Best Harmonicas in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update August 19, 2018
Itching to express your soul through music but can't settle on an instrument? Why not try a classic diatonic harmonica, respected for its bluesy and unique sound? We've picked out 5 amazing instruments that will definitely get your heart singing. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Application
Type
Key
Material of reeds
Extras
Warranty
 
PROS

The model will allow you to play a variety of different styles, including blues, country, folk, and rock. The key to this sort of versatility are the 12 major keys that work in combination with the possibility of lower and higher octave tunings.

CONS

The reed plates don't adjoin that well. 

OUR VERDICT

If what you're looking for is a musical instrument capable of delivering an outstanding response and one of the sweetest tones ever, this Hohner harmonica will surely prove to be right up your alley. Thanks to a comb made of plastic, it will fit both beginners and experienced musicians. 

detailed parameters
Application

Beginners, Experienced Users

Type

Diatonic (10 holes)

Key

C-major

Material of reeds

Brass

Extras

Recessed Reed plates, plastic comb, storage case and polishing cloth included

Warranty

3 months

PROS

You'll need to blow with less force to get sounds out of this model, which is vital for those that are just learning to play. 

CONS

While the replaceable reeds are a nice touch, they are still kind of pricey.

OUR VERDICT

The Lee Oskar brand is famed for how durable and well-made their instruments are and this model is no exception. Its bright and loud sounds make it a perfect fit for blues, rock, and country music. So if you want to unleash your inner cowboy or a rockstar, give the Lee Oskar C Major harmonica a try.

detailed parameters
Application

Beginners, Experienced Users

Type

Diatonic (10 holes)

Key

C-major

Material of reeds

Brass

Extras

Plastic comb, storage case and cloth included

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

PROS

The slide moves smoothly and won't distract you from playing. It requires no maintenance or lubrication thanks to a special spring mechanism.

CONS

You'll need some time to get used to the metal comb.

OUR VERDICT

The Swan SW1040 is an instrument for true professionals that aren't afraid to experiment by taking their music in a new direction. We only recommend this model to those that have already mastered diatonic harmonicas and want a next-level experience. Perfect for jazz improvisations and complicated harmonies.

detailed parameters
Application

Experienced Users, Professional musicians

Type

Chromatic (10 holes)

Key

C-major

Material of reeds

Phosphor bronze

Extras

Metal comb, storage case and cloth included

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

PROS

The instrument has special air holes that help it dry after being played. This prevents bacteria from spreading and keeps the harmonica clean.

CONS

The instrument gets a bit off-key after a while.

OUR VERDICT

This is a model for absolute beginners, even those that know nothing about music. Made by Fender, it's sleek and stylish, though we're not too thrilled with its durability. We'd recommend buying this if you're working on a budget and only need a starter instrument to learn the basics or want a quick replacement for your regular harmonica.

detailed parameters
Application

Beginners, Experienced Users

Type

Diatonic (10 holes)

Key

C-major

Material of reeds

Brass

Extras

ABS plastic comb, storage case and cloth included

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

PROS

The model features 24 double holes instead of your regular ten. In addition to having a couple of reeds per note, both of these reeds are tuned a bit off the reference pitch, with one being somewhat sharper and the other a bit flatter, which is the secret behind the tremolo harmonica's unique sound. 

CONS

The stainless steel top cover isn't particularly scratch-resistant. 

OUR VERDICT

If you're looking to pick up a harmonica that's capable of producing a completely different sound compared to your typical diatonic one but will still manage to captivate and enthral with its powerful tunes, you might want to look into the Gaminol WW-HM01.

detailed parameters
Application

Beginners, Experienced Users

Type

Tremolo (24 double holes)

Key

C-major

Material of reeds

Phosphor bronze

Extras

ABS Resin comb, storage case and cloth included

Warranty

6 months

HOHNER 560PBX-C

The Right Kind of Response

The HOHNER 560PBX-C is one of those very few examples of a product that was designed for experienced musicians, used by professionals, yet is more than suitable for beginners to practice their craft. This sort of a feat is possible mostly thanks to the 20 reed plates that are recessed into the plastic comb. With the help of such setup, the harmonica is properly sealed, so any user will be able to play this musical instrument with utmost comfort. This comfort, naturally, mostly stems from the fact that plastic is much softer and easier on the lips than metal, something that any beginner will be able to appreciate. Plus, the plastic comb doesn't absorb moisture, providing the sort of durability to the product that was otherwise somewhat diminished by the use of plastic.

All in all, the special airtight design of this Hohner harmonica is exactly what makes it one of the most popular of harmonica players that play a variety of different styles, including blues, country, folk, and rock. The key to this sort of versatility are the 12 major keys that work in combination with the possibility of lower and higher octave tunings. Other than that, the model also includes a storage case and a polishing cloth, both of which will surely come in handy in a variety of scenarios.

In conclusion, if what you're looking for is a musical instrument capable of delivering an outstanding response and one of the sweetest tones ever, this Hohner harmonica will surely prove to be right up your alley.

Review of HOHNER 560PBX-C Special 20 Harmonica, 10 Holes Major C

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Lee Oskar 1910-C

Larger Holes for Easier Playing

Harmonicas are usually depicted as an instrument for playing sad music, songs about broken hearts and such. However, if you want to create upbeat tunes, you should turn to the Lee Oskar Major, tuned slightly over to the bright sound, which is perfect for rock and folk songs that are more on the energetic side.

It’s a classic-looking diatonic Lee Oskar harmonica, preserving the quality while bringing some innovations in terms of design. The plastic comb is sealed to be completely airtight, which is vital to keeping the sound clean. We find this to be a good choice for beginners as the brass reeds in the instrument are quite responsive and all 10 holes are larger than usual. This makes long playing sessions easier on your lips and doesn’t strain your diaphragm too much. You won’t get chapped lips after spending hours practicing a new tune, all thanks to the bigger holes.

While the brass reeds in the Lee Oskar Major are very durable, they are bound to wear out eventually, be it in 10 years or 20. When that happens, you won’t have to buy a new instrument, just get a new reed plate at half the cost and revive your favorite harmonica.

Overall, the Lee Oskar Major will be a solid choice for experienced players and a great one for beginners. The large holes make it easy to play and the airtight comb guarantees that the quality of your music will depend solely on your skills.

Review of Lee Oskar 1910-C Harmonica, Key of C, Major Diatonic

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Swan SW1040

A True Gem for Skilled Musicians

Wanna take your sound to the next level, try your hand at some cool improvisations or diversify the kind of tunes you can play? Well, if you think you’re up to the task, take a look at the SWAN SW1040, a mouth organ aimed at skilled players and true professionals of the art. With just this one small instrument, you can lay out groovy blues and rock, pluck at the heartstrings of your audience with country and folk tunes, or get really out there by jamming a jazz medley that will take the listener on a trip.

This chromatic harmonica is a standard 10-hole model tuned to a C major key, familiar to anybody that has a little experience with the instrument. However, the phosphor bronze reeds are a nice change of pace as most musicians feel that they are more durable than the brass ones, topped only by stainless steel reeds, which, frankly, cost an arm and a leg and are hard to justify unless you’re a professional playing in a successful band.

You should also know that the SWAN SW1040 has a cross-tuned slide that’s best for lower octaves and a bit easier to master than a straight-tuned one. However, the same can’t be said about the metal comb, which may take some getting used to if you’ve played plastic ones before. Plus, it’s a bit tougher on the lips, so you might want to take it easy with the first few sets on this instrument. Give your mouth a chance to get used to the rougher surface and make sure to use the free polish cloth as often as possible to keep the metal clean and safe to use.

With all that said, you can see for yourself if the SWAN SW1040 is right for you. Unafraid of a little challenge and feel that you have enough skill to play a chromatic instrument? Then we can definitely recommend this model, thanks to its classic features and modern high quality.

Review of Swan SW1040 Harmonica in C Key 10 Holes 40 Tone, Chromatics

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Fender 990701001

Affordable Harmonica for Beginners

So, you want to play the harmonica but have never tried it and don’t feel like spending a ton on an instrument that you’re unfamiliar with? Well, don’t fret because the Fender harmonica 990701001 is a great choice for you!

This is a pretty classic diatonic model with 10 holes and the standard C major key, which will suit both amateurs and more experienced players. However, since it’s made by Fender, the instrument does stand out with a flashy design. The chromed metal cover is shiny and sleek and will stay that way as long as you use the free polishing cloth that comes with the purchase. 

Meanwhile, the inside of the harmonica is pretty good as well with brass reeds and an ABS plastic comb. Although brass isn’t our top choice of material for reeds, it’s a pretty solid one. But when materials are less than great, the instrument likely won’t last for years and years like some high-end ones would. That became evident when we did some research and saw that the Fender 990701001 tends to get off-key after about 6-8 months of play. The low price of the instrument means that you can replace it easily though.

To sum up, we wouldn’t recommend the Fender harmonica to a skilled musician or someone that needs the instrument for extensive touring. But if you’re just starting out or need a quick replacement harmonica for a few concerts, this is a perfect choice. It’s good enough to last a couple of months and the sound quality is up to par with the more expensive models.

Review of Fender 990701001 Blues Deluxe Harmonica, Key of C

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Gaminol WW-HM01

A Different Sound

So, you want to play the harmonica but have never tried it and don’t feel like spending a ton on an instrument that you’re unfamiliar with? Well, don’t fret because the Fender harmonica 990701001 is a great choice for you!

This is a pretty classic diatonic model with 10 holes and a standard C major key, which will suit both amateurs and more experienced players. However, since it’s made by Fender, the instrument does stand out with a flashy design. The chromed metal cover is shiny and sleek and will stay that way as long as you use the free polishing cloth that comes with the purchase.

Meanwhile, the inside of the harmonica is pretty good as well, with brass reeds and an ABS plastic comb providing a reliable foundation. Although brass isn’t our top choice of material for reeds, it’s still a solid one. But when the materials are less than great, the instrument likely won’t last for years to come, where a high-end model just might. That became evident when we did some research and saw that the Fender 990701001 tends to go off-key after about 6-8 months of play. Of course, the low price of the instrument means that you can easily replace it.

To sum up, we wouldn’t recommend the Fender harmonica to a skilled musician or someone that needs an instrument for extensive touring. But if you’re just starting out or need a quick replacement harmonica for a few concerts, this is a perfect choice. It’s good enough to last a couple of months and the sound quality is up to par with the more expensive models.

Review of Gaminol WW-HM01 Chromatic Harmonica in C Key, 24 Double Hole

 

What Is a Harmonica?

Harmonicas may not look like much but the compact case sure packs a real musical punch. If you like classic rock, blues, or jazz, you’ve likely already heard hours of soulful tunes played on this tiny instrument. Using only your mouth, you can create a heart-wrenching blues ballad or an upbeat song to dance to on St. Patrick’s Day. The versatile instrument is made up of a comb (named so for its similarity to, well, a hair comb) and reeds, which seems pretty simple. But, depending on the materials used and the diameter of the holes you blow into and the harmonica types, the sound you end up with will be strikingly different with each model. From a tear-inducing southern love ballad to smoky riffs for jazz virtuosos, the harmonica has been a staple of true American music for decades. So if you want to play it, respect the craft and choose the best instrument you can find. And, of course, we’ll be right here to guide you through it.

And if you want to add some groovy rock to your sound, try out an electric guitar. On the other hand, if you’re into experimental music, maybe mash up your harmonica with a tambourine to see what kind of style you can create?

Sources:

1. Harmonica, Wikipedia. March 25, 2018.

2. Winslow Yerxa Harmonica For Dummies Cheat Sheet, dummies.

3. Heidi Raschke When Harmonicas Are the Best Medicine, Next Avenue. November 10, 2016.

4. Deepak B. Modgekar 9 NOTEWORTHY HEALTH BENEFITS OF PLAYING THE HARMONICA, LinkedIn. September 13, 2017.

5. Laura Kelly New therapy uses blues harmonica music to strengthen lungs, mouth, Washington Times. March 27, 2017.

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Publish Date: 2018-04-06 12:58:51