Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > 5th position recordings
5th position recordings
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1 post
Jan 04, 2018
11:01 AM
Hello, I was wondering if anyone here knows of any recordings, Blues or otherwise, where the harmonica is being plated in 5th position?

There are obviously an abundance of 2nd position recordings and 1st and 3rd are common enough to find a few good recordings here and there, but I have not run across anything in 5th position. It seems like a pretty easy position to play since it is the relative minor of the 2nd position major. So why don't we hear it more?

And while we are on the topic, please list anything you know of that is in 4th position and 12th position. I think maybe 4th would be more common among folk players who primarily use first position? I am curious if there are any blues recordings where it is demonstrated. I like 12th position because I am most comfortable in 3rd and 12th is the relative major of the minor in 3rd so it comes more naturally to me, but I also don't know of any recordings of it.

Anyway I am really curious to hear what others have done with these less common positions.

4620 posts
Jan 04, 2018
11:15 AM


Last Edited by 1847 on Jan 04, 2018 11:17 AM
2 posts
Jan 04, 2018
12:11 PM
Hey thanks 1847!

That was cool. Very soulful with a nice melodic hook. I think this is such a sweet sounding position, I don't understand why it isn't used more.
1670 posts
Jan 04, 2018
12:14 PM
This is sort of legendary among harp players. 5th pos.

Last Edited by Tuckster on Jan 04, 2018 12:15 PM
1671 posts
Jan 04, 2018
12:24 PM
Here's one in 12th from Chris Michalek and 2 of our forum members.

1672 posts
Jan 04, 2018
12:38 PM
Another 12th from Buddha at his funny,acerbic best.

3 posts
Jan 04, 2018
1:26 PM
Tuckster! Thanks, those were all incredibly helpful videos.

Last Edited by SweetBlood on Jan 04, 2018 1:26 PM
1504 posts
Jan 05, 2018
9:26 AM
Fifth position was recorded in the 1920s on "Central Tracks Blues" by William Lee McCoy:

Country harmonica superstar Charlie McCoy (no relation) has used 5th quite a bit as well. I first heard him use it on a Gordon Lightfoot record,
"Crossroads" (not the Robert Johnson song) in about 1968 (can't find a Youtube video)


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200 posts
Jan 05, 2018
2:46 PM
Try here for Lightfoot

>"Crossroads" (not the Robert Johnson song) in about 1968 >(can't find a Youtube video)
241 posts
Jan 05, 2018
3:40 PM
I've been working on 5th position lately.

Tom Townsley is a great 5th position player.
C harp in E

As is Bob Corritore
Bb harp in D
721 posts
Jan 05, 2018
5:23 PM
Charlie Musslewhite

Paul Cohen aka Komuso Tokugawa
HarpNinja - Learn Harmonica Faster
Komuso's Music Website
2438 posts
Jan 05, 2018
7:21 PM

That's Richard Sleigh doing the old Stones song Playin' With Fire. He accompanies himself on guitar as well as harp and vocs. It's a 5th position harp part.




407 posts
Jan 05, 2018
10:13 PM
Hi SweetBlood

Here's Donnie Jacobs singing "Street Walkin' Woman", recorded in Louisiana in 1966. I first heard it in on a vinyl album called "When Girls Do It". The harmonica adds simple but effective accompaniment in 5th position-- what Tony Glover used to call 4th position, for the old people in this forum.

Hope I've done this right, have a listen:



wolf kristiansen
5 posts
Jan 06, 2018
5:55 AM
Winslow, That William McCoy video is exactly the kind of thing I am looking for. Thanks, and I did not know that Charlie McCoy used it some. That gives me another place to start looking.

Sydeman, thanks for the link.

Rharrt, both of those videos give me some good stuff to work, on and a direction to start looking. Very helpful thanks!
224 posts
Jan 06, 2018
6:09 AM
Komuso mentioned Musselwhite. His recording of "Blues Got Me Again" is the one that got me started playing 5th position:

6 posts
Jan 06, 2018
6:29 AM
Thanks Wolf, I love that recording.

Jbone, thanks for that link! That is an awesome cover that I almost want to steal myself. Never had any desire to do that song until now.

Harpoonman, I love it. Does anyone know what other songs Musselwhite uses 5th position on?

Last Edited by SweetBlood on Jan 06, 2018 6:31 AM
12 posts
Jan 08, 2018
2:06 PM
My friend Flavio GuimarĂ£es, used to record some 5th positions. Check Blues Etilicos discography. Here's an example:

Duster Bennet recorded on 'Trying So Hard To Forget' on Fleetwood Mac's 'Mr Wonderul': Duster is playing a C harp in E minor.
3511 posts
Jan 08, 2018
5:08 PM

Last Edited by hvyj on Jan 08, 2018 5:16 PM
8 posts
Jan 09, 2018
6:51 AM
Wow thanks guys! I have a pretty good playlist put together now. Really appreciate everyone chiming in.
28 posts
Jan 09, 2018
8:41 AM
Not a video, but just as an aside, I was introduced to Dominant phrygian mode (spanish scale) via 5th position by Jason Rosenblatt. Recommend any of his Klezmer with the band Streiml.

(FYI also works out well in 2nd, but for both make sure your bends or on point, overblows in 2nd).
Todd Parrott
1429 posts
Jan 09, 2018
10:41 PM
Buddy Greene & Charlie McCoy (songs goes back and forth between 5th and 2nd)

Buddy Greene - 5th position starts at 1:37, so I set it to start at that time:

585 posts
Jan 11, 2018
8:59 AM
I play 5th position on many songs... including, from my new album, the songs "Going Somewhere," "All," and "I Don't Remember." Here's a link to the album. On each of these songs, I play a portion of the solo and/or fills in 5th but also play another position (I believe 3rd in all cases, if memory serves).

Last Edited by scojo on Jan 11, 2018 9:03 AM

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