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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Blues tuning
Blues tuning
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272 posts
Apr 11, 2021
6:33 PM
I've been re-tuning the 7 draw on my harps for some time now, but am really just now exploring all the advantages of this tuning. I'm sure its not unique, many others have done this. I just call it "Blues Tuning".

I tune the 7 draw down 1/2 step. On a C harmonica that's from a B to a Bb. The following may be obvious to some of you, but I'm really just starting to incorporate it into my playing. Its really helping me to find new things to play and get out of a rut - playing the same old things.

2nd position:
The 7 draw is the flat 3rd on the high end (same note as the 6 over-blow). This lets you play all your usual low end riffs on the high end. It also opens up blues riffs that have the root in the middle. A harp players we're usually going up or down the scale starting and ending on the root at -2 or 6. This opens up riffs that start below the root, and go above the root ... for example Born under a Bad Sign becomes 4 -4 -5 6 -7 6.

1st position:
The 7 draw is the b7 which opens up all kinds of bluesy riffs in the middle of the harmonica. You can play a pretty good sounding partial scale in the middle, 7 -7 6 -5 4. This really opens up a lot of things to play in 1st position.

3rd position:
This gives you the b6 which is part of the minor scale and a very cool sounding note. Its a note that harp players usually don't play. Its used in Stormy Monday and The Thrill is Gone.

Maybe old news to some, but a big deal to me!

Jim McBride
697 posts
Apr 11, 2021
7:07 PM
Cool-- It does open doors---another good thing,

if yr playing second pos minor blues -ud normally have to make sure yr hitting 3d bent a half and avoid 7 draw altoghther--now 7 draw is an asset not a liability

I recently bought a norton buffalo insructional- he said the same thing I believe. 80 % of most harp players avoid holes 7- 10 and especially avoid the mid scale in second starting on blow 6--

The b7draw makes the transition bluesier and easier.

I hope u keep playin w/ it-try the 7 blow bend now available-its now the 3rd

alot of blues guitar guys bounce between the b3 and nat 3 and sometimes finish a run on the 3rd instead of b3--sounds funky---listen to reconsider clapton he does that

also when warble 6 n7 draw it sounds like a chromatic

anyway I like open minded people they tend to learn more. peace
735 posts
Apr 12, 2021
4:05 AM
A way of thinking about it is that flattening the 7 draw (more so if you also flatten the 3 draw) is like shifting the position by "one" i.e. 2nd is now more like traditional/Dorian 3rd etc

Conversely a Country-tuned/melody maker tuning goes back the other way - 2nd is more like 1st etc
Dougie Blue
13 posts
Apr 12, 2021
6:36 AM
I tuned a set of old harps that way about a month or two ago, and immediately loved it. My main set is now tuned with the 7 draw flattened a half step - I've heard it called "Parrott Tuning" after Todd Parrott, but he did not take credit for the idea. I love having that strong 7 blow bend!
2254 posts
Apr 19, 2021
10:02 AM
Here is an old thread about it. It has another link to a previous thread on this topic.

Todd Parrott Tuning users? MBH thread

I used BluTak on 5 SP20s to tune it down to this tuning. I used it some, keeping others in Richter.

Eventually I tired of the minor sound of this tuning (I play a wide range of genres and use major pentatonic. I can pop the 6 OB if I think I need that note. I scraped off the BluTak and use Richter for almost everything.

Doug S.

Last Edited by dougharps on Apr 19, 2021 10:04 AM

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