Best Beginner Chromatic Harmonica: Reviews and Buying Guide


best chromatic harmonica for beginners

Harmonicas are small musical instruments that need no introduction. They make beautiful and soulful music, yet they fit conveniently in a pocket. Most people are introduced to harmonicas as children since they are small, cheap, and amusing (though less so when in the hands of an unruly child).

Most young children “play” the harmonica by blowing into the device, creating an annoying screech. But, when in the hands of an experienced musician, harmonicas make melodic music that is artistic.

If you want to start playing the harmonica, the first step is buying your instrument, but this can be tricky if you are a beginner. To help you out, we have created this guide to the best beginner chromatic harmonica. This article reviews the top 10 harmonicas for beginners and adds a convenient buying guide at the end.

Read on to find out more and begin your journey as a harmonica player today.

Best Beginner Chromatic Harmonica Reviews

Easttop 12 hole 48 tune Chromatic Harmonica – Best Pick

The East top Chromatic Harmonica is the best beginner chromatic harmonica. It is affordable, easy to clean, and provides good sound quality for various musical purposes. Although more professional harmonicas are on the market, this is the best one for those just starting.

With only 12 holes, it creates 48 tones. This makes the East top the best beginner chromatic harmonica for blues, country, or jazz music. The harmonica creates a rich high pitch, allowing the notes to sound crisp and clear.

Along with the impressive sound quality, the East top Chromatic Harmonica is easy to use and clean. It offers great features for beginner users. It provides a smooth slide, maximizing comfort while playing. Since the harmonica is made from robust metals, all you need is 70% ethyl alcohol or lukewarm water for cleaning purposes.

Main Features

  • 12 holes
  • 48 tunes
  • Key of “C”

East top King Dream Chromatic Harmonica Key of C,12 Holes 48 Tones Professional

Check Price

on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Robust and crisp sound
  • Suitable for many music types
  • Easy to clean
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Heavier than other harmonicas

Swan Harmonica in C Key 10 holes Chromatics Harmonica – Best Budget Pick

If you are looking for a new chromatic harmonica on a budget, you should consider the Swan 10 holes Harmonica. This harmonica is the cheapest on this list, yet it offers features comparable to more expensive models.

This harmonica comes with 10 holes and 40 tones. It plays in the “C” tone, making it perfect for blues, rock, country, jazz, and more. The sound created by this harmonica is crisp and clear due to the brass body reed selection.

This harmonica is so affordable that it is made with a durable plastic body and plated with chrome. This material is less durable than metal, but it is lightweight and affordable.

Main Features

  • 10 holes
  • 40 tones
  • Key of “C”

SWAN Harmonica in C Key 10 Holes 40 Tone Mouth Organ Stainless Steel Chromatics Harmonica SW1040

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on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Suitable for many music types
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not as durable as other options

Hohner 7542BX-C Discovery 48 Chromatic Harmonica

Another great harmonica to check out is the Hohner 7542BX-C Discovery 48 Chromatic Harmonica. Much like our top pick, it features 12 holes, 48 reeds, and plays in the key of “C.” This makes the harmonica suitable for many music types and players.

The Hohner Discovery offers good sound performance with its 12 holes, 48 reeds, and 3 octaves. Although the sound is harsher than other models, it still provides a highly competitive sound that is easy to learn. Both beginners and long-time players can play with this sound.

One unique feature of the Hohner Discover is that it has a customizable use. It comes with a screw assembly that allows you to customize the instrument to your preferred hand. This makes the Discovery better for left-handed and right-handed players alike.

Main Features

  • 12 holes
  • 48 reeds
  • 3 octaves
  • Key of “C”

Hohner Discovery 48 Chromatic Harmonica (7542BX-C)

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on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Good sound quality
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile use
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Harsher sound quality
  • Must request warranty

Suzuki Chromatix SCX-48 12 hole Chromatic Harmonica

Suzuki is a wildly popular harmonica brand for more advanced players. The Suzuki Chromatix SCX-48 12 hole Chromatic Harmonica offers premium-quality sound and appearance. Although this harmonica is crafted for professional users, it is still easy enough for beginners to use, but it is expensive.

The Suzuki Chromatix offers 12 holes and 48 tones, making it suitable for almost any musical need. It comes airtight, meaning that there is no leakage of the blow. This makes the sound crisper.

Sound isn’t the only impressive feature of this model. It makes the playing experience more comfortable, allowing you to play for extended periods without discomfort. It also comes with an incredibly convenient slide mechanism.

Main Features

  • 12 holes
  • 48 tones
  • Key of “A”

Suzuki Chromatix SCX-48 12 Hole Chromatic Harmonica, Key of A

Check Price

on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Premium-quality design
  • Crisp sound
  • Airtight to prevent blow leakage
  • Sliding mechanism

Cons

  • More expensive

Hohner Super 64 Performance Series

Hohner is known for its more expensive harmonicas, and the Super 64 is just one example. It is costly, but it comes with comfortability and sound-perfecting mechanisms that make this harmonica top-notch.

The Super 64 is a great harmonica if you eventually want to play hard songs. It includes 16 holes and 48 reeds, making it an excellent option for various musical preferences. It consists of a SilentLife feature and optimized comb chambers that create a fast-responding and precise sound.

New beginners will also appreciate how easy this harmonica is to use and care for. It features a VarioSpring system that permits easy spring tension adjustment. The cover plates are screwed on independently, making them easier to maintain.

Main Features

  • 16 holes
  • 48 reed plates
  • 4 octaves
  • Key of “C”

Hohner Super 64 Performance Chromatic Harmonica

Check Price

on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Produces premium sounds
  • Highly durable
  • Great for professional use once you perfect the instrument

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Large

Swan Chromatic Harmonica SW 1664

Another highly affordable chromatic harmonica is the Swan Chromatic Harmonica SW 1664. This harmonica is a great pic for beginners because it is inexpensive yet impressive in terms of the sound it creates.

This Swan harmonica features 16 holes and 64 reeds, offering a premium-quality musical experience at a much cheaper cost. It is suitable for almost any music style, ranging from rock to pop. The comb is rounded for comfortable holding and swaying, too. This allows the harmonica to be a great learning tool.

Like the other Swan harmonica on our list, this instrument is more affordable because it is made with heavy-duty plastic instead of metal. This makes the harmonica more affordable and lightweight, but it is also less durable. You will likely need to upgrade to a better model once you have mastered the beginner chromatic harmonica.

Main Features

  • 16 holes
  • 64 tones
  • Key of “C”

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Check Price

on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Offers many tones
  • Suitable for several music styles
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not very durable

Suzuki Sirius 56-note Chromatic Harmonica

The Suzuki Sirius 56-hole Chromatic Harmonica offers professional sound and various notes, but it is costly. Still, this harmonica is highly impressive. It has been developed and tested over many years, ensuring that it is a top-tier quality harmonica. It provides notes and expressions for versatile melody composition.

This instrument offers incredible music-playing abilities. It features 14 holes that allow it to play 56 notes, ranging from G to D4. The music produced by this harmonica is incredibly precise and clear. The cross sliding arrangement makes this harmonica more comfortable and accurate sounding.

Main Features

  • 14 holes
  • 56 notes
  • Key of “C”

Suzuki Sirius 56-note Chromatic Harmonica

Check Price

on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Premium quality
  • Comfortable
  • Suitable for professional use

Cons

  • Incredibly expensive

Hohner 64 Chromonica

In case you haven’t noticed yet, Hohner is an excellent harmonica brand. Here is a third Hohner harmonica on our list. The Hohner 64 has been a leading armonica choice since its first release in 1938.

The Hohner 64 includes 16 holes and 48 reed plates, creating a beautiful crisp sound for various musical needs. You can use this harmonica for almost any music type, and it should last you for many years.

However, you could find better harmonicas with better music playing abilities for the same price.

Main Features

  • 16 holes
  • 48 reed plates
  • 4 octaves
  • Key of “C”

Hohner 64 Chromonica Harmonica – Key of C

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on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Trusted brand
  • Classic favorite
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Moderately expensive
  • Can find better harmonicas for the same price

Seydel Saxony 12

One of the more advanced harmonicas is the Seydel Saxony 12. This harmonica includes high-quality components that allow it to create one of any harmonica’s most precise and fast tones.

A unique feature of the Seydel Saxony 12 is the first chromatic harmonica to include stainless steel reeds. The body features 12 holes, 48 notes, and 4 octaves. These features allow the harmonica to create notes for the blues and other music types.

Although this model is costly, it produces one of the clearest sounds. This makes it a top contender for those who want a harmonica for advanced or professional use. Some beginners might find the price too steep for their budgets, though.

Main Features

  • 12 holes
  • 48 notes
  • Key of “C” and “G

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Check Price

on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Produces the purest sound
  • Made from high-quality materials
  • Durable

Cons

  • Highly expensive

Hering 5248 Deluxe

If you want a more raspy sound, you may like the Hering 5248 Deluxe. This harmonica creates a beautiful sound for blues or folk music, and it is priced rather fairly.

It includes 12 holes and 48 different tunes that can be played in major or semi-tone scale. This makes the harmonica suitable for most music types. Most people like it best for jazz, soul, or folk music purely for the more bodied sound it produces.

The Hering 5248 is also much smaller than some of the other harmonicas. This makes it a great choice for those who want to carry their harmonicas with them in their pockets.

Main Features

  • 12 holes
  • 48 tunes
  • Key of “C”

Hering Harmonicas Deluxe Chromatic 48 Harmonica in Key of C

Check Price

on Wallmart.com

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Great for the blues or jazz
  • Lightweight and compact

Cons

  • Less than ideal sound for non-jazz or blues music

Buying Guide

Every beginner harmonica player needs more than just a killer harmonica. They also need to know crucial information about the instrument and playing techniques. This buying guide addresses those issues.

What kind of harmonica should a beginner get?

When learning how to play the harmonica, it is often recommended to start with a diatonic harmonica. This harmonica type only contains the notes of one scale, making it more manageable to learn how to play the instrument.

However, beginners can learn how to play on a chromatic harmonica as well. It may take extra time and patience to master, but it is possible. The benefit of learning on a chromatic harmonica is that professionals use this harmonica type. This will let you play like the best players faster.

Diatonic vs. Chromatic: What You Need to Know

There are two categories of harmonicas: diatonic and chromatic.

  • Diatonic: only contains the notes of one scale; often used for blues, rock, country, and pop music
  • Chromatic: can play all the notes on the chromatic scale, including tones and semi-tones; often used in jazz and classical music

Is it a diatonic or chromatic harmonica for beginners? Most harmonica teachers recommend starting with a diatonic harmonica simply because it is easier to play. With fewer notes, you can grasp the basics without getting overwhelmed or discouraged.

However, some beginners opt for chromatic harmonica instead. Since it offers more notes, it is better for a variety of music purposes. If you want to be a professional player one day, then you should get the chromatic harmonica.

What is a chromatic harmonica?

A chromatic harmonica is designed to play all the notes on the chromatic scale. This includes all notes, tones, and semi-tones. This harmonica type is better for jazz and classical music since it offers more precise sounds.

Chromatic harmonicas work due to their sliding bars. Whenever the bar is pulled, the harmonica plays the diatonic scale. On the other hand, the notes are sharpened whenever the bar is pushed, allowing them to go half a step higher.

How do you play a chromatic harmonica for beginners?

Harmonicas are played by blowing air into the instrument, sucking the air out of it, and strategically covering certain holes. On each hole of the harmonica, there are two reeds. One reed vibrates when you blow, and the other vibrates when you suck.

  1. Play a single note

There are several ways to play one note:

  • Block holes with the tongue, cover the harmonica with your lips, and allow free holes at the side of the mouth
  • Create a tight circle with your lips and draw the tongue in your mouth. Pretend that you are spitting peas out of your mouth to get the correct shape.

As you master one-note, try moving the harmonica, not the head.

  1. Play an octave

Playing an octave is much more difficult, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. An octave is when you play two of the same notes in different octaves.

Begin by putting the harmonica in your mouth. Cover holes 2, 3, and 4 with your tongue. Make sure that holes 1 and 5 are left uncovered. To accomplish this, do not put the harmonica too deep in your mouth. Instead, bring the tongue to the harmonica.

At first, you will probably miss the octave. Keep trying and feeling it out for yourself.

For more Chromatic harmonica lessons for beginners, check out Harmonica Lessons.

Can a chromatic harmonica play in any key?

By definition, chromatic harmonicas can play all notes. However, most players stick to those tuned for the key of “C.” You can play on other keys by changing the harmonica’s position.

How do you bend notes on a chromatic harmonica?

Bending notes on a chromatic harmonica is more complicated than it is on a diatonic one. The reason for this is its added wind saver valves. Although you cannot get the same bending effect, chromatic harmonicas can bend from about a quarter to a half a step. Luckily, you don’t have to learn how to bend to play a complete chromatic scale on most modern designs.

Chromatic songs for beginners

Here is a helpful list of chromatic harmonica songs for beginners:

  • Alouette
  • Ode to Job
  • Mary Has a Little Lamb
  • Oh Susanna
  • When the Saints Go Marching In
  • A Horse with No Name
  • This Old Man
  • Jingle Bells
  • Piano Man

To find more songs with sheet music, visit Harmonica.com.

Conclusion

Harmonicas have been a favorite for years, and with good reason. Learn how to play the chromatic harmonica to wow your friends and embody that age-old soulful sound.

We recommend the East top harmonica for beginners because it is affordable, easy to use, and creates a beautiful sound. Though there are technically better products, this harmonica is perfect for the learning phase. It doesn’t break the bank and is intuitive to use.

If you are looking for something a bit more affordable, we recommend the Swan 10 hole Harmonica. This model is incredibly cheap, but it will still give you an excellent sound to learn on.

Now, buy yourself a harmonica and start playing today!

Steve McRae

Hi, I am Steve McRae. I'm an Industrial Engineer but have worked as a Project Manager in a big IT corporation for the past 10 years. I am also a husband and father to two lovely young kids. I love tech in general, which my wife reminds me of every time I bring home a new gadget or IoT device (even though she is very tolerant about it). My family has grown accustomed to the noises emanating from my office when testing out new products! I now run TopReviewedTen.com. Through this site, I help people like you get valuable information that helps you decide which product is best. My reviews usually come from my experience researching products I purchased and used. All I am doing is revealing my findings to you.

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