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Best chromatic harmonica 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated December 1, 2018
Best chromatic harmonica of 2018
Based on customer reviews and my own experience with the cowboy method I’ve found the best 3 chromatic harmonica on the market. Here are my top picks with detailed reviews, comparison charts and buying guides to help you purchase the perfect item for your needs. Simply review and buy them. After carefully examining the reviews and ratings of the people who have used them earlier this listicle has been made.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this chromatic harmonica win the first place?
I also liked the delivery service that was fast and quick to react. It was delivered on the third day. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack.
№2 – SWAN Harmonica in C Key 10 Holes 40 Tone Mouth Organ Stainless Steel Chromatics Harmonica SW1040
Why did this chromatic harmonica come in second place?
The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. I really liked it. It is amazing in every aspect. It did even exceed my expectations for a bit, considering the affordable price. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed.
№3 – SWAN Harmonica in C Key 10 Holes 40 Tone Mouth Organ Stainless Steel Chromatics Harmonica SW1040
Why did this chromatic harmonica take third place?
It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work.
chromatic harmonica Buyer’s Guide
The most accurate opinions on any musical instrument will come from the people who actually play them, and that’s who we consulted when making this list. We looked at product reviews on a variety of reputable sites. We also talked to professional musicians to find out which instruments they play and recommend. The information that follows in this review is a compilation of all this information, aimed at the general consumer.
A high-end diatonic harmonica that gives you superb bendability and tone quality. It’s also suitable for players in all genres.
This is an easy-blowing chromatic harmonica that’s an excellent value considering the clear, resonant tone it produces.
A top of the line chromatic harmonica that gives you an expanded four-octave range and a tone to satisfy any professional.
A high-end harmonica with a price tag to match, the Sirius has an impressive tone that gigging professionals may find worth the extra expense.
The steel reeds that give this model its name make it more durable and give it a big, bold sound.
The quality of sound and construction you get for the price makes this an excellent option for both beginners and advanced players on a budget.
This harp’s durability and quick response make it a favorite for pros on the road, though its bends and dynamic range are narrower than other options.
This sturdy, easy-blowing harp is a unique option with a sound inspired by the Hammond organ.
With five keys Marine Band harmonicas and an included case, this is a very affordable way to expand your tonal possibilities.
This is the most affordable chromatic harmonica on the list, though it does sacrifice some sound quality in favor of price compared to other professional options.
The Factors We Considered
Tone quality was our number one consideration when we put together this list. For an instrument to be one of the best harmonicas, it has to sound great, period. Beyond this, though, there were a few other considerations that factored into our decision.
The best harmonicas don’t get the title from just one factor. You should consider your choice using all your senses. The feel of the instrument when you play it is just as important as the sound it produces. Don’t forget about the aesthetic qualities, either; an instrument that looks good is often a sign that the inside was designed with the same care and attention to detail.
When you’re shopping for a new harp, the first decision you need to make is what style you want to buy.The diatonic harmonica is the most common kind. It has ten holes and each harmonica will be focused on playing in a single key. You can buy them in all 1major keys; most people start with the key of C and expand their tonal options from there.
The typical diatonic harmonica gives you 1notes across three octaves, all of which are included in the major scale of the harmonica’s key. For example, if you buy a C diatonic harmonica, you’ll get various octaves of the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B, but none of the sharps or flats between them. You may also see this style called a Richter tuned harmonica or simply a blues harp.
The chromatic harmonica, on the other hand, lets you play all 1notes in any given octave. This makes them more suitable for harmonically complex genres, like jazz. They give you a wider variety of tonal options by using a slide to redirect your air stream, expanding the number of notes the instrument can produce.
You’ll find more design variation when it comes to chromatic harmonicas. They may be available with anywhere from to 1holes. They also come in different keys, though with chromatic harmonicas this affects the range of the instrument rather than which notes they’ll play.
The most common iteration for a chromatic harmonica is to have 1holes, giving you 4notes across three octaves. These versions tend to be the easiest to play and learn, and it’s a good option for beginner or intermediate players. The largest chromatic harmonicas have 1holes, giving you an extra octave below the 12-hole’s lowest note. These harmonicas are generally best for more advanced players, since learning to take advantage of the instrument’s full range can take a lot of practice.
Diatonic versions are the best harmonicas to start with if you’re a relative beginner.
Learning the technique is easier and you’ll be more likely to sound good even if you don’t get the notes quite right. The added semi-tones and slide on a chromatic harmonica make it a bit trickier to play. Since you can play semi-tones, you also have a greater chance to hit a “wrong” note, meaning you have to be more confident with your technique to sound good playing it.
The term action means a different thing for a harmonica than it does for stringed instruments like the guitar, though the basic premise is the same. It’s a term that refers to how easily the reeds respond to changes in air pressure. You can adjust the action on a harmonica by bending the reeds or adding shims to give them more distance from the reed plates. The Harmonica for Dummies blog has a great post on how to do this that you can read at.
All three of these areas will have an impact on the sound, but the material in the comb and reeds is especially important since it will also affect the instrument’s playability. As a result, these are also the areas where you’ll see the most variation.
The comb or body of the harmonica is what makes up the bulk of the instrument. It’s the rectangular portion between the cover plates. It holds the reeds and contains the holes you blow into to produce sounds. Unlike with covers, you’ll find a huge variety of materials being used to make the comb—and an equally wide array of opinions about which material is best.
Traditionally, the comb was made from wood. You will sometimes still see wood utilized in modern harmonicas, but it’s more common to see combs made of either metal or plastic. The polymer ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, for the science folks out there) is a popular choice because of its durability. You’ll also find a lot of different metals used, from inexpensive minerals like aluminum to rarer metals like titanium in high-end models.
There’s some debate in the professional community about how much impact the comb material has on the sound, but there’s no question it’s one of the main factors in the instrument’s longevity and playability. While traditionalists prefer wood combs, most modern players would rather use plastic or metal. Wood tends to warp from humidity, making it harder to play over time. Metal and plastic are also easier to make air-tight, very important for an even response across the instrument.
The sound of a harmonica is produced through vibrations of the reeds, which are flat pieces of metal secured at one end. The free end responds to your air, blocking and unblocking the various holes and making the sound. It’s universally agreed the material used in the reeds has a big impact on the harmonica’s tone, and are arguably the most important single aspect of the instrument to consider.
Brass is the most common reed material, but other metals are often used. Stainless steel is one popular option, as is silver, and you may see techniques like chrome plating employed, too. In general, the heavier and harder the metal, the darker and warmer the resulting sound will be. Harder metals are also more durable, meaning your reeds will last longer before you have to change them.
A bend is an important stylistic element in the harmonica tone. This is the term for when a harmonica player uses their lips and air to scoop into the tone, or gradually lower and raise the pitch within a note to give it more expression. Deep bends are especially important for blues players, though most harmonica players use them to some extent. The material used in the reeds will be the most important factor if you’re looking for a harp that lets you bend notes easily.
When it comes to a diatonic harmonica, the key it’s it will tell you which notes you’ll be able to play on it. A diatonic harmonica plays all the notes on the major scale of the given key. This doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the only key it can play in; jazz players especially may want to use the harmonica a fifth away from their key to give it a blues scale sound.
Which keys (and how many keys) you’ll need in your arsenal is a matter of personal preference. Most players start with the key of C, which is a good all-purpose baseline key since it’s the most common key across genres. Expanding from there, the keys of G, D, and A are the most-used in the harmonica’s main genres of folk, blues, and rock.
Choosing a harmonica is often a subjective decision. While there are poorly made harps out there, quality crafted instruments will vary in the sound produced, tuning, ease of use, and whether they are fitted to the particular style or genre you play.
The Key is The Key
Of all of the keys available for your first harmonica, as a beginner start with a harmonica in the key of C. Why C? Because most “How To” lit is for this key. It is known as the “Standard Key” and most songs can be played in C.
Your cover plates should also be considered. There are two types of plates and they aid in projecting sound. The traditional cover appears on beginner to moderate level units and deliver and clear tone due to its open back. The cover-all type is more common on high-end harmonicas and produces a warm, mellow, resonate tone. The “fat tone” it’s known to possess an acoustic quality that is desirable to Blues, Jazz and Classical players. Cover plates also come in a range of materials, the most traditional being metal. Metal covers are often described as producing a brighter sound while a plastic cover produces a rounder, softer sound.
The “Comb” or “main body” contains air chambers which cover the reed and can be made using different materials. You may find harmonicas with wood combs. These are perfectly safe for current models because they are usually glazed in food grade sealant however earlier models using this material were subject to swelling and splintering from the moisture caused in general play. Plastics or ABS are most commonly used due to their ease of maintenance and are also easy on the lips. More expensive models use plexiglass in lieu of plastics and metal alloys such as aluminum and steel. The metal units have screws and can be easily taken apart for upkeep.
There are many features which contribute to the build of a harmonica and how it will sound. For those just starting out, having an understanding of these features will help you to understand which harmonica is right for you. We also have an abundance of Harmonica Instructional Books to help get you started.
Rise Up Singing
Rise Again, which covers a deeper selection of rock, country, blues, and pop tunes, and includes more contemporary artists, such as Steve Earle and even Adele. Like the original book, Rise Again features nearly 1,200 songs, and none of the tunes in the two volumes overlap.
The Coffeehouse Companion offers a somewhat more selective mix of rock and alt. country material, including artists like Nick Drake, Shawn Colvin, and Death Cab for Cutie. (It also includes musical notation for the 220 songs it covers.) For players who want to drill down in a particular genre, there are fake books devoted to iconic tunes in bluegrass, blues, country, modern rock, and others. Of course, the chords and lyrics of virtually every song you’d ever want to learn are just a Google search away, but nothing beats an actual printed book when you want to take your musical endeavors into the no–Wi-Fi wilds.
A travel guitar involves compromises in sound quality, but convenience— especially if you’re just making beautiful noise with friends—trumps sound.
The guitar is the one virtually indispensable instrument for a campfire jam. Most campfire players simply choose to bring the same guitar they play at home, or, if their main instrument is too delicate for campground life, a less expensive backup guitar. Still, some musicians prefer a smaller guitar specifically for travel. For those people, our top recommendation is the Martin Backpacker. The Backpacker is made by the iconic Martin Guitar company specifically for rugged, outdoor use. There are a number of well-made ¾-size guitars available (see below). As the name suggests, these are downsized versions of conventional acoustic guitars, which makes them easier to pack or stow in an airplane overhead. But the Backpacker goes a step further by also aggressively shrinking the body of the guitar. So the guitar has a very slim profile and weighs just a tad over two pounds. Guitarist Rik Mercaldi, who has traveled extensively with the Backpacker, says that skinny shape gives it an edge over other travel guitars: “It’s so small, you can just throw it over your shoulder when you’re going on a hike. So you can play it on top of a mountain, at the beach, wherever.” That portability does involve a compromise of course: The smaller body means the Backpacker is noticeably quieter than a full-size guitar.
Many people first recognized the potential of the simple tin whistle, or pennywhistle, in the theme from Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On.” But the whistle’s roots go back thousands of years—early versions were carved from bone—and even today it is an instrument of primitive simplicity: a tube with six holes topped by a mouthpiece, known as a fipple, with a slot to blow through. The fingering is even simpler than that of the recorder so many of us learned in summer camp, which makes this an easy instrument to get started on. But making beautiful music with the whistle takes some work. In the hands of a master, the sound is open, sonorous, and haunting. Played poorly, the whistle can sound shrill and out of tune. “The secret is breath control,” said Irish music performer and teacher Michael Cain, who helped us test the whistles.
Our second choice was the Clarke Sweetone (also British made), a whistle with a tapered tube (known as the “bore”) that some players feel produces a mellower sound. In our comparisons, the Sweetone did indeed produce a sweet tone, one that’s a bit quieter and gentler than that of the Generation. However, producing the proper notes required more delicate breath control, which makes this a somewhat more challenging instrument for beginners. The Sweetone was the only whistle that came with a nice fabric carrying bag. We also tested the well-regarded Feadog Nickel Whistle and Oak Classic Pennywhistle. (The Oak used to be one of the rare American-made whistles, but the company recently changed hands, and today the Oak appears to be identical to the Irish-made Feadog.) Both the Feadog and the Oak were perfectly serviceable instruments.
The Complete Irish Tinwhistle Tutor
Whether you’re looking to spice up your acoustic guitar performances with some harp playing or going for the big, honking sound of electrified blues harp, there’s a great selection of harmonica tutorials at Musician’s Friend.
A smart choice for the absolute beginner, the Mel Bay Easiest Harmonica Book will teach you the basics of playing a diatonic harmonica. You’ll also learn a simplified form of notation used in many harmonica methods books and other media.
Intended for the advanced harmonica player who wants to learn chromatic harmonica techniques from a virtuoso, the Hal Leonard Toots Thielemans – The Jazz Master Class Series DVD is a rosetta stone. Toots demonstrates his enormous facility on the chromatic, discusses teaching approaches with students and performs some jazz classics.
As blues bands became increasingly electrified in the 1950s, harp players such as Little Walter began using inexpensive “bullet” microphones with crystal elements that were designed for police and taxi dispatch use. They plugged these mics into various tube guitar and bass amps, then by cupping their hands tightly around the harp and mic, produced a fat, distorted sound that has become the holy grail for Chicago-style blues tone.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your chromatic harmonica wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of chromatic harmonica
- №1 — Mugig MCH-1 Swan Silver Chromatic Harmonica 10-Hole 40 Tone
- №2 — SWAN Harmonica in C Key 10 Holes 40 Tone Mouth Organ Stainless Steel Chromatics Harmonica SW1040
- №3 — SWAN Harmonica in C Key 10 Holes 40 Tone Mouth Organ Stainless Steel Chromatics Harmonica SW1040