Best Harmonica Reviews 2018

The harmonica, otherwise known as the French harp or mouth organ, may appear small, but it produces beautiful and soul-stirring music when blown. Harmonicas are usually tuned in a variety of keys, and different ones are used to play different genres of music. Since they are not as popular as other musical instruments, like the guitar or drums, we know that some people may encounter difficulty in making the right choice. We have come up with a list of five top brands, and we have selected one product to feature from each of these brands. This review will help you make the right choice. But do note that these brands have other harmonicas apart from those featured here.
Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Type
Size
Material
Holes
Key
Our Top Choice
Hohner Marine Band 1896 Classic Harmonica
Though interaction with music lovers, Hohner has been making top-notch musical instruments since 1857. It's committed to helping people find the joy of creating music.
It's solidly built with a stainless steel cover. It has a double-coated pear wood comb that prevents swelling, and is full-toned with side vents.
It is difficult to open for cleaning or tuning
Diatonic
5 x 1 x 1.5 inches; 0.2 lbs
Stainless steel
10 holes
C
Best Value
Major Diatonic Harmonica
Since 1983, Lee Oskar has produced harmonicas that are noted worldwide for high quality. The company offers harmonicas in varieties of tunings, with additional accessories.
It has rust-proof stainless steel cover plates made for optimum sound and tone, equal tuning by octaves for very clear single-note leads, and replacement reed plates.
None reported
Major diatonic
7 x 4 x 4 inches; 0.05 lbs
Info NOT provided
10 holes
Available in 4 Keys
Suzuki Tremolo Chromatic Harmonica
Since 1953, Suzuki Musical Instruments has been making high-quality harmonicas. With improved technology, they can now be deemed the most technically advanced harmonicas in the world.
It’s beautifully designed, easy to play, and has an ABS-plastic comb for minimal air intake and higher responsiveness.
It’s difficult to open and re-assemble, which makes it hard to clean or replace parts, and it doesn’t have replacement reeds for tremolo.
Chromatic
9 x 5 x 5 inches; 1.3 lbs
Plastic resin body
16 holes
C-D4
SEYDEL SAXONY Harmonica
C.A.Seydel Söhne has been making high-quality precision harmonicas since 1847. It has one of the world's biggest harmonica manufacturing factories, in Saxony, Germany.
It produces a loud sound and full tone response. It has an improved slider that maximizes air tightness, comes with reliable valving and a long lasting stable pitch.
None reported
Saxony chromatic
7.6 x 3.5 x 1.9 inches; 0.8 lbs
Aluminum comb
12 holes
Available in G or C
Swan 24 Hole Octave-Tuned Harmonica
Swan was established in 1982, and its specialty is medium- to high-grade harmonicas. It won an award as China’s best brand in 2004.
It has a versatile and uncomplicated design, a well-built reed plate and plastic comb, vibrant range and high volume, and can be used by both beginners and pros.
None reported
Octave harmonica
7.1 x 0.8 x 1.6 inches; 0.3 lbs
Stainless steel cover plate
24 holes
C

(Updated )
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Watch Our Harmonica Review

How Do I Choose the Best Harmonica?

Jamming has always been an important part of growing with music. By having unregulated music sessions where people are free to play how they like, it becomes easier to find out what kind of musician you are. This is what a few students found. To put it into practice, they decided that they would meet every day whenever they were free and have a jam session. All of them also agreed to play a different instrument each time, with no one spending all their time on any one instrument.

Doing this, most of them came to find instruments they were good at or enjoyed the most. However, one of them could not settle into any particular instrument. He went through everything they had: Bongo drums, the acoustic guitar, the trumpet, accordion, tambourine, and more, but he could never settle for one. One day, a friend of his played a jazz recording, where in the middle of the song, all of the music stopped and someone took an instrumental solo. The solo was wonderful; it was deep and mournful, with a lot of range and class. He couldn’t believe his ears. After a little research on his phone, he was stunned to discover that all of that was done using this small, inconspicuous instrument called the harmonica. He just had to have it.

A harmonica is a powerful instrument. Its strength, acoustic capability, and range are not indicated by its size. It is designed to be able to play a wide range of notes and scales that make it an incredible, yet portable choice for jazz, classical music, folk, blues, and even more contemporary music.

For the musician interested in this wonderful instrument, it is important to know how to get the best harmonica for you. There are certain factors that have to be considered for you to get the right piece. To make it easier for you, we have written this guide to help.
Price
An important factor to consider when purchasing a harmonica is its price. We conducted research and found that the price of a harmonica is based on such factors as the brand, the type, and the size, among other things. We also found that the price of a good harmonica can range anywhere from $15 to upwards of $1000. The more features you want, the more you should be ready to pay. There are harmonicas priced lower than this price range, but these cheap harmonicas are not usually of the best quality and will likely turn out to be big disappointments when it is time to play. You would do well to stay away from them.
Features
The most effective way to discover the best harmonica for you is to consider the features. These features vary between harmonicas and determine how suitable a particular one is to you. Here are some important features to look out for:
  • Types
  • Level of Play
  • Key
  • Size
  • Material
  • Holes
  • Replaceable Reeds
  • Carrying Case
Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of these features.
Construction and Design
There are several types of harmonicas. There is the diatonic harmonica, which is key specific. A diatonic harmonica can only play one key. A basic ten-hole diatonic harmonica is the best choice for a beginner. The tremolo is similar, but has two sets of reeds per note where the diatonic usually has single reeds per note. Each of the two reeds in the set is tuned slightly differently to each other. The effect from these two slightly differently tuned reeds is what gives it its distinct sound. The chromatic is a slightly more complex harmonica, which is capable of playing semi-tones. With this kind of harmonica and with appropriate skill, a player can play any key. This last type of harmonica is best suited for the most skilled players. There are other less popular types of harmonicas, but they are usually variants of these three.

A harmonica can come in a variety of keys. This is especially true of the diatonic harmonica. The key a harmonica is pre-tuned to determines the music the harmonica can play. The most common key a basic harmonica will come in is the key of C. Once again, depending on your needs and skill level, you can either go for a single-key harmonica for easier but restrictive play or you can go for one that can play on all keys for a more skill-demanding and unrestrictive play.

While harmonicas are always portable, the size of a harmonica is still very important and must be considered. Though the size of a harmonica does not necessarily denote its acoustic ability, it could surely be an indication of its range as a 10-hole piece is not likely to be the same size as a 16-hole piece. The size of a harmonica can also determine how easy it is for the user to play in terms of hole spacing and handling. The size must also be considered in terms of how it fits the person playing it. There are people who will enjoy the feel and weight of a big harmonica, while some will prefer a smaller version.

A harmonica can be made from a combination of wood, plastic, and metal. The type of material will determine such things as the harmonica’s resistance to corrosion, its resilience to wear and tear from frequent use, and the endurance of its sound despite all of these. It is important to get a harmonica that you trust well enough to fulfill all of this.

The harmonica holes are important. These holes are the part through which the harmonica is controlled and operated. The number of holes varies from one harmonica to the other, with a standard diatonic harmonica having ten holes. Other harmonicas can have twelve or more holes at a time. As we’ve stated previously, the number of holes/reeds present in a harmonica will be indicative of its range.
Performance and Ease of Use
The reeds are an important part of the harmonica as they produce the sound you hear. This means that they are always in use, leading to the likelihood of frequent damage. For some harmonicas this can mean the end as they cannot be repaired or replaced. This is not true for all harmonicas, though. In some cases, you can replace the reeds with another set. A harmonica with replaceable reeds surely offers more options and is likely to last longer.

Harmonicas are often very small and can be easily carried around by the user in a pocket or even in the hand. This is very convenient, but is not always the safest for the harmonica. To assure its absolute safety, some producers provide an appropriate box to keep the harmonica in, so it can be transported safely.

What is the Best Harmonica?

When buying a harmonica, there are many things to consider. What material is the comb made of? Is it wood, metal, or plastic? Now that you have read through our buying guide, we believe you are well-informed about the right things to look for. When you consider these factors and determine what would work well for you, the following individual product/brand reviews will make your selection process easier.
Our Top Choice
The Hohner Marine Band Harmonica is sturdy, has side vents and is already tuned to the key of C. It has a double-coated pear wood comb that prevents swelling. If you want a high-end harmonica and don’t mind paying more, check out the Hohner John Lennon Signature Series Harmonica.
Hohner Marine Band Harmonica - Key of C

Hohner Harmonica 1896BX-C


Features
Hohner has been making musical instruments since 1857 and is recognized worldwide. Its philosophy and guiding principle is to give people the pleasure of experiencing one of the highest forms of human expression: making music. Through interaction with both professional and amateur musicians, its customers and the use of technology, it has consistently produced top-quality instruments to meet the needs of a wide range of music lovers.

The Hohner Marine Band Harmonica is the primary blues harmonica. It is still made exactly as it was when it was first launched in 1896. The distinctive resonance has determined the place of the harmonica in the blues tradition and made it the yardstick for others. The Hohner Marine Band Harmonica ($39.49) has a number of features that make it a classic:
  • It is solidly built for longevity
  • Stainless steel cover
  • Side vents to allow tonal variations
  • Double-coated pear wood comb that prevents swelling
  • Tuned to the key of C
  • Full-toned
Best Value
The Lee Oskar Major Diatonic Harmonica is designed with a plastic comb, to prevent swelling that injures the user. The wide chambers and narrow dividers of the reed plates make for faster and easier playing. If you are interested in a memorial model, try the Lee Oskar Harmonica, Key of C, 30th Anniversary Model.
Lee Oskar Harmonica with an Instrument Store Harmonica Pouch – Available in 4 Keys

Brand2 Harmonica Lee Oskar -1910-D-wPouch – Key of D


Features
Lee Oskar harmonicas were born out of Lee's dissatisfaction with the designs of mouth harps of his day. He made his first harmonica in Japan in 1983 and included the quality and consistency that he desired. The design had the advantage of Lee's years of experience as a veteran recording and itinerant musician. This brand has harmonicas in varieties of tunings that come with replacement reed plates, tool kits, instruction books and other related products. Lee Oskar harmonicas are noted worldwide for high quality and good value for money.

The Lee Oskar Major Diatonic Harmonica ($37.99) has an innovative design that serves both amateurs and professionals. At the heart of this design is an even plastic comb that doesn't swell like traditional wood combs. Along with being easier to keep clean, the plastic comb is resistant to the swelling that occurs in other harmonica wood combs that can tear up the player's lips. You don’t need to throw away a harmonica just because a reed or two are bad. Replacement reed plates are available for every model in the Lee Oskar harmonica list. Setting them up is easy, since they are attached to the comb with just three self-holding screws. The wide chambers and narrow dividers of the reed plates make for faster and easier playing. To prevent the leakage of air, the reed plate is secured into a fitted built-in bed that also gives it more volume. This harmonica has other wonderful features that enhance its output:
  • Rust-proof stainless steel cover plates made for optimum sound and tone
  • Tuned to 441-plus hertz for better and lighter sound
  • Equal tuning by octaves for very clear single-note leads
  • Color-coded box that shows the series and key for easy identification t
  • Replacement reed plates
  • Three self-holding screws for installation
  • Reed plates with wide chambers and narrow dividers for faster and easier playing
  • Easy-to-clean design
The Suzuki Tremolo Chromatic Harmonica is beautifully designed, with precision handmade parts and a 64-note potential. It has four full octaves that provide a wide range for any music. If this doesn’t fit your budget, consider the much more affordable Suzuki Promaster Hammond.
Suzuki Tremolo Chromatic Professional 16-Hole Harmonica

Suzuki Harmonica SCT-128


Features
Suzuki Musical Instruments was established in 1953. A lot of people don’t know that the first thing it produced was a harmonica. Through the years, it has improved so much as to create harmonicas that can be deemed the most technically advanced ones in the world.

The highly innovative Suzuki Tremolo Chromatic Harmonica ($1,999.99) shows a quantum leap in the manufacture of harmonicas by Suzuki. This design is a culmination of technological breakthrough and experience in the making of harmonicas. It has a distinctive and beautiful shape that is very appealing. Because of the exactness of the handmade parts and limited production, it is rare and not many people use it.

The combination of a high-quality chromatic harmonica with slider and a distinctive tremolo sound creates an exceptional effect. Avid players will enjoy the four full octaves, because they provide a wide range to play any music. Below are some other features that make this product a delight:
  • Beautiful chrome-plated brass covers
  • Gold-plated brass mouthpiece
  • 64-note potential and 128 reeds for easier music composition
  • ABS-plastic comb designed to minimize the use of air and make it very responsive and easy to play
  • Easy-to-play design
  • Phosphor bronze reeds, and a plastic resin body for durability
  • Main reeds are tuned to around A=444/445t
The Seydel Saxony Harmonica is made with stainless steel reeds that produce loud sound, and has a fast tone response. The improved slider package design maximizes air tightness. The SEYDEL Blues 1847 Harmonica C Noble may appeal to you if you are on a lower budget and don’t mind fewer features.
SEYDEL Chromatic SAXONY Harmonica Orchestra C Matte Chrome

SEYDEL Harmonica Chrom SAXONY ORCHE C / Matt


Features
On October 27th, 1847, Christian August Seydel registered a company in Saxony, Germany, that would grow to become one of the world's biggest harmonica factories. Today it is known as C.A. Seydel Söhne (C.A. Seydel and Sons) and has a reputation for making precision, high-quality harmonicas.

The Seydel Saxony Harmonica ($394.90) is a specialized chromatic harmonica with outstanding playing features. It's made with stainless steel reeds that date as far back as 1847 and with the enduring exactness of the details of the Renaissance Chromatic harmonica. All the parts were reconsidered and advanced to meet the high demand of specialized use. The features are well-thought-out and improved to meet professional standards. Here are some of them:
  • Stainless steel reeds that produce full, loud sound and fast tone response
  • Improved slider package design that maximizes air tightness
  • Matte cover plate surface that moves easily when played, so it doesn’t injure the lips
  • Aluminum comb that maximizes perfect tone response
  • Cover plates that are opened wide at the back and tucked in to make room for the overtone-rich sound to swell undeterred
  • 12 holes that are well spaced from each other to prevent air leakage
  • Long-lasting stable pitch
  • Reliable valving, which is a new wind saver component
  • Mouthpiece with round opening
The Swan 24 Hole Octave-Tuned Harmonica comes in a beautiful trim design, 18 centimeters in length. It has a versatile and uncomplicated design and can be used by players of any level of proficiency. If you want a harmonica with more features, check out the Swan 16 Hole 64 Chromatic Harmonica.
Swan 24 Hole Octave-Tuned Harmonica in Key of C

Swan Harmonica W24H8


Features
Swan was founded in 1982. Its specialty is medium- to high-grade harmonicas. The company's main brands are the "Swan" and "Swallow." Because of its quality products, it has enjoyed high patronage worldwide. In 2004, the company was chosen as China's best brand because of its policy of quality after-sales service and giving customers good value for their money.

The Swan 24 Hole Octave-Tuned Harmonica ($15.99) comes in a beautiful trim design 18 centimeters in length. It has a versatile and uncomplicated design that can be used by players of any level of proficiency. With 24 holes, it is already tuned to the key of C. It has a stainless steel cover plate, a well-built reed plate and a plastic comb. Another good quality is its vibrant range and high volume.

Swan has a number of other similar products:
  • HSSOT Harmonica Key of C, 24 Double Holes with 48 Reeds, Black -- Comes in a leather package, has 24 double holes with 48 reeds and tuned to the key of C
  • SWAN Harmonica in C Key 10 Holes 40 Tone Mouth Organ Stainless Steel Chromatics Harmonica SW1040 -- Made with a long-lasting plastic body, it has 40 tones for a wide range of music
  • Swan, 16 Holes 64 Sounds, Chromatic Harmonica, Key of C, Golden-Plated, Laser Etching, W1664h1 -- Has plastic comb and brass reed plate
  • Swan 16 Hole 64 Chromatic Harmonica, Laser Imitation Gold Square -- Made with gold metal plate and tuned to the Key of C
  • Swan, 24 Holes Harmonica, Tremolo, Key of C, W24h4 -- Body is made of plastic and has stainless steel cover plate

Get the Best Harmonica of 2018!

Now that you have read this review, we hope the information provided will help you make the right choice. Go ahead and order that harmonica to help you create great music.

Our Top Choice
Hohner Marine Band 1896 Classic Harmonica
Best Value
Major Diatonic Harmonica
Suzuki Tremolo Chromatic Harmonica
SEYDEL SAXONY Harmonica
Swan 24 Hole Octave-Tuned Harmonica