The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Blues Harmonica + Reviews
If you are short on time and want to know what the best blues harmonicas are, then you are in the right place. Our team has spent time carefully examining the quality and value offered by some of the most sought-after blues harmonicas and they have concluded that the Hohner Accordions 532BX-C is the instrument that you should look for. It’s a good blues harmonica because it can suit the needs of beginners and professionals alike, it provides consistent tone and volume and the wood comb helps to make it very bendable. If you are unable to find our first recommendation, then you should try the Fender Blues Deluxe.
Highly Recommended Choices – Reviews of Blues Harmonicas & Comparison
We have selected some of the critically acclaimed harmonicas and presented them below. The selection was also made based on specialized forums, sales figures and consumer reports.
Hohner Accordions 532BX-C
A classic instrument, the harmonica has been shaping the sound of blues, rock or folk for fifty years. This one is designed for the specific blues sound, but it has a modular system that allows it to be transformed into an instrument capable of playing many genres. If you’re an advanced player you will enjoy it and if you are a beginner it will make learning easier.
This instrument is made for consistent tone and volume when playing blues and it is comparable to the harmonicas used by the best players. The sound it brings out is a dark, rocking one and because the harmonica has a wood comb, it brings out a full tone and it’s very bendable. It is available in twelve keys, with twenty reeds and it has replaceable parts.
The harmonica creates its signature wailing sounds through the undivided air channels that permit techniques like bending and overblowing reeds to be used.
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Fender Blues Deluxe
It comes in a traditional shape so you will have no problems in holding it. That makes playing more comfortable. To ensure it lasts longer, the plastic comb is moisture resistant. This brings a bright sound and tuning stability to it.
The reed plates are replaceable if needed. The chromed metal covers offer it a stylish look. For keeping it safe, you can use the vented hard plastic case included. Offering reliability for a long period, this harmonica is fitted with 10 holes that offer a classic sound.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($11.99)
Johnson Guitars BK-520-C
What represents an advantage, especially for beginners, is that the harmonica also comes with a case and cloth for cleaning purposes. You need to keep it clean, if you want the best sounds out of it. The tone is nice, on point, the instrument is easy to play, and it allows for basic and more complex techniques.
If you are looking for an affordable harmonica, suitable for beginners, this instrument can be your option.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($7.84)
Suzuki Bluesmaster Harmonica
The harmonica is well constructed and it lets air flow smoothly through it, while it doesn’t require a powerful blow to sound clear. It’s suitable for live audience situations or for learning to play such an instrument. The comb and the cover plate line up right, as they should, and that makes it stable and easy to play.
The thin reeds can break easily, but they can be replaced. However, the covers are durable and designed for comfortably playing the instrument. If you can avoid damaging the reeds by using too much force, this harmonica can last you a long time.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($34.79)
Fender Blues Deville Key of C
For keeping it safe, you can use the hard plastic case that it comes with. If you feel that the reeds are getting old, you can always replace them with new ones.
The overall tone is pleasant, the instrument is air tight and it doesn’t need a strong blow for getting the right notes out. If you are a learner, you might want to know that the holes are not numbered. If mistreated, the harmonica can get damaged and will prevent you from getting the sound you want.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($32.99)
Hohner Accordions Special 20
This is an instrument created for the professionals, although the key of C is suitable for beginners as well. It is a diatonic harmonica and it’s made to last for as long as the brass reed plates will. Everything is covered in a plastic body that allows you to easily play it, even when you want to approach complicated and fast music styles.
The materials used are of the highest quality and the harmonica is built in Germany. If you play the instrument a lot, the reeds will wear out and you will need to replace them. Thankfully, Hohner Accordions manufactures reeds just for that purpose, and they have done so for this harmonica, as well.
A key to any harmonica is the airtight design. This one features that as well. The design makes the instrument easy to play and to bend. This is why it’s also suitable for beginners.
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Fender Blues Deluxe
They have the same construction that includes a molded PVC comb and brass reeds. The style is given by the traditional shape and the chromed metal covers. Both the shape and the cover make the harmonicas comfortable to play.
This set is destined for practicing and it’s not advisable to use them in live performances because they do not offer the sound power of other, more specialized instruments. They are well crafted and the materials are high quality, but as is the case with harmonicas, the brass reeds need to be replaced from time to time.
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Fender Blues Deville Key of G
Playing this instrument gives a pleasant feeling because it has a nice vibration to it. It also provides good sustain, meaning that the notes played can last longer and resonate. The phosphor brass reeds are more resistant than the bronze ones and give a different tone. The components make this harmonica wider than others and new players will need to adapt to this.
Another advice for the beginners is to pay attention when playing at the ends of the harmonica. The reeds get out in those places and can cause harm if the instrument is not played well.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($32.99)
Mugig Professional Harmonica
The structure is made of strong stainless steel, built to last and be comfortable; everything is nickel-plated. The reeds are phosphorous bronze and built in. To minimize air leakage, the ends are airtight. As expected, this makes the instrument safe and easy to play. The harmonica is portable and it comes with a stylish case and a cloth for cleaning it.
It can be used for a lot of purposes, including producing sounds for animations, soundtracks or other similar entertainment practices. Something that is not usually seen in harmonicas is the comb made of aluminum.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($19.99)
Everjoys Diatonic Harmonica
The comb is made of plastic and the reeds are copper. This combination offers the possibility to reach higher pitched notes and it ensures an excellent tone quality and timbre. Being so small, this harmonica is easy to carry. It is pocket sized and it has fully enclosed ends.
In the set you can also find a case, a microfiber polishing cloth that you will use for cleaning the instrument and a manual that will teach you how to play. All of its features showcase that it’s a good choice for rookies.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($15.99)
Hohner Accordions Blues Bender
Fortunately, the stainless steel acoustic covers and the thick plates make it more resistant to damage. If you want a harmonica that you can use for a lot of professional appearances, this one will not suit your needs, but it is a great choice if you intend to learn how to play this instrument.
It is designed primarily for making note bending easier and facilitating learning for new players and it produces pleasant bluesy notes. The airtight construction helps with obtaining the desired notes. The patented acoustic cover plates are useful for increasing the volume and maintaining a consistent tone.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($23.99)
Yearly guide and report
The most experienced harmonica players know how they want their instrument to sound and what their right harmonica for blues is. But since some people are unsure about what makes a good harmonica, we have written an analysis of the important features of a blues one.
Your first harmonica
Some instruments are easier to learn to play than others. For example, diatonic harmonicas are considered more suitable for beginners than chromatic ones. But that depends from one person to another, and that is why it’s important to know the differences between the types of harmonicas.
The diatonic harmonica is the most commonly used in blues, pop or folk music and it is designed to be played in a specific key. With enough experience and by using the appropriate techniques, one can play such a harmonica in different keys. Most blues songs use the notes of a pentatonic scale and for these, a harmonica tuned in the G key can complement the pentatonic C scale. You can obtain a nice sound if you pair such a harmonica with a blues guitar.
Most blues harmonica reviews recommend starting learning to play a harmonica on a diatonic model tuned in the key of C. These models usually come with replaceable reeds for sale so you can refurbish an older instrument rather than buying a new one.
As you learn more, you can get more diatonic instruments and expand your collection to cover more keys. This will help you discover which instrument you like more and also it will encourage you to play different styles of music.
If you feel that you are limited by a diatonic model, you can also get other models. Chromatic harmonicas have a lever that you can activate and change the notes played, at a push of a button. This makes for a versatile instrument that you can use to play almost any song. But it requires more skill to master. The larger reeds are also harder to bend and complex techniques are more difficult to execute.
Other, more complex designs include tremolo harmonicas. They are also referred to as “echo” harmonicas because they produce a warbling sound through the use of two reeds per note — one tuned higher and one lower. There are also specialty harmonicas used in orchestral settings.
Choosing the key
Because you can play most songs in the key of C major, this is the recommended key for starters. It’s a standard key, especially for diatonics. It is possible to play these instruments in different keys without the use of advanced techniques, or without bending.
If you want to play something different, like Irish music, a harmonica tuned in B is more suitable. It is fairly similar to the ones tuned in C, in terms of chromatic models. G major and F major models are pretty popular, because they produce almost the same notes as a harmonica tuned in C, so they are familiar to players that are not very experienced.
Ultimately, if you want to play all the blues that you know, you will need to get more harmonicas, each tuned in a different key.
The importance of the comb
When the instrument is properly made, the comb doesn’t influence how it sounds, but it has an impact in terms of maintenance. For the comb, harmonica makers use four kinds of material. The first of them is wood. It is believed that a wooden comb sounds better and has a warmer sound than others, but that is not proven.
As expected, a wooden comb has the disadvantage of trapping moisture and swelling. It is prone to humidity issues. This can be a big problem when the comb becomes too big and it gets out of the harmonica, resulting in a dangerous piece of material for your lips. This is rarely the case with newer models, where the wood is carefully treated and coated to avoid problems.
Plastic is a more modern alternative and is becoming the norm for harmonicas. It’s easy to maintain and it feels good on the lips. Plexiglas is an improved choice, mostly used in high-end models. It has the same qualities as the plastic one, but some consider it to be too delicate and prone to cracking.
Metals such as aluminum or stainless steel are used for combs. They produce the same sound as plastic, but they are less prone to damage. However, aluminum oxide can form on aluminum combs and that will cause injury to your lips.
Make sure that you choose the right materials and style for a harmonica before heavily investing into one.
If you found this review helpful and you want to see more reviews and guides, you can have a look on our top picks for the perfect ukulele for beginners and advanced players, several quality travel guitars, or a couple of models of accordions.