Led Zeppelin/Zep Harmonica


Iqbar wrote at 2006-08-11 21:13:47

Don't worry, this is an easy and honest mistake to make with harmonicas. However, with blues harmonica you should buy the 4th of the key you want to play in.

So, for Bring it on Home (in E) you want an A harmonica. Note, this is blues harp only.

Dan N. wrote at 2007-12-01 09:54:16
Abe -

When an A harp is used to play in the key of E, that's a diatonic harp played in 'second position'.

Second position is played mostly on the draw notes, and the key is the note of the second draw note of any diatonic harp.

So if your song is in E, and you want to play it in second position (which allows for more expression by bending notes), you use a harp in the key of A. If you want to focus on the blow notes, you can play an E harp in first position, which is the key of E.

With the harmonica you bought in the key of C, you can play in that key, first position, by focusing on the blow notes. In second position, C harps play in the key of G.

Hope that clarifies it.


Alex wrote at 2008-11-10 05:42:35
Most blues songs played on harmonica are played 4 whole steps up from the original key.

ex: if the song is in A the harmonica would be in D.

hope this helps,


cheech wrote at 2009-10-08 21:20:34
A key of C harmonica plays the c major scale with holes 4-7.To play cross harp(blues)its easier to bend and blow holes 1-4, so counting the song key you go up 4 keys to play along and be in key( Playing mostly holes 1-4). If a song is in D you use a G harp,G calls for a C harp, and so on.

bran_man wrote at 2010-03-01 19:52:03
A C harp is in the key of C. Playing a song that is written in the key of C with a C harp is called playing straight harp or 1st position. To achieve a blues sound most play cross harp (or 2nd position). For instance, if you want to play a song in a G blues scale, use a C harp and play in 2nd position. For when the Levee Breaks (written in F) uses a B flat harp and play in 2nd position. to learn more about the different positions look up harmonica scales or search cross harp for how to play 2nd position.


lalo wrote at 2010-05-11 05:22:17
The sentence: "The song is in the key of E, so the harmonica has to be in the key of A" means that the whole song is based around the "E" tone, but the scale on which the harmonica runs is in the key of "A" in order for both the music in the melody of the harmonica fit together in the song and ultimately may sound good.

Most of the Led Zeppelin songs have a harmonica in the key of A with its variations.  

cpowrazer wrote at 2010-05-29 01:59:56
Actually all harp songs for blues are the forth of the key they are in (Forth step in the major scale of the key the songs in), Song Zep songs in E are Key of A Harps. Which is Nobodys fault, Bring it on home and you shook me. Where as something like When the Levee Breaks which is a Key of F is an B flat Harp.  

A Plant wrote at 2010-10-20 19:27:29
Concert Key = band's key.

1. Straight harp is when you play in the same key as the rest of the band (band plays in E, you play an E harp). This is a down home, simplistic sounding blues effect.

2. Cross harp is a 4th above concert key, so if the band is playing in A, you play the D harp, etc.  This gets the cool blues sound often heard in rock songs.

3. Slant harp is a minor sounding blues effect, due to the flatted third.  Concert key is one above the harp key (Band is in D, use a C harp).

* With Zeppelin, it's probably going to be the cross harp mostly.  See what key Jimmy is in, and go from there.  Have fun!

blue hat wrote at 2010-11-02 23:54:17
I've been playing harmonica for about 14 years now. What you're asking about is called cross-harp playing, i.e. if the guitarist is playing in E, then the harp player needs to count five keys away to play over what the guitarist is playing. So, starting with E, you count (1) E, (2) F, (3) G, (4) A...this key works really well with E on guitar and is what I prefer to play in. You hear it a lot in rock music too. (5) B, this key works too, it's a little brighter and happier than A, which is why I think most guys avoid it.

I learned to play harmonica reading a book by Jon Gindick. Then I just listened to music and jammed with anybody I could find. And I experimented along the way with the different harmonicas too. Bottom line, just have fun!

Tony Sirilo wrote at 2011-05-22 20:26:09
To answer your question, Plant does use an A harp in Bring it on home...and the song is in the key of E. For example, I use my A harp to play a lot of Clapton, since the majority of his music is written in E. Just play around with vibrato and bending your notes, and you'll find the sound. Good luck!  

pedroh wrote at 2012-02-09 20:11:36
The answer above is wrong! Be careful new players!

Always you play a blues or blues-like song, you use a harmonica in a different key. For example, to play a song in E you use an A  harmonica. The rule is: from the key of the song, go 4 letters up or 3 down.

With your C harp, you can play a C song or a blues in G.

Just in case you didn't understand yet: a C harmonica is the same as a harmonica in the key of C

Okie Fats wrote at 2013-03-03 19:44:28
Nope to the above.  Playing the same key harp as the key of the song is called straight harp.  It works for melodies and folk music.  For Blues, you want to play in crossharp.  Count up three notes from the song key.  If the song is in F count G,A,Bb so you would play a Bb harp with an F song. Google Crossharp Chart.  It's based on the circle of 5ths. A lot of Blues songs are in E so the A harp is the most popular blues harp.  Levy is in F so use a Bb harp to play along with Plant.  Good Luck.

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Chris M. Zangara


I`m not only a Zeppelin fanatic, but I have been collecting Zeppelin - including Jimmy Page and Robert Plant solo music & information - for over 27 years. I am truly a lover of Page/Plant music in & out of Zeppelin simply because of the honesty & integrity of it all. - I have been studying them for as long as I have been listening to Rock/Blues Music. Their interpretation of the blues is unlike any other. I look forward to any question and will answer the very best I can - as above all - I am just a fan like you! (Please understand my interest is in the music and people of REAL life; NOT in rumor or fantasy).


Lover of blues roots and rock music from early 1900's to today. Musician for 30 years, mostly study of guitar and recording engineering.

http://ledzeppelinconcertticket.net/zeppelin_concert_club_west.html (click the PINK ticket). Other miscellaneous articles from allexperts given to help anyone who asks. I love to share.

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