Playing Blues with the Harmonica Holder

Harmonica, guitar and vocals are the cornerstones of blues. Play them together using a harmonica holder and you have a powerful act. Blues harmonica parts need not be complex, simple ones played well are fine. This lesson outlines some simple blues harmonica parts, suited to the harmonica holder.

If you are new to the harmonica holder, try the Getting Started with the Harmonica Holder lesson first.

This lesson uses a C harmonica in second or "cross" position to play in the key of G. Your root note is the 2 hold draw, an essential note for blues. Many players have trouble with it. Advice for improving your 2 hole draw note is here.

Start without the guitar. Put the harmonica in the holder, then slide it towards your right hand until the 3 hole is directly under your nose. Now play a 2 hole draw. Make it as strong as you can.

Tune your guitar with an electronic tuner, or from a harmonica note (the electronic tuner will usually be better). Now play a 2 hole draw, then start strumming a G chord. Try to end the harmonica and guitar together, like this:


The two hole draw also sounds good over a C (or IV) chord. Visit this introductory blues lesson, and listen to the tracks at the end of the lesson. Note that the harmonica plays a 2D note only (details on the harmonica tab notation are here).

Play along with this track with harmonica only (no guitar yet) until you can match the harmonica part in the lesson. Now play along with your guitar only. The track is 4 bars of G, 2 bars of C, then another 2 bars of G.

When you can play the guitar and harmonica parts separately then try them together, like this:


Try the same again, this time with a complete 12 bar blues sequence in G.


Now visit this more advanced blues lesson and learn the harmonica solo. Now play along with the track at the end of the lesson with your guitar only. When you can play the guitar and harmonica parts separately, then play then together, like this:


More experienced players should visit this lesson on the harmonica blues scale. Listen to the excerise in the third track for the lesson. Similar to the other exercises, try the guitar part and harmonicas parts separately, then put them together. You may find it harder to coordinate the harmoncia with the rock and roll guitar beat in this exercise, compared to swing guitar rhythm in the previous exercises.

It should sound like this:


While there is clearly much greater scope to the Harmonica Holder than shown here, most players are restricited by their harmonica skills. These skills can be greatly improved by the harmonica lessons on this site. In particular, visit the harmonica course at a glance page for more details on the blues lessons.

Not many people use the harmonica holder well, so even basic skills with it will set you apart. A small amount of practice will bring rewards, and greatly enhance your blues performances.