Guitar and Harmonica

Hi there! My name is Iuli and I am from Europe. This is the first time when I post a question here so I hope this is the right place :grin:. I have been playing guitar for 3 years and recently I have started to be curious about other instruments as well. The one that I’m the most interested in is the harmonica. I’m a complete beginner. What should be the steps of learning this instrument? I just want to play something that sounds good with a guitar background, but I don’t know where to start and I feel confused with all the YouTube videos.
I would be really happy if someone can give me some guiding steps in order to start learning the harmonica.
Thank you :grin:


Welcome to the community, Mluli. I’m a beginning harmonica player, too. What I did to get started was order a Hohner Marine Band 1869 harmonica in the key of C. Such a harmonica will allow you to play straight harp in the key of C, or cross-harp in the key of G. For rock/blues/country styles you’ll mostly play cross-harp, so a key of C harmonica will work well with key of G songs on your guitar.

Note that if you get into harmonica, you’ll probably end up buying multiple harps in different keys so that you can match the right harp to the keys of the songs you want to play. But starting of with a key of C harmonica is a good place to begin. (I now have four harmonicas. You can hear me play one of them on this track. That was after a month or so of practice with the harmonica.)

For lesson videos, I recommend Adam Gussow’s youtube site.

He also has a website and offers a beginners’ course for purchase:

When you get your first harmonica, the first thing you’ll want to do is learn to play single notes. It seems almost impossible, initially, but once you get the feel it becomes much easier. Then you’ll want to learn to play clean scales and to bend notes.


Interesting thread. Do I understand correctly that when I see a musician play the same harmonica in several songs at a concert, those songs are all in the same (or same two) key? Are there any harmonicas that are playable in all keys?


There are chromatic harmonicas that can play in any key (i.e. they can play all 12 notes). But most people play diatonic harmonicas, which can only play the notes from a single scale. So a “key of C” harmonica can play the notes of the C major scale. You can play a key of C harmonica in other keys by playing modally, but even then there are a limited number of keys that would suit that particular harp.

You can also get harmonicas that play the notes of a natural minor scale, or a harmonic minor scale. There are probably other variants, too.

A pro harmonica player will almost certainly have a whole set of harps when going to a jam or a performance. They might be switching them out, or they might be playing songs in only a few keys, or they might be playing a chromatic harmonica.

Thanks for the explanation. I’ve seen advertisements for harp sets like that. It was just a bit sttange for me, like, I don’t see trumpet players or guitarists walk around with a dozen instruments to be able to play in all keys. Well, I learn something new every day here :slight_smile:

Yeah, most instruments are chromatic and can play in any key, but there are instruments that are diatonic: Richter tuned (i.e., standard/common) harmonicas, pennywhistles, some flutes and fifes, ocarinas, some accordions, some bagpipes, some (stringed) harps and dulcimers, some glockenspiels, et cetera. Often, even when there is a diatonic version of an given instrument there may be a chromatic version, too. For example, one could say that a recorder is kind of like a chromatic version of a whistle, there are chromatic harmonicas, the modern flute is chromatic, et cetera.