Best Harmonica For Beginners

I get asked all the time “what is the best harmonica for beginners?” It sounds like an easy question but with all of the harmonicas available choosing one can be a little overwhelming! I have created a brief video showing 4 harmonicas that I think would work well for someone starting out as well as seasoned players. Take a look and I’ll have links to purchase the harmonicas shown below

Blues Harp Turnaround

So here is the tablature for a Blues Harp Turnaround. A Turnaround is a riff to get you from the end of a song back to the beginning when you are soloing. Play this a few times at the end of a 12 bar blues song and your solos will instantly sound better!

Download (PDF, 63KB)


This blues harmonica tablature goes along with my YouTube video here:

Big Sale on Harmonica Lessons with Howard Levy!

For many years I’ve been a fan of harmonica great Howard Levy. Of course for his mastery at playing the harmonica but also because he is so melodic whether playing harmonica, piano, ocarina or any other of the many instruments he plays. He seems to have gone beyond the limitations of the instrument to create his music. Like his music making he is also a wonderful teacher! Howard Levy has a calm and relaxed approach to his lessons and breaks things down so that almost anyone is able to play the harmonica.

Howard levy has been teaching through a web based “school” at artistworks learning exchange

Right now Artist works is having a sale. $60 off of any 1 year subscription! There’s not much time because this sale expires on August 1st, 2016. Simply add the code”SCHOOL60″ at the checkout page to receive your discount.

After this, the prices are going up so act now! Simply click either of the ads shown here and they will take you to Howard Levy’s Harmonica School.

History Of The Blues Harmonica Concert

A few days ago I purchased and downloaded a really good recording called The History Of The Blues Harmonica Concert. It is a great overview of blues harmonica playing from before WWII up into modern times.

Put on in 2007 at the Harmonica Masterclass and released in 2010 it features a few great harmonica teachers.

Joe Filisko opens up presenting excellent examples of pre war blues including a great rendition of a train song and Lost John. many more tracks and then we are treated to David Barrett demonstrating post war blues and especially the amplified stylings of Little Walter. He also demonstrates Big Walter, George Harmonica Smith, Jerry McCain (one of my favorites) and Junior Wells.

Kinya Pollard performs a tribute to Paul Butterfield and Dennis Gruenling finishes off the night by giving us a glimpse of the future of blues harmonica (which is now considering this was recorded in 2007).

The playing on this recording is nothing short of fantastic and the spoken introductions before each track are informative. Overall, this is a fantastic album and should have a spot in every harmonica student’s collection.

Skype harmonica lessons

I am now teaching harmonica lessons over Skype!

It’s easy and fun to take music lessons from the comfort of your own home! You don’t have to worry about the weather or looking for a parking space and most of all it saves you time and money.

It’s easy to get started taking Skype lessons with Harmonica Joe. To get started, download Skype free to your computer, tablet or phone (or all of them!).  There are tutorials on their website on how to use the service.

When you are ready, send me an email to  and let me know you wish to take lessons. Be sure to include your phone number and Skype username. I’ll get in touch with you to schedule a lesson time and to also set up a time to briefly test the connection and make sure everything works.

My current Skype lesson rates are on special!

$20.00 for 30 minutes

$30.00 for 60 minutes

thank you!

Gazell Method Seydel Half Valved Harmonicas

A few months ago I purchased some Seydel harmonicas. I bought 3 half valved harps from  PT Gazell  and after spending some time playing them I can honestly say I really like them.

I purchased a “C” 1847 silver, “Bb” Session Steel and a Low Db Session Steel.

As someone who has a love/hate relationship with overblows these harps make playing jazz lines a little easier. Notice I said easier, which is to mean not a silver bullet.

I have played most of the harmonicas currently on the market and like some better than others and I think I like the Seydels the best. I would love to go and buy a whole set of Seydels but I still have a large box with about 30 brand new old stock Hohner Special 20’s , Crossovers and Marine Bands I bought about 4 years ago and also have loads of  new Lee Oskar reed plates. I do plan on picking up a few more half valved harps from PT because I like them so much.

Out of the box the harps sound and feel really good. The hole spacing is a little wider than most Hohner players are used to but if you have been playing Special 20’s it won’t be as noticable as if you have been playing Marine Bands which is what I have been playing lately. I noticed on a few forums that for some the hole spacing is a problem. I can say that for myself, It’s an easy transition that happens in a minute or so. I can go back and forth between the Hohner’s and the Seydels without much of a problem.

The valves on the Gazell Method harps are much thicker material than used by Hohner and Suzuki. PT states on his website that he has tried most every material and this works best. I agree that it works very well. I haven’t heard any of that annoying Hohner wind saver buzzing at all with these harps.

The fit and finish on these harmonicas is top notch. Seydel seems to pay attention to the details

So how do they sound you ask?

These Seydel Gazelle Method harmonicas sound fantastic. I don’t know how to describe it except to say that these are smooth and full sounding harps. I haven’t been able to get the silky smooth sound PT gets but with lots of practice maybe someday.

It’s a funny thing, I’ve been working on overblows for so long that it’s a habit now to go for the OB5 and OB6. It’s a matter of practice time spent retraining as theses Seydel’s don’t overblow because of the windsaver valves mounted on the lower 6 holes. I think I like the sound better with the valves over the overblow but the OB6 can sure sound convincing. Time will tell after I get some more playing time with them.

While I don’t think I’m getting rid of my Hohner’s right away, I do plan on picking up more of the Gazell Method half valved harps to cover more keys.

Do you play Seydels? Half valved harps? Let me know what you think. Let’s get the conversation going!



How I Spent my Summer Vacation

I just got back from a fantastic week at Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp. SK Acoustic Kamp

This was my second year at the Kamp and it was great. Unfortunately a harmonica class is not offered…yet but you never know. Bluegrass is the focus of the week I was at the Kamp. I play several instruments including the harmonica and this year I  decided to focus on playing Dobro at the Kamp. I took my mandolin along for the elective classes and also to play at the many bluegrass jams throughout the day and late into the night.

The dobro instructors this year were none other than Curtis Burch, Jimmy Heffernan and Ivan Rosenberg. All heavy hitters and masters of the Dobro.

All of the instructors at the Kamp are the best at what they do and a great many are Winfield competition winners. In fact Steve Kaufman is the only 3 time winner of the flatpicking contest. If you haven’t heard Steve play, check him out soon.

If anyone out there is interested in some Dobro info, leave a comment and let me know.