Introduction: Beginner's Harmonica Guide

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"If you are a Blues Harp Player and love the music your instrument creates, you should know about these Harmonica Legends that might impress and inspire you."

If you intend to learn how to play Harmonica, it's important to know the different types of Harmonicas available, which model will best suit your style, which key to start with. This is a guide that covers all the details about harmonica that every beginner should know.

Types of Harmonica :

Although it's true that chromatic and diatonic are the two common types of harmonicas that are most widely used, there are other types as well and knowing these types of Harmonicas is important. This not only helps you to have a profound knowledge about the instrument that you are going to play, but also lets you choose the best possible instrument for yourself.

Chromatic –

This type of harmonica has a side button that allows you to play the normal major scale. If the button is pressed, you can play the half-step notes between the major scale notes. This type of harmonica is largely used in classical music and jazz.

Diatonic – Usually, the 10-hole major diatonic harmonicas come with 12 keys of music, and you can play all the 7 note major scale. These are usually used in rock, country, folk and blues. They go well with all types of music though.

Tremolo – These are constructed following the pattern of diatonic harmonicas, but come with double holes. Each of these holes contains two reeds that are tuned to the same note. Since one of the reeds is tuned slightly higher than the other, both sound together when played, and the subtle difference in tuning helps create a tremolo effect.

Octave tuned – These harmonicas are quite similar to the tremolo ones in terms of musical range and reed layout. The double holes in this type of harmonica have one reed tuned an octave apart from the other. The sound that comes out of this type of harmonica is stronger than the tremolo one, but lacks the effect of vibration.

Special tuned diatonic – This is an ideal choice for all the players who don't play chromatic harmonica, but might need additional scales and notes while playing. Harmonic minor scale, natural minor scale and major scale 2nd position are some of the tunings that are available in this type of harmonica.

Other types – Apart from these common types, there are certain special types of harmonicas, which are used for specific purposes. These include orchestral melody harmonica, harmonica trios and groups.

Following are the points to be considered to find your best suitable Beginner Harmonica.

Step 1:

Choosing/ Buying Best Harmonica for Beginner:

Choosing the best harmonica will let you pick the beginner’s lessons well and become an efficient harmonica player. Some of the most popular harmonicas are mentioned below, from which you can take your pick based on your requirements -

  • The Hohner Marine Band harmonica is one of the most popular 10 holes harmonicas. Most of the classic blues songs are performed using this instrument. Introduced in the 1980's, the Hohner Special 20 is the first plastic comb harmonica, launched by Hohner.
  • Being in the industry right from 1847, Seydel is a German company that focuses on manufacturing quality instruments. They provide a wide range of tuning options for all the instruments they offer and the Blues Session is a notable one among these, for the smooth cover plates.

Apart from these, harmonicas launched by brands like Sonny Boy and US Blues too are quite popular and known to be extremely helpful for honing one's harp skills. According to the industry experts, it's advisable to start with a harmonica of key C, as this helps one grab the harmonica lessons for beginners easily. Be sure to remember that it's not just about buying any one of the best harmonicas made in the market. Rather, you should focus on an instrument that will meet your needs and budget the best.

Step 2:

Why Start Learning Harmonica with Key “C” :

Starting with a harmonica with key 'C' is one of the most important harmonica tips for beginners. This is mainly because it’s most likely that the harmonica learning material you are going to follow would contain tips and instructions for a harmonica with key 'C'. This will help you understand thoroughly how to play the harmonica.

Why Diatonic Harmonica :

Although it's important to know the different types of harmonicas, it's advisable to start with a diatonic harmonica. This is because it is designed in a way so that it helps beginners to learn the mechanism and master the skill. Seydel 1847 Classic Harmonica, Marine Band Crossover Harmonica, Lee Oskar Major Diatonic, Hohner Rocket Harmonica and Suzuki Manji Diatonic Harmonica are some of the popular choices when it comes to picking a diatonic harmonica.

Learning material for Beginners :

It's important to understand the basic harmonica playing instructions to understand the right technique to hold the instrument, breathing technique, bending technique and blowing technique. Make sure you hold the harmonica in your right hand so that you can see the numbers. Position the instrument deep in your mouth and rotate it in such a way that the instrument’s backside goes up towards your mouth’s ceiling. Make sure to position your upper lip deep over the harmonica, after which you should unfold your lower lip. Ideally, you should use your fingers to pull down your lower lip, ensuring that the harmonica is in contact with your lower lip’s tender inner surface.

Best way to Clean & Maintain Quality of Harmonica :

It's essential to clean your harmonica properly in order to make it play smoothly. If you are going to clean it daily, use some lukewarm water to rinse it and tap it well after each use. Make sure you let the harmonica dry after playing it. Also, don't forget to clean your mouth properly before you start playing it.

Step 3:

Legends of Harmonica :

In recent times I have seen many finding their interest in learning musical instruments. If you feel interested about learning/ playing harmonica, consider knowing Harmonica players of all time. Knowing their some of the greatest harmonica songs will also help you understand the different aspects of playing a harmonica and enrich your knowledge with respect to how to play this beautiful instrument.