Harmonica Players - Help!

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Do you play harmonica?

I'm thinking of buying a harmonica soon, and have no idea what to look for! Does what it's tuned to make much difference? Is there a substantial difference between a $30 and $80 harmonica?

Not sure how I'd use it... Not in metal, but I might try my hand at blues some time...


Thanks in advance!


This is my local store's selection.

your basic hohner blues harp, or hohner marine band, would probably be fine.- you don't need a hugely expensive harmonica to do some basic fun things. ---- think of what keys you play in the most. playing 'first position' (which is more of a folkie kind of sound) you'd play, for example a C harp while playing a song in the key of C, and and E harp while playing a song in the key of E-- but if you want that kind of 'bluesy' sound, then you'd play an A harp while playing in the key of E. (so called 'cross-harp' or second position )

Basically experimenting around with two things will help- can you hit just one note at a time, and then when on the intake, can you 'bend' a note. It takes a while and there's probably alot of youtube videos these days (when i started, there were no such things) but once you can do that 'bend' on the intake (try on the lower notes at first, it's easier) then you'll be able to do alot of bluesy things. Most of the time I'm playing 'cross-harp' style (ie playing an A harmonica while in the key of E, or playing a C harmonica while in the key of G, for example) tho not always.

I basically have four harmonicas, key of C, D, G and A, which gets me (between first position and cross-harp) a fair number of situations covered. Maybe try one or two first tho?

hope that helps a bit!

Thinking either A or C...

I like Lee Oskar harmonicas. They are made by Tombo. They have a good tone for blues and I find them easer to play than some other makes. A or C would be a good choice for keys. After you get one, try out some YouTube tutorials on how to get single notes and how to bend them.

Checked out a comparison video, and I think the A is for me. Not sure what price point I'll go for, though...

I play in the way @mike skliar describes, but not nearly as well as he does! And all of mine are Hohner Marine Band - they last for years.
I wear a holder around my neck so I can play guitar at the same time, Bob Dylan-style. I think my harmonica skills compare favorably to his.
@Roddy - While digging around YouTube a few nights ago, I happened upon a video of Lee Oskar with his band War playing their hit "Spill the Wine" in the early '70s. He sure added to the funk, and Eric Burdon's vocal was insane.

@Chip Withrow is absolutely right about Hohners; they last for years. I have a Marine Band (in E; I wish I'd read this thread when I bought it, forty years ago!) as well as a Super Chromonica and an Echo-Luxe that are considerably older than I am, which belonged to my father. He used to listen to the Goon Show on the radio and decided he wanted to do what legendary player Max Geldray did on the show every week.

Man, that cat could play. Here's a typical performance of his with the BBC Orchestra, conducted by Wally Stott (later Angela Morley) and Ray Ellington on congas and occasional shouts. Sublime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT9qiVXIn4k

@ustaknow - I chose A because it sounded better. Nothing to do with music theory. It just plain sounded more me.

As for the pricing on the website, this is Australia. Everything is more expensive here. Like, when I was having a PC built, American friends were saying I could get a decent one for $500. The same quality costs $1000 in Australia (generally speaking). It's the same with musical instruments and gear.

Might save up my money and buy the multi-pack. It's better value per harmonica, and I know I'll want a full set eventually. Can't afford it right now, but eh... Whatever.

Thanks to all who posted!

Personally i wouldn't buy a multi pack because there will be some you will never use. You will probably want three or four though, and i might suggest those would be D, C, G and A, maybe not in that order of priority.

In my experience, the reeds go out of tune after a while, so i wouldn't recommend splashing out loads of money on them because you need to get a new one every now and again, just like changing the strings on a guitar, though maybe not quite as regularly.

And if they are blues harps, then they will have a note missing, and they will have it set up so that the V note of the scale right at the bottom of the harmonica can be played using a sook or blow (technical terms, yours may differ depending what part of the world you're in!). Basically you have to play in the relative Myxolydian mode or blues, eg if you have a D harmonica, you can play blues in A. You will also be able to play blues in E on a D harmonica, though not with that extra root note at the bottom, for a minor blues, because the relative Dorian mode of D major is E. I didn't learn any of this modes stuff until i had been playing the harmonica about twenty years though, you don't need to know it, just what keys you can play on on what harmonicas.