Not sure why I’m asking this I guess because I struggle comprehending it totally, Learned a little bit from another forum a while ago but not totally comfortable with grasping and understanding.

Maybe someone could give me a condensed version of what playing harmonica in different positions means and why we need to do that.

Harp on!!

Wow! Good Topic, Joe!

I’m not pro-musically trained, just really interested now in expanding my knowledge of it. And along with wracking my brains on this ball-busting subject, I haven’t found any reasonable answers on other forums either. I’m with you on this too!

I really want and am hoping to hear from other players more knowledgeable to help in this one.

Reading what they say, no matter how little or insignificant they think it may be, just may be the key for me/you/us to open our doors and say Aha-Eureka I’ve got it!

1st position is playing a song in C on a C harp. Starting usually on the 4 blow,C. 4,5 &6 blow being a C chord. I’m just starting to get into it myself. Mostly blow notes, but playing the V chord can be interesting because it’s mostly draws with bends.
2nd position or cross harp is playing in the key of G on a C harp starting on the 2 draw, G. 2,3&4 draw is a G chord. 2nd pos. is widely used for blues.
3rd posision is used for playing in minor keys. If you like playing the blues I strongly suggest learning it after you get 2nd position down. 3rd pos. is playing Dm on a C harp starting on the 4 draw, D. 4,5,&6 draw is a Dm chord.
Check out Wanderin’ Wilf’s Harp Surgery.com. They explain it in great detail plus show you how it’s done. That’s where I finally learned why a harp is layed out like it is. The blow hole were obvious, CEGCEG…C. But the draw hole had no rhyme or reason until they explained it…oooooh I see.
Thats the only positions I have messed with, and that’s enough to hold me for a while!
Hope that at least shed a little light on the subject.

“Keep On Harpin”

Hey Joe,

Check out this article - http://www.harmonica.com/blog/19-harmonica-keys-positions.html … I wrote this article for Harmonica.com a few years ago.


Hey Joe,

Ashish’s article offers a comprehensive understanding of positions so I won’t go into it other than offer you the three most practical ways I use positions

  1. 1st Position: I most often use this position if the music is folky or melodic (i.e. like ballads, pretty songs ect…)

  2. 2nd Position: I most often this position for Blues, Country, Rock (tends to be more rocking)

  3. 3rd Position: I love this position for all minor keys and sometimes use it to play blues.

There’s a lot more to say about positions but this covers the majority of my choices of which position to play.

I hope that helps Joe,

jp allen

Oh I hope I am not being ignorant,

So can I take a simple little tune for example below and if I play this tab I’ll be playing in 1st position correct, and can you tab that tune in a different position like 2nd or 3rd…

4 4 6 6 -6 -6 6
Twinkle, twinkle little star.

-5 -5 5 5 -4 -4 4
How I wonder what you are.

6 6 -5 -5 5 5 -4
Up above the world so high,

6 6 -5 -5 5 5 -4
Like a di’mond in the sky.

4 4 6 6 -6 -6 6
Twinkle, twinkle little star.

-5 -5 5 5 -4 -4 4
How I wonder what you are.

Wow Joe!

Methinks we’re going to experience our own Aha-Eureka moments on this soon enough! Methinks too, the only dumb questions are the ones not asked, what say you, JF?!

First up though, big shout out to Ashish! Yours was a very well written top-notch article, my friend. Still have a few questions in this musically-challenged thick skull of mine, so please bear with me.

Does “Position” refer in any way to the “Scales” that can be played on a C diatonic harp?

Meaning, if the C scale is the 1st position, the G scale – from that Circle thing is 2nd position; the D scale is 3rd position; and so forth all the way through 12 positions back to C?!

And if that’s the case, then this has already been done and worked out by Musician Makers long before I ever showed up to pick up an instrument – Correct?

So all I have to do is study where these positions/scales on the C harmonica are in order to find the key thing out – Yes?!

I’m getting dizzy myself just reading/thinking all this – But is that heading on the right track towards my own and possibly others’ nirvana or not?!

And I’ll leave it here because I have more q’s after I’ve digested this much.

G’day Joe

I know you have the book Harmonica for Dummies so you should refer to Chapter 9 “Positions:Playing One Harp in Many Keys”. I have found this to be extremely useful as it covers the subject in an easy to understand way.

It is possible to take a tune and transpose it from a different position although with some tunes not always possible due to avoid notes & or having to struggle with bent notes and overblows. Some tunes which sound good in eg 1st pos can be improved or be given a different sound eg Amazing Grace if played in 2nd pos sounds bluesy or rock and if played in 12th it sounds really nice.

David T.

Thanks Dave Chapter 9 it is Harp for dummies great reference book you turned me on to…