I tune my guitar half step flat to make it easier to sing the songs I love to play. I also play harmonica along with guitar on many songs that feature a harmonica solo (Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" for example).

In standard tuning, Heart of Gold uses a G Major Diatonic harp. So it would stand to reason that I would need a G Flat harp to play the song a half step lower. However, when searching for a G Flat harp, I can't find any. What I have found is Major Diatonic harps in the key of F sharp - but with most Harmonica makers, that is the highest tuned Diatonic harp they offer and is too shrill for my taste.

I have found that Seydel and Lee Oskar offer a LOW F# Major Diatonic Harp which is basically a G Flat. But why don't they call it G Flat.

Every place I have looked online offers the following Major Diatonic Keys in their harmonicas: C, G, A, D, E, F, Bb, B, F#, Eb, Ab and Db.

So my question really is why is key of G flat, represented by F# and F is the only "sharp" key offered by Harmonica manufacturers.

  • 2
    the note G♭ is only used in the keys G♭ and D♭, but F# is used in every sharp key
    – Legorhin
    Nov 14, 2019 at 22:51
  • 1
    @Legorhin Good point. But the question is about key vs individual notes. There must be more to it. But your point could be part of the reason. Nov 14, 2019 at 22:58

3 Answers 3


Maybe nothing to do with common key signatures. B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭ going on to G♭ with 6 flats. Because F♯ also has 6 sharps.

However - that very note F♯ features a heck of a lot more in music than its enharmonic equivalent of G♭. It's a better known name!

The best place to ask this is with the manufacurers - who will probably say 'we've always done it this way', which is no help at all!

  • You are probably right about all. Nov 18, 2019 at 19:54

There IS a G♭ harmonica, and you've told us there's a choice of high or low. The name doesn't matter. G♭ IS F♯ (for the purposes of this sort of music, anyway).

Yes, the manufacturers might get a few more sales if they labelled it as 'F♯/G♭'. I don't suppose you're the only person who took a bit of time to fall in to the fact that they're the same thing!


An Gb and an F# harmonica are the same thing. The same note has two different names. An E## harmonica would also be the same.

  • 3
    There's some market potential here! They could sell a lot more harmonicas, one with the pitch written using sharps and another with flats ...;) Maybe another with "fixed do notation?" A separate "H" harmonica for playing German music etc. Nov 15, 2019 at 8:28
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica - I'm pretty sure I had, in the '60s, harmonicas with H stamped on them.
    – Tim
    Dec 16, 2019 at 7:58

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