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 Store Shop Display Model Hohner Harmonica A440 C Pop Folk Art 1960's ?Vtg 40's Astatic T-3 Chrome Bullet Microphone Harp Harmonica Ham Mic Works! T-3sMixed Lot Of 12 Assorted Harmonicas W/ Hohner, Johnson, Brelli ++Ca.1890 Black Forest Dancing Bear Playing Harmonica 15" No Reserve!Hohner Blues Harmonica MicrophoneSet Of 5 "blues Harp" Harmonicas By HohnerShure Green Bullet Blues Harp Mic Vintage Harmonica MicrophoneAntique C H Weiss Parlour Grand Harp Harmonica In Original BoxVintage Hohner Echo Super Vamper Harmonica - EHohner 560/20 C Special 20 Marine Band Harmonica M-5600016 Near Mint W/boxUnique Art Deco Hohner 20 Double Hole Double Sided HarmonicaVintage Astatic Jt-30 Microphone Bullet Harp Harmonica Mic With Cord CanadaSeydel Blues Session Standard Harmonicas (two)All Tube Harmonica/guitar Amp Head For 8 Ohm Speaker With Music Device Input1950's Vintage Electro-voice 623 Microphone- Great For Harmonica!Vintage Shure Brown Bullet Microphone Harp/harmonica Mic & Phillips Atomic MicHohner Harmonica 64 Chromonica 280 C Fully Sanitized Professional No ReserveSeydel Chromatic De Luxe Harmonica Ww2 Personal Grouping With Dog Tags, Harmonica, Watch & More Harp Break Lwbc Harmonica Effect Pedal W/ Ac Power CordHohner 270 Super Chromonica Tenor Chromatic Harmonica Key Of G Made In GermanyAstatic Bullet Ceramic Harp Harmonica Microphone 200-sHohner 560/20 A Special 20 Marine Band Harmonica M-5600106 Mint W/boxVintage Halloween Wowee Wax Whistle Harmonica ImperfectGotoh Gold L5 S Harmonica Tune O Matic Bridge W/ MountsHohner Harmonica Revolving DisplaySuzuki Mr-250 Bluesmaster Harmonica, Key Of F#Vintage Hohner Harmonica: Glh Great Little Harp Key Of D - Nice Bight Tone + BoxHohner 532/20 Ms C Blues Harp Harmonica With Hard Case M533016 Made In Germany3 Hohner Ms Blues Harp Harmonicas Lot Key D, G, EVintage M. Hohner Harmonica No P1 Violin & Mandolin Trutone Pitch Pipe Germany Hohner Golden Melody HarmonicaVintage Antique Norma Koch Harmonica Case Only Brass HardwareHohner 1896 Marine Band Diatonic Harmonica Key Of AHohner 56/96 Echo Harp 2 Side/2 Key Harmonica A & D - Hard To Find! Vintage Junk Drawer Lot Harmonica Coleman Funnel Unknown Coin HoldersVintage Hohner Goliath Harmonica W/ Original Box Germany Key Of C 48 ReedsVintage Rolmonica 1920s Harmonica Crank Machine 14 Music Rolls Player / AntiqueVintage M. Hohner Made In Germany Late 1800 Harmonica Auto-valve-harpMarine Band Harmonica By M. Honer Germany No. 1896 A44 Key Of C W/ Original BoxHering 5148 Chromatic - 48 12 Hole Chromatic Harmonica Key Of Ab - A FlatHohner 64 Chromonica Original Case Key C Mint!Vintage Alnico (2) 1950/1960 10 Inch Harmonica SpeakersM. Hohner’s Polyphonia Harmonica No. 7, Made In GermanyNos Hohner Germany 542-bl Golden Melody Diatonic Harmonica - Key Of E FlatChristmas Greeting Cats Playing Drum Harmonica Holly C1910 Embossed PostcardVintage Tombo Harmonicas Lee Oskar In CaseAstatic Vintage Brown Bullet Harmonica Microphone With StandVintage Pohl Oh Boy Harmonica GermanyNew Swan Brand Top Grade Harmonica Chromatic C Key W/ 10 Holes 40 ToneRoy Rogers Riders HarmonicaHohner The 64 Chromonica German HarmonicaRidley's Harmonica Antique Weiss Celeste Harmonica BoxVintage M.hohner Triplet Harmonica Made In GermanyAutographed Stan Musial Harmonica And Book Certificates Of AuthenticityHohner Bob Dylan Signature Series - Key Of C Signature Harmonica, New!Electrovoice 630 Vintage Old Ev Dynamic Microphone Hi Z Harmonica Harp-vocal MicHohner Chromonica Harmonica In "c" 260/40Official Boy Scout Harmonica By Hohner In Original Box