Rick Estrin

Lesson >

Nine Below Zero

Second Half of First Verse

In this lesson we'll incorporate some hand effects and vowel sounds including - Wah Wahs, fanning, and "ow" sounds. I also introduce Sonnyboy's characteristic treatment of the third hole draw, bending it a whole step, over the V chord - and whatever you do, don't let up on that easy groove! Feel it and hear it in your head whether you're playing it or not.

Rick Estrin




Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
key of E
A Harp
Sonny Boy II
Rick Estrin
Nine Below Zero

Backing Track

Print Print Chords & Tab

A Harp in the Key of E

Loop 0:57 Breakdown of IV Chord

Loop 6:35 Practice Loop of IV Chord 

Loop 6:46 Breakdown of I Chord

Loop 8:53 Slow Practice Loop of IV and I Chord

Loop 9:43 Breakdown of V Chord and Turnaround

Loop 14:14 Slow Practice Loop of Turnaround

Loop 15:18 Breakdown of Classic Sonny Boy II Tag

Loop 17:27 Closing Thoughts






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andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Jul 20, 2017

Hey Rick !! it s the first time that I hear clearly the 2 draw versus the 3 blow with the tongue block  !! ... wow so cool ...it s been a while since I wanted to understand " that " , and when you tongue switched for the 1 hole  blow to put "another " chord ... wow , I love it Man !! and I think it s on the V Chorus ... not sure loll , 

Daniel James
Daniel James Nov 10, 2015

 This is very hard-but equally as fun!

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Jul 22, 2015

Hi Rick !! to me , the Groove ... the way you explain it , yeah ... so much more fun ... and it s new to feel it , and it s like , " i m learning everything again " with a foundation to rely on , I don t know if my explanation it s clear enough .... but .... when you say in week  2 , I owe you BIG TIME ....Loll

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Jul 21, 2015

Hi Rick !! thank you ... you brought me to another level ; understand and feel the music , it changed everything .... the Groove , it s so good when I m able to do it well ( i think ?? ) ... I m having fun ... thanks again !!

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Jul 22, 2015

Hey Andre - Thank you! I'm so happy to hear that!!! When you're in the zone groove-wise, it makes it SO much more fun, right?

Dave Jul 05, 2015

Rick, I'm starting to get this I think.  Thanks for the clear descriptions of what you're doing. The hardest part for me is embedding the internal metronome and the groove. I was always a lousy dancer. 

Because of a disability,  I'm able to hold the harp with only one hand, which makes it impossible to do the cupping, fanning and slapping techniques with the other hand--kind of like playing out of a rack. If you had to play it this way, any advice on how to use mouth articulations or other punctuations to  simulate or replace the fanning at the end of the fourth bar or the wahs at the finish?


Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Jul 06, 2015

Hi Dave - There are some techniques you can work on to help you get a bigger variety of sounds and effects using one hand. If I were you, when practicing I'd concentrate on developing a really focused, big, rich tone. I'd also work on strengthening your throat vibrato. A pronounced, in-time throat vibrato can give you a strong, prominent pulsing effect. It won't sound exactly like a fanning hand, but it will articule the triplets of the beat in a similar fashion. You can also "speechify" your harp playing to a certain extent without the use of hand wah-wahs by modifying the shape of your oral cavity to find contrasting brighter and darker tones. If you mix those in with the slight bends at either the front or the back of the note, you'll be able make the harp talk. And above all, work on that groove! You say you were always a lousy dancer, but work with it! Put on some music, feel the beat and move around. Find your own moves. The moves don't have to look graceful or pretty, as long as you feel that rhythm and try to inject that groove into your harp playing. Also, check out Big John Wrencher AKA One Arm John. Look him up on the internet. He was a real cool Chicago harp player with a huge tone, a beautiful vibrato and a great groove.

So Dave, try this stuff - really work on it - spend some time on it, then write me back and let me know how you're doing with it.

Rick Estrin 

Dave Jul 07, 2015

Thanks Rick. Very generous of you to give it so much thought. I'll work on all of your suggestions.

And thanks too for the pointer to Big John Wrencher, whom I spent last evening with. What a player. Don't know how I'd never encountered him before.

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