Buy a Harmonium, Not a Headache

kirtan education Sep 28, 2020

How to Buy a Harmonium, Not a Headache

The only thing more amazing than chanting, is leading a chant. Whether you want to start a home practice, add Kirtan to yoga classes, or lead a band in your community, you will need a great harmonium.

The Harmonium is an incredibly user-friendly instrument.

  1. The harmonium is one of the few instruments that sounds great from day one! You don’t have to endure endless hours of squeaking and squawking like a beginning clarinetist or violinist.
  2. You can purchase a harmonium that is highly portable. This means you don’t have to lug around heavy gear as you would with a drum set, string bass, or tuba!
  3. The harmonium is the perfect instrument for chanting as it creates a beautiful sound that is like having a choir singing back at you!

WARNING: Junker harmoniums will give you a headache!
Unfortunately, not all harmoniums are created equal. There are many “junker” harmoniums on the market! Trying to chant on a bad/broken harmonium is like trying to ride a bike with two flat tires—so frustrating. If you have a “junker” you will unfortunately spend so much time, energy, and attention fighting the instrument that it will be challenging to learn, and difficult to enjoy your chanting practice.

My intention is to help you get a great harmonium so you can easily dive into this amazing practice. Years of experience with harmoniums have taught me the following lessons:

Four Mistakes To Avoid When Purchasing a Harmonium

  1. Never buy a harmonium directly from India. Your instrument will inevitably be low-quality and in need of repair and tuning. Click HERE for a video that demonstrates the downside of buying direct from India.
  2. Never buy a used instrument. Your instrument will likely be in need of significant repairs and tuning, and quite possibly will be a “junker!”
  3. Never buy an instrument that is not portable, i.e., too big to fit in an airplane overhead or too heavy to lug around. Unless your harmonium is going to have a permanent home you will want to have something that is easy to transport around town.
  4. Never buy an instrument that is too small. A really good harmonium will sustain a 2-note chord for 6-9 seconds. Anything smaller than a Bhava Mini from Old Delhi Music will likely have significantly diminished volume and sustainability power.

Our recommended harmonium distributor is Old Delhi Music. Interested students can email [email protected] to learn about exclusive offers and discounts. 

Old Delhi Music in a North American shop offering unique handcrafted Indian instruments that begin in the hands of India’s best builders and end with careful, meticulous refinement at their location Urbana, IL. When it comes to harmoniums, they are the best in the business. They know their builders personally and their products even more intimately. Their Bhava harmoniums are my favorite. They are without question the highest quality, and most consistently great Kirtan harmoniums I have ever played. The extra care Old Delhi puts into carefully sourcing and refining each instrument is obvious. This ensures that what you get from them will not be something you struggle against, but rather, an instrument you can enjoy now and for years to come.

Three Keys to Purchasing a Great Harmonium

  1. Buy a brand new instrument through a reputable dealer who will make sure the instrument is in tip-top shape prior to shipping it to you and will guarantee their work.
  2. Get one that is sized to fit your needs.
  3. Make sure your harmonium is tuned to A-440 so you can play with other musicians.

Click HERE to check out my blog post on the "harmonium taste test" I conducted in late 2019. 

The Goldilocks Harmonium

My favorite instrument is the bestselling Bhava Mini. I play a Bhava Mini on the road and in the recording studio and strongly recommend you consider purchasing one for this course.

The Bhava Mini looks great, is the perfect size for yoga teachers on the go, and has an surprisingly big/rich sound and long sustain for such a small instrument. At just 17 pounds the Bhava Mini is highly portable and easily fits into an airplane overhead. For most people this instrument is “just right.”

Who Uses a Bhava Mini?

I play a Bhava Mini, as do most of my students and lots of touring/recording Kirtan musicians. The Mini is so high quality that my Kirtan music producer Ben Leinbach (Jai Uttal, Deva Premal, etc.) keeps one in his recording studio.

Tips for Ordering the Right Instrument

  • I suggest you choose to have your instrument tuned to A-440 (highly recommended!).
  • If you want a premium option, go for the Bhava Classic. This 3.5 octave instrument is larger (and heavier) than the Bhava Mini, but also has a user-friendly design that makes it super easy to collapse and set up.
  • If you want a slimmer and lighter version get a Bhava Travel Lite, which weighs only 10 pounds (6 pounds lighter than the Bhava Mini). 
  • Know that all Old Delhi Music instruments come with free shipping within the continental US.

Get Yourself a Great Harmonium!
A great harmonium sounds fantastic the moment you take it out of the box. A great harmonium will facilitate your learning and offer years or decades of enjoyment. If for some reason you decide to sell your instrument, a great harmonium will retain its value.

I hope this guide helps you purchase a top-notch harmonium that supports you in bringing Kirtan into your home and sharing the exquisite practice of sacred chant with others.

Have questions? Email[email protected] to learn about exclusive offers and discounts

And, feel free to reach out to Nic and Jacob at Old Delhi Music. They are kind, decent and caring folks and will be happy to answer all of your questions.

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