What to Look for When Buying a Harmonica

Choosing Your Harmonica

Even today, harmonicas are still one of the most popular musical instruments.
You can play a variety of music genres, carry them anywhere, and they are within most people’s budgets.

But just because they are cheap, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about what is the best harmonica for your specific needs. To help you out, key considerations for your next harmonica purchase.

The comb is the most important part of the instrument
The comb of the harmonica is what makes the harmonica an instrument. It looks like a comb, which is how it got its name, and has differing air chambers that cover reeds.

The most important decision you need to make, is what material you choose for the comb. There are three choices and each suit different harmonica users as follows:

Types of Harmonicas

Wood: Wood produces one of the warmest and most rounded sounds in a harmonica. It is generally the material of choice for performers. The downside is that the wood does succumb to warping and moisture damage. This can affect how long the instrument will last.

Metal: Metal does cost more, however most players believe it is worth it. The most common metals used are aluminum and stainless steel. The benefits are that metal doesn’t wear as easily as other materials; however it can still become corroded.

Plastic: This is the most popular material because it is soft on the lips and easy to use. The material is generally quite robust and lasts, although if dropped it can crack easily.

The cover plates
Simply put, covered plates help sound to resonate. While there is some variety they generally fall within two categories:
Traditional open cover: This can be made of either stamped metal or plastic, which are either screwed or nailed into place. These have a softer tone, and are well priced.
Closed cover: These provide a fully enclosed cover and create a louder and more robust sound. Generally the higher quality harmonicas include this option.

Type of harmonica
There are three main types of harmonica: diatonic, chromatic and tremolo.
If you are starting out, then the diatonic is the easiest to play. However, if you want to focus on specific types of music such as blues, jazz or even folk music then you can consider the chromatic or tremolo harmonica as well.

Key selection
Harmonicas can come in a variety of keys. In fact, they are available in all 12 keys. It really depends on what you are using the harmonica for and how advanced you are at playing.

If you are just starting out then a basic diatonic harmonica tuned to the key of C will be your best choice.

Harmonicas are still one of the most popular instruments on the planet.
While not expensive, it does pay to do your research, to ensure that you find a harmonic that suits your specific needs. By following the tips above, you will ensure that you will find a harmonica that you can enjoy playing straight away, and that is robust enough to be used for many years to come.

Here’s to your musical success.

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