Figuring out song tabs

Lets say I am interested in Learning a song to play whereby I know that song is in G major scale. How do I get back to the tabs and/ or notes? I obviously need to know my G major scale but what process do I need to follow to get me back to being able to play that song? I should know this but have drawn a blank.


Hello @craiginker,
assuming you know the song and the melody. At least you know it’s in G major. Then you take your C-Harp, play the song from your playlist or Youtube and look for the matching tones on your harp. Write down the tabs to it and try to play it.
If you have a piano or keyboard available, it may be easier to find the right notes. Know the assignment of the tones of the C-Harp, that’s it.
There will definitely be corrections here and there, but that’s normal.
It serves your ear training and is a good school. Not easy with a lot of patience, but it’s also fun and progressing.
A little tip: Count the beats per minute (BMP) for the original and write them down as well. It will help you play the song at the right tempo.

Greetings from Astrid :woman_in_lotus_position:


Excellent advice from @AstridHandbikebee63 :bulb::+1:

I’ll add my 2 cents since my process is a bit different.

I don’t worry too much about the key or the notes, instead, I try to replicate one of the main riffs in the melody. Often it takes several tries moving up and down the harp trying different things. If I get stuck, then I’ll look for tabs on the net to see how they start off and go from there. It takes some practice and I would suggest starting with some really easy songs, like nursery rhymes or old classics.

Once you get one riff down, the rest is a matter of trial and error until it sounds right.

Keep in mind that not all tabs you find on the net are exactly correct, but most will give you a pretty good idea and some are right on the button.

Also, in terms of the key, as Astrid says, 2nd position on your C harp will give you a G, so start there experimenting with the notes…

Keep on harpin’ :sunglasses:


Thanks Astrid


Thanks Bobby


If it is a ‘blues style’ song - then a C harp (2nd position) would be appropriate. A more ‘pop’ type song might require a G harp (1st position). You’ll need to know where the G Major scale is on whichever harp you chose. Then follow the good advice of @AstridHandbikebee63 and @HarpinBobbyMcB !


One VERY EASY way to ‘tab’ a song is to use the “Bend-it-Better” tool offered by this website. With this tool, you can select the Harmonica Key, and it will graphically show you the note that each hole will play, both on blow and draw.
I find it to be VERY VERY Helpful in converting a melody into the tabs you need to play. You can access it from your browser using Bend It Better™ – The Tool That Helps You Bend Harmonica in Tune!. It allows you to select almost every key harmonica possible.

Good Luck, and God Bless You!


Hey @craiginker - did you check these out?

I recommend trying to sing the first note, then try and find that note on the harmonica. Then try to sing the first two notes, and then play the first two notes on the harmonica. Rinse and repeat…

Personally, I have found singing the numbers of the major scale, and then figuring out the numbers of simple children’s songs to be really helpful in the process of ear training.

Twinkle Twinkle 1 1 5 5 6 6 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1
Mary Had a Lil Lamb 3 2 1 2 3 3 3 2 2 2 3 5 5

To be clear, I’m talking about the INTERVALS of the major scale, NOT harmonica tabs.

I talk more about ear training here:

Of course, if you’re really just wanting to learn a specific song, and not so interested in these processes, just let us know the song, and maybe we can help!

Hope that helps! :sunglasses:


I have the Amazing slow downer but must admit I have not given it a proper and fair trial. However the Transcribe software offered by Carlos sounds similar to ASD but more. Is that a fair interpretation? P.S Thanks for the postings, I am definitely inspired and motivated to learn by ear.


Hey Kraig – there are aspects of each that are useful.

I like ASD because it’s on the phone so it’s portable, I don’t have to be in front of a computer in order to use it. Also, I just realized that you can access your photo library which is awesome like if there’s a YouTube video and I wanna learn some part of it I’ll just video it and then I can pull it into ASD. Also, because I have Apple Music, that’s a convenient feature as well.

An important feature of ASD is when you are moving the sliders you can drag down to have it become more granular or drag up to have it be a bigger movements.

And then Transcribe! is great because you can bring in YouTube videos. My workflow is I download the YouTube videos using a Mac application that I paid $20 for it called Airy which is made by Altima, and then from there I just drag the video into transcribe.

The way Carlos uses the software makes it seem a lot better than ASD, but in practice I haven’t really incorporated much of what he has taught me yet…

So yeah I like them both.

Also, I think I shared this one post with you?

The ear training exercises I described in there, and particularly the Ear Master software has been huge in helping me become faster at transcribing this to memory.

Hope this helps… I’m glad that you’re excited about learning by ear. It’s absolutely the best! It’s the way all of my musical heroes learned music.


Thanks Luke really helpful. I am following through on the Ear Master software which I followed up with a reply to your referenced Ear Training posting. Thanks again, combined, this is proving very helpful.


Niiiiiiiiice. Glad to here it bro! :sunglasses:


Hey Luke,
You described a great process i.e. youtube, Airy and Transcribe. I have a Windows laptop which I understand Airy is more limited than the Mac version when using a Windows laptop but its worth the try.

I have itunes and Youtube via my Prime membership so am flexible there and I have ASD.

When trying to get backing music, is there a solution for going the Youtube to ASD with a converter such as VLC (or other) or go the itunes route to input to ASD which regardless I may need a converter to get the vocals out of the song.

This may sound a long winded question but simply, I am looking to get backing music without vocals and need to go between Windows and an iphone as well as slow down the music to learn the song.

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@craiginker There are many free programs to strip vocals, and transcribe can do this but I find Ripx the best. Use it for backing tracks for guitar, or providing backing tracking with vocal. You decide what parts you want.


Much appreciated rich, will give it a try.


I’ve largely spent my harmonica time within the blues, but now looking at country, traditional and gospel. I think some of the tabs from Alain Messier might be helpful, but I have never seen tabs like his. Does anyone have a guide to his notation?

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