand of harmonica to get a good selection.

Look for harmonica models that come in more than just one or two keys - commonly C and G for diatonic harmonicas.

Expect a price range between $25 and $40 for a decent diatonic harmonica. As a rule of thumb, you won't get a good harmonica for $5, but you don't have to pay more than $50, either.

Consider the most popular models among pros, such as (in no particular order) the Hohner Marine Band, Hohner Blues Harp, Lee Oskar Major Diatonic, Hering Blues, Hohner Golden Melody and Hohner Big River.

Should You Get a Wood, Metal or Plastic Comb?

Start with a plastic comb harmonica. Wood combs tend to swell up and to be less airtight and rougher on the lips than plastic or metal combs.

Consider the Lee Oskar Major Diatonic, Hohner Big River, Hohner Special 20 and Hering Blues (again, in no particular order).

Try different combs and/or different models for different keys and different types of music. That way, you'll find out which ones suit you best.

Which Keys Should You Get?

Choose the key depending on what kind of music you're going to play.

Get harmonicas in the keys of C, A, D and G first - the keys for cross-harp playing with guitarists who like the keys of G, E, A and D.

Get harmonicas later in the keys of F and Bb.

Obtain, finally, the keys of E, B, Eb, Ab and Gb/F-sharp.

Have all 12 keys eventually so you can play with any song regardless of key.