Blues Harp Scale

There is much discussion over what exactly is a blues scale. I've listed a basic scale that is used in blues. These are the notes that sound good for blues. Practice this fast and slow. Almost all blues riffs use a piece of this scale. The three hole draw bent is a parial bend. It should drop the three down the half step needed to make the minor. This note is the heart of the blues and can vary from unbent (for a major country and western music sound) to more than a half step for a dark minor sounding blues. Your ear should tell you when you have this bend right.

Scale up:

Scale down:

There are a couple of notes below the 2 draw that are repeats of notes in the middle scale.

There are some blues notes above the 6 hole blow, but I not fond of the sound of them. You can use the high end of the harp, but the low end sounds so much better. The top 4 holes in a harmonica should be used in first position and then only occasionally.

Note:

In an interview with Kim Wilson, Carlos Colina asked Kim what was his greatest strength in playing the harp. Kim answered "I have a good 3 draw bend".

 

The tab icons are set so that if you click (or touch) them it will play a harmonica note. All songs are set to play with a "C" harmonica in cross harp (2nd position) so the song or riff will be in the key of "G".
The exception will be the riffs where the little menu comes up and it allows you to play in first or third position or correct the key. You still will use a "C harp, but they song key will be "C" or "D" accordingly.

 

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I cleaned up my tab for Sonny Boy's Help Me and made it into a short book. There's a Kindle version for 99 cents, and if you buy the paperback you get the Kindle free.

Playing "Help-Me" In the Style of Sonny Boy Williamson II: A step by step, note for note analysis of some of Sonny Boy's Signature Riffs

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The JT30 Page Popular links

I began collecting data about the microphones used by blue harp players before there was an internet. I began organizing it into JT30.com in the late 1990s. I accumulated more stuff than I remember. This is some of it.

Street Theory

A Harp Player’s Guide to Music Theory

Learning Harp

Picking Up Blues Harp

A guide to learning to play Blues Harp

Microphone Information

Usenet Articles


Harp Amps

I've been collecting Harp Amps for a while. This is the old Harpamps.com website. There is lots of information here. Here a coupld of links.


Harp Tab

A collection of songs and riffs that I’ve worked out over the years, plus some libraries of stuff I’ve converted to tablature. I’ve included most of the notes and instructions that helped me when I was learning to play blues harmonica.

Basic Riffs Simple harp tabs for songs Blues riffs and phrases.

Harp-L Archives 1992 to 2002


1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003

Harp Frequently Asked Questions