Harmonicas are often described as the most popular instruments on the planet, mainly because of their portability and low cost compared to, say, a grand piano or tuba. But don’t mistake their ubiquity or simplicity for a lack of sophistication. Harmonicas pack a lot of engineering into a small space, producing different notes depending on whether the player is blowing out or breathing in. Players can further enhance these sounds by shaking their heads to create appealing vibratos, or bending notes to give the instrument a mournful moan that often recalls the wail of a distant train whistle.

Like accordions, harmonicas are thought to have been invented by a German named Christian Friedrich Buschmann, although as with the squeezebox, it was an Austrian who first patented the instrument (in this case, Georg Anton Reinlein in 1824). But the Austrian makers were soon overshadowed by the Germans, in particular, a company called Hohner, which handmade 650 harmonicas in its inaugural year, 1857. Thirty years later, Hohner hit the million-unit mark, and by 1920 its annual production exceeded 20 million harmonicas, which were exported all over the world, in chromatic and tremelo models, as well as standard diatonic harps.

During the 20th century, harmonicas were musical chameleons, favored by singing cowboys, jazz artists like Toots Thielemans, and Chicago bluesmen such as Muddy Waters’s sideman Little Walter, who used a wide-mouthed taxi-dispatcher’s microphone to give his harp its distinctive, and loud, sound. In the 1960s, everyone from Bob Dylan to Stevie Wonder to Brian Jones played the harmonica as an accompanying instrument, while artists like Neil Young, Magic Dick of J. Geils Band, and, later, John Popper of Blues Traveler put the harmonica front and center.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Music Museum

National Music Museum

The National Music Museum, which is located at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, features 15,000 instru… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Premier 71 Guitar Microphone Harmonica Multivox Amp Late 1950's As-is1920s Koch G Harmonica Trumpet Organ With 5 Brass Horns Made In GermanyVintage Shure 707a Bullet Microphone, 99131 Crystal, Harp Harmonica Ca.1945Vintage 1950’s? Astatic Jt-30 Harmonica Harp Microphone Stand And CableG Harmonica With Horn The Music Master Masterphone Cass Ca Seydel Germany C Harmonica With Horn Strauss Doraphone Loudspeaker Made In Germany DrgmShure 520dx "green Bullet" Harmonica MicrophoneAstatic T-3 Microphone For Harp, Harmonica Instrument Pickup Excellent ConditionVintage Microphones Lot Astatic Jt-30 Bullet Harmonica Harp MicrophoneM. Hohner Chromatica No. #265 Double Bass Harmonica Vintage Germany Rare!Pair Of 1930s Unusual Harmonica The Coach Horn Made In Germany Shure 520d Green Bullet Harmonica Microphone W/box VintageAstatic Jt30 -mc126 Ceramic Element-harp Mic Harmonica Microphone -see Video!Thorens Chromatic Harmonica No. 12 W/ Original Box - Made In SwitzerlandHohner Marine Band Crossover Key Of C HarmonicaShure 520 - 99b86 - Bullet Harp Mic Harmonica Microphone-see Video!Rare & Antique "the Little Jockey" Harmonica - Made In GermanyHohner Super Chromonica 270 Chromatic Harmonica Mouth Organ With Case - 492 S68Vintage Shure 707a Bullet Harp Harmonica Microphone, 99131 Crystal, Dated 1945Weegee/arthur Fellig Vintage Harmonica Player "bowery Blues" Rare Dbl Wt PhotoMixed Lot Of 7 Harmonicas W/ Hohner Special 20 Marine Band & Guo GuangSuzuki Mr250s 6 Piece Harmonica Set 179794 JticHohner Special 20 Harmonica (a)2 Suzuki 21h Tremolo Harmonicas Key Of C2 Antique/vintage Hohner Harmonicas G Auto Valve Harp & G Hohner Band Vtg Tube Tweed Tube Radio- Could Make Into Guitar Or Harmonica AmpSuzuki Scx-64 250g Chromatic Harmonica 16 Hole Sliding Chromatic 195*45*31mmHarmonicas: Hohner Golden Melody And Special 20Suzuki Mr-350 Promaster Harmonica 10 Hole Valved Key Of D 1930s Antique/vintage Richter Made In Germany A Key Harmonica Suzuki Manji Harmonica Key Of CSovereign Bohm (boehm) Harmonica Vintage Saxon Make Steel Bronze Reeds11 Harmonicas/blues Harp Collection+marine Band-1930s Antique/vintage Made In Germany Symphony Harmonica 3" LongVintage Harmonica "echo" Echo Vamper Hohner Harmonica In Box, NosVintage Hohner Marine Band Echo Harmonica No.683 Tremolo Concert Harp W/caseSterling Silver - 3d Harmonica Instrument (works!) 1.3g - Charm Pendant Sh9251Antique 26th Regiment In Company B? Indiana Civil War ? Music Harmonica Il NrVintage Hohner Diatonic Accordion (harmonica) From Pre-1952's Germany Rare Robert Plant (led Zeppelin) Signed Harmonica W/coaLee Oskar Melody Maker Harmonica (dm / C Non-standard Tuning)Vintage Genuine Gretsch Chromatic HarmonicaHohner The 64 Chromonica Hohner Chromatic Harmonicas, With The Art Of Playing Hohner Chromatic HarmonicasOld Hohner Goliath Tremolo Harmonica In C 24 Double Hole Wood Comb Vintage 48 2 1930s Antique/vintage Hohner Harmonicas D Ironclad & B New Best QualityAntique 1920s Hohner Harmonica Red Enamel Novelty Advertising Pin CechoslovakiaLee Oskar Harmonica By TombaVintage Collectible Hohner Harmonica Microphone In Original Box W/ InstructionsCa Seydel G Harmonica The Music-master & Box Made In SaxonyHohner Marine Band Key G Germany Diatonic HarmonicaHoner Blues HarpHohner Ms Blues Harp Harmonica Key G Made In Germany Item#795sHohner Super Chromonica 270 Key Of C Free Shipping!! No Reserve !!Estate Found - Vintage - Bravi Alpini - M Hohner - Germany - Harmonica Antique/vintage Made In Germany The Rag Time Band Harmonica 6" LongRare! Unsere Leiblinge By Hohner Harmonica Key Of C. Plus Free Swiss Army KnifeSuper Cool!! Vintage M. Honer Marine Band Harmonica Still In Original BoxVintage Harmonica Hohner Golden Melody In A, From Billy "hey Joe" Roberts Set