Beginning harp player ... I just bought my first new harmonica it came today and it is labeled in the first position key I understand now that labeled in the second key is better? Can someone please clear up the difference between these 1st position keys and 2nd position keys I want to play more of a bluesy style so from what I understand the second position is what I'm looking for. Do I need to send this harmonica back??

1 Answer 1


You should probably keep the harmonica. Eventually you'll want more than one so you can play songs in different keys.

Playing in the second position is often called cross harp.

It is probably easier to think about it by what chords the harmonica plays. On a C harp, blowing on the holes create the C Major chord. Drawing on the holes create different chords as you play down the line, specifically G Major, G7, D minor, and B minor7 flat 5.

The chord you are interested in is the G7 chord, or the Dominant or five chord of C major, also known as the V7 (pronounced five seven, roman numeral V for 5) chord. The V7 chord occurs when drawing on holes 2 3 4 and 5, or "second position". Playing the D minor chord on holes 4 5 6 would be third position.

You want to use the V7 chord on the harmonica for Blues because one of the things that makes the Blues sound "bluesy" is that all the major chords are played as V7 chords, being modified from how the chord would normally sound. For example the chords in G Blues are G7 (the one chord), C7 (the four chord) and D7 (the normal five chord).

Using a C harmonica but playing mostly on the 2nd position G7 draw chord lets you play the G7 along with the Blues G7 chord in G Blues.

When choosing a harmonica for playing along with Blues keys, you want to choose the harmonica that plays the same key on the second position draw, which is a 5th above the key listed on the harmonica.
For G Blues you would play a C harmonica ( C D E F G: C to G is a 5th)

For Blues in E, you would use an A harmonica ( A B C D E: A to E is a 5th)

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