Harmonica Key Selections?


I am new to harmonica and a solo performer on the mountain dulcimer. I also play a little piano & ukulele. However, the dulcimer is my instrument of choice.

I bought a Hohner Marine Band Deluxe in key of C as my first harmonica. It seems to be very good first harmonica. Thinking I needed another harmonica in the key of D, since I play dulcimer mostly in the key of D, I ordered a Suzuki Promaster key of D.

My question is, since I am a solo performer, do I really need harmonicas in other keys. Sixty percent of my dulcimer playing is in the key of D, and around 30 percent in Key of C, and the other 10 percent in key of B.

What brought this question to mind was when I googled harp tab, all of the tab comes up in the key of C, or it says “any”.

While I am starting out with some tab, I have quickly discovered that most songs that I play now I can pick up by ear on the harp.


If you are playing in 1st positions which it sounds like you are, then the only other harmonica it sounds like you might want to go out and guy is key of B.

If you are playing on your own then the harmonica key doesn’t matter that much. Any tab written for a standard diatonic harmonica will work on any standard diatonic harmonica regardless of the key. This is because they all used the same patters so even though you get different notes from a C harp than you get from an A harp you still play them exactly the same way. It’s like moving the capo on a guitar (don’t know if that reference helps you or not).

The key of your harp is only going to matter when you are playing along with other instruments or a backing track. Then you have to use the right key and this is why tabs will specify a key. It’s so that if you want to play along with the recording you know which harp to use.

Howdy Terry and Chris!
I don’t know where you are in your development Terry,
but if you can play cross harp, you might want to get a couple
other keyed harmonicas. Start out with a G harmonica to play
in D (second position). Working along with a dulcimer, bent notes,
flatted tones, and scooped notes you can get playing cross harp
will sound great.


Thanks for the information. Very good stuff and will help me along. My harmonica learning experience has not grown much the last couple of weeks, as I am learning two new songs on the uke and two on the dulcimer, songs I never played before. Of course, once I conquer these songs, I’m always thinking how I can add the harp to the routines.
Thanks again!

I deleted this post.

Learn the concepts on harmonica, and you will be able to easily apply your harp melody or fills.

I see a post attached to my handle, and I didn’t make it.
It’s the same post as that robot.