Harmonica Tab

To show how to play harmonica tunes and solos we need a notation, or tab. There are many harmonica tab variations, some using arrows to indicate draw or blow. The approach here is to use standard characters instead, with a B indicating a blow note, a D indicating a draw note.

So 4B means blow into into hole 4, 4D means draw on hole 4. A half bend is a single apostrophe, a full bend is a double apostrophe. So, the full bend on the 2 hole draw is written as 2D", the half bend (assuming you can do this one!) is written 2D'.

Now to apply this notation to the major scale. The tab is 4B 4D 5B 5D 6B 6D 7D 7B. The scale is simple enough (if not, it eventually will be!).

The advantage of this tab is that it displays on any browser, like standard text, and is easy to write. The disadvantage is that (like most tabs) there is no indication of the rhythm to be played.

My view is that tab is best used while listening to the part to be learnt. You then learn by ear, using the tab to get started. As soon as possible, you should play from memory, without the tab. Most harmonica players avoid printed scores, and sound better for it.

Try the following tabs from Harmonica Academy, which combine tab with audio examples.

For Beginners

Most beginners start by learning Kumbaya

Then move on to Ode to Joy

Slightly Harder

These ones are more challenging, but worth the effort.

Whiskey in the Jar

Botany Bay

Hard Times

Advanced Tunes

Here are two well known traditional bluegrass fiddle tunes.

Big Sciota

Soldiers Joy

Hip Hop

Harmonica goes well with Hip Hop. Try the tabs for this Hip Hop beat.


Try the tabs in these blues lessons.

Beginners (one note only!)