Best Chromatic Harmonicas of 2017

Welcome to my guide to some of the best harmonicas on the market. I have owned several ones over the years and some of my favorite models are listed below. If you are a complete beginner I suggest starting with a 12 hole model then upgrade to 14 and finally to a 16 hole. All right let’s dive in!

1 Suzuki Chromatix SCX48 $214


My go-to harmonica at the moment. I use it for my practice sessions and as a back-up for my concerts and recordings.  The sound is quite warm and full. Every hole should work perfectly out of the box except perhaps the 12 draw. I’ve noticed it didn’t come out right on a few SCX that I have ordered. Besides that, it has technically everything we can expect from a good chromatic harmonica such as Abs combs, phosphor bronze reed plates and an ergonomic mouthpiece.  The two parts slide mechanism makes the cleaning fast and easy. Most of Hohner’s or Seydel’s models are built with three parts. I wish the button slide was better glued as I had a few one which came off. So make sure to check it six months or a year after purchase.  Available in 12, 14 and 16 hole version.

Pros:

  • Great sound
  • Quality built
  • Air tight
  • Light weight

Cons:

  • 12 hole draw may not comes out right
  • Fragile button slide

2


One of the strengths of the CX is a remarkably well built plastic body. It’s completely airtight. The mouthpiece is a bit larger than Hohner Mellow Tone or a Seydel Deluxe Steel and may fatigue the jaw if you’re making the transition from these models. However it’s completely airtight and easy to disassemble for maintenance. You don’t need a screwdriver to remove the slide and the cover plates it’s very easy to pull apart and put back together thanks to its mechanism.  I’ve noticed that the slide was a bit noisy. The sound of the instrument is quite unique. It’s not my favorite harmonica tone but great players such as French harmonica player Claude Garden made it there harmonica of choice. Finally I would recommend it for beginners.

Pros:

  • Easy bending notes
  • Sturdy construction

Cons:

  • Comes only as a 12 hole
  • The sound is not for everyone
  • Large mouthpiece
  • Noisy slide

3


I first started playing the chromatic harmonica on a Hohner Mellow Tone 15 years ago. Since then it ranks among my favorite harmonica in terms of sound but it has some major flaws. The wood comb may become less airtight overtime and it doesn’t last as long as a plastic comb. Once it goes bad well… best to buy another one because it will be time consuming trying to fix it yourself. That being said I always loved its warm and round sound, which I still can’t find on Suzuki or Seydel models. It features pear woods comb and chrome plating on both covers.  Only 12 hole model available.

Pros:

  •  Great warm sound
  • Get a bit of the unique Toots Thielemans’ tone

Cons:

  • Difficult to take it apart
  • Fragile Spring
  • Short life

4


Though it is more expensive than the models above it is totally worth the price. The Seydel Deluxe Steel is a great all around chromatic harmonica. It looks like a better version of the Hohner Mellow Tone. Every note comes out right out of the box specially the high notes. The sound is brighter compared to the Hohner or Suzuki and projects a bit more consequently. It’s easy to take it apart though it could have been even faster with fewer pieces and screws. If you are looking for a 16 hole from Seydel I would recommend to look for the high end Symphony.

​Pros:

  • Sturdy construction
  • Air tight
  • Good resonance

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Bright sound
  • Fragile spring

5


Has perhaps the best tone of all the harmonicas  I have played. I personally love it and I used it on my last album “Breathe” and bring it to every gig. The sonority is warm, and I can’t find another harmonica that matches it. It’s highly responsive in the middle register perhaps less on the low notes if you are playing on a 16 hole model  but this is a common problem shared by most of chromatic harmonica. It has ABS plastic combs with weighted brass, which it gives more comfort in hands. Is it worth $700?  I wish I could say yes. Unfortunately harmonicas don’t last forever and after a few months or years you’ll need to replace parts.  That’s why I would recommend using it for performance and have a cheaper model for your daily practice. The Sirius comes in all sizes 12, 14 and 16 hole.

Pros:

  • Awesome thick tone
  • Long-lasting reeds
  • Weighted feel
  • Sturdy construction

Cons:

  • Quite expensive
  •  Slide button may unglue overtime
  • Top notes may not comes out right out of the box