Rebuilding Everything

As you can tell, I’m working on getting the site updated. There’s some pretty old stuff here. I’m banging it with a rock. In other parts of my life. I have decided to move on from what I’ve been doing for the past 4 years. I love the people I’m working with but as I focus on more specialized work it’s less of a fit. In the past 4 years, I have honed my video and photography skills. No this isn’t becoming one of those sites. It does mean as I start producing content I have much higher quality tools and much more skill to produce work with. It should be like night and day from my previous work.

I think the timing is great to do another video series. Something about getting back to it after being away for a long time. It should be a fun trip. I’m going to try out some techniques I’ve been using in my current career. I’m looking forward to learning Harmonica All over again. I hope you enjoy the ride with me!

Building a better Life

Hi all. Yup, It’s me, Erik.

As you can tell, my activity has been “Irregular.” I am going to attempt to change that over the next several months. I have rebuilding to do on the site and rebuilding to do on my Harmonica skills. Please be patient with me. I have been sucked into the corporate world and relationships.

The good news is that work sucks and my love life is so messed up I’m living a blues song right now. Give me a bit of time and let’s see if my depression can turn into something truely magical.

Let me introduce myself

Hi, my name is Jimmy. I am helping Erik (aka, Mudcat) to fix his site, and get everything back online and running.

Over the next few weeks, you will be seeing a lot of changes to the site. Right now, I am restoring the archives. Fixing broken links, bad videos, and so on. There will be a full redesign of the site, optimized for mobile devices. I am also going over old comments, getting ideas for new posts, videos and so on. Look forward to a new video in the next week or so.

We are planning a lot of new content. Expanding our social media reach. Even a NEW 30 Day Harmonica Challenge in the planning stages.

We appreciate the visits, and we are excited at restarting a great project.


Harmonica Difficulty

When I tell people I play the harmonica, they are quite often astounded that I play such a “Hard” Instrument. So lets talk about myths about Harmonica Difficulty.

Harmonica Difficulty

I know this is going to sound like a player saying it’s easy because I know how but the reason I took up the harp is because of how EASY it is to learn and play. There are 4 difficult things about playing the harmonica which I will address later. I’m going to start with why harmonica is EASY.

Yes Harmonica Is Easy!


First things first. Lets get rid of the confusion. You don’t play harmonica, you play HARMONICAS. There are 12 (More in fact) harmonicas. One for each key. While a piano or guitar plays all keys on one instrument harmonicas play one key per instrument.

What does this mean to you? Two things in fact. One is you choose which which harp to play based on the key so you don’t need to figure out which part of the instrument and which combinations to play to sound right. Second, you learn one way to play on harp and it’s good for all songs in all keys. Just switch harps when you get a new song in a different key and play the same way. nothing new to learn. No new scales, no new techniques. It’s like having 12 guitars all tuned to a different key. you just won’t need a panel truck to carry them around.


The next cool thing that makes harmonica easy is positions. Straight harp, cross harp, slant harp, or first, second and third position. there are more but I will stick with these. In a nutshell, different positions allow you to play the same harmonica in different scales. What does that mean to you? It’s a fancy way of saying start in a different spot if you are playing a different kind of song. If you are playing blues, start in second position, cross harp and if you are doing something in a minor key, start in third position, slant harp.

Why is this easy? You can cheat with your harmonica case. I set mine up so when I get told what key a song is in I find the key, move one to the left, use that harp and start on the 2 hole draw. If it’s minor key blues I find the key, move 2 to the left and start on the 4 hole blow. Doing it that way makes things much easier.


When you play the harmonica there are certain sweet spots to play in. 2 through 6 for blues and 4 through 9 for minor key blues. You can go outside those holes when you get to know your way around the harp but it’s hard to go wrong when sticking with those sweet spots. It works with nothing fancy.

What Are The Tough Things

One Hole Playing

You can play chords fairly easily but it gets kind of mushy. Learning to play one hole is the first tough thing you need to learn. It will take time to get you mouth to work right but once you get it, one hole just gets easier and easier. It takes practice. There is no way around it.


Bending is a pain to learn. you just have to mess with it and mess with it until you get it. There are cheats that make it a bit easier to figure out but in the end it is another thing you just need to work at.

Tongue Blocking

Tongue blocking allows you to do advanced chord structures and cool techniques. You need to know it. I don’t but I’m working on it. That being said, I get paid to play harmonica and I don’t know how to do it so take from that what you will.


You can play any song on any harmonica using overblowing and bending. It’s cool. It allows you more variability and gives you some great techniques. You can also be inducted into the Overblowing Snob club. I get it, it’s great for your bag of tricks. Build on the basics first, then expand on the basics. Then work on your style and your repertoire. Then go back to basics. Then get creative with it. Then start worrying about all the cool things you can do with overblowing. Then Buy an amp and a mic and forget you ever heard of overblowing. Then when someone talks about overblowing, pull out your chromatic that you also learned how to play while they were working on their overblowing techniques.

Get to it

Why are you sitting around reading articles on how easy it is to play? Go and practice. Give it a month. I believe anyone can Learn Harmonica In 30 Days!

The Bright Future of the Blues

I’ve been hitting more jams recently, thanks to my friend, the awesome photographer Rick Moore. I meant to post this a few weeks ago but with all the busy in my life I haven’t had a chance. Well in order to rectify that, here it is the future of the blues.

The guitarists are all 15 I believe, the drummer was out at the jam for his 13th birthday. They are  Thomas Dawson, Brandon Katona, Alex Dowidchuk & Jonah Salen.

I have noticed a rise in traffic on my site over the past couple of years and I think this may have something to do with it.

For you harp players out there, I know there isn’t any harmonica playing in this video but you can cope. In fact, I encourage you to help a young kid take up harmonica. This band needs a harp player and you will be investing in the next generation.

Merry Christmas

Give a Kid a harmonica

Learn Harmonica Advice From Bill Johnston

BillJohnstonI met Bill Johnston On Sunday February 28th at the KNON blues Show at The Pearl in downtown Dallas. He was opening for Johnnie Red and The Roosters. It was a benefit to support KNON a nonprofit radio station in Dallas and the best place to hear blues on a regular basis. I’m working on a post about the benefit and I have an Interview with Johnnie Red on the way as well. If you want to hear what Bill Johnston sounds like, there is a link to his Myspace and his band “The Tu-Tones” at the bottom of the article.

Bill Played with Aarron Burton That Sunday Evening. They played some Old style southern blues. They amplified but didn’t distort much if at all. Aarron played some side, did some finger picking and played an acoustic and a Resonator. (I’m thinking about picking up a Resonator). I’m starting to call it restoration blues because it really digs into the roots of Delta blues. It was a great show.

Bill took a few minutes out to talk to me about playing Blues Harmonica. Enjoy the video.


Amplified Harmonica Notes On the Cheap- A Last Minute Gift Idea

honeytonesWho knows how you got to this Harmonica Notes post. Maybe it was Santa. Do you have a harmonica player in your life (including you) who you absolutely MUST get a gift for, but you don’t have a bunch to spend? Say your limit is $20 plus tax or shipping. Well, let me tell you about what I just bought for myself for Chrismaquansika! (Sound it out, you’ll get it.)

I sound a little like an infomercial. The Danelectro Honeytone N-10 Guitar Mini Amp. I stumbled on it as I was surfing around the intertubes. It’s a little belt clip guitar amp that runs on a 9 volt battery.

Is it sturdy?  No

Does is feedback easy? yes

Is it loud? kinda

Is it compact? yup

Does it look good? hell yeah

Is it cheap? HELL YES

At $20, I’ve used pay toilets that cost more.

Look, the truth is, if you’re at an open mic night or blues jam, sometimes they amplify. Sometimes there are 3 people singing and you can’t  get a mic that’s hooked up to a PA. If you’re like me, 2 big reasons you got into playing harmonica, were cheap and compact. This amp fits the criteria. If you kill it, buy a new one. They don’t have the best sound but that gives your harp playing a bluesy edge. It will give you that little extra punch to be heard without counting on someone elses equipment.

So, what am I plugging into my new little amp? The Shure 57? The 58? The Green Bullet? Nope I went on the cheap for that too. I picked up a Samson R31S Hyper-cardioid  Dynamic Mic. Yup, I went cheap on that too. $20-$30 anywhere you go. I bought mine off the shelf at Best Buy. It’s a pretty good mic for $25. It comes with its own cable that plugs in to it. The mic has the standard 3 prong XLR mic connector on the end so it takes the standard mic cable. the cable that comes with it has that on one side and a 1/4 inch phone jack on the other end so right out of the box it hooks up to an amp. The Samson and the Honeytone sound pretty good together and pump out the sound when I’m walking around the house. I’ll give It a proper try tonight night at open Mic.

I will say this, $50 for both mic and amp sure beats the hell out of  $119 for a Green Bullet and $80 for the Fender Champion 30. This does NOT mean I won’t be blowing $200 some odd bucks on the Green Bullet/ Champ Combo at some point. I just don’t think the expense is warranted for my skill level. I just want autonomous amplification sometimes.

One more thing, I would have put a package deal together fo both of them but you can only get the amps at music stores and no self respecting music store, online or otherwise will stock anything Samson. It might be that Samson doesn’t sell to them… I don’t know.

Harmonica Notes Magic Garageband Blues Backup Tracks

Hey, this is Erik here at Harmonica Notes, I have a tutorial here for you on how to make backup tracks using Magic Garageband in Garageband 09. It’s a great way to have custom backup music for practicing on your own! Also, everyone remember to sign up for my news letter and get ready for the Learn Blues Harmonica Basics in 30 Days, coming in January. This is all the stuff I learned in my first year all together for you in one place. Will it make you an expert? HELL NO! It’s just the stuff I learned and my philosophy on learning blues harmonica. I might think totally differently in a year but that’s then not now. Did I mention it’s free? Yup, nothing, no cost, nada, zip, zero! What do you have to loose (except a month of your life you can never get back…ever).

But I’m rambling. Here’s the video.