I wanted to buy a harmonica or a recorder, as they are what i found interesting the most out of wind instruments.my budget is low at about 300 egyptian pounds, which is about20$. I have seen what options i can get with that amount of money and it seems like i can get a decent yamaha or suzuki plastic recorder but when it comes to harmonica,it seems like the only ones i can get are what they call 'toy' brands like swan, which i have heared are pretty bad.i like the harmonica sound a bit more than the recorders but if it seems like i can only a bad harmonica , i would probably go for the recorder.I also seen so people say that with harmonicas i would have to get a new one every couple of months as the reeds die,what do you think?
They are, like, totally different instruments and useful for quite different kinds of music. A recorder is strictly monophonic and has a rather pure sound and rather rigid pitch. A harmonica is chorded and diatonic and has a sound with lots of harmonics and quite bendable pitch.
With regard to maintenance, either are pretty low-key but don't like excessive humidity. A recorder is a more "classic" music instrument, the harmonica will more often be used for blues and folk.
When you are playing together with others, you will need a whole set of harmonicas (8 or so) to get along. With a recorder, you'll just need more skill for navigating different keys.
The instruments are so different that I see little point in making the decision based on price. I really think you should pick what you like more. If you get hooked, the music will worm itself into your wallet eventually anyway.
(The following answer refers to diatonic harmonicas, not to chromatics)
Until recently I would have advised you that there is no point in buying a harmonica that costs less than $30-40. They were all so bad that they were WORSE than having nothing, because they discourage your and make you think that YOU are the problem, whereas actually the harmonica is the problem.
This is no longer the case however. If you are reading articles/watching videos about harmonicas that are more than a year old, then all of them will say DO NOT BUY CHINESE, buy a hohner, seydel, lee oskar, suzuki etc. They were right at the time, but the situation has changed. East Top Harmonicas have started making professional quality harmonicas for about 15 USD. I own one, and it's honestly JUST as good as a Hohner/Suzuki Harp, it's incredibly impressive what they've managed to do. Kongsheng is the other Chinese manufacturer that has started to make decent harmonicas, but I haven't tried one of those myself. (Research Kongsheng and Easttop and you will see how good the reviews have been)
However, the advice still remains: do NOT buy a swan/hohner "blues band"/random cheap toy harmonica off amazon. You will be so so disappointed, and unable to make any real music.
To adress the question of recorder vs harmonica. Recorder wins for maintenance: a decent plastic recorder will basically last forever and all you have to do is keep it clean. A good harmonica, it depends on a lot of factors: how hard/often you play, the humidity of where you live. But ultimately, harmonicas do wear out. Having said that, unless you play so hard that you blow a reed, a harmonica will go for years and years. It won't be at its best, but it will still be playable. Most likely, you will want to repace your harmonica in 1-2 years.
Since both options are in your budget, I would male your decision in the following way:
Watch some beginner music lessons on youtube for both the harmonica and the recorder: which one appeals to you the most and makes you more excited to learn?
Also, another option for a cheap instrument might be a Ukelele, which will definitely help you if you later want to move to other stringed instruments (like the guitar for example).
My other question to you is what are your local options? The Egyptian currency is quite weak on international markets, are there any folk flutes for example that would be affordable?
A recorder will allow you to play only single note tunes, whereas a harmonica will give you the option of playing chords as well, which can make a welcome change to your playing. Yes, a decent harmonica will cost more, and will last well if looked after, and a recorder will take more abuse and neglect, and possibly not be as adversely affected by weather change. A harmonica will restrict you to playing in one key (two if you play cross harp!) but you will be able to play in several keys on the recorder. Reeds should last a heck of a lot longer than a few months.
As ever, the choice is yours, all I do is point out pros and cons.
The differences in maintenance between a recorder and a harmonica have already been explained well.
However, it looks as if the answers are focusing on the diatonic harmonica, which is limited to a few keys (usually only two) and have neglected to focus on the modern chromatic harmonica, which is a full-fledged instrument despite its small size, and is used even in classical and jazz settings. It allows you to play music in every key, just like a piano or guitar.
Musically the modern chromatic harmonica gives you far more options than a recorder or a diatonic harmonica - you can become a complete musician playing only the chromatic harmonica.
I assume this option has been neglected because of your stated budget constraints, but recently good quality chromatic harmonicas can be purchased for $20-$25. See: Swan Chromatic Harmonica in C Key 10 Holes . There are several listings for this chromatic, with prices that vary slightly depending on the supplier, but AFAIK they are all the same instrument. You can see the reviews of these instruments, including mine, up there.
I have one of those Swans - I paid $24 for it, and I like it very much. It plays better than my Hohner Chromonica and every reed works perfectly (more consistent than the Hohner) Although it doesn't sound quite as good as the Hohner, it's certainly not bad sounding at all.
I'd strongly recommend going this route if you want to learn to play a "real" musical instrument. Add in this book when you can afford it and you will be on your way very quickly: Easy Harmonica Songbook: For Chromatic Harmonica | 70 Audio Examples | Lyrics and Tabs .
I have no interest in Swan, Amazon or Yvonnick Prene - just using my personal experience as a guide.