Riffs and Songs

I've collected a million of these. As time allows I will add more.

12 bar blues theory and practice for a beginner.


Don't Get Around Much Any More. Duke Ellington classic. This is a good practice piece with a few easy bends.

Amazing Grace. Simple slow, but moving tune that everyone likes.

Stormy Weather. Billie Holiday did it best.

Black Rat Swing. Phil Wiggins practice piece. Memorize this. This is a good Chicago style blues and you can fall back on it when inspiration fails. Good to have at the blues jam at 3AM.

Riffs and Scales:

No Bend Beginner's Riffs Good Morning, Juke Riff and Boogie-Woogie Blues.

Triplets and a Quadruplet. Easy idea, but hard to do. If you can bend at all, these are worth the effort because they sound great. (Don't forget to do them all backwards!).

No Bend Simple Turn-Around. You can use this simple turn-around on every blues song.

Blues Scale. The blues scale requires a couple of good bends that must be done fairly accurately. You should practice this scale over and over as it is the basis for all blues riffs.

Mannish Boy and Hoochie-Coochie Man Riffs. One requires a hard 2 hole draw full bend, the other is easy.

Theme from Peter Gunn. The hardest bend excercise I know.

Sonny Boy Riff from "Help Me". This is a semi intracate no bend riff that Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) uses to great effect in "Help Me' and other songs.


Notes on Tablature:

I have made a few small gifs to show which holes on the harp to blow and draw as well as when to bend.

The 1 hole blow looks like this: the arrow points into the hole which means you blow the note. The number in the circle tells you which hole.

The 1 hole draw looks like this: The arrow is pointing down - away from the hole - so you draw (or the crude ones among us suck.)

A bent note is denoted by a crooked arrow. This is the 1 hole draw bent:

Some holes have several levels of bend. The angle of the bent arrow will show how far the bend should be. Here are the 2 hole bends. First half bent: and here is full bent:

If you have need for the gifs and don't feel like searching through the pages to steal them:

Here is a zip of all the gifs I've made so far.



Buy the Book!

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

I also write Science Fiction, so you can sample some of my best stories. Also available in Kindle format.

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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