Harmonica – Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2021
Harmonicas are instruments that enjoy great popularity, due to the variety of tunes they are capable of offering, and can be adapted for the performance of different musical genres. So, when selecting such an instrument, it is important to thoroughly understand the specifications of the model that attracted our attention, since not all designs are suitable for the same players. If your thing is Rock, Folk and Country, Hohner 560PBX-C is a good option to buy. Its structure is light, ergonomic and the small size of the holes allows you to keep notes for longer. But if what you want is a chromatic harmonica, Andoer And-7553 gives you more than 40 different tunes.
If you take a few minutes of your time to review the harmonica comparison lists, you will come to the conclusion that the manufacturing materials are a factor of great importance that cannot fail to be analyzed prior to the imminent purchase. Remember that the durability of the instrument and even the quality of the sound emitted depends on the raw material.
Therefore, it is important that you make sure that the structure is made of high-end metal such as stainless steel. Likewise, it is recommended that the holes be made of phosphor bronze, since it is an alloy that provides more refined, cleaner tones and with a better projection. Some brands incorporate food grade resin for the reeds. This is a soft polymer with medium stiffness and is free of toxic agents.
Accessories are elements designed to complement the product, which some manufacturers include in the purchase package. In this sense, the user saves time and money, since they will not have to look for these accessories in the purchase catalogs or go to special stores to purchase them, thus avoiding making an extra investment.
With regard to harmonicas, we have to comment that there are two accessories that are usually attached. It is a storage box, which is generally made of rigid polymer and lined with a fairly thin padding and velvety textile. The closure of the structure is safe and the opening easy access. In this way, you can store or transport the instrument without fear that it will deteriorate due to impact or friction against another object.
The second accessory is a small textile cloth made of cotton or microfiber, being textiles with a soft touch that will help you keep the structure of the harmonica free from dirt and fingerprints. So no matter how good and cheap the harmonica is, you should try as much as possible that the selected brand incorporates both elements or at least one of them.
The harmonica market is quite wide, so when you review the purchase catalogs you will find models with varied formats. This can undoubtedly influence how much the product costs, but you should not prioritize the cost, but rather try to acquire an instrument that really suits your handling needs. In this sense, you should verify both the dimensions of the structure and its weight, since, if they are not adequate, you could generate discomfort and fatigue in your hands when holding it during each of the performances.
Design and tunes
The design of a harmonica is basically standard, since it has a rectangular shape. The point of difference is marked by the finishes and details in the additional cuts of the lid, which may vary depending on the concept generated by the manufacturer. Many instruments have the name of the brand engraved on the metal on the main face, others have a smooth chrome surface in silver, gold or black, thus offering a minimalist, elegant and even striking aesthetic.
Regarding the tunes, it is imperative that you stay tuned and review the specifications in the model that has caught your attention, since it may have a tune in C major, F minor or other scales and a variant in the holes that can be between 48, 24 and 10.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: How to clean a harmonica?
Cleaning a harmonica is a fairly simple task, for which you will need a soft bristle brush and a small container of water. To carry out this process, you will not need to disassemble the instrument, since you will only have to take the structure being careful to place the mouth in a downward direction. In this way, you will not have to worry about water entering the interior of the cells.
The next step is to moisten the brush and pass it on the ends of the cells, directing the sweep outwards, as well as on the plates that support the tabs, the mouthpiece and do not forget the area that joins the cover. Remember that you must rinse the brush several times for cleaning to be successful, thus eliminating the accumulation of saliva from each practice. Finally, gently tap the harmonica on a microfiber or cotton cloth to get rid of excess moisture.
Q2: How to make a homemade harmonica for children?
The first thing you should have on hand are two medium-sized toothpicks and another pair of toothpicks that we use for teeth, three strings and a strip of paper. Then, you will have to join the paper with the two wooden sticks, fixing them with the help of rubber and the ropes. Then, insert one of the toothpicks under the paper and the other above, thus achieving a better sound. Additionally, you can print it with color, using a sheet of colorful paper or place some stickers of the child’s taste.
Q3: How to hold the harmonica?
While grasping the harmonica is an instinctive process on the part of the player that adds to the ergonomics of the structure, it is also true that there are some basic rules, such as placing the thumb of your left hand under the lower cover of the harmonica. harmonica and index finger on top cap. On the other hand, the middle, ring and little fingers should be united in an upward position and projecting backwards.
Q4: How to tune a harmonica?
To tune the harmonica, there are only two options, which are usually to raise the tune or lower it. In the first case, if you want to raise the tone of the reed, you will have to start by removing metal from the area that generates the vibrations in the structure. But if the case is to tone down, you will have to carry out the same process but this time where the joints of the cover are with rivets. Remember that you have to go blowing or inhaling the harmonica in order to achieve the required pitch to carry out the performances.
Q5: How to play blues harmonica?
The first thing you should know is that blues require strong tunes , so you must learn to master the note “G”, that is, G, which is on the second hole. This suction note can be a bit tricky. So you must be consistent and practice it over and over again, to get it out in a fine-tuned way. The recommendation is to play it repeatedly, starting with soft blows and gradually increasing the power.
Q6: What is a chromatic harmonica?
The chromatic harmonica is the one that offers you a scale of complete tones with respect to the notes generated when playing the instrument. In this sense, you will have a total of four reeds for each of the cells, two of them for natural notes and the other pair for altered ones. These notes are also known as flats and sharps, respectively.
Q7: What is the glass harmonica?
A glass harmonica is nothing more than an idiophone instrument. This means that the sound generated is the product of the vibration of the material of the structure itself, without resorting to the typical strings, air channels or membranes. This concept was devised in 1762 , by Benjamin Franklin.
Q8: How to play the 48 cell harmonica?
All harmonicas require the same grip and tuning method prior to their performance. The difference is that these models incorporate two lines of cells that add up to 48 holes, offering one of the rows tuning above the note and the other below. This will allow you to enjoy a greater variety of clean tunes, when interpreting genres such as jazz, rock, pop, country, among many others.
The method of playing this instrument does not escape the particular, being necessary that you hold it with the index and middle fingers of the left hand, and with the right it covers the front area of the harmonica. Blow low, high, or sharp notes through the cells, as required by the melody you want to play.
How to use a harmonica
Harmonicas are woodwind or brass instruments that incorporate independent reeds arranged for the execution of each note. Its correct interpretation requires time and a lot of practice. Once you have the instrument in your hands, you should take a few steps to start using it and taking advantage of its full potential. So next, we show you how to use a harmonica through a few simple steps that you should take into consideration.
Check the purchase package
The review of the purchase package is your first contact with the product, being the perfect occasion to verify its good condition. So remove all the packing paper carefully and check that the structure does not have any type of dent or indicator of deterioration. Afterwards, you must verify the incorporation of the respective instruction manual and accessories. Of course, in case the latter have been offered by the manufacturer at the time of purchase.
Read the instruction manual
Reading the instruction manual is a task that many people skip, as they consider it unnecessary. However, this is a step that does not require a lot of time investment and will allow you to familiarize yourself with the product. It does not matter if you are a professional when it comes to the use of harmonicas, you should always keep in mind that each model has specific specifications, for example, regarding the care of the raw material of the structure, cleaning method, among other aspects. So it never hurts to take a look at the manufacturers’ recommendations.
Tune the harmonica
To start your practices, the first thing you should do is tune the harmonica, since it is the only way to get clean tunes. So identify what type of harmonica it is, so you can define if you need to raise or lower the tune. This will also depend on the type of performances you intend to perform. In case you are a beginner, the invitation is to review the instruction manual, to clarify your doubts about the subject or you can also choose to follow the steps of a tutorial that you find on the web.
Clean the harmonica
The cleaning process is a task that must be carried out very frequently. In fact, it is recommended to clean the harmonica every time we finish our daily practice, to eliminate accumulated saliva. All you need to do is moisten the bristles of a brush and slide it from the inside out, emphasizing the areas of greatest accumulation such as the cells, plate, nozzles, mouthpiece, and cover joints. Make sure to remove excess moisture with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth.
Stores the harmonica
Keeping the harmonica safe should be a priority, being necessary that, after cleaning, you store it in its respective transport case or, if this has not been incorporated with the purchase, you could cover the instrument with a soft cloth. This way you will avoid any type of friction with other objects, which may deteriorate its aesthetics.