The Harmonica

The harmonica is a member of the Wind instrument family. It originates from Europe and was invented by Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann in 1821. It is sometimes referred to as the French harp and the mouth organ.


Harmonicas were appeared in Vienna in 1824. From there, different artisans, ironworkers and clock-makers copied the instrument and started creating harmonica-making businesses. Matthias Hohner became the first harmonica maker to actually mass-produce the instrument. Some time before Hohner began manufacturing harmonicas in 1857, he shipped some to relatives who had emigrated to the United States. Its music rapidly became popular, and the country became an enormous market for Hohner’s goods. US president Abraham Lincoln carried a harmonica in his pocket and harmonicas provided solace to soldiers on both the Union and Confederate sides of the American Civil War. Frontiersmen Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid played the instrument, and it became a fixture of the American musical landscape.

How It is Made
While the individual parts are produced by machinery, the assembly is done by hand.
Creating the comb
Wooden combs are cut from a block of wood. Channels are carved out in descending lengths across the comb. Plastic combs are injection molded. The plastic compound is heated to a semi-fluid state and then mechanically injected into a mold. The compound hardens quickly, the mold is popped open, and the new comb is expelled.
Making the reed plate and reeds
The reed plate is stamped and machined, creating slits that correspond to the channels on the comb. Reeds are cut and tapered by machine. One end of each reed is riveted to the reed plate so that a reed lays over each slit. The opposite end of the reed is left free.
Tuning the reed plate
The reed plate is manually tuned. The tuner strikes the appropriate tuning fork and then files each reed to the correct tone. Filing the base end lowers the pitch; filing the free end raises the pitch.
Attaching the reed plate to the comb
The reed plate is attached to the comb with nails or screws. The assembly is done manually at a workbench similar to that used by a shoemaker. The nails are inserted into the holes with needle-nosed pliers and then tapped in gently with a small hammer.
Attaching the plate cover
The plate cover, which has been machined, shaped, and stamped with the company name and harmonica type, is attached to the reed/comb assembly with screws or nails.


Blues, American Folk Music, Classical, Jazz, Country, and Rock.

It is usually played as part of a band.


How do I play the instrument?

You play the harmonica by holding it to your mouth with one or two hands. You make notes by blowing into one or more holes. You can control the number of holes that you blow through by covering some with your tongue. Notes can be changed by breathing in.

Are there any instrument silimar to this one?

Melodica and Yu

How long does it take to learn?

It usually takes 6 – 12 months.

Is there special equipment needed for the instrument?


Rock with a Star!

Let’s enjoy the sound of this instrument through this wonderful performance by Phil Wiggins

Phil Wiggins playing the harmonica in a recording session in Bias Studios, 2010