Donate to This Project

Your donations help us continue to add new and exciting features. Please consider making a donation

HarmonicaSpace is a subsidiary of Brady Mills Graphics


Back to the General Discussion Room

dana l
Jan 04, 2010 12:45 PM GMT

hello again! now im gonna ask some stupid questions. because i think there should be a room or something for us who arebrand new to the harp i just spent i dont know how long going thru gussows vids on utube on first and third pos. the only thing i get out of this is first position u only play the lower and higher octaves third position u play the middle octaves? overblows?

Share |

Comments (21)

Login or Register to Post Comments

Order by Date

Jan 04, 2010 2:52 PM GMT
Jason L Replied:


It seems to me this is the room for folks that are brand new to the harp and where you can get the best advice from folks who have been there and are happy to help others when there was none for us.I am sure you will get many responses to this that are better than this one but here goes.

1st and 3rd position don't dictate only low octaves or high octaves just the scales in all octaves,itmay bejust that some parts of the harp are harder (or less popular) to play in different positions so folks tend to skip the mid octave. I think the challenge to playing other positions is learning to use the entire harp and not just skip from thelow to the high octave but be able to run through all 3 as you feel the music moves you to play. Once you can play the harp chromatically (which only you can decide if that is what you trulywant to do)you are really not restricted at all. This is where the overblow/draws etc.. would come in. If you are a beginner these may be far off techniques but ones to shoot for if you want to be in command of your instrument chromatically and open up all octaves in all positions.

Jason Ricci has a cool video on scales in 1st,2nd,3rd positions, learning these will set you well on the path.'s vids you have watched are awesome too and you may want to play along with them for a few weeks to get the most out of them (if you haven't already doen this).

Of course you don't have to learn overblows to play well in all these positions but learning the notes of the scales you 'can' play in each of these positions will allow you to decide where you play on the harp, low or mid or high and not have the harp tell you.

Best thing for it would really be to play a backing track and jam in the position you want to work on and just figure out what sounds good, It's a great way to learn I think.

or get some tabs floating out there for these positions and learn them, take them apart and then improvise off of the riffs or runs or melodies that you like to backing tracks.

hope that helps,


Jan 04, 2010 3:56 PM GMT
dana l Replied:

for right now im interested in some niel young stuff for the guitar but im certianly not going to limit myself to that i seem to be more inclined twoards croos harp that straight i Think im starting to get the first and third position stuff thou. working on bending 2 and 3 holes and some simple songs folsum prison stuff like that

Jan 05, 2010 2:10 AM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

From my perspective, if you're worrying about positions and you're a beginner, you're trying to learn too much too soon. The very first thing you need to learn is how to play single notes with decent tone, how to bend notes, how to play chords. Tongue blocking should come next. It is important to know that there are different positions and they give you different scales, so you can choose the right harp for the job. But if you're leaning towards cross harp - aka second position, I'd stick with it and learn to play some good blues in 2nd position. Everything you learn (and that's a lot) will be vital to you in other positions as well, where bending skill is even more important. Maybe I'm just old school....

BlowsMeAway Productions
Bluestate on CDBaby
Bluestate on iTunes

Jan 05, 2010 12:04 PM GMT
dana l Replied:

thanx man i love this site i really appreiciate all the replies i got.blowsmeawygreg is probably right i need to quit lookin up all this stuffon the puter and practice. goin ice fishin today maybe the music will calm the monster pike into bitin also wondering about hohners piedmont blues sets anybody try these harps? are they any good? i know my money woud probably be better on a more expensive set just wondering

Jan 05, 2010 3:39 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Before you start spending money on better harps, get your technique together first because if there's bad technique happening, you'll blow out a much more expensive harp just as quick, often times faster than the cheapie stuff, which is aimed primarily for newbies. I'mm not dissing you by any means, but too many newbies don't understand that at all and too often, if something goes wrong, the first thing they're gonna do right out of the gate is blame the instrument. Granted, there most certainly are manufacturing defects, but far more often than not, the real problem is playing technique and it's better to beat the crap out of a cheapie than something more expensive.

You also gotta remember, there's also a learning curve and like the old saying goes, "a baby has to learn how to crawl before they learn how to walk, and a baby has to learn how to walk before they learn how to run." You also need to know where every note available is on the instrument, something too many players fail to do and also intonation as well as articulation. All of these things do take time, like it or not, and there is always a constant learning curve.

The Hohner Piedmonts are coming from pretty much the same factory in China and, like the Hot Metal, they're basically aimed at the newbie, so don't expect too much. Again, get your technique together first before moving on to something better, and don't be afraid to ask questions no matter how dumb you think they are. My background is largely pro playing for some 30+ years and there's always more to learn no matter how good you get. In the learning process, at different points in time, you're gonna hit a plateau, and it happens to every one.

Jan 05, 2010 5:48 PM GMT
Kingley Replied:

Listen to Greg and BBQ Bob. They are telling you the real secret of being good at playing harmonica. Hard work!

Forget about positions, overblows, etc for now. Just start with the basics. Good strong single notes, getting good tone. being able to move up and down the harmonica smoothly and confidently. The rest will come in time.

Jan 05, 2010 6:28 PM GMT
John P Replied:

You know, if you really want to play something in third position, learn to play the blues scale. It's actually easier to play in third than it is in second.

Tab for blues scale in third position: D4 D5 B6 D6* B7 D8.

At this stage of your development, focus on technique and learn to play scales, playing all the single notes cleanly and getting all the bends correct and in the proper order. After that, playing in multiple positions will be easy because the breath patterns for certain scales in ceratin positions are the same as the breath patterns for other scales in different positions.

Jan 05, 2010 7:24 PM GMT
Mondo Replied:


First off: Welcome to Harmonica Space! This whole site is a great place for harp players of all levels. There was some discussion a while back about a "Newbie Room" but the general concensus is that it's unneeded. After all, if you're in a room full of noobs, who you gonna ask? I have to say that I agree. Being a noob myself I've found that it's better to hang out with the pros.

Second thing: I bought a set of Hohner Piedmonts and must say I was sorely disappointed in them. The hard plastic covers made them tough to play. If you're looking for a cheap case, they did come in a nice zipper & velcro case. After I learned about better harps (from many kind folks here) I started replacing the Piedmonts with better ones and kept the case.

If money is tight (and where is it NOT?) Suzuki Folk Masters are some of the better inexpensive harps out there at about $15 each. Cheaper still is the Hohner Blues Band which can be purchased in a set like the Piedmonts and come with the same case, but have metal covers instead. They run about $35 for the set or about $5/harp (like the plastic ones).

To step up a notch, I'd get either the Suzuki Harpmasters or Bluesmasters. Both run about $26 each.

Jan 05, 2010 9:11 PM GMT
dana l Replied:

thanks everyone for everything

Jan 06, 2010 8:10 PM GMT
Brady Mills Replied:

Hey Dana,

I'm so glad you are finding the site useful and hope that this has been a great example of how not segregating the discussion boards between novice and professional players can be beneficial. We want to foster an environment where the pros have the opportunity to discuss things with each other while still helping the newbies learn and grow. Sure, some things may be over your head at the moment in these rooms -- but surrounding yourself with new and challenging things is what drives success.

The harmonica is such a wonderful instrument. My appreciation for harmonica did not really start until I lived with a great player. I always thought Harmonicas were a toy for kids and that people played harmonica because it was already tuned to blow and draw chords that corresponded to 'real' music. I then realized that individual notes could be played (by puckering or lip pursing) and there were classical harmonica players... I never knew that.

A lot of the time, the things I heard and saw were far beyond my comprehension; however, it was this experience that led me to appreciate the instrument and understand that it is just that, an 'instrument.' After some time, I was able to identify harmonica in music I hear all the time and never realized I was listening to a harmonica. Sometimes, because it sounds more like a sax or flute or some synthesized instrument (due to pedals and effects). I began noticing that not only was it in music that I hear on the radio and TV, but it's very common.

My hope is that sites like this will help the instrument evolve, help others gain a greater appreciation for the instrument and newbies and pros alike will walk away from a session on Harmonica Space with new knowledge; Knowledge that will advance the instrument and the players alike.

The organ is a prime example of what can happen over time, if education about a particular instrument is not explored and made available. Many universities offer scholarships to people who want to become organists, because it is considered a 'dying art.'

Hopefully, this site and organizations like SPAH will continue to help keep the traditions and theory of harmonica music alive... and will help keep the instrument progressing toward new techniques and musical exploration.

Welcome to our site Dana!

Brady Mills
Owner Brady Mills Graphics
and Creator of HarmonicaSpace

Jan 08, 2010 12:21 PM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

You play the middle octave in first position too. I just don't think Adam recommends it to beginners because there are two overblows in that ocave if you're a playing the more common scales: pentatonic, melodic minor, orblues.(Overblow is a rather advanced technique achieved with embrochure and redirection of airflow which chokes one reed and sounds the other in its respective channel). Anyway it's not beginner stuff. Gussow has beginner lessons on his website.

Jan 09, 2010 10:21 AM GMT
blogward Replied:

Questions you think are stupid are the best ones to ask - usually they raise a point nobody has thought of! You can use all the octaves in all the positions; how MUCH you can play just depends what your bending and overbending technique is like, and how well your harp is set up.

1st position - the key that is written on the harp - needs (almost) no bends to play all the notes, like a piano. You use 1st for simple (eg folk) tunes, and traditional songs. Think Bob Dylan. You can play blues in 1st but you need overblows and bends not to sound lame - blues is generally played in 2nd and draw bends are adequate.

Third position - the key two semitones up from the written one, eg D on C, C on BÞ,etc - allows you to play freely in a minor key; if you play in D minor on a piano, you need no black notes. That's what 3rd position is like.

Hope this helps.

Jan 09, 2010 11:37 AM GMT
dana l Replied:

yes that helped out blogward thank you

Jan 20, 2010 6:39 AM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

None of your questions are stupid. Learning harp (like learning any skill) is an exciting journey where secrets are gradually revealed and mystical vails are cognitively lifted and stuff just starts to make sense. I hope you'll keep at it! :)

Jan 20, 2010 10:49 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:


I recommend you to start studying music, not only harmonica itself. Any blow, draw, bend, overblow note is just a note. Understand reference of holes to sheet music and you can use vocal books, fake books, and flute books to play any music in any positions. Start with C harmonica and tunes in C, G, Am, Dm, F.

Jan 20, 2010 10:30 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

dana l you can find some great free sites that will give you the tabs to the songs you are looking for. They will give you the key of the harp you need for the songs and some of the sites will even show you the cords for the guitar. Im also a newbie and I think I will be one for the rest of my life. I will continue to ask the questions, were some will find them dumb others will answer them with great gusto. One thing I do want to emphasize is if you think your question was not answered or you might have not clearly explaing your question. dont be shy about asking it again.

abner ( BluEyes, always a Newb )

Feb 09, 2010 4:40 PM GMT
skullShaker Replied:

May I add my 2 cents as for me I know where i went wrong and it is what made me a better player more than anything. PLAY AT YOUR HARP 3 DAYS A WEEK EVEY WEEK you will get better just keep playing


Playing the Blues for life

Feb 09, 2010 4:58 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

I like that, Playing the Blues for life.


Feb 09, 2010 11:37 PM GMT
Carl M Replied:

Can someone steer me in the right direction to purchase,screws,nuts,thread tap etc for repairing older harps that have nails???


Feb 10, 2010 3:07 PM GMT
eric b Replied:

Go see as many harp players playing live as possible. You may not see the benefit right off the bat,but You can learn alot just by listening and watching other players. Also,start hoarding harmonica music that You like and listen to it as a passive listener (sometimes). In other words when You go to sleep,when Your working around the house,driving,etc. It takes time,but You will digest the "musical vocabulary" and it eventually comes out in Your playing after Youstart to make stepsthe instument.

© 2009 HarmonicaSpace

Advertise with Us | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy | Anti-Spam Policy | Report Abuse | Report Problem | Contact Us

Harmonica Space offers free social networking, harmonica forums and harmonica chat for harmonica players.
Join today and meet other harmonica players from all over the world!

Web Development and Web Design by Brady Mills Graphics