Series Harmonica

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Frequently Asked Questions...

What kind of harmonica should I purchase?

I know it's hard to guess, but might you know what kind of harmonica is being used in this song?

Best Answer...


Tried to do a screen cap of the harp itself and got a decent shot at 6:53. Looks like white HOHNER on a wooden comb. That's characteristic of the Hohner Blues Harp MS. He's playing straightharp in the center in G wrapping on a tonic (I) chord at 4-5-6 blow. The tone of a Blues Harp MS is consistent with that bright timbre he's getting and the tuning is certainly a compromise system such as Hohner.

He's using a hand position of a tremolo or chromatic player though and is playing in straightharp using some blues technique such as the 6-draw bend. The relative darker timbre comes from that being a low-pitched harmonica, G is a low key, and the sealed wooden comb as well as (probably) some mixer control in the electronics.

What kind should you get? That type is a 10-hole diatonic aka "blues harp" style harmonica with Richter scale. The most common type of harmonica in the US and UK. Some good makers of these include Hohner, Lee Oskar, Suzuki, Seydel, and Herring. They can be had for between $5 (not so hot) and $1000's (way more than you need) but the standard that most pros play on stage is right around $40 (US) and the likes of Hohner (Marine Band 1896, Special 20, Blues Harp), Lee Oskar (Major Diatonic), Suzuki (BluesMaster, Manji).

If you go cheap (such as the Hohner Blues Band) you're likely going to find it won't last as long as you'd like and it won't respond to bending techniques essential to that style of playing. You can learn the basics on one of those though if you have to stay very cheap. The usual advice is to buy one in C because most tutorials and lessons are in C and because C is an easy key to learn music theory from.

Spend $30-40 on a major brand and you won't be disappointed.