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Indian musical instruments come in various shapes and functionalities, from the humble tabla to the melodious harmonium. Harmoniums play a major part in kirtans and bhajans, setting the melody and mood for singers to belt out magical notes. Choosing the right harmonium for your needs can be simple if you take into consideration the following criteria.

Construction Quality

Harmoniums can be made of different types of wood, ranging from higher end ones like teak and mahogany to types like fir and pine. The higher quality the wood, the more resonant the sound, but it will likely also make the harmonium heavier, which is something to consider if you are going to be travelling with it. Higher end woods also tend to carry a heavier price tag in general.

Standard or Portable?

A standard harmonium is one that has two handles on the sides, while a portable harmonium is one that folds into itself so you can carry it with one handle like a suitcase. For those who want mobility with their harmonium, the latter is a better choice, as it makes the harmonium a lot more comfortable to carry around. Both standard and portable harmoniums offer similar sound quality, and volume depends more on the number of reeds that the harmonium has.

Number of Octaves

The range on a harmonium can vary from model to model, and the number of octaves comes between 2.5 to 3.5 octaves. For regular use, a 2.5 should suffice, though if you want more options, you can opt for something between 3 to 3.25 octaves.

Other Features

Couplers and scale changers are some additional features found on some models of harmonium. Couplers add allow you to play a note in two different octaves, while scale changers allow you to slide the keyboard up or down to play tunes in a different key using a particular hand placement. These features are a nice-to-have, but may not be necessary for standard harmonium playing.

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