My Harmonicas

Craftsmen seek out the best tools, harmonica players do likewise. I get the best instruments possible, these are:

Diatonic harmonicas: these are the standard 10 hole harmonicas. Each is tuned to a specific key, this is why harmonica players have multiple instruments (more on this here). When I started, everyone used the Hohner Marine band harmonica. Some still do.

New harmonica models have since appeared, there is more choice. Moreover, harmonica customisers now prepare high end versions of the diatonic harmonica, based on the pioneering work of Joe Filisko. Neil Graham is a student of Joe’s customisation method, and one of only three approved Hohner harmonica customisers. Fortunately for me, Neil is based in Australia. I have 12 of his instruments.

Half of these custom diatonics are tuned to Major Cross, a tuning system I devised for bluegrass and Irish fiddle tunes. Seydel have released a Major Cross harmonica, shown opposite. We worked together on this, needless to say I am very happy with the result. Thanks Seydel!



Chord harmonicas: Through the Asia Pacific Harmonica Festival I’ve met great rhythm players, using bass and chord harmonicas. These larger instruments were common a generation ago, but are now rarely seen.

I’m using one of these harmonicas, the Huang Chordet, shown opposite. I’ve modified it to suit my music, details are here. This instrument is the engine room for the Tony Eyers Trio.

Tremolo harmonicas: The Chinese word for harmonica is kouqin (口琴), the actual instrument is usually a “tremolo”, shown opposite. The tremolo has two reeds for each note, sounding like this:

In recent years I’ve taken to the tremolo, and like it very much. It sounds like an accordion, to me at least. I’ve created a set of online tremolo harmonica lessons, they are here. More details are at