Harmonica is a pocket-friendly musical instrument that you might have seen or had as a kid. Children often receive toy versions of the harmonica as gifts as they are practical and pretty much affordable. Harmonicas are not seen under the same light as other instruments, but it does not make it any less inferior of an instrument. If you intend to learn harmonica and are looking for a good one to purchase, this harmonica guide will help you with everything you need to know as a beginner.

Types of harmonica

The two common types of harmonica include chromatic and diatonic harmonicas. The chromatic harmonica has a side button that allows you to play a normal major scale. On pressing the button, you can play half-step notes in the major scale notes. Chromatic harmonica is commonly used in classical and jazz music.
Diatonic harmonicas come with q2 keys of music. The 10-hole major diatonic harmonicas can play all the seven notes in the major scale. They are best for rock music, country, folk, and blues. However, instrumentalists use it for all types of genres.

How to play harmonicas

You can play the harmonica by either blowing the air into it or sucking the air out of it (drawing the air). Each hole in the harmonica has two reeds that separately vibrate when you blow or draw the air from it. You can get two notes per reed.

Bending and overdrawing

Bending is the process of playing higher tones using the technique of bending or overdrawing. A standard diatonic harmonica cannot play all the notes in the chromatic scale. However, you can play more than 20 notes by either bending or overdrawing.

Bending lowers the pitch from half a step to one and a half step, depending on the hole’s size in the harmonica.
Overdrawing raises the pitch to a minor third or half step depending on the hole’s size in the harmonica.
Overdrawing is a pretty advanced technique to master as you need to take the air in with as much pressure as your lungs can take. For beginners, bending is a technique that is easy to learn and master. Once you master both the techniques, you will be able to play more notes through your harmonica than other people.


In a C harmonica, you can play in more keys than the C major. Learn about the three most used positions in harmonica.

Straight harp


The first position is the straight harp, which means playing the key that the harmonica is already labeled. Usually, you will find C harmonica or Ionian mode. It is used mostly for pop and folk music.

Cross harp

The second position is playing fifth above the harmonica key or Mixolydian mode. You can find it in practice in blues with G or a C harmonica.

Slant harp

The thirst position is playing fifth above the second position or Dorian mode. It is used for a D or a C harmonica. You can find its use in minor-key folk songs and also in blues.

Bass Harp