Showing posts with label Blues Harmonica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blues Harmonica. Show all posts

Saturday, October 27, 2018


English: American blues harmonica player Georg...
American blues harmonica player George "Harmonica" Smith
 (Photo credit: 
The harmonica is a very common element in blues music. It has the depth to go with the rhythm and for many people, it is what makes it what it has become. Learning to play the blues on the harmonica is much harder than one might think. Yet once you do so you will be very happy with yourself. 

One significant difference between blues harmonicas and others is the fact that the blues features twelve holes instead of the traditional ten that is found on others. This can take some getting used to when you pick up a blues harmonica if this isn’t the style that you first learned to play on. It is important to have the right type of harmonica in order to play the blues.

When it comes to playing the blues on the harmonica you have to be able to feel the music. You also need to know the basic notes on the instrument so you can apply them. This can be frustrating but make it a routine to practice at least 15 minutes each day. Try to play listening to a blues song you are attempting to copy. This will guide you to show you where you need to continue working as well as where you have certain parts of the song down correctly.

Many individuals who own blues harmonicas are more than willing to help others learn too. You can find them hanging out on the porch on warm afternoons working with each other. Many younger generations have learned the value of patience and bonded with older family members during the process of learning to play a blues harmonica. In fact, it is also common for these older musicians to buy young children a blues harmonica so they can start picking it up from a very young age. 

You will discover in your quest to buy a blues harmonica that there is no shortage of them out there to choose from. Take your time to try out several models that you can find at local music stores. You want to be comfortable with what you are going to be playing. Plan on spending at least $200 or more for a very good blues harmonica that you will love playing every chance you get.

Monday, March 26, 2018


diatonic harmonicas :a) upper: blues harp (C) ...
Diatonic harmonicas:
a) lower: blues harp (C) "Victory" :
b) upper: Tremolo Harmonica "Unsere Lieblinge" (Hohner)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A harmonica is a type of musical instrument that seems to have found its way into various types of music. It is most commonly used in jazz and the blues. You will often hear it make an appearance in rock and roll songs as well as many of the older country tunes. Learning to play the harmonica does take time but it can be done. It involves knowing how to play the instrument by learning the notes, practicing, and making sure you are holding it correctly. 

If you are looking for a top quality harmonica there are plenty out there to choose from. The leader in the market is Hohner who has made them for over 150 years. Some other famous makers of harmonicas include Lee Oscar, Suzuki, and Bushman. You may want to try out several brands as well as several models to find the one that you are really happy with. Harmonicas can be expensive but if you want a quality sound you need to make a good investment in one that will last.

Most harmonicas are very durable and they will last you for a very long time. However, you need to do your part to take care of them. When not in use the harmonica needs to be in a carrying pouch. This will prevent it from getting damaged and the sound changing. You also need to clean it out on a regular basis.

Some professionals clean their harmonica by dipping it into a cup of water mixed with denture tablets that dissolve. They believe it takes away the stale taste that can build up in the harmonica after you play it a great deal. This process is very simple and it doesn’t seem to have resulted in any harmonicas being ruined or altered the sound of them.

Over a period of time, all harmonicas will need to be tuned again. You may end up doing permanent damage to it if you don’t keep it clean. In most cases when your harmonica is out of tune you will need to replace it. Repairs can be time-consuming and expensive yet they don’t really seem to work for long before it is out of tune again.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

How to Play BLUES HARMONICA - To Get Started Right - Here's What You Need to Know

Folk Blues - Tombo
Photo by le-topographe
First of all, it's important to know that there is not a separate, "blues" harmonica instrument - "blues harmonica" is instead a style of playing the harmonica. Blues harmonica is played most often on the major diatonic 10 hole harmonica.

Harmonicas were invented in Germany in the 1800s and were at the time were basically used to play the "oom-pa-pa" or classical music or folk tunes of the time and of that area. The major diatonic harmonicas really haven't changed their tuning very much since that time.

That doesn't mean that you have to play folk, classical, or oom-pa-pa music on the diatonic harmonica, it just means that you have to play in a different style, and with a few different techniques, in order to get the blues harmonica sound.

The first that has to be done in order to be able to play in the blues harmonica style and get the blues harmonica sound is to no longer play using the built-in blow-oriented tuning of the diatonic harmonica.

Instead, what you do is play in what's called second position or "crossharp".

In second position playing, your root note for the harmonica is the #2 draw on the harmonica ("draw" means inhale in harmonica language), NOT the #1 blow (which is the standard folk, classical, oom-pa-pa position).

The second position takes advantage of the DRAW CHORD which is built into the first four holes of the diatonic harmonica, which is a seventh chord - seventh chords are extremely important for blues music.

So now you have a new orientation for your harmonica playing: away from the BLOW-oriented style of the first position, to the DRAW-oriented of the 2nd position which uses the root note #2 draw, or the root chord you could also say, on the diatonic harmonica.

By starting on the #2 draw - what you have is a different scale that you are taking advantage of on the harmonica - technically it is a minor pentatonic scale.

However, this particular pentatonic scale has flatted notes or "blue" notes in it in order to get that "bluesy" sound and is a specialized scale often called the blues scale. To get the flatted "blue" notes in the blues harmonica style it is necessary to become proficient at a technique called "bending notes" on the harmonica.

Bending a note on the harmonica is actually creating a note that wasn't built into the harmonica - it's almost a magical thing. The harmonica works by air flowing a brass reed that is riveted in a slot. The harmonica has one blow reed and one draw reed right above it in each slot. When the harmonica is assembled, you don't see the slots, but just know that these reeds, 1 blow, and 1 draw, are in the same hole, one above the other.

You have 10 holes in the typical major diatonic harmonica, and 10 blow and 10 draw notes, so you have twenty built-in notes.

By bending notes, you can get considerably more notes, and more often than not it is these bent notes that give the harmonica its' "soul" and its' very "vocal" sound.

How to bend a note is quite a study unto itself, but the main thing you are doing while bending a note is changing the air pressure while the air is flowing over the reed, and in almost all cases this will be on a draw note.

To get started bending notes, choose one of the harmonica holes that usually is one of the easier notes to bend, the #2 draw.

First, you must have a good single note technique. That is, you must be good at playing only one hole at a time without other holes leaking in their sound.

Next - you draw in the #2 draw with that clear relaxed single note style so you can hear what that single note is supposed to sound like and imagine that you are articulating the vowel "E" while drawing in on the #2 draw.

Three: Exhale so that you have a lot of air to work with on the #2 draw, and while drawing in saying "E", without changing anything else inside your mouth, change the vowel articulation to "OOO" or "AAAH".

What this ultimately will do will be to change the air pressure inside that slot and will cause the brass reed to vibrate at a different rate, and the reed will be "bent" down.This gives you your bent note or "blue" note.

Harmonicas come in many different keys: the higher the pitch of harmonica, the shorter the reed. The shorter the reed, the harder it is to bend the note, at least until you get used to it. So start with at least a midrange harmonica such as the key of C, or go to a lower pitch harmonica key such as an A or even lower, a G harmonica, to practice bending notes.

The actual bending technique will be the same for all keys, but you will find it easier to learn the bending technique initially on the lower pitch harmonicas.

So those are the main elements of how to play blues harmonica:

1. Playing in the 2nd position or "crossharp" style

2. Playing in a pentatonic blues scale

3. Getting the "missing" blue notes of the scale by using the bending technique.

Blues harmonica is the root technique of almost all other harmonica styles, so whether you are a blues fan or not, it is a great place to start learning more fun techniques on the harmonica.

You can go to to get more help on how to play blues harmonica, especially the bending technique.

    By Matthew Shelton
    Matthew Shelton is the founder of, your best source for harmonica instruments, books, audio, and video. You CAN learn to play the harmonica, and you can carry it with you to have fun wherever you go!

    Article Source: EzineArticles