Don't miss Sweetwater's Last Minute Holiday Deals! (affiliated) Shop sales on all kinds of keyboards, MIDI controllers, accessories, and more.
The harmonica VST is a really hard instrument to nail. I’ve tried a lot of different plug-ins to no avail. It’s a delicate instrument to sample in the sense that if it’s not done right, it will sound very thin and cheap. After jumping from different VST’s, I found a couple that I really enjoy and see useful for productions.
It is my opinion that a lot of harmonica VST’s and samples sound cheap. The best ones, however, sound pretty realistic and warm. These are the ones that I’m going to focus on in this post.
Crazy about VST’s? Here are some of my favorites that I’ve reviewed:
What Makes A Good Harmonica Sample?
The best samples are going to be samples that sound realistic and still give you all of the dynamics as if you were playing a real harmonica.
What I look for is something that sounds good when I play it on a keyboard. Finding plug-ins that sound good when played on keyboards is always my main goal. If I can play a part I like on my keyboard and change the instrument, then it’s perfect for me.
The Nostalgic Feel Of The Harmonica
When I think of harmonicas, I instantly think of classic songs from my childhood. Neil Young, Billy Joel, and Supertramp are a few bands that ring a bell.
I think the nostalgia comes from the fact that when you hear some of those classic songs, you instantly recognize the harmonica as it brings you back in time. To me, this is a great feeling and a reason why I like to use harmonicas in current songs.
If you’re not a fan of using VST’s for organic sounds, I definitely think you should give them a try. The game is changing and some of the samples sound extremely close to real and also give you more to work with.
Best Harmonica VST’s And Samples
The Auditory Lab Harmonica V2 samples feature three different types of harmonicas: the diatonic, chromatic, and tremolo. Each of these are given their own controls and volumes as well.
The interface is extremely easy to navigate as a picture of each harmonica is shown. Under the pictures you are given some effect and volume controls.
These can be played with a MIDI keyboard and one feature I really like is the mod-wheel. It allows you to create chords and notes that are mildly off pitch that make for an organic soundscape.
I think that the sounds are very convincing once you dial them in. One of the pre-sets sounds just like the intro to “Take The Long Way Home.” This was an extremely popular song that was recently sampled into a modern hit as well.
The harmonica in the intro is something that immediately hooks you in and brings you right back to when it was written.
I think this is a quality sample pack that you will thoroughly enjoy. It’s hard to find realistic harmonica samples, but the Auditory Lab V2 does a great job.
Note: There is a learning curve when playing harmonica parts on a keyboard, so don’t get frustrated if it’s not sounding great right away. It will definitely get better as you get better at it.
8Dio Misfit Harmonica
The Misfit harmonica samples are deep, raw and gritty. They sound realistic and imperfect. To me, this is a good thing. You can get some crazy realistic effects when playing this plug-in.
I believe these samples are pretty on-point. I find myself using the Auditory Lab harmonica a little bit more frequently though. Personally, the Auditory Lab seems a lot easier to use.
The 8Dio Misfit harmonica is worth a try in my opinion. I think it’s a solid pack of samples that you can get some use out of.
The DSK harmonica is a free plug-in that works great. Simple to use and easy to program. It doesn’t let you get as in-depth as the Auditory Lab, but it sounds pretty good.
I like this because it doesn’t sound too thin, especially for being a free plug-in. I believe DSK did a great job here. DSK seems to deliver some great products for free, so this is a big plus.
This sounds pretty realistic right off the bat. The one thing I wish is that it had more controls, but you can always use other effects on it. I suggest using some effects on it to tweak it to your liking.
This is worthy of checking out for sure. I love that it’s a nice free option that allows you to check out harmonicas in-depth. Give it a listen here below. If it’s not something that you’re into, then stick with the ones that I mentioned above.
This is more of a free option that I personally like.
As you can see, there are definitely some great options to check out. One thing I will note is that I specifically did leave some harmonica VST’s off this list. That was because I just haven’t gotten the use out of them as I have out of these ones.
Are you a touring musician? I recommend checking out my guide to the best laptop stands for musicians.
My main piece of advice would be to just always dive in deep on this plug-ins. Don’t stop using something before you’ve learned the basics of it or you’ll never settle on things that you like. There’s been a lot of times when I’ve been working with products where I was frustrated and could’ve moved on and I stuck to it and ended up liking them.
Do you have any experience with these plug-ins? Which did I leave out that you like to use? Let me know below!