Q: What keys should I buy?

A: Diatonic harmonicas come in at least 12 different keys corresponding to every available pitch of the chromatic scale, some which are repeated an octave higher or lower. Some keys are more useful to have than others. A good starting set are the keys of C, G, A and D,. esp. if you play along with guitarists who favor open chords. If you are more apt to play along with horns, the flat keys come in handy, namely F, Bb, Eb or Ab. As you become familiar with playing different ~positions~ (see below), the question of ~which keys~ will become easier.

Chromatic harmonicas usually come in C and G. Some are available in Eb and other keys. Since every note is relatively easy to obtain on a chromatic, and since they are usually used as single note instruments (linear/melodies), playing positionally in any of the keys is much more common than on a diatonic. Hence there has been perceived to be less need for as many different keys as there are for diatonic (among other reasons) -- HA.


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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


Harp Frequently Asked Questions