Best Harmonica | Mouth Organ
Top 6 Best Harmonica in India | Jun 2021
Reviews, Comparison and Buying Guide
What is a Harmonica?
The harmonica, also known as a French harp or mouth organ, is a free reed wind instrument used worldwide in many musical genres, notably in blues, American folk music, classical music, jazz, country, and rock.
Harmonica is much more than a mere toy; it can produce rich music that is impossible for many other instruments. It is easy to learn; no need to remember any fingerings etc., just remember that the notes ascend in certain way. Furthermore, it can play numerous intervals (two or more notes), which is difficult or impossible for many other wind instruments. It also works very well in the modern musical setting, where one needs to play most music through an amplifier or loudspeaker. A harmonica player can easily adapt to this by cupping a microphone and his harmonica in his hands, without sacrificing any other aspect of playing.
It is also very fundamental to the music of Blues – in order to acquire that soulful sound, unique in soul music and Blues, a harmonica is needed. Thus, most people expect a Blues band to have a harmonica player. However, the harmonica doesn’t just stop at the Blues, it also crosses many musical boundaries – the diatonic harmonica is frequently used for rock, country, folk music and Irish jigs and reels and the chromatic harmonica is often associated with Jazz music, and more recently, Classical music. The tremolo harmonica is often used for Japanese folk songs.
Learning the harmonica can improve your breathing, and thus, your health. By forcing you to breath out and in to play melody, the diaphragm muscle will get exercised a lot. This is why, especially in North America, a harmonica is sometimes given to people with breathing difficulties.
The harmonica is also a very portable instrument.
Best Harmonica | Buying Guide : Things to consider while buying a Harmonica
When it comes to easy playability, affordability and portability, it’s hard to beat a harmonica. Despite their modest size and cost, harmonicas are capable of producing an amazing array of tones, and this versatility is reflected in the music genres in which the mighty little mouth harp plays a part. From the more obvious categories such as blues, country, and rock to more surprising musical territory such as jazz and classical music, the harmonica with its often human-like voice easily fits in.
In this guide, we’ll look at the many types of harmonicas that are available and pinpoint those that make sense for beginners as well as harp players and other musicians looking to expand their repertoires.
Types of Harmonicas
Though there are a number of specialty harmonicas, the three most common varieties fall into one of three categories based on how they are tuned: diatonic, chromatic, and tremolo. We’ll focus mainly on these while touching on a few of the less common harmonica types.
The most common type of harmonica you’ll encounter in pop, blues and folk music—diatonic harmonicas are designed to play in a specific key. That said, overblowing and note-bending techniques plus playing in alternate “positions” makes it possible to play a diatonic in keys and modes other than its “official” key. A couple of players, Howard Levy and Carlos Del Junco, have developed an overblowing technique with which they play chromatically using a humble 10-hole diatonic harp.
Blues harp players usually perform in what’s called “cross harp” or “second position.” This involves playing a harmonica that’s tuned to a perfect fourth below the key the music’s written in. If a song is in the key of C, an F harmonica will be used. Most blues use the notes of a pentatonic scale, and playing a G-tuned harp gives you access to notes that complement the pentatonic C scale, especially on draw notes—those on which you inhale to produce those wailing “bent” notes that are a cornerstone of blues harp technique.
There are a number of other positions that skilled harp players use to mesh with other instruments and create various effects. Cupping your hands around the harp and using your tongue to block and unblock holes are some of the ways to create rhythmic chordal effects and tones. You’ll find numerous online resources as well as harmonica books and tutorials that explain these techniques in detail.
A diatonic harmonica’s simplicity makes it a great choice for the beginner. Most harmonica teachers recommend starting out with a 10-hole diatonic harmonica tuned to the key of C.
Most chromatic harmonicas have a button-activated lever that directs air to two separate reed plates that include all the notes in the 12-tone western scale. With sufficient skill, you can play just about any scale or mode using the chromatic’s “gear shift.”
The larger reeds in the chromatic are somewhat harder to bend and overblow than their diatonic counterparts. But thanks to their heft, the chromatic is capable of producing some very rich-sounding chords and effects.
Chromatic harmonicas are more difficult to play than diatonics. Therefore, we recommend beginning with a diatonic and stepping up when you’re ready to take on a more challenging instrument. Learning to first play in all positions on a diatonic will allow you to graduate more easily to a chromatic. Even though chromatics are nominally tuned to the key of C or G, in actuality, if you learn all the appropriate scales and positions, you can play virtually any music that uses the standard 12-tone scale.
Tremolo harmonicas, also sometimes referred to as “echo” harmonicas, produce their distinctive warbling sound through the use of two reeds per note, one tuned slightly sharp, the other slightly flat. The difference between the waveforms created by the paired reeds causes the beating effect that’s somewhat akin to the shimmering sound of a 12-string guitar that has paired strings tuned an octave apart.
Though far less common than the types we’ve already discussed, specialty harmonicas are popular for use in harmonica ensembles and orchestral settings. Here’s a brief overview:
These are usually large instruments that can produce up to 48 different chords and are typically laid out in blocks of four-note clusters. Each note usually has two reeds tuned an octave apart. Chord harmonicas provide rhythmic and melodic support in harmonica ensembles.
Also made to be played in harmonica ensembles, these come in various pitch ranges and note-layout arrangements. You’ll find both diatonic and chromatic models.
Top 6 Best Harmonica – [Updated and Highly Recommended]
Comparison Chart to make your purchase easy
The Fender Blues Deluxe harmonica is designed to be versatile for all levels of players. Its classic tone and pitch is made possible with a molded PVC comb and brass reeds. Traditional shape and chromed metal covers will make your harmonica comfortable and easy to play. Reed plates are also replaceable. Includes vented hard plastic case.
Features / Reviews
Molded PVC comb and brass reeds ensures classic tone and pitch
Traditional shape and chromed metal covers
Comfortable and easy to play
Reed plates are replaceable
10 Holes C tune blues harmonica Material- Copper, stainless steel, ABS and quality tamber Suitable for all harmonica enthusiasts and any beginner With an exquisite box and a cloth to keep it clean and safe Metal body and metal reeds
Features / Reviews
Metal body and metal reeds
10 Holes C tune blues
Comes with an exquisite box and a cloth to keep it clean
These very popular 24-hole harmonicas are serious instruments with a good reputation, from the world’s leading Harmonica Maker, Hohner. The 48-reed, 24-hole configuration gives a very wide range of over 3 octaves, and is very manageable at 7 long.
Features / Reviews
48-reed, 24-hole configuration gives a very wide range of over 3 octaves
Sound quality is Great
Fit and finish is Great
24 hole copper reed plate, performance harmonica with black plastic box. It is worth having for any beginner and all harmonica enthusiasts. Model Number: SW24-4 Pronunciation Method: Tremolo Material: Stainless Steel Cover, Copper Reed Plate, Resin Comb Color: Black k(comb), Silver (cover) Range: 24 holes with 48 tones Item Size: 17.8 x 3 x 2.4 cm/7 x 1.2 x 0.9in (L x W x H). Item weight: 103g/3.6oz. Package size: 18.8 x 4.3 x 3.2 cm/7.4 x 1.7 x 1.3 in (L x W x H). Package weight: 172g / 6.1oz. Package list: 1 Swan Harmonica (24 Holes 48 Tones, C Key) Black plastic box and cloth
Features / Reviews
Beautiful and quality tamber, metal body and metal reeds
Comes with Black plastic box and cloth
- This Harmonica has 24 Holes and a Total of 48 Tones with a Button Activated Slide Lever
- The Harmonica is a Fun, Simple Instrument Used in a Variety of Musical Styles, Ranging from Rock and Country to Blues and Folk.
- It is Crafted with Light Weight Construction Including Metal Covers, Brass Reed Plates and Plastic Comb.
100% Brand New This Harmonica has 24 Holes and a Total of 48 Tones with a Button Activated Slide Lever / Bar Used for Playing Semi-Tones (Sharps and Flats). Easy to Play. With this Harmonica, You Can Basically Play all the Common Songs & Hymns. This Harp Can be Used for Any Style, Including Celtic, Classical, Jazz, or Blues (Commonly in Third Position). This Chromatic Harmonica Has a Full, Rich and Beautiful Sound. It is in the Key of “C”. It Was Personally Selected for Its Good Quality and Durability. It is Crafted with Light Weight Construction Including Metal Covers, Brass Reed Plates and Plastic Comb. Features 8 inch (20 cm) Length, Metal Construction, Copper, 24 Holes in Double Row, Tower Pattern, Light Weight, etc. The Harmonica is a Fun, Simple Instrument Used in a Variety of Musical Styles, Ranging from Rock and Country to Blues and Folk. The Harmonica is Easy for a Beginner to Pick up and Make Sound with, and it has a Lot of Room for Virtuosity and Expert Playing as Well. Kids Will Have a Blast Decorating and Playing Their Own Musical Instruments. Perfect for Playing a Little Music Anywhere. Great for any Level Player. Now Gift Your Loved Ones. Ideal for Gift and B’day Presents Comes in It’s Original Box Specifications: Pattern: Tower Company Product Name: Mouth Organ Harmonica Main Material: Steel, Copper & Plastic ( High Quality ) Holes Quantity: (24×2 Rows = 48Holes) Overall Size : 20Cm(L) X 3.5Cm(W) X 2.8Cm(H) Package Include: 1 x Tower Mouth Organ Harmonica.
Features / Reviews
Professional Level rich sound
Can be Used for Any Style, Including Celtic, Classical, Jazz, or Blues
Light Weight Construction Including Metal Covers
- Bee Harmonica Mouth Organ has a very handy design and has a well-formed cover plate with dimensions 17x3x2 cm. It is suitable for someone with basic to the professional level. With a very affordable price this certainly a must-buy product if you are planning to buy one. The attractive appearance makes it an even more appealing mouth organ.
This mouth organ is made of long lasting material that makes it safe to play. It has a high reed response with outstanding dynamics that will ensure powerful and clear sound quality. It is also designed with a well formed cover plate for convenient handling. You can therefore grip it with utmost convenience. It has a slim design that can be carried easily without any hassle.
Features / Reviews
Number of chamber holes which allow you to blow air into the instrument to produce a melody
Slim design that can be carried easily
Benefits of Harmonica
Here are few of the benefits of playing Harmonica:
Host of health benefits
Playing the harmonica, or any other instrument for that matter has been known to have calming effects on the body and mind. In particular, the harmonica can improve blood pressure levels, as well as be used as a tool in therapies that deal with anxiety, stress, and depression. Other conditions that can be controlled using the harmonica include insomnia and attention deficit disorder.
Known to improve cognitive abilities
Musicians and harmonica players tend to outperform non-musical individuals when it comes to cognitive abilities. Learning how to play the harmonica can particularly be helpful for people that have advanced in age (65 and older) as it has been proven to have a positive impact on the parts of the brain that control hearing, memory, and coordination. Learning an instrument like the harmonica can also help to improve one’s IQ levels.
Enhance your memory
Both adult and young players can benefit from playing the harmonica because it allows the mind to remain active and alert, which ultimately shapes and sharpens one’s memory. When your memory is enhanced, it makes it a lot easier to do things like learning a foreign language, verbal memory, or store complex information.
Improves one’s time management capabilities
To learn how to play the harmonica professionally, one has to be well organized as well as have proper time management skills. Professional musicians have to learn how to use their time effectively, which leads to continuous self-improvement.
Does wonders for respiratory issues
It has been observed that the harmonica can have incredible benefits on respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis. Experts state that the main reason why the harmonica works well for such diseases is that it trains your body how to breathe properly. By inhaling and exhaling properly, it can improve your breathing abilities and lead to an increase in the way your lungs can take in and store oxygen.
Enhance your coordination
When learning how to play the harmonica, it actually trains the parts of your brain that controls motor skills to grow and become more active. Playing the harmonica also requires you to perform different tasks at the same time such as breathing properly as well as control your rhythm and breathing.
Improve your mathematical skills
In order to be considered a great harmonica player, you must also learn how to count different rhythms and notes, which goes a long way towards enhancing your musical abilities. The process of learning music theory also includes several mathematical concepts such as fractions that can be applied in real life mathematical situations.
Instills discipline and commitment
Although the harmonica is relatively easy to pick up, one still needs commitment and dedication to master it. Learning how to play the harmonica will take time and effort. However, along the way, it will also result in instilled discipline, commitment, and patience. As a matter of fact, a lot of beginner harmonica plays typically have to practice difficult sections over and over before finally executing it correctly.
Used as a stress reliever
When you play the harmonica, not only does doing so relieve other people’s stress levels but yours as well. The sound that is produced by the harmonica, as well as the vibration produced, can have lasting effects on stress and anxiety when endorphins are released by the body. Endorphins are the hormones responsible for low-stress levels.
Play it anywhere
The beauty of the harmonica is that it is portable, which means that you play it anywhere at any time. Should you have a spare moment, you can simply remove the harmonica from your pocket and start playing. In addition to it being portable, the harmonica is also quite affordable in comparison to other instruments like flutes and trumpets. This low cost and its portability make the harmonica one of the easiest instruments to take up.
Even though this article is meant to get you to know harmonicas a little better from the perspective of a beginner, I’ve featured some highly potent models too.
There’s no doubt that the harmonica is a wonderful instrument. It is also extremely portable and you can play it on your own, so you don’t need a band. Once you get your skills developed, you can play almost any popular track out there.
Hopefully this article made it clearer as to what you need to look for and what qualities make a harmonica the best for beginners. Now all you need to do is to grab one so you can play your blues!