Paul Jones: 1 Solo, 6 Minutes ... 7 Positions!

Hey harmonica fam - I finally got around to doing a detailed analysis of Paul Jones’ epic harmonica solo…

Paul Jones Playing the Harmonica

Every harmonica player who I’ve shown this video to has loved it. :heart:

Why? Because Paul Jones is playing GREAT harmonica with ALL OF HIS HEART!

If you love some Rockabilly music, by all means enjoy this video in its entirety,

but even if you HATE Rockabilly,

make sure you don’t miss out on THIS SOLO!!!

You certainly don’t need to understand what he’s doing in order to enjoy it! I hope you sit back, relax and enjoy this great performance. :relaxed:

But for anyone interested, I’m going to reveal how broad a musician, and how DEEP a student of the harmonica Paul Jones actually is (he has my highest respect) as well as tab out a few of the moments that thrilled me.

I’ve already written about: What are harmonica positions, and why should you care? (If you missed it, you can check out the primer here).

Let me break it down for you in a nutshell:

:point_right: Beginners: 1st and 2nd position (folk vs blues, respectively)

:point_right: Intermediate: 3rd and 4th position (great for minor songs and funk)

:point_right: Paul Jones: those 4 positions :point_up_2:, and also 5th, 12th, & 6th positions!

I was playing this in the background while working and thought, “oh he’s changing harmonicas”, but was shocked to discover he plays this ENTIRE 6 MINUTE SOLO on a standard C harmonica!

:small_blue_diamond: 3:20 He’s still playing along with the band, I assumed in 2nd, but was surprised to find he’s playing in 1st position. The main riff is: 4 4 3 -3” 3 (repeated many times)

:small_blue_diamond: 3:32 it cuts to harp and drums, and he starts with this cool 2nd position riff: -2” -2 -3” -2 6 -5 -5 5 -5 5 -4

(A simplified beginner run that catches this vibe: -2 -3 -4 6 -5 5 -5 5 -4 )

:small_blue_diamond: 4:06 THE START line for 8 times ascending through keys by changing position, some cool high note 1st position (key of C) riffs: 6 -6 6 7 8’ 8 9

6 8’8 9 as well as this one that requires no bending: 7 7 6 -6 6 77 7 6 -6 6

:small_blue_diamond: 4:16 he announces a change to 3rd position (key of D) with a split -14octave, a major arpeggio run 1 -2’ -3” 4 -4 bluesy licks like -6 -6’ -5 -4, and ending with split octaves again: -14 -14 -14 14 14 -14 at 4:22.

:small_blue_diamond: 4:24 He repeats the same motif with octaves, but this time in 4th position (key of E) like this: 25 25 25 -14 25 25. The split octaves are a strong way to establish each new key. And moving up keys with each position creates excitement!

:small_blue_diamond: 4:40 moves up to 12th position (key of F) the root note being the -2”, a major pentatonic run -2" -3’‘’ -3" 4 -4 4 -5

:small_blue_diamond: 5:06 back to 2nd position (key of G) with some nice octave jumps into a major blues lick -2 6-2 6 6 6 -5 -4 -4’ -3’ -3 -2. After playing more bluesy stuff he returns to the octave jumps from -2 to 6.

:small_blue_diamond: 5:15 you can hear the transition from 2nd position octave jumps to 4th position (key of A) from -3” to -6. He shreds 4th position ending with fast repetitions of -6 6 5 over and over and finally ending **5 5 -4 4 -3” -3”**before moving onto

:small_blue_diamond: 5:30 6th position (key of B) I’m guessing you’ve never heard of 6th position because I hadn’t before seeing this video and looking it up! The root is -3 and -7, and he starts by jumping between them. We have the 1st four notes of the blues scale, a cool lick in this position is -3 -4 5 -5 5 -4 -3

:small_blue_diamond: 5:47 back to 1st position (key of C)

:small_blue_diamond: 5:55 back to 3rd position (key of D). In this section he skillfully quotes the famous Habanera Aria motif from French composer Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen: -4 -4’ 4 4 4 -3 -3’ -3” -3” -3’’’ 3 -2” -2 -2” 2 -2” -2 -2” 2. I didn’t see THAT coming! :astonished: After that he shreds a ton of killer 3rd position blues stuff…

:small_blue_diamond: 6:28 he holds a long -3” and transitions back into 2nd position (key of G) for the rest of the solo playing a train groove, an Irish jig, Rockin’ Robin, and then back to some fast train rhythms, before slowing it down to…

:small_blue_diamond: 8:50 3rd position (Key of Dm) where he plays the rubato intro to Spain by Chick Corea! (I didn’t see THAT coming either! :exploding_head:) This is very tricky:

-3" 3 3" 3" -3’ 4 -4 4 -3’ -3" 3 -3"

The band enters at 9:20 on a G7 chord, and then boom they’re back into the original song in the key of C like nothing even happened….

I just think it’s SO COOL, from 4:06 to 5:55 he CHANGES KEYS 8 TIMES and each time is HIGHER (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D). What a brilliant way to create excitement in an extended solo. Hats off to you Paul Jones!


Paul Jones is there president of harmonica UK (used to be National Harmonica League). Quite the line of musicians he had backing him.

They also do weekly coffee mornings and monthly open mic nights. If you’re interested. All done over zoom.


Free season with Howard Levy of anyone is interested.

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LOL, that’s midnight Sunday night for me, but I might try to join if I’m up late sometime! You ever attended?