Best Harmonicas

Review & Comparison, Last Update April 6, 2018
Itching to express your soul through music but can't settle on an instrument? Why not try a classic diatonic harmonica, respected for its bluesy and unique sound? We've picked out 5 amazing instruments that will surely get your heart singing. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Suitable For
Type
Key
Reeds
Extras
Warranty
 
PROS

The reed plates are recessed into the comb and will thus serve you much longer than usual ones. They also make sure that the instrument doesn't go out of tune for a long time, and they're easier to play. 

CONS

The storage case is somewhat flimsy.

OUR VERDICT

If you want a little more bang for your buck, you can't go wrong with the Hohner pack. Not only will you get the widely renowned Hohner Special 20 but also a necklace with a mini-harmonica and a storage case. This is an instrument of the highest quality, recommended by professional musicians and music teachers everywhere. We can safely recommend it to both amateurs and those with some skill under their back.

detailed parameters
Suitable For

Beginners, Experienced Users

Type

Diatonic (10 holes)

Key

C

Reeds

Brass

Extras

Recessed reed plates, plastic comb, mini-harmonica necklace, storage case and polishing cloth included

Warranty

3 months

PROS

You'll need to blow with far less force to get sounds out of this model, which is vital for those that are just learning to play.

CONS

While the replaceable reeds are a nice touch, they are still kind of pricey.

OUR VERDICT

The Lee Oskar brand is famed for how durable and well-made their instruments are and this model is no exception. Its bright and loud sounds make it a perfect fit for blues, rock, and country music. So if you want to unleash your inner cowboy or rockstar, give the Lee Oskar C Major harmonica a try.

detailed parameters
Suitable For

Beginners, Experienced Users

Type

Diatonic (10 holes)

Key

C

Reeds

Brass

Extras

Plastic comb, storage case and cloth included

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

PROS

The slide moves smoothly and won't distract you from playing. It requires no maintenance or lubrication thanks to a special spring mechanism.

CONS

You'll need some time to get used to the metal comb.

OUR VERDICT

The Swan SW1040 is an instrument for true professionals that aren't afraid to experiment by taking their music in a new direction. We only recommend this model to those that have already mastered diatonic harmonicas and want a next-level experience. Perfect for jazz improvisations and complicated harmonies.

detailed parameters
Suitable For

Experienced Users, Professional Musicians

Type

Chromatic (10 holes)

Key

C

Reeds

Phosphor bronze

Extras

Metal comb, storage case and cloth included

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

PROS

The comb is made out of special ABS resin, which is easy to clean, pleasant to the touch, and not too rough for your comfort.

CONS

The stainless steel top cover gets scratched rather easily.

OUR VERDICT

A pocket-sized harmonica that you can carry with you anywhere, the Mugig MK-2 will prove to be a trusty companion for a traveling musician or a beginner that wants to take every free minute to learn new melodies. It's comfortable to play thanks to the ABS resin comb and is thus easier on the lips. Tired of metal models leaving you with chapped lips? Try the soft and reliable Mugig MK-2 instead.

detailed parameters
Suitable For

Beginners, Experienced Users

Type

Diatonic (10 holes)

Key

C

Reeds

Phosphor bronze

Extras

ABS resin comb, storage case and cloth included

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

PROS

The instrument has special air holes that help it dry after being played. This prevents bacteria from spreading and keeps the harmonica clean.

CONS

The instrument gets a bit off-key after a while.

OUR VERDICT

This is the model for absolute beginners, even those that know nothing about music. Made by Fender, it's sleek and stylish, though we're not too thrilled with its durability. We'd recommend buying this if you're working on a budget and only need a starter instrument to learn the basics or want a quick replacement for your regular harmonica.

detailed parameters
Suitable For

Beginners, Experienced Users

Type

Diatonic (10 holes)

Key

C

Reeds

Brass

Extras

ABS plastic comb, storage case and cloth included

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

HOHNER 560PBX-C

German Quality At a Reasonable Price

Musicians know how important a good instrument can be when you’re trying to get a clear and bright sound. That’s exactly why we can wholeheartedly recommend the Hohner Special 20, a model that will allow you to do just that. Since it was built in Germany, the model features the renowned German quality but in your hands, this instrument will sing with a true American soul.

The 20 brass reeds and their plates are recessed into the plastic comb, both to enhance the user’s comfort while playing and to seal the harmonica properly. You’ll be completely safe from air leaks that tend to occur in low-grade ABS models and ruin the instrument’s sound. Plus, the plastic mouthpiece is softer than the metal ones and easy on the lips. And, of course, it requires much less maintenance.

We do have one complaint, though it's not strictly about the instrument. The free storage case that comes with it is pretty flimsy and won't be of much use if you accidentally drop the Hohner harmonica. You might be better off buying one separately, preferably a much tougher one at that.

With all of the above, you can clearly see why the Hohner Special 20 is one of the most popular diatonic harmonicas out there and what makes it stand out from the rest. Sure, the free necklace that you get with the real instrument is nice, but the true advantages lie in the airtight sealing of the harmonica and its high-quality brass reeds with a special design. Whether you’re honing your skills or just starting out, the Hohner Special 20 will prove to be a trusty partner on your musical journey.

Review of HOHNER 560PBX-C Special 20 Harmonica, 10 Holes Major C

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Lee Oskar 1910-C

Larger Holes for Easier Playing

Harmonicas are usually depicted as an instrument for playing sad music, songs about broken hearts and such. However, if you want to create upbeat tunes, you should turn to the Lee Oskar Major, tuned slightly over to the bright sound, which is perfect for rock and folk songs that are more on the energetic side.

It’s a classic-looking diatonic Lee Oskar harmonica, preserving the quality while bringing some innovations in terms of design. The plastic comb is sealed to be completely airtight, which is vital to keeping the sound clean. We find this to be a good choice for beginners as the brass reeds in the instrument are quite responsive and all 10 holes are larger than usual. This makes long playing sessions easier on your lips and doesn’t strain your diaphragm too much. You won’t get chapped lips after spending hours practicing a new tune, all thanks to the bigger holes.

While the brass reeds in the Lee Oskar Major are very durable, they are bound to wear out eventually, be it in 10 years or 20. When that happens, you won’t have to buy a new instrument, just get a new reed plate at half the cost and revive your favorite harmonica.

Overall, the Lee Oskar Major will be a solid choice for experienced players and a great one for beginners. The large holes make it easy to play and the airtight comb guarantees that the quality of your music will depend solely on your skills.

Review of Lee Oskar 1910-C Harmonica, Key of C, Major Diatonic

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Swan SW1040

A True Gem for Skilled Musicians

Wanna take your sound to the next level, try your hand at some cool improvisations or diversify the kind of tunes you can play? Well, if you think you’re up to the task, take a look at SWAN SW1040, a mouth organ aimed at skilled players and true professionals of the art. With just this one small instrument, you can lay out groovy blues and rock, pluck at the heartstrings of your audience with country and folk tunes, or get really out there by jamming a jazz medley that will take the listener on a trip.

This chromatic harmonica is a standard 10-hole model tuned to a C major key, familiar to anybody that has a little experience with the instrument. However, the phosphor bronze reeds are a nice change of pace as most musicians feel that they are more durable than the brass ones, topped only by stainless steel reeds, which, frankly, cost an arm and a leg and are hard to justify unless you’re a professional playing in a successful band.

You should also know that the SWAN SW1040 has a cross-tuned slide that’s best for lower octaves and a bit easier to master than a straight-tuned one. However, the same can’t be said about the metal comb, which may take some getting used to if you’ve played plastic ones before. Plus, it’s a bit tougher on the lips, so you might want to take it easy with the first few sets on this instrument. Give your mouth a chance to get used to the rougher surface and make sure to use the free polish cloth as often as possible to keep the metal clean and safe to use.

With all that said, you can see for yourself if the SWAN SW1040 is right for you. Unafraid of a little challenge and feel that you have enough skill to play a chromatic instrument? Then we can definitely recommend this model, thanks to its classic features and modern high quality.

Review of Swan SW1040 Harmonica in C Key 10 Holes 40 Tone, Chromatics

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Mugig MK-2

A Harmonica That You Can Rely On

When you play the harmonica a lot, your lips can get tired pretty fast, especially if it’s a metal-comb one. That’s why a model like Mugig MK-2 stands out thanks to its ABS resin comb that is soft to the touch and comfortable to use. The resin is easy to wash and you can easily keep in good condition, so the instrument will serve you longer than a regular one.

Further raising the durability of the Mugig MK-2 are the phosphor bronze reeds, made to last for years and more reliable than the regular brass ones. With that said, this may just be the best harmonica for those that only buy long-lasting products as it’s guaranteed to be there with you through practice, extensive touring, and even the loudest concerts.

Of course, the model isn't perfect and it does include a shortcoming or two, like the fact that the stainless steel casing of the instrument scratches really easily and, if you aren’t extremely careful with it, the harmonica will soon look like you’ve been using it for years. Sure, appearances aren’t that important as long as the sound is good, but if we’re paying for a steel body, we’d like it to be a high-quality one.

That said, we’re still quite happy with the sound quality of this tiny instrument and the free plastic storage case is a nice bonus, of course. If you’re not too concerned with how cool your harmonica looks, the Mugig MK-2 is a solid choice. The diatonic instrument will fit easily into your pocket so you’ll have the opportunity to bust out a nice tune whenever you feel like it.

Review of Mugig MK-2 Diatonic Harmonica in C Key 10 Hole 20 Tone

 

Fender 990701001

Affordable Harmonica for Beginners

So, you want to play the harmonica but have never tried it and don’t feel like spending a ton on an instrument that you’re unfamiliar with? Well, don’t fret because the Fender harmonica 990701001 is a great choice for you!

This is a pretty classic diatonic model with 10 holes and a standard C major key, which will suit both amateurs and more experienced players. However, since it’s made by Fender, the instrument does stand out with a flashy design. The chromed metal cover is shiny and sleek and will stay that way as long as you use the free polishing cloth that comes with the purchase.

Meanwhile, the inside of the harmonica is pretty good as well, with brass reeds and an ABS plastic comb providing a reliable foundation. Although brass isn’t our top choice of material for reeds, it’s still a solid one. But when the materials are less than great, the instrument likely won’t last for years to come, where a high-end model just might. That became evident when we did some research and saw that the Fender 990701001 tends to go off-key after about 6-8 months of play. Of course, the low price of the instrument means that you can easily replace it.

To sum up, we wouldn’t recommend the Fender harmonica to a skilled musician or someone that needs an instrument for extensive touring. But if you’re just starting out or need a quick replacement harmonica for a few concerts, this is a perfect choice. It’s good enough to last a couple of months and the sound quality is up to par with the more expensive models.

Review of Fender 990701001 Blues Deluxe Harmonica, Key of C

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

What Is a Harmonica?

Harmonicas may not look like much but the compact case sure packs a real musical punch. If you like classic rock, blues, or jazz, you’ve likely already heard hours of soulful tunes played on this tiny instrument. Using only your mouth, you can create a heart-wrenching blues ballad or an upbeat song to dance to on St. Patrick’s Day. The versatile instrument is made up of a comb (named so for its similarity to, well, a hair comb) and reeds, which seems pretty simple. But, depending on the materials used and the diameter of the holes you blow into and the harmonica types, the sound you end up with will be strikingly different with each model. From a tear-inducing southern love ballad to smoky riffs for jazz virtuosos, the harmonica has been a staple of true American music for decades. So if you want to play it, respect the craft and choose the best instrument you can find. And, of course, we’ll be right here to guide you through it.

And if you want to add some groovy rock to your sound, try out an electric guitar. On the other hand, if you’re into experimental music, maybe mash up your harmonica with a music keyboard to see what kind of style you can create?

Sources:

1. Harmonica, Wikipedia. March 25, 2018.

2. Heidi Raschke Why Playing Harmonica Can Be Good for Your Health, Next Avenue. November 10, 2016.

3. Deepak B. Modgekar 9 NOTEWORTHY HEALTH BENEFITS OF PLAYING THE HARMONICA, LinkedIn. September 13, 2017.

4. Winslow Yerxa Harmonica For Dummies Cheat Sheet, dummies.

5. Laura Kelly New therapy uses blues harmonica music to strengthen lungs, mouth, Washington Times. March 27, 2017.

Other reviews
Publish Date: 2018-04-06 12:33:43