Position Playing.

Can someone explain to me why one would want to play say in the second or third position? Why not play the A harmonica when the song is in A and C when the song is in C. Seems to me that would be easier, but maybe I’ m missing something.Most players have at least a collection of different key harmonicas, if they are interested in playing with someone else.I’m just starting again and I have 6 already.

I’m still kinda new-ish at this (I still really only have my Blues Band harmonicas, and one MB in G that I can’t quite get the 6-blow to work consistently, so I don’t play it much), but I think it probably has something to do with bending notes. In other words, you can get a bit of a different sound out of something in a different position, rather than if you just played it on another harmonica in a different key. Besides that, when you play something in a different position, you have access to different notes than you would playing on another harp. At least, that’s kind of how it works for a guitar; I think it should translate.

Hope that helps! (And, I really hope that’s right; I’m sure if it’s not, somebody here will correct me shortly.)

Good luck playing!

Thanks for that
It explains some of it I guess , maybe a couple more opinions might also be helpful. John

Flatpicker has it right! It isn’t so much different notes as much as it is the ability to manipulate the notes. When playing straight harp a “C” note is a “C” note, “D” a “D”, ETC…
In Cross harp the 2 draw has Two notes in it when you bend, 3 draw has three notes. Giving you the ability to fluctuate between the notes, this gives you the ability to mace the harp Whine, or give it the rough BLUESY sound you can’t get from the straight scale/harp.

Thanks Paul, but does’nt the C Harp have 2 and 3 draw on it also?
This is confusing to me ,sorry.

All harps have 2 & 3 draw. 1,4,and 6 draw also. They all bend giving you different notes for each harp. It is complicated for sure!
The short answer to your question is you can’t make the harp whine and moan giving you that Bluesy SOUND in 1st position. It has to be done in 2nd position. I can’t comment on 3rd position and up, I am not that far along.
I know where you are coming from, I tried putting the cart before the horse in the beginning myself and stressed over answers I couldn’t understand in the beginning (and still do some). Pace yourself and it will all come to light in time. I wish I had a better answer for you. Maybe JP or one of the more advanced players can chime in now and shed more light for you.
Good Luck and Keep Harpin’.

Thanks Paul, I appreciate your effort to educate me. It’s like a journey, it takes many steps. I’m certainly not ready to play second position, as I can barely get bends out of 1- 6 draw, but with practice it will happen I’m sure.
I practice a couple hours a day as a rule.I’ve come a long way in a month already.John

It comes down to playing in the key of C with a C harp, or playing in the key of F with a C harp! (I think I got that right)

Anywho, it gives it a rough blues sound!


Thanks, BT.
I just have to get better at bending , I guess. More practice.One thing I got lots of time to practice, usually a couple hours a day.Between my harmonica and my genealogy hobby, I’m a busy man. I’m trying to find some time to go Ice fishing on Lake Simcoe,( The Ice fishing capital of the world!!) We’ve got jumbo perch, ask any guy from Michigan that comes here to fish Perch.

Howdy, and try this one.
In first position (key of C played on C harp), the complete scale containing all notes of the C major scale can’t be played starting with the first hole. By the time you reach the spot where the complete scale begins, you’re leaving the sweet, easy bending holes. You’re playing less embelishable notes. The complete scale can be played on the first few bottom holes, although in a different key. Now you can bend the notes to get Amy missing notes you might want to use. As the family said, here you can get bluesy or otherwise express yourself. You can ads lots of color to the honkin’.


Thanks, a light just went up. I understand finally!! I guess I’m really going to have to practice those scales now.You’re very clear in your explanation, John

Welcome to the Club, the key to success is to practice, so that you can perform to your potential.