The harmonica (also referred to as the French harp or mouth organ) is a popular free-reed wind instrument used in numerous musical genres. In addition to its wide acceptance in music, there are also several types of harmonica worth noting, including diatonic, chromatic, tremolo, octave, orchestral, and bass types.
Because the harmonica is such a common (and relatively affordable) instrument, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of options to choose from on the market. With such a wide variety of harmonicas, knowing the top brands is useful.
Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect of an instrument, though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgement. In this article, I'll share my take on the top harmonica brands.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the harmonicas
- Longevity of the harmonicas
- Variety of harmonicas available
- Accessibility of the harmonicas (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let's list out the brands.
The top 11 best harmonica brands are:
Let's get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best harmonica brands. I'll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable harmonica, and a link to their official website.
Originally a clockmaker, Matthias Hohner built the largest harmonica factory in the world during his lifetime. Moreover, Hohner harmonicas conquered both sides of the ocean and are still a trademark of great sound, superb playability, and affordability today.
The company continues to build some of the best harmonicas the world has ever seen, utilizing the same obsessive attention to detail the clockmaker left them as a legacy. If you want the quintessential harmonica that created the revolution, you have to try Hohner out.
All instruments follow an innovation path that brings them to current times. Harmonica is not an exception, and it is not surprising that the redesign of a timeless classic comes from one of the biggest names in the industry: Hohner.
The CX-12 delivers uncanny tones with a specially-designed body that still turns heads to this day, decades after being introduced in 1992. Moreover, the revolutionary design won the German Industry Design Award in 1993, which was the first time in history that was awarded to a harmonica.
This is a great candidate if you want a modern instrument that can get the job done easily night after night.
Hohner was founded by Matthias Hohner in 1857. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
Official website: hohner.de
The perfect mixture of passion and knowledge in harmonica coming from virtuoso player Lee Oskar with the technology, heritage, and know-how of a company that has been making state-of-the-art products since 1917 makes every Lee Oskar harmonica a piece of music history in the making.
Indeed, what started with Lee's frustration while being the lead harmonica player of the band WAR touring the world playing poor-quality harmonicas is now an international success selling top-notch harmonicas to professionals, amateurs, students, and aficionados around the planet.
If you haven't already, try Lee Oskar's harmonicas before buying anything else.
Notable harmonica: Lee Oskar Melody Maker (link to check the price on Amazon)
Although most of us associate harmonicas with blues, it is not the only style that can be played with the instrument. In this case, Lee Oskar's Melody Maker is more suitable for styles such as Reggae, R&B, Pop, Country, Latin, or Jazz. Moreover, in its first position (as a straight harp), it can also be used for Irish music or Clave/Afro music.
According to Lee Oskar, this is the best harmonica they offer for those who love playing single-note melodies. This is because clarity and projection are unmatched in this model.
If this description sounds like the harmonica you need, don't hesitate to try the Melody Maker by Lee Oskar.
The company was founded by Lee Oskar Levitin and Tombo MFG of Japan in 1983. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Everett, Washington, USA, and harmonicas are manufactured in Japan.
Official website: leeoskar.com
Seydel is the oldest harmonica factory in the world. The company has been making top-notch harmonicas for well over 150 years, selling instruments for the most gifted harmonica players in the world. Furthermore, the centuries-old harmonica-building tradition has been polished and innovated to perfection. The Seydel factory is the result of the effort generations made to create the ultimate harmonica.
Therefore, trying a Seydel harmonica before buying is a must; you'll be blowing through decades of non-stop innovation and flawless manufacturing. Don't settle for less; try a Seydel harmonica before buying.
Notable harmonica: Seydel Solist Pro 12 Steel (link to check the price on Amazon)
For the solo player, having a 3-octave configuration is a golden ticket to innovation, creativity, and new sounds. Moreover, this harmonica achieves that configuration while playing like a 10-hole diatonic.
Adding to that, the flawless stainless-steel construction with stainless-steel reeds makes this a long-lasting, great-sounding instrument that can accompany you on countless sonic journeys.
This is a great choice if you want a new instrument to unlock inspiration.
Christian August Seydel founded Seydel in 1847. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Klingenthal/Sa., Germany.
Official website: seydel1847.de
Although just like Yamaha, Suzuki is well-known for its ventures into motorcycles and cars, the musical instrument division of the company is just as strong. Indeed, every harmonica coming out of the factory receives the same attention to detail large-engine motorcycles do. This translates into superb-sounding instruments with flawless construction.
As for today, Suzuki has manufactured and sold over 13 million harmonicas worldwide. This is not a minor detail but the proof that Suzuki harmonicas are ready to take on any stage in the world and are second to none in terms of quality and performance.
Notable harmonica: Suzuki HA-20 Hammond (link to check the price on Amazon)
The partnership with synthesizer giant, Hammond, makes this a one-of-a-kind harmonica.
The brass cover helps the thick sounds, while the rigidity of the aluminum body prevents any loss of blown breath. As a result, the warm, powerful, projected sound this harmonica is capable of will revolutionize your entire set.
This matte-finished harmonica is recommended for those with an ear for melody since notes sound deep and round, perfect for conveying emotions.
If this sounds like the harmonica you're after, don't hesitate to try one today.
Suzuki Musical Instrument Manufacturing was founded in 1953 by Manji Suzuki. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Official website: suzukimusic-global.com
Although Kongsheng started manufacturing and selling harmonicas not so long ago, they have amassed a hefty number of fans around the globe. Moreover, their innovations over a known path allow them to grow enough to have a 100-workers factory in China.
This was not an overnight phenomenon but the outcome of over a decade of hard work, relentless innovation, and the belief that even the smallest detail can make the difference. If you are after state-of-the-art construction, great quality craftsmanship, and good sounds, you need to check Kongsheng harmonicas before buying anything else.
This 7-hole diatonic harmonica is the result of collaboration with BoogieMan. It is the perfect companion to enjoy some music at any moment because it is small enough to fit the pocket of your shirt and powerful enough to fill the room with sound.
Also, the Kongsheng comes in several different colours because the aluminum cover was treated with trendy matte finishes. Also, the ABS comb and the brass reed plate, as well as the phosphor bronze reed, make this a long-lasting, great-sounding, modern harmonica.
Kongsheng was founded in 2007. Currently, the headquarters are in Jiangsu, China.
Official website: kongshengmusic.com
Jiangsu Swan Musical Instrument CO., Ltd was founded in 1982. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Jiangsu, China.
Swan carries on a very important role in China; it is the Chinese Musical Instrument Industry Association company responsible for setting the standard for chromatic harmonicas in China. This is not an isolated fact or a random occurrence. Swan employs over 500 workers and has been making state-of-the-art harmonicas for over four decades.
Therefore, every time you buy a Swan product, what you can expect is uncanny attention to detail, a broad catalogue to choose from, and a thorough commitment to excellence. Try a Swan harmonica today; you might be surprised by what they can do.
Notable harmonica: Swan SW1040 (link to check the price on Amazon)
This is not just another harmonica; it is an electrical harmonica that comes equipped with its own amplifier. Indeed, the combo offered by Swan includes the 10-hole, 40-tone chromatic harmonica, a cable, and a mini amplifier. This addition is perfect for those who want to play live and jam with friends.
You can forget about holding your microphone to the instrument, playing uncomfortably, and fighting with feedback issues; just plug in, play your heart out, and let the world hear you.
Official website: swanmusicstore.com
After working for the Hohner harmonica company for decades as technicians, brothers Frank and Cham decided to open up their own business. Therefore, every harmonica designed and manufactured by Huang is not just the outcome of 40 years as a company, but the accumulation of almost a century of harmonica manufacturing experience.
Nowadays, Huang is still a family-owned business. As such, they offer uncanny customer support, attention to detail, and passion for a job well done. Pick a Huang harmonica today and feel the difference for yourself.
Notable harmonica: Huang Musette Four (link to check Newark Musical Merchandise Co.)
This harmonica should satisfy most players since it offers four harmonicas in C, G, D, and F on a wheel. Moreover, each harmonica features 24 holes, so you can create sonic landscapes in a breeze.
Also, The Huang Concertone comes in a deluxe wooden case that makes transportation an easy endeavour. This is a perfect solution if you are after a harmonica that can do it all in a single package.
Huang Harmonicas was founded by brothers Frank and Cham-ber Huang in the early eighties. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Old Bethpage, New York, USA.
Official website: huangharmonicasinc.com
Hering was born to offer the world top-notch harmonicas that could be successful in any market. Such was the case with exports from the early 40s when Hering was commissioned to manufacture the harmonicas for the US Army. It is no wonder that Hohner decided to buy not only the facilities but also tools and patents in the 1960s.
Nowadays, after over a century of hard work, multiple sales, and an unbreakable commitment to excellence, Hernig Harmonicas are synonymous with the highest quality standards in the world. In the case you haven't already, pick one up and feel the 100 years of legacy behind every note.
Notable harmonica: Hering Seductora 7996 (link to check the price at Walmart)
Boasting 3 octaves across 96 holes and a 0.9mm reed, this is one serious octave harmonica. The stainless-steel cover offers years of flawless performance, while the wooden interior gives the resulting sound that sought-after mellow, warm tone harmonica players need in every performance. To finish it up, this harmonica comes in a dedicated vintage box with an elegant sleeve to keep it dry and working perfectly.
Hering was founded by Alfredo Hering in 1923. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
US website: heringusa.com
David Herzhaft is a man on a mission: to break all boundaries of what we think a harmonica can do. In that sense, he broke the mould countless times with successful records accompanied by world-class musicians the size of Frank Gambale.
After revolutionizing the world playing the instrument, Harmo was born to close the gap between what David needed and what the market could offer. He set out to create an instrument that could serve as a safe vessel when sailing into the unknown sonic territory. He was successful in his endeavours, and slowly but steadily, Harmo is making it to the mainstream of the harmonicas market.
Notable harmonica: Harmo Torpedo Harmonica (link to check the price on Amazon)
The discerning player needs an instrument that can meet their expectations. In this sense, the Torpedo by Harmo is the perfect candidate for the mission. To begin with, it is designed and handcrafted in Eagle, Idaho, by experts. During that time, it goes through extreme quality assurance to bend and overbend all notes from holes 1 to 10 with impeccable results.
The Torpedo is a professional instrument for the professional player. If that is your case, you need to check this harmonica before buying anything else.
Harmo was founded by professional harmonica player David Herzhaft in 2016. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Eagle, Idaho, USA.
Brendan Power Harmonicas
Brendan Power is one of the top harmonica players in the world. He founded the company bearing his name in 2013, after working as Suzuki's world specialist in harmonicas for over 10 years.
This is, perhaps, the most important aspect of Brendan's harmonicas: he's been a top player for so many decades he can just design and create while others manufacture. As a result, the harmonicas bearing his name are ready to break all moulds and take the world like a storm.
If you want to try what the harmonica stars in the world play in the most demanding scenarios, give this brand a chance; you might be surprised.
Notable harmonica: Brendan Power PowerBender (link to check the price at Brendan Power)
The PowerBender by Brendan Power is the result of over a decade of hard work and innovation to create the ultimate harmonica for bent notes. Indeed, the modifications in the design of this classic 10-hole diatonic harmonica allow it to receive more air and stay in tune. Moreover, all those bent notes that everybody loves and can make the hair in your audience's arms stand are easier to achieve with this harmonica.
Check the word of Brendan Power himself, explaining why you need to check the PowerBender before buying any other brand.
Currently, Brendan Power's headquarters are in London, UK, but harmonicas are manufactured under specific Brendan instructions in different factories around the world.
Official website: brendan-power.com
Fender is best known for creating the best-selling guitar shape of all time, the Stratocaster; the company is also a major player in blues music.
As a worldwide blues ambassador, endorsing some of the genre's biggest names, from Buddy Guy to Joe Bonamassa, to offer a fine line of well-made, great-sounding harmonicas was nothing short of a must for the company.
Just like you would expect, Fender set out to create the most outstanding harmonicas in the market. Although it still has a lot of competition inside and outside the USA, the brand's harmonicas catalogue is among the best out there.
Notable harmonica: Fender Blues Deville Harmonica (link to check the price on Amazon)
With 10-hole moisture-resistant ABS combs and mesmerizing black and gold graphics, this harmonica looks as good as it plays.
Moreover, the phosphor bronze reeds help this instrument deliver a tone that can be defined as bright and bold and that can cut through even the densest mix. Also, the covers on both sides are made of chrome metal, enhancing the instrument's life span. Finally, it comes in a protective, vented plastic case that allows drying after playing.
This harmonica is everything you would expect from a brand like Fender.
Fender was founded by Clarence Leonidas Fender in 1946. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Official website: fender.com