picture of tremolo harmonica
Harmonica FAQ

Last Update: 21 June 1998


Where can I buy a harmonica?

If you do not have some musical instrument shop near you, you can use virtual music shops, some of them are listed in my page. But please use them at your own risk.

You may also ask about shops to the distributors. You can see on the Internet, Hohner has his own homepage. For Lee Oskar Models and other Tombo products you can perhaps get informations from

For Pro Master and other Suzuki Harmonica products, please ask

What is the best model for a beginner to start on?

Do you have any favorite song? If you have favorite songs or artists, you would be better to choose the same type of harmonica used in your favorite songs (or by your favorite artists).
Solo harmonica has mainly 3 types, chromatic, 10-holes (bluesharp) and tremolo. Tremolo is easiest in playing, I think. 10-holes is not easy, for example you should learn bend technic to use 10-holes fully, but you can make many sounds through 10-holes.
Chromatic is simple and needs basic technics, as many classical instruments do. But if you use one of chromatic type, you can play almost all songs. If you use other type, some songs cannot be played with it and some songs must change their key to play. (Though in such a case, many country songs are playable with that kind of harmonica.)
I recommend to start with tremolo. I use Tombo Band, but in U.S. it may be difficult to get. Hohner's ECHO etc. are tremolo type harmonica. Hohner's Marine Band or Bluesharp, Lee Oskar Model, Suzuki's Pro Master etc. are 10-holes type.

I recently got a harmonica, but I have no idea what I'm doing

Do you have any favorite song? I think you would be better to start your harmonica life by playing your favorite song.
If your harmonica has a slide lever (i.e. your one is of chromatic type), you can play almost all songs. If your one does not have a lever, some songs cannot be played with it. Though in such a case, many country songs are playable with that kind of harmonica (tremolo and octave harmonica).
For learning a harmonica, some books and videos are sold, and some web pages provides harmonica lessons. Harmonica World has links to these pages.

How to play my harmonica?

For tremolo type.
Nip each side of the harmonica with forefinger and thumb of each hand and hold the harmonica horizontal. Make your mouth in a figure of "o" voice, to cover just one vertical pair of holes. Put the harmonica to your mouth and blow (or draw) your breath.
If you want to change tones, slide your harmonica (not your mouth).

It is difficult to teach how to play harmonica by text only. It would be good to read the book teaching harmonica.

I find that the Marine Band (or other 10-holes) has two holes (one blow, one draw) holding the note "sol"(G) below middle C, but there is no "la"(A) below middle C. Why is this?
Does this mean that we cannot use the Marine Band to play song with the note "la"(A) ?

It is true. You cannot play the song with "la" sound with the Marine Band, without using "bend" technic.
The reason there is no "la" below middle C is that the Marine Band (and many kinds of European harmonica) gives priority to the chord, rather than to the melody. If there would be a "la" hole below middle C, as many Japanese harmonicas, you would make "fa-la-si"(FAB) or "la-si-re"(ABD) chord in drawing. It is not beautiful. For the Marine Band, "re-so-si"(DGB=major G) or "so-si-re"(GBD=major G) chord is made by drawing. This is why the Marine Band does not have low-"la"(A) hole.
If you would master bend technic, which flats the drawing tone of harmonica, you would be able to play songs with "la" tones by the Marine Band.

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Masaaki Shigehara / PFD00763@niftyserve.or.jp