How to select a good harmonica to purchase?

I have been learning on my own to blow the harmonica.
I think, I have done fairly well on my own.
I play melody songs most of the time.
I started with a 10 hole diatonic Suzuki which gives me good sound of single notes.
Then I bought a 24 hole Hohner,Ocean Star,Germany, that gives me a more melodious sound.
However, I found that using the 24 hole is causing much friction on my lips and caused scale on my lips, the next day.
I’m not sure if it is because the 24 hole is a bigger instrument to handle, or is it because the ‘material made’ is not suitable for my lips?
Should I buy another?
Thank you very much for your kind assistance.

Should I buy another?

Another what? 10- or 24-hole harmonica?

We can’t specifically tell you which harmonicas to buy because we’re all different.

It’s like telling you to buy a McDonalds Big Mac over a Burger King Whopper!

I prefer double whoppers with cheese, bacon and extra onions and pickles always; you or somebody else might like big macs with something/nothing else on them!

Now then too, and not so much with chromatic or anything bigger, but there’s definitely plenty of reviews on all sorts of 10-hole diatonic harmonicas throughout the forum threads here…

So please research through them; and from there all we can say is good luck and keep us posted.

Oh and welcome to the forum!


Have fun!

Keep on harpin’!

Hi Tan,

If you are, and it sounds like you are at the intermediate level, my number-one harmonica recommendation is the Hohner Special 20 for intermediate and advanced level music. While there are other fantastic harmonicas, my experience has been that intermediate level students are most easily able to learn challenging techniques with the Special 20.

Please Click Here for an in depth report on the “Best and Worst Harmonicas for Beginners”

Your harmonica buddy,


I think your link got hosed up JP

[i][b]A Big Thank You, G-Man! :slight_smile:[b]

I actually noticed the error too. However, I had a difficult time finding the proper link. Meaning, for me, the blogsophere has no set pattern to it. ???

So I clicked, clicked and clicked around with no success of finding that particular link. :stuck_out_tongue:

Went onto other topics and things with this on my to-do list. Come back, and I’m so happy you posted the correction. :wink:

Now the forum and this little piece of the harmonica universe heaven is good once again! :-*

For all you do, G-Man, this Bud and Thumb’s Up is for you!! ;D

Peace & SPD Out!

Thanks street, always glad to help out.

I can remember when I left for college and man was I lost. I didn’t know where anything was and I was always asking somebody where a certain building was. The first time some one asked me where something was and I could answer them I felt a good sense of satisfaction, like I really belonged there. The harmonica and this board are kinda like that. When you can help some one else out it makes you feel like you are somewhere you belong doing something you should be doing. Also if you can share something then you must have learned something.

Wishing everyone here in harp college a good day.

The best way I’ve found to select the perfect harmonica to purchase, is to find a friend with the very harp you want to try, and then borrow it forever. Just joking of course.
Hey SPD, can I borrow that Turbo set for a “little” while?


Joking? Who’s joking?! >:(

Dammit, man, do we want to give away all of our “secrets” here?! :stuck_out_tongue:

Besides that, you don’t even want to know what arrived in the mail for me today! :o

But my lips are sealed until I find out just what in the hell I ordered too! :-X

Laters, yo! :smiley:

So I’m still new to the harp world and all and in all of JP’s videos he keeps talking about the Hohner special 20 harp and it only cost (30 dollars or less.) I checked the website and there now listed more like 41 dollars? He often talks about investing in this harp because it would be the better learning tool to start off with. My question is have many of you purchased this actual harp to learn with? I know he sounds good with it but anyone with 20+ years of exp can take a 5 dollar harp and make it sound good. I have two Honer model harps now as it is a Blues Harp MS I don’t remember what I paid for it maybe 30-40 dollars. and I have the Marine Band that one about the same price maybe. Neither of which when I purchased had no real idea of quality. only that what research I had done I needed a C and Hohner was the better model to start off with for beginners. I’m considering purchasing the special 20 in hopes that it might be a little easier to play? idk~! but I figure other peoples advise would be helpful also. If you have purchased this harp and were maybe struggling at first and it helped you share your story with me please. or if u purchased it in general please share what u think about the item and please be honest.


I have sets of Spec 20s, Lee Oskars, Golden Melodys, and Big Rivers among others.

Considering that you already have a Hohner Blues MS series harp, it’s basically the same as the Big Rivers. {Do a forum search to see our members’ reviews on these.}

While I have no Hohner Blues MS, but the other Big Rivers – Many who do say the Hohner Blues MS is as good as a Spec 20, maybe even better.

So you’re in the right ballpark as you have a good harp to begin with.

Bottom line though: If you acquire a Spec 20 C or A, only you can tell if you’ll like them better than what you have now.

Hope this helps.

Keep On Harpin’!

I started with the cheap Hohner ACE harp to start off with and moved up to a Special 20 when I learned there was a difference. Next I bought a Marine Band which I disliked from the start. The reed plates protrude past the comb which cut my lips, until the comb swelled and the comb teeth were like running my tongue down a cheese grater. Next I got a Suzuki BluesMaster. I liked it and it played and bent easily but I was still happier with my Sp 20 so I bought a set. I figure this set will do anything I ask of it while I learn to play. If I get really good down the road, I will treat myself to some higher end harps.

Hi Harpsters ! :slight_smile:

New to the forums, new to the harmonica, I cannot be a big help.
So, I’ll try to tell you my experience :

  • In July, - I don’t know really why - , I bought a HOHNER Marine Band , and started amusing myself with.
    New to the instrument, I found it a little difficult to play.
  • Weeks later, in some way already addicted, I looked for something easier to play.
    A friend of mine advised me to buy a SEYDEL, key of C .
    Meanwhile I received JP’s physical course, and I’m not sorry about my friend’s advice.
    Symply great that 1847 Classic ! - Or,
    that’s my very personal(!) opinion !
    IMHO everybody has to pick up own experience !?
    Oldy :slight_smile:


There are obviously some really good and really bad harmonicas, but for the most part is personal preference as to the key, plates and comb!


Hello BT, :slight_smile:

That’s it. Or, IMHO, one has to try a few harmos before making one’s choice, I mean, one has to pick up experience, and … it’s also a matter of taste …
Concerning myself, I (fortunately) dicovered immediately, that the Marine Band’s holes are a bit too narrow for my mouth ! ;D
Thanks for posting,

O. :slight_smile:

When I first started, I bought a set of the Hohner(Chinese made) Piedmont Blues (plastic) harps. I did not know any better. I should have went ahead and spent the money for a good Special 20 or Crossover in C. The Piedmonts are crap, and are very difficult to bend, or to just play for that matter, they are kids toys. My recommendation, would be to spend a few extra dollars and get one good harp in C, like a Special 20 or Crossover, or Lee Oskar, then add other keys later as you wish.These will be very comfortable, and easy to learn on, and sound great.

I started with a Marine Band and then a Special 20. Next I bought a set of the Peidmonts just so I would have the other keys so I could play along with recorded music. Granted they leak air and are very hard to bend. After doing a little work to seal up the leaks they are fine for playing 1st position and helping a beginner to expand if funds are limited. After I learned to bend, it was easier to bend the Piedmonts but no easy enough to be “playable”.
I HATE CHINESE CRAP! And 90% of everything in the USA IS Chinese crap. But if your broke and ready to expand your key range it will do. Just don’t expect anything much out of them in the BENDING area. I just hpoe the reeds aren’t soldiered with lead!

Hi, I am new to the forum and also just started JPs lessons. Total newbie, picked up my own harmonica only just a couple of days ago. Cheap one, probably a china import and awaiting my Hohner Bluesband supplied with the course. I am keen to get a good starter harp of better quality and have surfed the net for ideas. I have also read all the above which is really helpful.

The Hohner Special 20 seems to be high on the list but also wondered about the Hohner crossover and the Seydel Blues Session Steel Harmonica. A bad workman blames his tools and I do not want to be in a position to do that. Actually I am also inherently lazy and want an instrument that will be easier to learn with. ;D

I appreciate in the long term I will be making my own choice from experience but you do need a place to start.

Any views?


SP 20 is good. I like Golden Melody’s for a starter instrument.


Thanks, I had not looked at the Melody. Almost tempted to try one of each but wife would not agree to that degree of spend. I explored the net for more info and came up with three concerns.

  1. The metal cover can play on the lips with prolonged play … is this a real concern? I am putting in the hours.

  2. Excellent for single notes but not so good on chords … I am now picking up single notes nicely especially with JPs technique, will chords be a problem wit this, remambering I am a newbie at this.

  3. The harp does not stay in a harp holder owing to its shape.

Any views other than ignore the wife and get both ;D

If you prefer, there is nothing wrong with the SP 20.
The GM doesn’t bother me at all, and I have a full beard, from
nose to toes LOL.
You can make changes to the edges eventually, but unless you
are spending some SERIOUS time on the instrument, you may not
have any issues. Google for modifying the jellybean (GM harp).
Of course the reeds can be retuned if you need better chord play,
but mass manufactured harmonicas aren’t all that perfectly tuned, sooo…
you new SP 20 POSSIBLY may not chord much better than the GM, which
is tuned more for solo notes (or 2 adjacent holes together. Hey! A chord!).
I love the sound and feel of a well adjusted GM.