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Best Chromatic Harmonica For Beginners Guide: Which Harmonica Should You Pick?

The Chromatic Harmonica is a type of Harmonica that uses a button-activated sliding bar to create the desired sound and is often used to play classical and jazz pieces of music and can bend notes, which creates different tones.

There are various makes and models available and factors to consider when choosing the best Chromatic Harmonica.

The Chromatic Harmonica is a beautiful instrument, and this guide can help you understand it further and decide which Chromatic Harmonica is best for you!

chromatic harmonica reviews

What is a Chromatic Harmonica?

The Chromatic Harmonica has a lot of note range and versatility, opening many more doors musically for Harmonica players. The Chromatic Harmonica has been designed so all twelve notes of the chromatic scale available to the player.

Looking deeper into the Chromatic Harmonica structure, the range has been achieved by incorporating two sets of reed plates- one above the other- and a slide that activates a button that directs the air toward the reeds.

The bottom reeds are ordinarily tuned to the same scale as the top—only a semi-tone higher. For example, the top may be tuned to the scale of C while the bottom C#. Thanks to the tuning above, all twelve notes of the Chromatic Scale become available to the player.

Chromatic Harmonicas are available in a range of keys, which may seem a bit perplexing given that as a musician, you can play any note on the chromatic scale. The reason behind this relates purely to the range of the Harmonica.

A Chromatic Harmonica tuned to B, for example, will have a lower range than one tuned to C, meaning that you cannot access higher notes due to the lower range. On the flip side to this, lower notes will be accessible. Chromatic Harmonicas are generally available in two sizes-12 holes or 16 holes.

10 Key Harmonica.

Chromatics with 12 holes come in various keys, something we will go into later on, whereas 16 holes generally stick to just C as this covers a wide range of notes, leaving little need for alternative key options.

What are the best Chromatic Harmonicas?

Choosing an instrument is step one. The next step is purchasing that instrument. This step always seems so simple – until the realization of the vast range of options available hits!

There are many makes and models available across a range of price points when choosing a Chromatic Harmonica. Additionally, an instrument has got to feel right when playing it. One person’s taste differs from another.

Below are 5 top recommended Chromatic Harmonicas, ranging across different price points, to get you started.

At A Glance: Top 5 Chromatic Harmonicas

  1. Hohner Chromatic Harmonica
  2. Hohner CX12 Chromatic Harmonica
  3. Hohner Amadeus Chromatic Harmonica
  4. Seydel Symphony ACRYL Chromatic Harmonica
  5. Suzuki SCX-48

Best Chromatic Harmonica – Hohner Chromatic Harmonica

Hohner is a well-known brand for Harmonicas Additionally, the company is one of the oldest Harmonica producers globally, producing the world’s first production Chromatic Harmonica in the 1920s

Hohner offers a wide range of Harmonicas, and there are three within the list of top-5 harmonicas, which shows just how good the brand is!

Due to their complexity, Chromatic Harmonicas are naturally more expensive than Diatonic Harmonicas The price range for Hohner Discovery-48 is, therefore, actually a bargain.

This Chromatic Harmonica has a warm tone with flexibility for both left and right-hand use. The ABS body additionally creates reliability and sturdiness toward all climates.

The Hohner Discovery-48 is perfect for beginners. The model has reed plates and a plastic comb with a bolted construction, making it easier to change reed plates and clean the instrument.

This Chromatic Harmonica is only available in the C Key, making it perfect for those testing the waters. The cover is stainless steel with a brass reed plate surface. It has 12 holes and an ABS mouthpiece and comb, which helps the combs’ longevity.

The Hohner Discovery is one of the best Chromatic Harmonica for beginners and hobby musicians, and it is cost-friendly and robust.


Best Chromatic Harmonica For Beginners – Hohner CX12 Chromatic Harmonica

This series of models features CX12 Black. CX12 Jazz and CX12 Gold. The focus here will be on the CX12 Black model, the standard model for the CX12 range.

The CX12 produces a loud, bright sound that is clear and smooth, something you may not expect from its appearance.

This Chromatic Harmonica is of great value, generally available in several keys, and contains reed plates of standard thickness. The Harmonica typically has 12 holes and an ABS mouthpiece surface with a zigzag slide construction.

Due to its plastic coating, this model may not be to everyone’s tastes compared to those made from wood or metal. The material provides a more effortless experience with cleaning and maintenance without the need for tools. Additionally, the casing is easy on the lips.

The CX12 provides a unique and different experience from traditional Chromatic Harmonicas. It is durable in style and designed to fit perfectly in the hands. Additionally, it is cost-friendly as well! This is the best 10 hole chromatic harmonica, and one of the best chromatic harmonicas for sale!


Best Quality Harmonica – Hohner Amadeus Chromatic Harmonica

Discussed above is a Harmonica perfect for beginners, robust, and cost-effective. The Hohner Amadeus is a Chromatic Harmonica for professionals. It is a more expensive yet elegantly styled instrument

The Hohner Amadeus is a beautifully powerful Chromatic Harmonica with a beautiful tone and fantastic range.

The comb is made from transparent acrylic glass on this Harmonica. It has 12 holes and houses 48 brass reeds with a Nickel reed plate surface. The Harmonica has a zigzag slide construction and a gold mouthpiece and chrome cover to top it off.

This Chromatic Harmonica has a fantastic range of 3 full octaves, meaning it doesn’t need to be available in any other key than C Major. The Amadeus is widely regarded as one of the world’s best Chromatic Harmonicas.

Additionally, it seems reviews all universally praise the instrument for its quality. While it is a more expensive Harmonica than those above compared to other Chromatic Harmonicas of the same caliber, it is once again a cost-effective instrument.

Hohner again showing why it’s the best chromatic harmonica brand! This is a expensive harmonica, and one of the most expensive harmonicas.


Best Chromatic Harmonica For Blues – Seydel Symphony ACRYL Chromatic Harmonica

Seydel is the oldest Harmonica factory globally to the point that 1847 has become incorporated within their model names.

The brand offers a range of Chromatic Harmonicas to accompany their Diatonic range; however, the Seydel Symphony 64 most certainly sits at the top of the list.

This Chromatic Harmonica incorporates technological developments to enhance the musical experience.

Hosting a whole range of features, the Seydel Symphony ACRYL Chromatic Harmonica is a 16-hole Harmonica with a range of four full octaves. The sound created is warm and dear, and this Chromabc Harmonica can outperform many high-end instruments, almost double the price.

The technical additions add to the sound airtightness, playability, and reliability of the instrument. It hosts precision cut, recessed reed plates from anti-corrosive silver Additionally, thanks to the 64 hand-tuned reeds and Seydel valves’, the instrument has a rich sound with precise tone control.

The comb is acrylic and a translucent green in color. The slider is made from silver and works silently due to being individually lapped with the mouthpiece, half-moon in shape.

Additionally, this Harmonica is generally supplied with a heatable case that ensures it is the perfect temperature when played.

While it is a more expensive instrument, the Symphony ACRYL Grand Chromatic Harmonica’s performance and technical aspects put it up there as one of the best Chromatic Harmonicas.

Suzuki offers a range of instruments covering various styles and requirements. They produce a range of instruments beyond Harmonicas yet began by making only this instrument.


Cheap Chromatic Harmonica – Suzuki SCX-48

The Suzuki SCX-48 Chromatic Harmonica is perfect for those at the professional level seeking a Chromatic Harmonica that is not too expensive.

Suzuki offers a range of instruments covering various styles and requirements. They produce a range of instruments beyond Harmonicas yet began by making only this instrument.

The SCX-48 is part of the Suzuki Chromatix series and is the 12-hole version. For those interested, it is also available in 14 and 16-holed versions.

Beautifully made with attention to detail, the Suzuki SCX-48 is a 12-hole Chromatic Harmonica available in six keys. This Harmonica has an ABS Comb and boasts an ergonomically designed mouthpiece and a valved design.

Additionally, it has bronze reed plates with chrome plate covers.
This Chromatic Harmonica has a precise and smooth slide mechanism to it. It is comfortable to hold enjoyable to play.

This instrument has excellent responsiveness and produces a smooth and sweet tone. It is gorgeous to look at air-tight and comfortable.

This Chromatic Harmonica is an exquisite instrument that will allow you to advance your technique and sound as a professional musician making it one of the best Chromatic Harmonicas.


Buyers Guide

Above are five of the best Chromatic Harmonicas available to buy at varying prices. How to decide which instrument is best for you?

A lot of questions go into the purchase of an instrument; which is the best? Is it the best for my skill level? Why are there different key options? Provided below are the answers to these questions, giving you a buyer’s guide to purchasing the best Chromatic Harmonica for you.

Larry Adler Chromatic Harmonica
Larry Adler Chromatic Harmonica.

What is the best Chromatic Harmonica?

As with any instrument, the answer to this question depends on a variety of factors:

• Your skill level as a musician
• What kind of music you seek to play
• Your price range

The reason these factor into the answer is quite simple As a beginner, the price is a factor. You want an instrument that is durable and able to undertake the amount of practice you will be doing and something that doesn’t cost the Earth if you give up.

As a professional musician, you want something that enhances your ability and moves it onto the next level, something that now you know how to play the instrument you can invest in.

Finally, there is personal taste, How the instrument feels, how it plays, the sound it makes. All of these factors vary for each individual.

Taking away these factors and focusing purely on the quality of the instrument the Hohner Amadeus would personally be the top for a few reasons:

• Tone quality
• Rangeability
• Build quality
• Look and design
• Cost-effective

While it is the most expensive from the list above, it is the most expensive for a reason. This gold-plated Harmonica stands out as one of the best Chromatic Harmonicas and certainly is amongst the list above.

For an instrument of its caliber, the Hohner Amadeus is also incredibly cost-effective for what it is, which means that this quality becomes more realistically available, which adds to the charm.

Photo of a swan chromatic harmonica
Hohner Super Chromatic Harmonica.

What is the best Chromatic Harmonica for a beginner?

Compared to the Diatonic Harmonica. Chromatic Harmonicas are bigger and more complex, making them naturally more expensive to buy. Despite this, there are Chromatics available at a reasonable price, perfect for beginners.

There are various Chromatic Harmonicas available for beginners; a few are even in the list above.

As a beginner, the key factors when looking for an instrument are cost and durability. Quality when practicing is not quite as important when you aren’t ready to perform yet. Despite this, even some professionals use those listed above as backup instruments.

From the list above, both the Hohner CX12 and the Hohner Discovery 48 make perfect Chromatic Harmonicas for beginners. Both are robust models from a respected brand and produce a decent sound. Additionally, they are not too expensive!

Sticking within the same kind of budget, the Seydel Deluxe Chromatic and the Hohner Chromonica 48 are also non-expensive Chromatics with good sound quality.

The Hohner Chromonica 48 features a pearwood comb, whereas the Seydel has an ABS comb more suited to deal with moisture issues. These are some of the best Chromatic Harmonicas to get as a beginner. They are all made from respected brands, have a decent sound quality, and are not too expensive.

What key Chromatic Harmonica should I buy?

While Chromatic Harmonicas can play any note in the chromatic scale, the purchase of a specific key depends on the desired range, as that is the only factor that differs between the keys.

The style of music, how high or low you need to go. and the general sound of the Harmonica all affect the chosen key.

Chromatic Harmonicas are also not available in all keys due to their ability to cover a range from the chromatic scale, and 16-holed Harmonicas are only ever available in C for this exact reason.

Generally, for beginners, the recommended key to purchase is C. it is a popular key, and most beginners start with a Chromatic in this key. From here, you can build your collection based on personal tastes or. If you feel confident enough, transpose the music to suit the key of Harmonica.

Generally, the next key would be G and Low C to get the lower tones. Bb is also helpful for more Jazz tones.

It is advised to purchase some form of label for a practical solution to help recognize which key your Chromatic Harmonica of choice is in. Particularly useful if you own more than one!

Is a Chromatic Harmonica hard to play?

As with all things, practice makes perfect.

How difficult you will find the Chromatic Harmonica depends on previous experience. For example, if you have experience playing another instrument, you will probably pick it up more swiftly than someone new to music.

As with all instruments, various skillsets require practice to perfect or even make progress. Bending notes, for example, is entirely different on the Harmonica than it is on the guitar.

The technique behind playing the Harmonica has often been compared to playing the guitar- the smooth transition between notes without delay. Regarding difficulty, this technique is tricky at first—moving between notes and chords without delay.

Once you have practiced this technique, it becomes easier to move onto more complicated melodies at speed.

The Harmonica doesn’t have as much of a steep learning curve as other instruments such as the piano or the guitar. True mastery, as with all things, takes time, patience, and practice.

Despite being easier than some instruments, learning to play any instrument is still hard.

When starting to play any instrument, there is a steep learning curve—reading music, learning how to hold the instrument techniques, chords. All of these could be new to you.

You need to Accept this curve rather than being demotivated by it. This will be the first step to success. Every musician goes through this stage. Through discipline, you can move beyond the basics.

Practice little and often and understand failure will happen, but you can overcome it, and you will be able to move beyond the basics. Essentially? Keep playing!

Conclusion

The Chromatic Harmonica is a beautiful and exciting instrument that produces a unique sound. It can be enjoyable to play, so certainly worth persevering while learning.

There are many different options for professionals and beginners alike. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with some perspective regarding what to look for in a Chromatic Harmonica.

As with all things, practice makes perfect, but the important thing is to have fun with the process.

Thank you for reading!

About Jayden Buckley

Hi, my name is Jayden and I am author/editor for PlayTheTunes. I remember the first time I hopped on the drums, I was hooked. Music has played an enormous part of my life, and I'm honored I get to share my experiences with you!