Harmonica Tutorial: Help Me by Sonny Boy Williamson

By Alex Paclin

Written by Alex Paclin on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Lessons

Tab and lesson notes below the video!

Help Me: Classic blues by Sonny Boy Williamson, very minor sounding and very groovy. Simply there’s a bass riff 1 b3 4 over I IV and V chords, which makes it sound so bluesy. This song has a lot of texture, dynamics and strong note attacks. It has signature Sonny Boy licks using repetitive notes by constantly switching blow and draw bend – Ab Bb (-3’ 4) and similar licks. There are short chords chops in between singing lines that you’ll have to play strong and trebly.

On fast trills I choose to move both head and the harmonica, which feels the most natural to me. Feel free to try it lip pursuing first, switching to tongue blocking in slow tempo. Also I suggest after learning the licks try to improvise a bit and then add in similar licks, based on the ones you’ve learned. Try different approaches, like following the harmony I, IV and V, following just I chord.

One more insight: earlier I used to play this song in a 7th tuning, which just has 3rd and 7th holes lowered down a half step, to get a minor chord on inhale and a major chord on exhale (good for playing dorian mode) and also to be able to do vibrato on intervals, like -34 (Ab C). Remember to study slowly, but in rhythm, if you have troubles with certain areas – just loop them. Hope this tutorial is gonna be useful to you!

Help Me
Bb harmonica, 2nd position, Key of F

-3’ 4 -4’ -4\
-123 -123     -123 -123     -123 -123
-2” -2 -3 -4 4 -3’ -2
-123 -123     -123 -123
-5 -4 -4’ -4     -4 -4’ -3’ 3 -3’ 4     -3’
-123 -123     -123 -123

-[34] trill -5 5 -4 4 -[34] trill -5 -4 -4’ -4 -4’ -3’-2
-4 4 -3 3 -3 4 3 4 -3 3 -3 4
-4 4 -3 3 -3 4 3 4 -3 4 -4’ -4 -4\
-5 -4 -4’ -4     -5 -4 -5 -4 4 -3’ -2
-3’ 4 -3’ 4 -3’ 4 -3’ 4 -3’ 4 -3’ -2 -2
-123 -123

-[34] trill -123 -123 -123
-[34] trill -5 -4 -4’ -4\
-3’ 4 -4 -4’ -3’ 4 -4 -4’ -3’ 4 -4 -4’ -3’ 4 -4 -4’
-3’ 4 -4 -4’ -3’ 4 -4 -4’ -3’ 4 -4 -4’     -123 -123     -123 -123
-5 -4 -4’ -4     -5 -4 -5 -4 4 -3’ -2
-3’ 4 -3’ 4 -3’ 4 -3’ 4 -3’ 4 -3’ -2 -2

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