Valuable with musicians who create blues, rock, Celtic and other types of music, harmonicas have varying numbers of holes, depending on their designs. Invented thousands of years ago in China, it gained popularity in Western countries in the early 19th century. Many harmonica fans enjoy using different designs of the musical instrument so that they can produce the distinctive sounds for which each type is renowned.

Diatonic Harmonicas

A diatonic harmonica is a versatile musical instrument popular with individuals who enjoy playing music ranging from blues to rock. They have compact designs and feature 10 holes and 12 basic musical keys, which prompts many harmonica instructors to recommend that beginners consider selecting diatonic C-key harmonicas due to their ease of use. Because this harmonica style does not provide access to possible notes as easily as some other harmonica types, players can bend notes, which helps give the diatonic instruments their distinctive sounds.

Chromatic Harmonicas

Often tuned to C or G, a chromatic harmonica can produce rapid melodic runs. It is a popular choice for seasoned players. Many musicians consider large-reed chromatic G harmonicas more difficult to master than a diatonic one. They are available in 12 keys and feature side buttons capable of producing small-interval semitones.

Tremolo Harmonicas

The unique trembling sounds that distinguish tremolo harmonicas from other harmonica types make them attractive choices for playing traditional Irish and Scottish music. Tremolo harmonicas feature two reeds that sound simultaneously for each note. This creates a distinctive warbling sound prized by Celtic musicians and many other harmonica players.

Other Harmonica Styles

Other types of harmonicas are available that may be lesser known, but each style can produce amazing sounds and are sought by harmonica fans around the world. The 24-hole ChengGong harmonica is unique for its sliding mouthpiece and allows a musician to play a longer note than other designs. Pitch pipe harmonicas can guide choirs, and orchestral harmonicas direct pitches for orchestra musicians, while electric harmonicas contain built-in microphones that amplify their sound.