Harmonica Key Chart for Six Positions

I’ve been preaching the gospel of going beyond 1st, 2nd and 3rd position by using pentatonic scales in 4th, 5th, and 12th position for years. It’s exciting and frustrating. Exciting to see people light up when they get the idea and run with it. Frustrating because most people give up before they have one of those cosmic breakthroughs that replaces the pain of crashing and burning with the rush of finding uniquely bad ass riffs.

One thing that may hold you back from experimenting more with other positions is that it can be maddening to try to figure out off the top of your head which harp plays what in what position.

So – here you go! – Take a screen shot of this chart and put it with your harmonicas. The next time you are playing in 3rd position, look at the chart and see what harp to grab to try out 5th or 4th position. Songs like “Black Magic Woman” are insanely cool if you play them in 5th position. I ended up making the 3rd, 4th, and 5th position columns reverse type to make it super obvious which positions lean heavily to minor.

I’ll be including a PDF of this chart along with a series of practice drills for pentatonic scales in the six positions on this chart as well as minor pentatonic for second position in a new lesson I’ve formatted for download in the hotrodharmonicas.com store. It also has the most useful variations of train rhythm breathing exercises I have found over the years.

You can find that collection of exercises here It is called “Harmonica Fundamentals: Pentatonic Scales and Train Rhythm Variations”

In the mean time use this chart to take a walk on the wild side next time you are working out a song. You won’t have to hurt your head so much looking for the other harps you could be playing in new ways.

Harpe Diem!

PS – I just did a video in my backyard about improvising with a couple of the pentatonic scales. here it is:




  1. Leatherlips

    June 11, 2017 - 10:20 pm

    I have pretty much mastered 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th positions, but maybe it’s time to delve into at least 4th.
    Great piece of info. Thanks.

    • Richard Sleigh

      June 12, 2017 - 8:40 am

      Thanks for the feedback. The idea of this chart is to make it easy to identify the harps for positions you don’t use regularly. Sometimes a quick stab at one of these other positions lays out a killer riff that makes you own a song, give it a new life. The happy accidents make up for all the train wrecks you have to suffer through as you expand your chops.

  2. Rishió

    July 18, 2017 - 2:23 am

    I’ve just learned to play the pentatonic scales in 3 major keys and their relative minor keys (6 total keys). For example, If I have a G harp, I can play GMaj/Emin, DMaj/BMin, and CMaj/Amin. When you tell us that it is nice to learn 6 positions (pentatonic) on a harmonica, do you mean 12 different keys or 6 different keys? I guess I’m asking if 1st position on a G Harp means GMaj and Gmin or just GMaj? If it just means GMaj, does that mean there are 24 different positions? Really confused on this matter because I only hear people talking about 12 positions.

  3. Rishió

    July 18, 2017 - 4:40 am

    One more question. I’m interested in ordering your book, but does it come in PDF that i can doenload on my iPhone? It doesn’t specify if it is an electronic or physical book. I am in Vietnam for a year and cannot receive mail here.

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