What’s your favourite harp? Wait, I don’t care!

There is a tendency for beginner players to become fascinated by the seemingly hundreds of different harps available, and the endless minutia of differences between them.

But here’s the thing. The harmonica is very simple in construction and operation. Once you reach a certain threshold of quality, sound differences between models are minimal. Differences exist, sure, but we’re operating in the area of maybe 10% of the overall sound. And that’s being generous.

You know how many (non harmonica playing) audience members ever said “Yeah, the harp player was good, but she’d have sounded a lot better if she was playing [model x]”? None. Zero. It has never happened.

More important, by far, is that you find a model you feel comfortable with. The influence of the player massively exceeds the influence of the model she’s playing. A player who’s fighting a harp she doesn’t get on with because she believes it sounds better will inevitably sound worse than if she just played a model she was more comfortable with.

To put it another way. Sonny Terry sounded like Sonny Terry when he played those old Marine Bands for years, and he sounded like Sonny Terry when he was playing Golden Melodies later in his career. By harmonica standards, those two are about as different as it gets.

To put it yet another – and more vital – way. You’re better off spending your time working on your chops than spending endless hours trawling forums and spending hundreds of pounds on harmonicas chasing some magical mojo that doesn’t exist.

I’m not trying to piss on anyone’s BBQ, exploring harmonicas is fun. The fact that for musical instruments they are very cheap – even with today’s ever-escalating prices – encourages you to do so. I’m just cautioning against sabotaging your own progress as a player by spending your precious practice time stressing about tiny and ultimately unimportant variations.

Go, play, enjoy!