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Jaxon Reed
Jaxon Reed

What Harmonica Should I Buy For Blues

Everyone starts with a C harmonica so the question is what next? There are 12 keys in music but for 90% of blues music you will not need all of them. The main thing which determines what key you will be playing in is what keys guitarists like to play in. This means you can rely on 6 harmonicas which are;

what harmonica should i buy for blues


The A harmonica is a lot deeper than the C harmonica which makes it feel quite different play. The lower keyed harmonicas feel slower to resonate and like they require more air. They will definitely build up your stamina.

This means you can play in the key of F. The Bb is a lovely in between harmonica. It is not too high and screechy or too low and slow. Instead, most techniques will feel relatively easy on it. Indeed, traditionally Bb is the harmonica you start on to learn playing overblows.

The F harmonica allows you to play in the key of C in 2nd position. It is a very high harmonica and when you are practising by yourself it might feel like it is screechy and strident. Do not worry about this. When you play with a band, the high pitch of this harmonica will sound sweet because it is different to the lower instruments playing with you.

To remember what you are playing in 2nd position just count up 5 letters from the key of the harmonica. E.g. C, D, E, F, G so a C harmonica in 2nd position is played in key of G. This works for all keys except B and Bb. B in 2nd position is F# and Bb is F.

The blues harmonica, better known as the blues harp, is integral to the classic driving sounds of soul-ripping blues and urban blues. It is even responsible for the beginnings of acid rock. Icons throughout the last 125 years have made the blues harp synonymous with soul, grit, and inspiration.

The blues harp greats like Little Walter and Paul Butterfield became godfathers of the blues genre through their unique mastery of this powerful little instrument. It can be picked up and learned by anyone, but mastery only comes with hours of daily practice. This guide will cover great blues harp options for beginners and experienced harmonicists alike.

We are going to start this list of the best blues harmonicas off with the classic Hohner Marine Band Harmonica. This is the harmonica that was played by Little Walter, Paul Butterfield, John Lennon, and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few. If it is good enough for Little Walter, then it is good enough for any blues player anywhere.

This is the classic brass reed, wood comb, diatonic, 10-hole harmonica that started the entire genre of blues harp music. Available in 12 keys, it sports the original Marine Band detailing that would have been on the harmonicas played by the blues giants. Using this harmonica is like jumping into a place in history. This harmonica, well played, delivers the same sounds that inspired decades of blues musicians, bands, and fans.

This harmonica has been overshadowed in later years by harmonicas that are made and marketed as blues harps or blues harmonicas, but this is the original, and many argue, the best. Today this harmonica is viewed as a perfect instrument for beginners and intermediate players.

The wooden comb is one part of the design that gives the Marine Band its loud, heavy, and rich sound. It is also one complaint that beginners have. The wooden comb is not as kind to new lips. Those who stick with it will have an incredible skill on the very best blues harp there has ever been.

The Marine Band harmonica has vented sides, which is the original design. This design delivers maximum volume, but it also means that players have to cover the vents to get more mellow and muted sounds from the instrument. It also requires a little more coordination to achieve certain hand effects. While that was not a negative for Paul Butterfield, each player has their own sound preferences.

The Hohner 532 Blues Harp MS-Series Harmonica is a follow-up to the Marine Band Harmonica that riffs on the blues style that was born from the older Hohner series. This 50-year-old series has a more mellow sound built into it by design. It has brass reeds, 10 holes, and a sweet, soulful sound. It is a diatonic blues harp that is available in 12 keys.

This design needs slightly more aggression to play than the Marine Band model, but it also achieves a more gritty, dirty blues sound than the Marine Band model. The sounds that come from the closed side vents help the player to deliver consistent notes at a consistent volume.

Players find them easier to bend and achieve hand effects due to the closed vents. However, higher notes tend to lose their sparkle and ring because of the lack of venting. What some call sparkle, others call sharp and irritating, so it is a matter of preference. It really does give an overall different sound than the original Marine Band, and most blues players like different models for different venues.

A great selling point of the MS series harmonicas by Hohner is that they have interchangeable combs, reeds, and plates to suit many different styles of playing. So those who are more adventurous can experiment with swapping out various components to achieve a new sound that is all their own. That is just how Butterfield would do it too.

The final benefit of a closed vent model is for concert venues. This model works better when using a pickup. The harmonica can be tricky to amplify, especially for those high open-vented notes. The closed vent models are easier to amplify because they naturally deliver a more rich, mellow tone that is amp-friendly.

The Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica is a great choice, especially for beginners. This is an entry-level harmonica that is easy on the wallet. Entry-level does not mean that it skimps on sound or ease of play. This is a great blues harp to learn on, and it will offer nice sounds through intermediate skill levels.

This harmonica is designed by Fender, a well-known and much-loved guitar and amp company. It is natural for Fender to branch out into manufacturing other instruments that will be used in blues, jazz, and rock bands.

This harmonica is made with brass reeds and an ABS plastic comb. The ABS delivers a sound that is richer than some might think, but it is not as rich as a wood comb. This harmonica gives a much brighter sound, which is preferable for many, especially in group jam settings where mellower sounds are drowned in the noise.

The upside of ABS is that it will keep its tuning and dry out fully in-between sessions. It comes with a vented storage case to help it dry. The all-around durability of a Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica is unarguable. With stainless steel, brass, and ABS components, this little blues harp will play a lot of music and last a long time.

It is a 10-hole diatonic harmonica with brass reeds that is available in 7 keys including C, G, A, D, F, E, and B-flat. Most beginner to intermediate players will find this to be an ample selection for their repertoire.

The Fender Blues Deluxe harmonicas are also available in 3-packs that include harmonicas tuned to the keys of C, G, and A. They are also available in a seven-pack that includes all available keys. Both packs include a special case to hold all of the blues harmonicas in one place.

The Fender Blues DeVille Harmonica comes in seven different keys including C, G, A, D, F, E, and B-flat. Fender also sells a seven-harmonica kit. This bundle includes one harmonica in every key, and a protective case to keep them all together.

For those who need less variety, they also have a three-harmonica bundle with a case that includes the keys of C, G, and A. Both bundles offer the harmonicas at a much-discounted price compared to buying them singly.

The Lee Oskar Major Diatonic Harmonica was designed by jazz/funk harmonica pioneer Lee Oskar. As a founding member of the band, WAR, Lee was the lead harmonicist who pioneered a vision of new music genres for the harmonica. Unable to find exactly the right harmonica to suit his musical vision, he went on a quest to design his own. Harmonicists everywhere can now experience the Oskar sound.

Lee Oskar teamed up with a Japanese harmonica company named Tombo, which has been manufacturing harmonicas since 1917. They built his designs into new harmonicas with unique tuning to create the distinctive sounds of various musical genres from folk to hip-hop and everything in-between.

The Lee Oskar Major Diatonic Harmonica is perfect for playing killer blues. This can be played in the first position (straight harp) or second position (cross harp) depending on the type of melody and amount of chord notes that are desired in the music. Cross harp is the most widely used position for the blues harp.

The major diatonic harmonica is one of four harmonicas designed by Lee Oskar, two of which are suitable for playing the blues. This particular harmonica has the regular major scale tuning in a whopping 18 keys. This makes the Lee Oskar harmonicas suitable for everyone from beginner through expert because a harmonica can be purchased to play any song in any key.

Each Lee Oskar Diatonic Harmonica has brass reed plates that are easily replaceable by opening the case. It is held together by 3 self-tapping screws for quick disassembly and reassembly. This harmonica has a plastic comb with wider holes and narrower dividers which makes the notes easier to hit.

Each type of tuning is color-coded for easy indexing, and first and second positions are clearly marked. The 18 diatonic harmonicas are colored orange on the carrying case so that they are easy to distinguish from other types of tunings that are available from Lee Oskar.

There are rock blues and country blues, but what is more haunting than those slow minor blues? Some of the most memorable blues songs are in the minor keys, and Lee Oskar makes them easier to play than ever. Playing in minor keys on a major key tuned blues harp is a very advanced skill that still does not render a complete minor scale.

The Lee Oskar Natural Minor Harmonica series features 12 unforgettable minor keys. These blues harps are tuned with five altered notes that hit the minor notes perfectly in each minor-tuned scale. This means that every musician can play complicated minor compositions in the second position without advanced skills. This opens up a new world of music for many harmonicists who dream of playing old minor blues favorites. 041b061a72


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