Whatever your level on harmonica, by the end of this video you’ll increase your swagger as you learn some moves like Jagger. Let’s go.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Even if today is your very first day playing the harmonica, you can still do this.

They say the great football coach Vince Lombardi started every season saying “this is a football.” 

So whether today’s your first day, or your 10,000th, it’s always great to review the critical harmonica fundamentals:

  • Deep diaphragmatic breathing, along with a nice steady airflow
  • Deep mouth position on the harmonica

Playing along with You Can’t Always Get What You Want is a fun way to learn or review this.

If today’s literally your first day playing harmonica, I recommend you start here, and then come back to this.

But what we’re gonna do is just inhale through the harmonica on holes -123  for 4 counts, and then exhale through holes 123 on the harmonica for 4 counts.

Once you can do that, we’re gonna add some syllables to mimic the rhythm of the acoustic guitar pattern. First say this with me: 

Ta  Ta  Ta Ta Taka-Taka 

Now we’re gonna add one more ka right before the third Ta: 

Ta  Ta kaTa Ta Taka-Taka

Now try whispering that one time while inhaling and one time exhaling. 

Here’s a jam track for you to jam along with:


Now that we’ve played an acoustic guitar part on the harmonica, let’s play his electric part on (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, which I demonstrated before in 10 Guitar Licks on Harmonica. This requires you to know how to isolate notes, if you haven’t learned that yet you can check out my Single Notes for Beginners lesson.

We’ll be using our C harmonicas to play this riff in D minor, which we call playing in 3rd position. All 3rd position means is that we’re using our harmonica to play in the key one letter name above the key labeled on the harmonica. 

Here are the harmonica tabs for (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, to be played on a C harmonica along with the jam track provided below.

-4 -4     -4 5 -5     -5 -5 5 

-4 -4     -4 5 -5     -5 -5 5 5 -4

The riff on the original recording is the key of Bm so you’d need an A harmonica, but I’ve made a jam track for us to play it on our C harps. Rock on! 😎

Sweet Virginia

We’re gonna learn the actual harmonica part to one of the most popular songs off of Exile on Main Street, which was released in 1972.

Even if you’re a beginner, I think you’re gonna be able to rock this just like Mick Jagger – check him out playing this on the Voodoo Lounge tour in 1995.

This is not complicated, but it’s good.

Remember: If it SOUNDS good and it FEELS good, it IS GOOD.

Never believe the lie that something has to be complicated in order to be good. Anyone can be complicated, it requires genius to be simple.

And this simple song starts on hole 4, so let’s find hole 4:

4 -4     4 -4 5    5 -4 4 -4

4 -4     5           5 -4 4 -4

4 -4    5 6 7       8 -8 7

Here’s a Sweet Virginia jam track in the key of C so that you can play along with these harmonica tabs on your C harp.

Midnight Rambler

This riff is intermediate because it requires bending – specifically the -2” bend. 

If playing single notes is easy for you and you haven’t learned how to bend, check out my lesson on Bending for Beginners.

Here’s the harmonica tabs for Mick Jagger’s riff from the studio version of Midnight Rambler, which is off of the 1969 record, Let it Bleed.

-34 Trill  -2 -2  -2” -2 

-34 Trill  -2 -2  -2” -2

-2” -2 -2 -2 -2 -2 -2

The Stones do this song in the key of B, so you’d need an E harmonica to play along with the recording (but of course I’ve made a jam track in G below, so that we can jam it on our C harps).

I grew up with my dad listening to the Live from Madison Square Garden version from 1969 which is on the Hot Rocks record, and I always loved the stuff Mick played on that. Here’s the harmonica tabs for the main riff he plays before the song starts, and then again when they change from a swung to straight feel about 2:22 seconds into the song:

-1 -2” -2 -2

I could listen to that riff all day, and in fact the -2” bend is also at the heart of what Mick Jagger is playing around 2:00 into Gimme Shelter on the version from the 1969 album Let It Bleed. He’s playing it on an F# harmonica. 

-2” -2 -2 -2 -2  -2” -2 -2 -2 -2” -2 -2 -2

Here’s the Midnight Rambler jam track in G for you to play along with on your C harmonica:

Level5DANG IT!
Miss You

Our Level 5 song is Miss You, from the 1978 album Some Girls. And this isn’t even Mick Jagger playing! This is the great harmonicist Sugar Blue.

The reason this song is level 5 is cos he is playing in 2nd position on a D harmonica in A MINOR. This requires a lot of bending precision to always play that -3’ in tune and not allow it to release up into the major.

On a C harmonica, we’ll be playing this in G minor. Here’s the harmonica tabs for Miss You:

-2” -2  4 -3’ -2 -2” -2

-2” -2  4 -3’ -2 -2” -2

-2” -2 -3’ -2

I want to get into a couple of the cool licks that Sugar Blue plays at the end of this song, around 4:13, and specifically this one: -4’ -4 -6’-6 6 -5 -4 -4’ -4

The concept behind this lick is so cool, and it’s the same one I talk about in Level 4 of my Amazing Grace Lesson: when you are playing in 2nd position and you want to create more excitement, you can actually play 3rd position riffs over the 2nd position song. This is exactly what Sugar Blue does at the end of Miss You:

-4’ -4 -6’-6 6 -5 -4 -4’ -4 (vibrato)

6 -6’ -6 -7 -8 -9 9 -9 -8 

7 -7 -6 6 -5 -4 -4’ -4

 4 -3’ -4’ -4 (vibrato)

Then comes my favorite lick of the solo which starts in 3rd position and then switches to second:

6 -6 -5 -4 4 -3’ 4 -’3 -2 

(3rd is 6 -6 -5 -4, and 2nd is 4 -’3 4 -3’ -2)

And then he finishes by playing with long bends between -4’ and -4, and with -3’ -3” like this:

-3’  4 -4’ (hold long) -4 4 -3’ -3”

Miss You is just one of the 25 Rock Riffs you can check out here.

Thank you so much for checking out my Rolling Stones harmonica lesson. Please leave any questions or comments below. Keep on rocking the harmonica and making the world a better place! ❤️🌍🎶


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