Beginner Harmonica Lesson – How to hold the harmonica

Jan 27, 2016 | Beginner Harmonica Lessons

Hello, today’s harmonica lesson will show you exactly how to hold the harmonica.

This is true for right handed and left handed players.


Step 1 – Numbers on top

Take your 10 hole diatonic and make sure that you have the numbers on top facing you from 1 – 10. The harmonica goes from low notes at hole 1 to high notes at hole 10.

Step 2 – Hold in left hand between index finger and thumb

Always hold the harp in your left hand between your index finger and thumb. Try to keep index finger and thumb as close to the back of the harmonica as possible. This will leave space for your mouth at the front.

Step 3 – Middle finger behind harmonica

Hold your middle finger behind the harmonica touching your thumb to stop the harmonica sliding out.

Step 4 – Curl remaining fingers round to make a cup

Curl the rest of your fingers round to form a loose cup shape behind the harmonica

Step 5 – Right hand thumb on right side

Now place the right hand thumb on the right-hand end of the harmonica in the thumbs-up position.

Step 6 – Loose Cup

You don’t need to be gripping tightly but always make sure you hold the harmonica with both hands. This will give you a lot more control when moving around the instrument.

This type of hand position is known as a loose cup.

Closed cup position

To get the Wah wah sounds like Sonny Boy Williamson you will need to use a closed cup position.

The key is airtightness. So you should try to get rid of any gaps around the harmonica.

Wrap you right hand thumb over the top of the harmonica covering the top three holes. While you are doing this, close the left hand gap with your right hand palm.

Now, look for any gaps where air might get through.

If you are doing this correctly you should have a muted sound when the hands are closed. If not, air is getting out somewhere. Try looking in a mirror while you are playing to see if you can spot any sneaky gaps air could leak through.

I have made a more in-depth lesson on closed cup playing here – how to make a hand wah.

Thank you

Thank you for taking part in this lesson – I hope you are comfortable with how you should hold the harmonica now.

If you have any problems please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email.

Thank you so much for taking part in this lesson. I hope it was useful for you. If you enjoyed this lesson, please share it with your friends.

See you again for the next harmonica video!

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