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 Masco Sound Systems Ma-35 Tube Amplifier Harmonica Amplifier Pa AmpVintage Masco Sound Systems Ma-8n Tube Amplifier Harmonica Amplifier Pa AmpVintage Shure Controlled Reluctance Black Label 99a86 Harmonica Harp MicrophoneVintage Hohner Chromonika Iii Chromatic Harmonica Mouth Organ In Box - Bc O03New Hohner 7582/64 Super 64 Chromonica Chromatic Harmonica - Key Of C With CaseAstatic Jt-30 Ham / Cb / Harp / Harmonica Microphone ( Mic )Vintage Shure Microphone Element 99a86 Bb Mic/harmonica/harp High Impedence-usedLot Of 3 Major Diatonic Lee Oskar Harmonica Key Of A C D + Bumper StickersVintage Shure Microphone Element 99a86 Bl Mic/harmonica/harp High Impedence-used12 Piece Hohner Harmonica Set, Blues Harp MsVintage Banana Band Germany Sweet Music Wood HarmonicaHohner Professional 2016 Cbh Harmonica W/case Excellent++ Condition Lightly UsedVintage Astatic Jt - 30 "wood Stem" Broadcast "bullet" Microphone HarmonicaNewtombo Lee Oskar 1910-c Major Diatomic HarmonicaAstatic Jt-30 Vintage Harp Harmonica Mic Microphone Ceramic Element Mc-5691920's Rolmonica Harmonica Bakelite Musical Instrument Mouth Organ W 5 RollsShure 520 - 99b86 - Bullet Harp Mic Harmonica Microphone-see Video!Hohner Cbh 2016 Professional Chromatic C HarmonicaParaguayan Concert Harp 42 Strings. Professional. Brand New. No Reserve!Lot Of 6 Used Major Diatonic Lee Oskar Harmonica Key Of A D + Stickers 4 PartsHohner 280/64 Chromonica C 16 Hole Chromatic Harmonica C + CaseHohner Cbh Professional 2016 Harmonica With Case - Excellent Condition!!Bends Harmonica Demo Set, One Croma 10 Hole Diatonic And One Tonica Chromatic 12Hohner Chromonica 260 10 Hole - Key Of C With BoxNew Lumsing10400mah Harmonica Style Portable Power Bank External Backup BatteryRare 1950's "american" D8t Hi-z Salt Shaker Harmonica Mike Microphone Works A+a+Hohner Harmonicas Lot Of 5 Diatonic Harps, Used, With CasesFender Briefcase For Vintage Mics Tubes Harmonicas PapersRare Vintage M. Hohner Germany Melodigrand HarmonicaOld Antique Vintage C.1919 Post Wwi M. Hohner "f" German Tin HarmonicaM. Hohner Herb Shriner's Hoosier Boy Harmonica Music With Original Box/vintage Astatic Dn-hz Hi Impedance Dynamic Bullet Mic 50-10khz HarmonicaVintage Germany F.a. Rauner The Bulldog Full Concert Harmonica 20s 30s 40s OldShaker Crystal Harmonica Microphone With 1/4" Guitar Cord ConnectorBeautiful Vintage F.a. Rauner Red Arrow Full Tremolo Harmonica Germany Key Of CThe Chromonica Chromatic Horner Harmonica - Germany With CaseShure Green Bullet 520sl 99b88 Hi Z Capsule 13' Belden Cable Blues Harp Voice New Lee Oskar Major Diatonic Harmonica "g" Brand New With CaseNewtombo Lee Oskar Cm 1910-e Power Harp Harmonica -brand New W/instructionsAntique Ands Koch's 7 1/2" "the Bugle Call" Harmonica Iob @ 1890'sVintage Hohner Special 20 Marine Band Harmonica Made In Germany Key Of G W/ CaseHohner Blues Harp Harmonica, Ms-key G, Barely UsedHoner 64 Chromonica 4 Chromatic Octaves Professional Model Nr.280 C In BoxVintage Rare Hohner's Examina Store Display Harmonica Tester Hohner The 64 Chromonica 280-c Key Professional Model 4 Octaves 16 Holes The 64 Chromonica 280c 4 Octaves Professional Hohner Harmonica Made In GermanyFour Vintage Harmonicas - M.hohner,silver Star, WeekenderVintage Lot M Hohner Special 20 Marine Band Harmonica Key Of C & Echo HohnerUnique One Of A Kind Hot Dog Harmonica Holder InstrumentBrand New Hohner 270 Super Chromonica Chromatic Harmonica CHohner Special 20 Harmonica BbHohner Super Chromonica 270 Harmonica In The Key Of C + Free Gift!Larry Adler Professional 16 Chromatic Harmonica Hohner Harp In CaseHohner Special 20 Harmonica CM. Hohner U.s. Navy Band Key Of C Harmonica Vintage Scarce Made In Germany Vg Nos Hohner Germany 1896-bl Marine Band No. 1896 Harmonica - Key Of DSqueaker Toy With Musicians Made In Japan Pre War 1930s Drum HarmonicaLee Oskar Harmonica Hg By Tombo With CaseAmerican Girl Doll Kit Harmonica Hobo Camp Retire Instrument AccessoriesAntique 1891 Koch's Gebirgslandler Harmonica In Original Box No Reserve!!!!