the different types of harmonicas.
key do you need to purchase?
material should you consider for a
Suzuki harmonica is the one for you?
to play the harmonica.
What are Special
and maintain your harmonica?
Identify the different types of
is important to distinguish between
the different types of harmonicas in
order to choose the right one for
you (in accordance with the style of
music and the effects you want to
play). There are 3 basic types: the diatonic
harmonica, the tremolo harmonica
and the chromatic harmonica.
Diatonic Harmonicas This was
the first type of harmonica to be
created. Although they are most
commonly used to play blues and
country, you will be able to play
all kinds of popular music with a
A diatonic harmonica has 10 holes
and permits the player to use the
tones and semi-tones equivalent to
the white notes on a piano (using
the scale of C major as an example)
However, it is possible to play
other notes by using bending and
overblow techniques (see
special effects). This type of
harmonica is the most popular in
Europe whereas tremolo harmonicas
are favored more in the Far East.
Tremolo Harmonicas: This type
of harmonica is ideal for playing
very traditional music because one
may easily create a wonderful
‘tremolo’ effect. It is very
popular with Gospel and old world;
Folk, Country, Scottish and Irish
Tremolo harmonicas are constructed
with double holes placed vertically.
each contains two reeds, one
slightly de-tuned to the other. When
vibrating together, these reeds
produce a unique tremolo effect.
Chromatic Harmonicas: The
chromatic harmonica has been created
to compensate for the missing notes
on the diatonic harmonica. You will
be able to play both the tones and
semi-tones of a chromatic scale (a
chromatic scale is when both white
notes and black notes are played in
succession; C, Db, D, Eb,
E etc) thanks to a slide button.
Using the key of C as an example,
with the slide 'out' one is able to
play the naturals (white notes on a
piano keyboard). With the slide 'in'
the sharps/flats can be played (the
black notes on a piano keyboard) .
wish to play popular melodies, jazz
and classical music, this is the
right instrument for you.
Apart from these 3 basic types,
there are also specialist harmonicas
which are mainly used in ensemble
and Bass harmonicas.
key do you need to purchase?
The harmonicas are available in
various keys. Therefore, when buying
a harmonica, this is an important
aspect to look at. When playing
solo, any key will sound good, but
the choice of key becomes more
critical when you have to play with
The key of C is the most common. It
is the ideal key to begin with, and
you will find most of the tutorials
available are made for this key. D
is the best key to choose for
practicing bending (and a little
easier than the key of C). The key
of A produces a beautiful low-pitch
sound but it requires more effort on
blowing. You can also choose the key
in accordance with the style of
music you wish to play. The F, D, A,
C, G, E and Bb keys are
recommended to play Blues, Rock or
Country music whereas if you wish to
play jazz, the Ab, Bb,
Db, Eb and F# keys
would be a good choice.
If you want to try another key, you
do not necessarily have to buy
another harmonica. Suzuki provides
replacement reed plates for selected
models, which is a cost effective
way to change the key as you wish.
material should you consider for a
and metal are the most common
materials for harmonicas. Both have
advantages and drawbacks:
Plastic harmonicas: They are
usually less expensive and lighter
in weight but often do not sound as
‘professional’ as the more
expensive metal harmonicas.
Metal harmonicas: Normally in
the middle to upper price range. The
sound is generally clearer and more
powerful, allowing more control with
special effects (such as overblow
A beginner may well select a premium
priced harmonica to start off with.
However, due consideration should be
given to which model they feel most
comfortable with. A slightly more
expensive model may allow more
enjoyment in practicing and keep
them motivated for longer!
that you know the basic criteria to
choose a harmonica, which Suzuki
harmonica is the one for you?
Suzuki manufactures all kinds of
harmonicas with a large range of
prices and designs.
Now that you have taken into account
all the general criteria, you can
make your choice of a specific model
according to your personal tastes
Here are the instruments that Suzuki
puts at your disposal:
and Bass harmonicas
to play the harmonica?
Now that you have chosen the right
harmonica for you, let’s play it!
Here are a few tips that may assist
you along the way:
to hold your harmonica?
Hold the harmonica with your left
hand with your thumb on the bottom
of the instrument and your
forefinger on the top. Then, put
your right hand so as to form a cup
with both hands. Be careful to take
the harmonica in the right way,
which is to say with the low notes
on the left.
to play only one note?
The first thing you have to master
is to be able to isolate a note,
which means to draw or blow only one
hole at a time. To achieve this
task, you have to purse the lips (as
if you were whistling) and then you
need to concentrate on a specific
hole (for example the hole no 4).
Try it several times and then try
with other holes.
are the notes placed on a harmonica?
For each hole, the note varies
depending on if you are blowing or
drawing it. Here is a notation chart
(for a standard diatonic harmonica
in C) to know which hole you need to
blow or draw to play a specific
Bending a note is a way of
altering the note from its standard
pitch, usually lowering the pitch of
the note. This is an important
technique to master if you want to
play Blues music. This effect is
easily achieved on the MR-350V
This is a method of altering
a note up in pitch. The MR-300
Overdrive has been designed
specifically with this mind, to
achieve overblows and overdraws
It is also called Cross Key
positioning. This technique enables
you to play a harmonica in all 12
keys by using bending techniques and
choosing which note you want to
play. To make the important notes,
you will need a key that is a fifth
down the scale, i.e. for playing
blues style in G; you will need a
harmonica in C.
This is a rapid wavering of the
pitch of a note. This effect is
achieved by cupping the hands around
the harmonica and rapidly opening
and closing the fingers whilst
sustaining a note (see information
on the PH-20, which is designed to
create wonderful vibrato easily!)
and maintenance of your harmonica
is advisable (particularly in cold
weather) to warm up your harmonica
prior to playing, although this will
not adversely affect the reed if you
blow from cold.
not use harsh or abrasive cleaning
materials on your harmonica and
never submerge it completely in any
the sake of hygiene and preventative
maintenance, it is advisable to
brush your teeth before playing, if
shake or “tap” excess moisture
from the harmonica after playing and
clean with a soft cotton or lined
in a dry, dust free situation (the
box or case is ideal) and avoid
information. If you
want more information about playing
the harmonica, Suzuki offers
comprehensive tutorials with CD to
help all the beginners to master
this delightful instrument.
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