Choose the best harmonica to begin your music playing career. These small instruments are some of the easiest to pick up and learn to play. Although they are particularly associated with blues and bluegrass music, the harmonica can enhance any genre. There are many harmonica players in the world across a number of genres and styles.
Whether you need a harmonica for beginners or if you are an experienced harmonica player, you should consider the following list of our picks for the top ten best harmonicas around. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide at the end of the article to help you choose between the ten products. And, if you want to learn about another unique wind instrument, check out our article on the melodica here.
Top 10 Best Harmonicas In 2020 Reviews
1 Suzuki Harmonica Ha-20-C
Suzuki was founded in 1953, and their first ever instrument for sale was the harmonica. Suzuki Musical Instruments has branched out into a number of other beginner instruments since that time. Today, the company makes pianos, recorders, tonechimes, chimettes, Orff instruments, among many others. A Suzuki beginner piano appears in our review here. If you are a beginner musician or are planning on teaching children, you need to consider a Suzuki instrument.
But, that’s not all . . .
Since the harmonica was Suzuki’s first ever instrument, it makes sense that their harmonicas would be of the highest quality. And, the HA-20-C does not disappoint. Suzuki’s HA-20 series of harmonica is small enough to fit in your pocket, but it still produces a big sound.
You can find this harmonica in fourteen different keys. So, you can purchase an array of the HA-20. Or, just find the key that will work for your music. Our choice for the best harmonica is the HA-20-C, or the HA-20 model of Suzuki harmonica that plays in the key of C. Your purchase of the HA-20-C includes a hard shell carrying case.
2 Hohner Case Of Special 20s Harmonica 5-Pack
Hohner made a name for themselves by producing accordions. In fact, they were founded by Matthias Hohner in 1857. They quickly became a world leader in the production of accordions, and then harmonicas as well. The German brand claims that their instruments greatly influenced the development of blues and jazz in the United States. Through their passion for musical instruments and traditions, Hohner has changed with the times and still produces the quality instruments that made them famous over a hundred years ago. You can learn more about Hohner in our Melodica review article.
Plus . . .
Hohner’s Case of Special 20s Harmonica 5-pack is a great deal. It comes as a five pack, which means you get five harmonicas for a greatly reduced price. The keys of the included harmonicas are G, A, C, D, and E. The covers on the harmonicas are high-quality stainless steel. And, a recessed .9 mm brass red plates scream a serious harmonica player.
The harmonicas also come with a zippered Neoprene harmonica holder. Plus, the case will hold up to seven standard size harmonicas. So, serious harmonica players can keep on collecting their Hohner harmonicas.
3 Suzuki Humming Tremolo-21-C Harmonica
Suzuki is known for their world class harmonicas. The brand has been making harmonicas since they were founded in 1953. In fact, the little wind instrument was the first that the company ever produced. Today, Suzuki Musical Instruments make dozens of high-quality beginner, intermediate, and advanced musical instruments. Ask anyone around the world about Suzuki and they will recognize the name.
However . . .
Name recognition is not the only reason to purchase a Suzuki harmonica. Their Humming Tremolo-21-C Harmonica illustrates the best the company has to offer. It has a wonderful natural tremolo. The tremolo effect is an essential part of the harmonica repertoire. So, including the Tremolo-21-C in your arsenal is a must.
Also, Suzuki makes their Tremolo-21-C in the key of C. This means that you will be able to play with a variety of other instruments. The harpsichord itself is double-holed and has double reeds. Thus, it has a very rich and full sound. Harmonica songs that are part of either the gospel or old world music traditions will work especially well with the Suzuki Humming Tremolo-21-C Harmonica.
4 Lee Oskar Harmonica
Lee Oskar is one of the best harmonica players in the world. He is one of the founding members and the lead harmonica player of WAR, a funk/jazz group. He has been a top harmonica player since the 1960s. And so, you know that he knows a good harmonica. Oskar founded Lee Oskar Harmonicas in the 1980s in collaboration with Tombo Manufacturing of Japan. Tombo had been making high-quality harmonicas since 1917. Together the partnership has produced some of the best harmonicas available anywhere.
Keep reading . . .
Although Lee Oskar Harmonicas are known for their stellar quality, they are still a good harmonica for beginners. The Harmonica in the Key of C has large holes and a plastic comb. This makes the instrument much easier to play than other harmonicas.
Additionally, the design is air tight and the reeds are extremely responsive. This results in a very loud and impressive tone from the Lee Oskar harmonica. If you want a harmonica to play rock songs, then this is the product for you.
5 Swan Harmonica Sw1040
Swan Musical Instrument Co. is located in China. However, the Swan Music Store-where you can find all of the products currently offered by the company is headquartered in Colorado. The brand makes harmonicas, melodica, and recorders. They are especially known for their harmonicas.
That’s not all . . .
What’s great about Swan harmonicas is that they are much more affordable than some of the other products on our list. Therefore, they are a great harmonica for beginners. You do not have to spend a lot of money up front to find out whether or not you like the harmonica.
The Swan Harmonica in C SW1040 is a high quality and durable product. Its body is plastic, and reeds are brass, and the entire harmonica is plated in chrome. You can use their instrument to play any genre of music. It’s being made in the key of C makes it extremely versatile. And, you can’t beat the price for such a well-made and decent sounding harmonica.
6 Boseno 10 Holes Double Tremolo Harmonica
Boseno does not have a large online presence. In fact, we could only find the one product from the company anywhere. But, the Boseno 10 Holes Double Tremolo Harmonica proves that a manufacturer does not have to make a lot of products to be high quality. In fact, for ease of playing, price, and striking design, it is hard to beat the Boseno 10 Holes Double Tremolo Harmonica.
Plus . . .
The Boseno 10 Holes Double Tremolo Harmonica comes in the key of C. It has ten holes—as the name suggests. Also, the color is blue. So, you know that you will attract attention when you play this instrument. The phosphor bronze red has 99.99% copper content, which means it is both anti-corrosion and anti-fatigue. Finally, this product comes with everything you need to get started, including a harmonic box, wipe cloth, and instructions.
7 Jinwode Armonica Professional
Jinwode is another brand with a small online presence and only one available harmonica that we could find. However, what they lack in size, they make up for in sound. In fact, their Armonica Professional has a beautiful and elegant sound. There are twenty-four holds in the Armonica Professional.
Keep reading . . .
The sound spring is a phosphor bronze alloy Chile import, which keeps the sound stable and well-tuned. Also, like the other products on our best harmonica list, the Armonica Professional comes in the key of C. It has the classic look, shape, and size that you expect from a harmonica. And, you purchase comes with a wipe cloth and harmonica box included. It doesn’t get much better than that.
8 Anwenk Harmonica Key Of C
Unlike many of the brands discussed on this top ten best harmonicas list, Anwenk does not specialize in harmonicas. They don’t even just specialize in musical instruments. Instead, Anwenk makes camera, music, and home & kitchen products. Their camera products include a variety of camera accessories. On the home & kitchen end there are leg and floor furniture protectors, nut crackers, and soap dishes.
Plus . . .
Anwenk also makes a couple music instrument accessories. The only instrument they manufacture is the Harmonica in the Key of C. This is an ideal harmonic for beginners. It is extremely affordable. Also, it only has ten holes and twenty different pitches. Intermediate and advanced players may struggle with such a limited range, but not beginners.
Additionally, the size is small enough to fit in your pockets. It has a clear and rich tone. And, the product comes with a harmonica holder, instructions, and a cleaning cloth. For versatility, durability, and ease of play, you have to choose the Anwenk Harmonica Key of C.
9 Johnson Bk-520-C Blues King Harmonica
Johnson Musical Instruments has been around since 1993. They began as a guitar and fretted instrument manufacturer. However, they have since expanded their repertoire to folk instruments. Today, Johnson Musical Instruments is known as a great manufacturer of a wide range of instruments. These include many guitars, ukuleles, dulcimers, concertinas, and harmonicas.
Additionally, . . .
Johnson’s Blues Kin Harmonica illustrates what has given this brand such a good reputation. It is available in all twelve major keys, but we recommend the BK-520-C in the key of C major. The BK-520-C has an air-tight design.
Plus, its brass reeds support a wide range of pitch bending. The reeds are recessed into the shell of this harmonica, which gives it a classic look. And, this is the most affordable harmonica on our list today. So, if you are a beginner or advanced harmonica player, you need to try the BK-520-C.
10 Seydel Blues Session Steel Key Of C Harmonica
Another extremely old harmonica manufacturer from Germany is C. A. Seydel Söhne. They were founded in 1947 by Christian August Seydel. From the years of 1880 to 1914 the company’s harmonicas spread all over the world. Since 2004 Seydel began revamping its image to great success.
And . . .
Seydel’s recent large catalog of harmonicas for specific genres illustrates the commitment the company has to quality. Their Blues Session Steel Key of C Harmonica is ideal for the blues genre. Its design is friendly to the lips and bearded players. Therefore, Seydel wants you to be comfortable playing their harmonica, no matter your personal grooming choices.
Additionally, the harmonica does not take much air to play. The fine-cut reedplates are extremely sensitive. And, it is high quality. The ABS comb has stainless steel coverplates, stainless steel rivets and screw, and German Silver reedplates. Seriously, everything about the Seydel Blues Session Steel Key of C Harmonica screams quality and performance orientation.
Best Harmonica Buying Guide
Now that you know our picks for the best harmonicas around, it’s time to find a product for yourself. Keep the following features in mind as you begin looking for a harmonica. They will help you narrow down your choices. And, you will be able to pick a spectacular harmonica for your experience level and playing style.
The first question you will have to ask yourself is what key you want your harmonica to play in. The key of C major is the most versatile. Many instruments are tuned to the key of C, which makes playing with them a breeze. However, many brands will make the same harmonica model in a variety of keys. So, consider the keys of the songs you like to play, and then purchase a harmonica that will work for those songs.
Many of the top harmonica players have a collection of a number of harmonicas. As you get more serious about harmonica playing, you will want to consider doing the same thing. The larger your collection, the more harmonica songs you can play.
As with most instruments, the materials your harmonica is made from will determine its quality and sound. Traditionally, the body of the harmonica—called the comb—was made from wood. However, it is very common that the comb on modern harmonicas will be made from ABS plastic and plated with metal. Also, you will find some harmonica brands that use metal like Lucite or silver for the comb.
The material used to make the reeds is also quite important. Typically, reeds are made from some type of brass alloy (copper and zinc). The greater the proportion of copper, the more durable the reed. Brass reeds are also very popular and easy to find.
Tremolo, Diatonic, Or Chromatic
There are three different types of harmonicas that you will need to choose between: tremolo, diatonic, and chromatic. By far, the most common type of harmonica is the diatonic one. This instrument will be able to play every note of its home scale. Thus, a C-major diatonic harmonica will be able to play the pitches C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. But, a G-major harmonica will play the pitches G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#.
On the other hand, chromatic harmonicas have a special button that allows you to play all of the semi-tones in between the notes of the diatonic scale. Therefore, a chromatic harmonica in the key of C will still be able to play the seven pitches named above. But, it will also play C#, D#, F#, G#, and A# when the special button is pressed. This type of harmonica opens up the available pitches.
Finally, the tremolo harmonica uses the pitches in the diatonic harmonicas. However, they have a double row of holes instead of a single row. The pitches on one of the rows is tuned a little higher than the other. So, when you blow through both holes, a slight variation in pitch it heard. Tremolo harmonicas are best used as special effects and should not be your primary instrument.