My favorite blues harmonica player for beginners has to be none other than:
Sonny Boy Williamson II (He was also known as Rice Miller, Sonny Boy Williams, Willie Williamson, Willie Miller, Little Boy Blue, The Goat and Footsie.)
So why Sonny Boy II?
- He plays simple blues harmonica licks. Sonny plays short, clean, crisp blues phrasings without too many notes so it makes them easier to learn than long “run on sentences”.
- He has beautiful rhythm and great tone.
- He plays acoustic harmonica, which makes it much easier to figure out what he’s doing. If you’re a beginner you may not be familiar with how the distortion of an amp effects the sound you are hearing, this can be very confusing.
There are so many great blues harmonica players. When I asked my good friend Adam Gussow how he would answer the question, “Who is the best blues harmonica player to listen to (and learn from?)”, these were his top three picks:
- Sonny Boy II
- Howlin’ Wolf
- Dr. Feelgood Potts
I totally agree with Adam. Howlin’ Wolf is a great choice.
So what’s the secret to playing blues? Gosh… There are so many factors… but if you want to learn to play the blues and make it sound like the real deal, you’ve got to learn to bend them notes!
I hope the below free video helps you understand some of the secrets to bending.
Please be patient with yourself. Though what I shared in the above video is conceptually easy, if you haven’t worked through my simple harmonica method step by step, the above techniques will be difficult…
REST ASSURED, YOU CAN DEFINITELY LEARN TO BEND if you take your time and follow the principles in the above video. Just please please be cool to yourself while you’re learning.
Bending in tune with a fat bluesy tone is tough… and no one figures it out over night… But you can! And you will… just stick with it!