Improvising using 12 Bar Blues Root Notes in 3rd Position on C harmonica

May 25, 2016 | Advanced Intermediate Harmonica Lessons

Hello, welcome to this week’s harmonica lesson where I am going to show you the root notes of a 12 bar blues in 3rd position.

This will help you get started improvising in 3rd position.

For this lesson you will need a harmonica in the key of C. This means we will playing over a backing track in the key of D.

12 bar blues theory

In a 12 bar blues there are 3 chords. The I chord, the IV chord and the V chord

In 2nd position, the root notes of these are the 2 draw, 4 blow and 4 draw

In 3rd position you just move these up 2 holes.

The I chord is the 4 draw

The IV Chord is the 6 blow

The V chord is the 6 draw

This means that we can improvise over the 12 bar blues using just these notes.

Exercise 1

Try improvising over this backing track using just the root notes above.

Lower Octave

Part of the fun of 3rd position is how easy it is to play over 2 octaves. This means we can also play the root notes down an octave

The I chord is the 1 draw

The IV chord is the 3 blow

The V chord is the 3 draw (whole step bend).

Really make sure that your 3 draw whole step bend is accurate and doesn’t sound out of tune over the V chord

Exercise 2

Now you can try improvising over the backing track using the lower octave root notes


I suggest you keep practicing improvising just using the root notes for now until it becomes second nature.

Then, next week I will be showing you how you can play and use the blues scale in 3rd position.

Thank you

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!

Check out these other lessons…

New Year Harmonica Resolution – Start As You Mean To Go On!

New Year Harmonica Resolution – Start As You Mean To Go On!

Hello and welcome to the first lesson of 2022! Happy New Year! I hope you had a good break over the festive period and are all excited about starting up again? Because it is the first lesson of 2022 I thought it would be a good idea to set some personal goals for your...

Learn Blues Harmonica