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!
This blues harmonica tablature goes along with my YouTube video here:
A few years back I had a cool little corner of the interweb where I sold harmonicas and instructional material. It was going well and growing until I couldn’t afford to keep up with the big impersonal music stores and websites. when my wholesale cost became greater than their retail price it was time to close it down. I had some stock left over and I figured I would end up using the harmonicas eventually but with my playing style, I rarely blow out reeds so my harps usually last a very long time.
With all that said, I’ve decided to sell off most of my secret stash of harmonicas by Hohner and a few Lee Oskars. These are all NOS (new old stock) from about 2010 -2012. Most are in blister packaging but a few will be sold with no packaging which is the way Hohner sold them before 2012. All are brand new, never played. I will also have a couple of instruction books available.
Click HERE or on the Harmonica Shop menu and check back now and then to see what I’m adding.
Here’s a step by step tutorial I created on how to replace the reed plates on a Lee Oskar harmonica. No need to throw away your harp when a reed goes bad!
Here’s an easy Charlie McCoy harmonica solo on the Ernest Tubb song Waltz Across Texas.
To play it you will need a diatonic harmonica in the key of D and country tuned. Country tuning is simply the 5th hole draw note raised a half step. When played in crossharp, this note is changed from the dominant seventh to the major seventh. Charlie McCoy used this tuning often.
In this solo he stays very close to the melody of the song. Get the Ernest Tubb recording of the song an listen to his phrasing. He really makes the most of a short solo which in turn makes the song and that’s what counts.
Leave a comment and let me know how you like it.
I thought in this post I would continue where I left off in Play me A Song And Don’t Be A Foot Shuffler and put up a few songs that are not only easy to play on the harmonica but are important songs to know. They are perfect songs to play when asked the dreaded question…”can you play a song?” Instead of looking away, shuffling your feet and mumbling something about needing a band to back you up, play one of these songs. It’s important to be able to play songs people can recognize. No one really cares if you can rip off some fast blues riff. While flashy and might impress another harmonica player it’s melodies people want to hear. I’ll be adding songs as time goes on so check back now and then.
The first song is Red River Valley. I tabbed it out in the low range of the harmonica. after you learn it there, try working it out in the high range of the harp. Enjoy!
Leave a comment and let me know what songs you want to learn!
The next song is Simple Gifts. One of my favorite songs this one is easy to work up a tongue blocking arrangement.
How about playing a song for us!
How many times have you heard that!
There are two things you can do at this moment, shuffle your feet and mumble some excuse about not knowing what to play OR take charge of the moment and play a song that will put a smile on everyone’s face and enjoy the rest of the day (or night).
I’m willing to bet that most would do the first thing. I know I have, and I hated the feeling.
Be honest now! If you play a musical instrument then you have been asked to play a song at some point for someone or a group of people in a casual situation. Everyone knows you play music and they just want to hear a song, how hard can it be?
Pretty difficult until you get over yourself and simply play some music.
You see, I found out a while ago that no one cares if you know a million scales, chords or blues licks. In fact, no one really cares that you can play a Little Walter solo note for note or can jam for an hour with your vintage JT-30 mic and tweed Bassman amp.
People want to hear a song.
Let me tell you a true story. A few years ago I was camping out with a large group of people and there were a few who played guitars but didn’t bring them. I had mine and so there we were hanging out and someone said to me “how about playing a song”. Now I’ve been playing musical instruments for a very long time, and I can play pretty well and know chords and scales and loads of licks and can improvise well. So then why was I like a deer in headlights? Because all that stuff, the chords, scales, licks and whatnot are not music but simply the components that make up songs and songs are music.
I did the foot shuffle thing and played some blues licks and other boring stuff and was glad when everyone found it boring and went on to other things.
That wasn’t going to happen to me again.
I started learning complete songs. (sounds obvious but most people only learn the hook or maybe the first few bars).
The takeaway of my little story is that to be a musician whether you play blues, country, jazz, pop or any other style is to know tunes and songs that people will recognize. Does this mean we can only play some top 40 song? Not at all but it helps to play something somewhat well known before launching into an obscure tune that just sounds like a bunch of blues licks.
Foe me in addition to blues, I especially like bluegrass and old time music. So I might play a song such as “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” and then maybe a simple fiddle tune such as “Soldier’s Joy”.
Don’t be a foot shuffler and take charge of the situation and play music
Tell me your foot shuffling story in the comments section below and if you decided to do something about it!
Christmas songs are a fun and easy way to add songs to your library and you Will need to know a few once people find out you play a musical instrument. Go here for my Christmas For Harmonica songbook
I was playing my Hohner Marine Band Crossover today working out a cool Sonny Terry riff. If you haven’t heard of Sonny Terry, check him out. There is a lot of material on youtube and other sites.
As I was practicing, I started thinking about what a great little musical instrument the harmonica is. Then I started to make a list of why it is so great and here’s what I came up with.
- You can play the harmonica anywhere. The harmonica is a portable musical instrument that is easy to keep in your pocket. Whenever you have a spare moment simply pull it out and start jamming!
- Relatively speaking, the harmonica is one of the most inexpensive musical instruments. I realize that harmonica prices have increased exponentially the last few years but compared to a trumpet or flute, it’s not that much. This low cost makes it fun and easy to try out harmonicas of various brands and tunings.
- It is easy to play many different styles of music on one simple harmonica. Jazz, Blues, Country, Reggae, World music can all be played on the 10 hole diatonic harmonica.
- Easy to learn! Anybody can play the harmonica because it is the easiest musical instrument to play. A few minutes after opening the box most are able to play something recognizable. try that with a violin, saxophone or tuba!
- Loads of information available on learning the harmonica. Just today I was looking for information about Irish harmonica players and after a couple of google searches found loads of information and music about traditional Irish harmonica players. The internet has made it much easier to find more than a lifetime’s information on how to play various styles of harmonica.
- The harmonica has a rich and varied history. Most people are familiar with blues harp but did you know that the harmonica has a rich heritage in classical music? Harmonicas have been played on the stages of the finest concert halls throughout the world. In fact more harmonica music is available to play now than ever before. In addition to music of the western world, the harmonica can be heard in the folk music of many different cultures.
- Playing the harmonica is FUN!
As a harmonica player, it’s easy to get caught up in listening only to a few favorite blues harp players. We all have our favorites mine being, William Clarke, Little Walter, Jerry Portnoy, Big Walter Horton Adam Gussow and a few others.
If I only listened to these great blues harmonica players and no others, I would still be getting a lifetime of lessons on how to play blues harp. That’s all well and good but it’s a big world out there and by limiting yourself to only a few musicians or bands you are missing out on so much more great music.
In addition to listening and studying blues harp players, it’s also great to listen and study musicians on other instruments as well. There is so much to learn about, phrasing, note choice and tone. In addition it will introduce you to other positions on the harmonica and possibly encourage you to seek out alternate tuned harmonicas such as the Lee Oskar Melody Maker and Harmonic minor tuned harps.
Here’s an exercise to try out:
Take a song you like with a laid back melody (not too many notes) played on a trumpet or saxaphone and figure it out on your harmonica. First determine if it is in a major or minor key. That will determine what harmonica and position you might start out in. Next try and find where the notes fit on your harmonica. This might take a few tries to figure out which key harmonica to use. Then pick out the notes of the melody and play along with the recording. Note: many times the melodic line a song or solo moves to a different key. Don’t worry, you can either figure out what position to use for that part of the song or simply pick up a different harmonica to play that section.
I realize is is a little more difficult than I make it sound in a few paragraphs. The key is to not give up! Go slow and if it takes a while to figure out a few notes, no problem! you are on your way. take a break for a job well done and go back to it later and get a few more notes.
By doing this over and over you will be adding to your harmonica vocabulary and eventually you’ll have a unique voice on the instrument, not sounding like everyone else.