Ok, so you are looking for the best harmonicas to play some blues music.
I think you are in the right place.
While there are a few things to pay attention to (more on that later), we compiled a massive list to choose from.
Let’s get started then.
Table of Contents
Best Blues Harmonicas Reviewed For 2023
What Is the Best Type of Harmonica for Beginners?
There are various types of harmonicas.
But the standard varieties fall into the three categories of chromatic, tremolo and diatonic.
We are going to focus on comparing these three types to help us suggest the best type for you (as a beginner)
This is the most common type of harmonica and because of this, it can be easily accessed from families and friends.
The diatonic harmonica releases a bluesy calming but powerful tone, which has made it extremely popular.
This explains the reason why it’s easily preferred for a variety of music styles. From blues, hymns, folk to gospel, one can never go wrong with this choice.
But for experienced jazz and advanced classical music artists, chromatic harmonica takes the day.
But even so, you can’t wake up one morning and decide to learn chromatic without any prior experience.
That’s why beginners should start their harmonica journey by learning diatonic, given that it’s much easier to learn than chromatic.
If you enroll in a harmonica class, then you will note that most teachers will start by teaching you the basic 10-hole diatonic to help you rise the ladder, fast.
Mainly, the diatonic harmonicas comprise of 10 holes, instead of the 12 basic music keys, the reason as to why they’re dense and simple.
Therefore, beginners should focus on getting key C harmonicas instead of those tuned with 12 keys.
The best 10 harmonicas list we reviewed fall under key C, so you can easily check them out and pick one.
These types of harmonica usually come with 16, 14, 12, 10, and 8 holes.
And while the 12-hole chromatic harmonica remains the most popular in the 12 keys, most professionals prefer using key C.
The chromatic has larger reeds, which will prove hard for beginners to bend and overblow.
Also, there are a variety of such harmonicas, which use side buttons to help them produce semitones like you would a piano.
So, with these types, you gain access to various tones within the available octaves.
And it’s the complexity in style and ease of use of this harmonica that makes it difficult for beginners to master.
So, we highly recommend that as a beginner, you begin by learning diatonic and proceed to set-up to chromatic when you’re skillfully ready to step into a more challenging environment.
These types of harmonicas are known to produce rich trembling sounds.
This’s because they contain vertical double holes containing two reeds, each.
One of the reeds is sharper than the other.
Although these types of harmonicas produce cool sounds, they’re rarely used, maybe because of the various restrictions they present. Making players prefer diatonic and chromatic types.
Advanced players use chromatic tremolo to play pop, and they’re most famous in Asia, rock.
As for Diatonic tremolo, players use them in folk and pop music, and the production of classic music such as the cowboy songs.
There’re also some less known types of specialty harmonicas and they include;
These are most popular in harmonica ensembles and orchestral settings, and they can produce up to 48 chords.
The blocks consist of 4-note clusters, with each note containing 2 reeds that are tuned to an octave area.
They are great in enhancing melodic and rhythmic sounds in large harmonica settings.
So, due to their nature, they’re only suitable for advanced players, thus not suitable for beginners.
They work similarly like the chord harmonicas but offer numerous pitch and note-layout ranges and arrangements.
They come in both chromatic and diatonic models, but even then, they’re more expert friendly than beginners’.
So, to answer the question, from the above arguments, the best harmonica for beginners is diatonic and key C.
Which Key to Choose for Blues Harmonica
If you’re a blues harmonica, then you’re at the right place.
We are going to give you some awesome tips on which key to choose for blues to help you choose your favorite harp set.
It’s very easy to find blue harmonicas in all keys. From minor tuned, major to low tuned, so get ready to enjoy multiple choices.
First, begin with Key C diatonic, with a major tuning, which should have at least 10-holes.
It gives a moderate key, which is neither too high nor too low. (1)
As you master the C, you can now slowly start adding different harmonica keys to enable you to practice with several keys.
Generally, you will require keys C, S, D, G, F, and Bb. In this category, the lowest is G, with F being the highest.
Expect to play a lot in the second position, famously the 2nd harp. The same case applies to the 5th key on your harmonica.
But, you can still choose other keys to suit the song you’re playing.
Your favorite set of keys will largely depend on the various playing styles you indulge in.
For example, if you’re playing a boogie, you will realize that you’re using much of key A and Bb.
Next, you also need to acquit yourself with some low tuned keys. Begin with low C as an accompaniment to nice chords.
But if you settle for first position (straight harp) harmonica, then it’s advisable to settle for medium tunes. The likes of A and G.
Note; for a beginner, minor tuned harmonicas make a perfect pick as they’re not only nice but also encourage you to play minor chords and try out minor melodies, which is a great starting point.
Here’s a YouTube video to help you understand better;
What to Look for When Buying A Blues Harmonica
This applies to both the comb and cover material.
A good comb material should offer you an easy time to maintain.
Most of the harmonica devices come in four different materials, and they include wood, plastic, metal, and Plexiglass.
Metal ones tend to be expensive, while wood is hard to maintain.
So, for beginners, we advise you to go for plastic as it’s easy to maintain.
When it comes to harmonicas, the kind of sound you want to produce should greatly impact your choice.
You can choose the cover-all design if a full warm sound is what you’re after.
But if a clearer tone is what you need, then go for a traditional one with an open back.
Also, if you choose a metal cover, then be ready for a louder sound, as compared to the softer version of plastic covers.
We have already gone through the various types of harmonicas, so this should be pretty easy.
For beginners and blue players go for diatonic ones that come with 10-holes.
But, it’s also good to know that you can still play blues on chromatic harmonica, but it won’t be as easy as when using diatonic ones.
Keys are an important part of harmonica playing.
If you’re a beginner, get one with tuned Key C, which allows you to play up to three octaves.
Also, this is a perfect pick to play blues as they’re played on a cross harp or 2nd position.
If you get music that’s indicated G, then you can use a C harmonica in the second position.
The above notes on keys selection should guide you into making the perfect pick.
Quality usually comes at a price.
So, if you want a good harmonica that can serve you through the years then you have to spend more.
But as a beginner, it’s advisable to start with affordable ones and get to acquire expensive ones once you master the art of playing.
However, don’t go too cheap as you might have to pay the high price of air leakage and poor construction.
The best investment you can make should at least range between $30-$65.
FAQs About The Best Blues Harmonicas for Beginners
What Is the Best Key for A Blues Harmonica?
The standard Key C in 10-hole harmonica is the most popular and great instructions.
Is Blues Harmonica Hard to Learn?
No, it’s not. So long as you’re patient and dedicated, nothing can stop you.
What Is the Difference Between A Diatonic and A Chromatic Harmonica?
Diatonic harmonica contains only notes for a specific scale making it suitable for pop, Rock, Country and Blues music.
On the other hand, chromatic harmonica plays all notes within the chromatic scale and is ideal for classical and jazz music.
Who Is the Most Famous Blues, Harmonica Player?
Jason Ricci, an American blues harmonica player.
What Is the Difference Between A Harmonica and A Blues Harp?
Blues harp also refers to the diatonic harmonica. It usually comprises of 10-holes, 20-reed, diatonic harmonicas and Richter-tuned.
If you have been planning on playing harmonica and needed information to help you take the bold step, we hope this article did exactly that.
We took you through the best 10 harmonicas for beginners, gave insights on the best type of harmonica for beginners, before answering some of the most frequently asked questions.
Make use of the information and be the best you can be.
All the best!