One of the few musical instruments small enough to fit into a pocket, the harmonica has a long and rich history that spans continents. Easy to play, this instrument has long been a prominent part of many types of popular music. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, consider choosing from diatonic, tremolo, or chromatic harmonicas for your next musical instrument purchase.
Ideal for camping and road trips, harmonicas are so portable that you can always keep them around, ensuring a source of fun even when you have no access to television or the internet. For many people, a diatonic harmonica is exactly what springs to mind when they think of this versatile musical instrument. The most basic of harmonicas, this type is the easiest to play because it features a limited number of reeds and creates simple melodies instead of complex chords. Keep in mind that since the reeds on this type of instrument cannot change, diatonic harmonicas come in different keys. Whatever key a diatonic harmonica is set for is the only key the instrument can play. Recommended keys for this type of harmonica include C, A, D, F, G, and B flat. Remember that if you have a favourite song in a particular key that you want to learn to play along with, you do need to purchase a harmonica with a correct diatonic key for that song.
Similar to diatonic harmonicas, tremolo harmonicas produce a wavering musical effect and create a sound not unlike that of an organ. Less versatile than other types of harmonicas and most often heard in gospel music, tremolo harmonicas feature holes with two reads each, responsible for giving the instrument its distinctive vibrating sound. Before you make your choice of harmonica based solely on the price or the looks of the instrument, listen to a tremolo harmonica's characteristic warbling sound to make sure this effect is what you want to achieve. Remember that like diatonic harmonicas, on which you cannot change or adjust the keys, tremolo harmonicas often come in sets of three or more, allowing you to choose the correct key for each song you want to play.
The most advanced and often the most expensive, chromatic harmonicas can play music in any key. These harmonicas feature a sliding bar that directs air to different reads, which does provide the musician with much more control over the notes, but it also makes this instrument significantly more difficult to master than its simpler counterparts are. Keep in mind that if you choose a chromatic harmonica, you may also need a special case to protect the instrument's movable parts from breaking. If you are a beginning player still uncertain of your skills, it may be wise to start with a more basic diatonic or tremolo harmonica before moving on to a more challenging chromatic model.