The type of harmonica greatly affects how and what you can play with it, so let’s sum it all up.
Diatonic harmonicas are harmonicas that are designed in such a way that they can be easily played in a single key. This does not mean though that they only play in that key only, since there are shared notes from one key to another. For instance, you can play a C key diatonic harmonica in A minor since A minor and C key share the same notes. While you will need to play them differently, it is surely possible. A diatonic harmonica is the most ideal type for beginners since it’s easy to play because of its limited features.
On the other hand, a chromatic harmonica is designed to aid playing in all keys, while a diatonic type is restricted to only its branded key, relative minor, and a couple of close keys. However, you can play a chromatic harmonica in every key.
The third type of harmonicas is referred to as the tremolo harmonicas. Also called the echo harmonicas, they use two reeds for every note, with only minor tuning difference between the two.
These are usually large instruments that can produce up to 48 different chords and are typically laid out in blocks of four-note clusters. Each note usually has two reeds tuned an octave apart. Chord harmonicas provide rhythmic and melodic support in harmonica ensembles.
Keys and the number of holes
In diatonic harmonicas, the key will let you know the notes you can play on them. A diatonic harp plays every note on the main scale of the specified key. This does not necessarily mean that it can play in only that key: jazz players, in particular, may want to utilize the harmonica a 5th away from their given key to make it sound like blues.
The keys and the number of keys you will require in your arsenal always comes down to personal choice. Majority of the harmonica players begin with the C key, which is a great general baseline key because it is the most common key in many genres. Going on from there, the keys of D, A, and G are the most used in the main genres of rock, blues, and folk.
Majority of harp come in sets. Sets are harmonicas that come with extra accessories such as a case, and a cleaning cloth. On some occasions, they will come with a user’s manual, a booklet teaching how to play or an instruction manual to help you get started. Buying a set is great for beginners since it is their first harmonica and the probability of them not having the items usually included in a set is very high.
It is vital to note that most high-end harps do not come with carrying cases, and if they do come with a carrying case, you probably should find something more sturdy that will make sure that your valued possession is completely protected.
How to clean a harmonica?
It is crucial to take care of your harmonica very well since most of them are not replaceable because of health regulations. Cleaning your harmonica regularly will make sure that you will not see any drop in the quality of tone your mouth organ produces. If your harps is a plastic comb, rinse it in lukewarm regularly to ensure it stays clean and fresh at all times. However, don’t do this if its metal as it can cause corrosion.
To take your cleaning a step further, you can always buy isopropyl, which is a type of alcohol that comes in a spraying bottle. It helps disinfect your harmonica and keeps it clean, fresh, and shiny.
When you open the harmonica up, be very careful not to mess up the reeds at all. It is important to handle them with care, and when cleaning, rub them gently with the alcohol. When you are done, wipe the residue of the alcohol off with a very soft cloth.
Things to Consider When Buying Harmonicas
A harmonica is a complicated or complex instrument, and its purchase needs to be treated as such. With all necessary factors considered, you’ll rest assured to get the best instrument for your needs.
As we already mentioned above, there are many types of harmonicas, and it’s always logical to consider the types before choosing a model. The diatonic type is recommended for novice and blues players. Diatonic harmonicas usually come with ten holes are usually tuned to a minor or major scale of a particular key. For instance, if it is tuned to the G key, it will play the G major scale only. While you can play blues on chromatic harmonicas as well, diatonic harmonicas are the ideal option for blues, folk, and country due to the extra bending and drawing techniques required to create the bluesy sound.
Picking a comb matter is more important for maintenance. There are 4 types of materials produced: plastic (ABS), wood, metal, and plexiglass. For starters, it is ideal to opt for plastic because maintaining it is very easy and it is comfy on the lips. Also, metal combs are another option that is less susceptible to wear and tear thanks to screws, though they are costlier. Another common material used for harmonicas is wood. Wood is a lot susceptible to humidity, which can lead to swelling and leave wounds in your mouth whilst playing the harps. Although some individuals say that wooden harmonicas produce a warmer sound and do not care about the efforts required to maintain it.
The harp cover is what produces the acoustics. Everything depends on the kind of sound you’re aiming for when it comes to picking the kind of cover design. Many cheap to mid-range priced harps come with traditional covers where the cover’s back is more open, thereby producing a clear and bright tone. Another kind is the cover-all, which muffles the harps slightly, but echoes it more to create a full, mellow, and warm sound. Metal covers generate a brighter tone while plastic generates a softer tone. Your choice when it comes to cover always comes down the type of sound you want to produce.
The quality of the harps is always determined by the price, particularly models that are well-built with high-quality materials. If you are just a hobbyist, you should be good with a budget option. However, it is harder to learn with a cheap harmonica if you’re serious about learning since its poor built causes air leakage, thereby making them difficult to play. It is ideal to go for harmonicas within the range of $30 to $65.