Country Harmonica Scale – How to Play Countrified Harmonica

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Videos, How to Play the Harmonica, Learn About the Harmonica

JP Allen

by JP Allen:

You probably guessed it: known as the Godfather of modern Bluegrass & Country harmonica styles. He has played on many hit records, from such big stars as Johnny Cash and Elvis to Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan.

So let me share this video of one of my favorite Charlie McCoy recordings…

It’s amazing! At such high speeds he can change harmonicas without missing a beat. Still going strong at 70 years young. He’s just amazing.

Here’s one of my more popular lessons on High Speed Chugging. Start here to get your speed up.

One of the most important things about playing Country Music on Harmonica is the Country Scale:
(B=Blow and D=Draw) (3D” note bent one whole step down.)
1D 2B 2D 3D” 3D 4D 5B 6B 6B 5B 4D 3D 3D” 2D 2B 1D

Use your Key of C harmonica and practice this scale. You’ll be playing your C harp in 2nd position otherwise known as crossharp.

If you need another Key of C harmonica or just want to upgrade what you have, here is my highly recommended Hohner spec 20 discounted.
Click Here: http://www.harmonica.com/store/harmonica-hohner-special-20.php

Another great Country Harmonica player you might want to check out is Mickey Raphael, a member of Willie Nelson’s band for almost 30 years.

So, as you can see, the harmonica travels across all styles of music and is especially popular with Country.

How are you feeling about Country Harmonica and who is your favorite player? Leave a comment below and I’ll give you my feedback.

Happy Trails,
JP

(Article by Contributing Writers: JP Allen & Joe Feeney)

Comments (41)

  • Jerry Durden

    |

    Charlie McCoy is far and away the BEST!! Very interesting biography , too. Check out his Country Classics and Country Classic Hymns cd’s.

    Heidi Newfield, Clint Black, Teddy Gentry (of Alabama) are some more.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      I agree Jerry! Thanks for sharing.
      jp

      Reply

  • Ricky Lien

    |

    Ha ha … what can I say JP? Just fabulous as always! Thanks so much for sharing! Your teaching is always great. You start slow so I can follow, then speed up to get the rhythm. Love it!

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Ride that train Ricky!
      jp

      Reply

  • Corky

    |

    You named the two biggies… Charlie McCoy and Mickey Raphael!
    (Hero’s of mine)
    I play in a bluegrass band and occasionally switch to harmonica for some tunes. I’ve been using the exact scale you present here but I don’t use the upper register very well. Once in a while I’ll hit 8D to 7D and then back into that scale but I can’t find any good videos on using the upper register in country/bluegrass.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Yeah, these guys are amazing Corky….some of my favorites too.
      jp

      Reply

  • ashley

    |

    Thank you for that epic. Charlie Mcoy, what a legend, just unbelievable.
    If i could play a harp half as good as Charlie i would be very happy.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Keep that thought Ashley, and fly with it.
      jp

      Reply

  • Jim Day

    |

    Amazing! And to think how us mortals struggle with one harmonica! Your video postings always inspire goals for improvement!

    Thank you, Jim

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      I’m glad it inspired you Jim.
      jp

      Reply

  • Byron

    |

    I really enjoyed this CHarlie train whistle and this was AWSOME to say the least

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Thanks for your input Byron!
      jp

      Reply

  • Jo Barlow

    |

    Thanks JP!!!! Super playing.. love it!!!!!

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Cool Jo, glad you liked it.
      jp

      Reply

  • Arron Dowd

    |

    the Major pentatonic scale is what you are calling the country scale. Is that the basis of country style harping? One of my favorite lick is major pentatonic up to 6B and then blues scale back down. Sounds sweet together.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      I believe it is Arron, Thanks for commenting

      JP

      Reply

  • Luiza Beatriz

    |

    JP your videos are all nice! Thank you!
    I am from Brasil! Hugs

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Glad to like them Luiza. jp

      Reply

  • Robert

    |

    I grew up listening my older brother play to the harmonicats over and over trying to copy there style. And at 66 young i’m trying to follow your lestens are a great help and help me stay focused. thanks a million

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Glad to hear it Robert!
      jp

      Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Thanks Ton!
      jp

      Reply

  • Fred Rother

    |

    Hi, JP

    Being an intermediate beginner, I have no right to criticize an accomplished player like this, though I do indeed admire and envy him for his skills and speed. However, I found his accompaniment rather disturbing and even annoying. Instead of featuring Mr. McCoy’s brilliant harmonica-playing, this arrangement highlighted the insistent guitar beat…not the kind of country-western music I enjoy listening to…and perhaps one day will be able to play.
    Regards,
    Fred…

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Thanks for your input Fred…I see what you mean.
      jp

      Reply

  • Robin

    |

    Fantastic. I would be very proud of myself if I could do something like that badly.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Keep your hopes high Robin.
      jp

      Reply

  • tom

    |

    You nailed it, Charlie is very versatile also, is it my imagination that I here some of you in there ?

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      I wish I was all in there, but no, he’s only been a great influence. I get dizzy just watching him. jp

      Reply

  • Rusty

    |

    Absoulutely amazing:)

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Yea Rusty, he blows me away. jp

      Reply

  • Bob Lasar

    |

    Charlie plays a great harp. As the lady said “I wish I were half as good”.

    JP, thanks for the tips! I’m working on them.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Even a quarter would be good…Have fun Bob. jp

      Reply

  • Haryanto Harp

    |

    Charlie is defenitely the best country harp player of all.
    He used Hohner Marine Band – Hicksville Series (produced 1960’s).
    I have these harps (12 keys) and tuned by Richard Sleigh. They sound great (clean and rich tone). I also have a lot of Charlie’s recordings.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Yes, he plays with an incredibly crisp tone, and a fine harmonica. jp

      Reply

  • Sherry

    |

    Howdy JP,
    I’m the gal who ordered your harmonica and lessons last summer while mending from a near fatal car wreck … I was doing good w your lessons, but it started flaring up the nerve pain in my head so had to quit for a while. I’m going to start up again and also ordered your new set; wish me luck! Sincerely, sherry from the Heartland

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Hey Sherry, I’m glad to hear your taking up the harp again. Please contact me and give me an update on your progress. I’d like to hear how you are doing and possibly help you avoid bad habits that may be contributing to your discomfort while playing. http://www.harmonica.com/contact

      Reply

  • Tom

    |

    Yes, Charlie McCoy is the grand-daddy of country and blue grass harmonica.

    Reply

  • Jim Mohatt

    |

    Charlie McCoy was, always will be my favorite player, since my childhood, but as a teen playing folk music in the 70’s I got caught up in the country chugging stylings of Steve cash, aka, Ozark Mtn. Daredevils! He also has a smooth style on the ballads! The OMD band has had a big influence on my playing style as well as Mickey! Remember, I was a bass player in a country band for 20 years, and my grandfather was a monster harp player, I still have one of his original Hohner harps from the 30’s! Is in my blood! See you in 2015!

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Right on Jim. Looking forward to jamming with you in Hawaii. jp

      Reply

  • Phil66

    |

    Hey there Allen
    One question: Can I play that lil´ song you got there with a 16 holes harmonica? Just askin´ ´cause I realy want to get that true country feelin´ of me actualy playin´ some of my fav. country songs (when i´ll actualy find out how to play it but thanks to you I know some basics so thank you Al).

    Reply

    • JP Allen

      |

      Best to play it on a 10 hole diatonic…you’ll have a much easier time. jp

      Reply

Tell the harmonica world what you think...

(Spamcheck Enabled)