What Are The Various Types of Harmonicas?

Harmonica Types

A harmonica is classified into different types. If you plan to learn how to play this instrument, you may find it difficult to choose which type is best for you. This is why you need to know the types of harmonica available and see whether it is the one that fits your kind of music.

Diatonic Harmonica
This type of harmonica may sound new to you, but it is actually the most common among all types of harmonicas. It is most ideal for country, rock, blues and gospel music. It is also used for classical and folk music. Because of its versatility, it is used by many professionals.

Those who want to learn the harmonica are advised to use a diatonic harmonica. This type of instrument has ten holes that allows you to play multiple keys but focuses on playing on only one key. Because a diatonic harmonica is designed to play a single key at a time, they are available in 12 keys. However, beginners are advised to start with the key of C. You will surely find diatonic harmonicas easier to learn than other types of harmonica.

Chromatic Harmonica
Chromatic harmonicas come in 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 holes. Just like diatonic harmonicas, chromatic harmonicas are also available in 12 keys, but the most commonly used is the key of C. However, unlike a diatonic harmonica, a chromatic harmonica has a side button used to produce semitones in order to create tones found in every octave.

The 12-hole chromatic harmonica is the most widely-used and highly recommended because it comes in several keys and is easy to use. It comes with three octave ranges and can produce 48 tones. The 16-hole chromatic harmonica is more complex, which is why you will need a lot of practice before you can gain full control and familiarity. Just like the 16-hole harmonica, the 14-hole chromatic harmonica also demands a lot of practice because it has a 3 1/2 octave range. Note that the larger the harmonica, the more difficult it is to learn.

The 10-hole chromatic harmonica is composed of a 2 1/2 octave range. Although it is shorter than the 12-hole harmonica, it is not always recommended for professionals because it has an incomplete octave. The 8-hole chromatic harmonica, which also offers an incomplete octave, is not very widely used because of its limitations. It only has two octaves ranging from C4 to C6.

Tremolo Harmonica
From the word “tremolo,” which also means “trembling effects,” this type of harmonica produces a trembling sound when played. This sound effect is made possible by the vertical holes in the harmonica, which have two reeds each. Tremolo harmonicas resemble the sound of an organ but they are less commonly used by professionals. One of the reasons why this type of harmonica is not widely used is that the tones that it produces are more limited compared to the diatonic and chromatic harmonicas. Tremolo harmonicas are ideal for gospel and traditional music because of the trembling effect that they produce.


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