I just bought a harmonica, it has 24 holes. When i tried to learn it, i know that there are 10, 16 and 24 holes harmonica. There are two questions that i want to ask

what is the difference between them?.

is number 4 hole in 10 holes harmonica and number 4 hole in 24 holes harmonica the same?

I'm so confused

  • 1
    Is this a chromatic or diatonic? A chromatic has 4 holes per octave (with blow and such and slide that's 16 reeds per octave - with dupicates). Each octave is layed out the same way. A 10 hole diatonic covers 3 octaves, but each is arranged differently (with some gaps on 2).
    – hpaulj
    Aug 28, 2015 at 4:29
  • You need to explain what sort of harmonica you have - chromatic or diatonic. Modern chromatic harmonicas generally have a slide that raise the pitch of the notes one half-step.
    – Vector
    Oct 24, 2017 at 1:41

2 Answers 2


A Richter tuned 10 hole C diatonic harmonica (the Blues Harp) is tuned for the following notes:

- Blow C E G C E G C E G C
- Draw D G B D F A B D F A

The common 12 hole is as follows:

- Blow C E G C E G C E G C E G
- Draw D G B D F A B D F A B D

And the most common 14 hole just continues:

- Blow C E G C E G C E G C E G C E
- Draw D G B D F A B D F A B D F A

That said, there are a wide range of other tunings, both for different keys, and variation on the draw, so you'll want to check, but in general, if you look at a 10, 12 or 14 hole diatonic in the same key, the blown notes will be the same, and the drawn notes will be the same for at least the first few holes.

  • Just realised you asked about 16's and 24's - apologies. Will need to go and look them up :-)
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Nov 9, 2014 at 16:30

Standard diatonics (aka Richter or blues harmonica) typically have only 10-16 holes across.

A blues harmonica is primarily laid out to repeatedly create a single major chord on the blow notes, I-III-V-VIII, do mi so do, however the upper octave is arranged to provide an entire major scale when combining blow and draw notes by including alternative draw notes.

Once you have more holes across than that though, you are likely looking at a different scale arrangement as well. The possibilities include:

  • A repeated major chord (no complete major scale), with a range of more octaves.

  • A different scale altogether, or at least more recurring notes than just the major chord.

  • No draw notes at all, and the extra blow holes are interspersed to provide those missing notes instead. That being the case, it's more likely to be a chromatic harmonica in the first place.

  • The example I provide below of a tremolo harmonica in which blow and draw holes alternate.

I have a Paloma Harmonica with the following charts included for 21, 23, or 24 holes:

[21] redo^ fa mi^ laso^ ti do^ remi^ fa so^ lado^ ti mi^ reso^ fa do^ la`

[23] redo^ fa mi^ laso^ ti do^ remi^ fa so^ lado^ ti mi^ reso^ fa do^ lami^ ti

[24] so^ redo^ fa mi^ laso^ ti do^ remi^ fa so^ lado^ ti mi^ reso^ fa do^ lami^ ti

Blows are indicated as ^, draws are indicated as `. They add a mi ti at the end for 23 holes, and a so at the beginning for 24 holes.

This is a strange harmonica though. Each hole, by which they mean a vertical stack of two holes, alternates as a blow or draw hole. This is why the harmonica has twice as many holes.

To use the format of Dr. Mayhem's answer (which doesn't really fit the harmonica), it would look like this:

G^ DC^ F E^ AG^ B C^ DE^ F G^ AC^ ti E^ DG^ F C^ AE^ B

(since it's in the key of C)

Or like this if the blow/draw holes were synonymous instead of alternating:

Blow G C E G C E G C E G C E

Draw D F A B D F A B D F A B

I wouldn't recommend such a harmonica for serious musicianship unless the tremolo is your priority over expedience, chords, and bending. It could be useful if you wish to avoid playing more than one note at a time though.

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