Tasty Country Blues Harmonica Vamping Licks

May 17, 2017 | Intermediate Harmonica Lessons, Jamming & Improv, Licks

Hello and welcome to this week’s lesson, where I will be showing you how to play some tasty country style vamping licks.

You will need a harmonica in the key of A, and we will be playing in 2nd position in the key of E.

What is vamping?

Vamping is where you have a repeating rhythmic part which you add licks and riffs to.

For this lesson I have given you a bunch of different licks and variations to learn. However, your longer term goal is to be able to make your own up and improvise around this kind of rhythm.

Base Lick

This is the ‘vamp’, i.e. the part that you repeat.

tab for base lick


Lick 1

The first variation consists of changing what single note you are playing during the rhythm. The rhythm itself stays exactly the same but you will be adding in alternative single notes.

You should be especially careful when you play a blow note because you will probably want to play blow chords afterwards – don’t!

tab for lick 1


Lick 2

The first half of lick 2 consists of swapping the second half of the vamp for a 4 note run using 1/16th notes.

1/16th notes are notes that last a quarter of a beat so that means there are 4 per beat.

tab for lick 2

The second half of lick 2 does two beats worth of 1/16th note runs.

tab for lick 2 part 2


Lick 3

tab for lick 3


Lick 4

This lick introduces the idea of playing a longer ‘run’ of notes. You will be playing 3 beats of 1/16th notes so 3 sets of 4 notes.

tab for lick 4


Lick 5 and 6

These two licks show how you can vary the vamp itself by replacing the ghost ‘ta’ with some single notes.

tab for lick 5 and 6

Lick 5 – Slow

Lick 6 – Slow

Improvising around this

All of the phrases I played in this lesson use notes from the major pentatonic scale. This gives everything a nice melodic country feel. However, you can also try experimenting with notes from the blues scale to give it a more bluesy feel.

Edinburgh Harmonica Workshop – 21-23 July

I’m so excited about this year’s Edinburgh Harmonica Workshop where I will be teaching with Liam Ward, Will Wilde and David Barrett.

Click here to find out more about the workshops.

Thank you

If you have any questions just send me a wee 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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