Guitar Quickstart – Major Diatonic – Key of C

Major Diatonic

Key labeled in 1st Position (Straight Harp) – Available in 14 keys
Major Diatonic Box
Key of C Chart

The Major Diatonic harmonica uses a standard Blues tuning and can be played in the 1st Position (Folk & Country) or the 2nd Position (Blues, Rock/Pop, Country).

1st Position: Folk & Country

Most Folk and Country music is played on the harmonica in the key of the blow (exhale) chord.
This is called 1st Position, or straight harp, playing.
Begin by strumming your guitar.

guitar - chords
With your C Major Diatonic harmonica
in its holder, starting with blow (exhale), try to pick out a melody in the midrange of the harmonica.
Key of C Midrange
C Major scale played in 1st Position
on a C Major Diatonic harmonica.
Major Scale in the Key of C

2nd Position: Blues, Rock/Pop, Country

Most Blues, Rock, and modern Country music is played on the harmonica in the key of the draw (inhale) chord. This is called 2nd Position, or cross harp, playing. For example, playing a C Major Diatonic harmonica in the key of G.
Begin by strumming
a basic Blues shuffle in the key of G.
guitar - chords
With your C Major Diatonic harmonica
in its holder, chop chords on the backbeat, drawing for the I chord (G) and blowing for
the IV chord (C). The harmonica doesn’t
have a V chord in 2nd position, but Blues harmonica players often substitute a
warble on holes 4 and 5 draw.
Key of C
Mixolydian Scale (commonly used in Funk, Blues, and Rock music) played in the key of G
in 2nd Position on the C Major Diatonic harmonica. Notice the second note requires a whole step bend on draw 3.
Click here for more info.
Mixolydian Scale in the Key of G

With practice, you can work up an accompaniment pattern on the harmonica and use it to keep rhythm for a guitar solo.

For more about the Major Diatonic, check out this chord reference guide.

first - second positions
The 1st and 2nd positions are labeled on either end of Lee Oskar harmonicas.

But wait! There’s more…

Lee Oskar also makes harmonicas in three other tunings: Melody Maker™, Natural Minor, and Harmonic Minor, ideal for creating different harmonic textures and for accompanying different styles of music. Click on the Altered Tuning links below for some great ideas on how to get the most out of your Lee Oskar Harmonicas!