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How to Use Tremolo Hand Wah on Harmonica | Beginner Blues Harmonica Lesson

Hand wah and tremolo techniques are great ways to beginners to add texture to your harmoica playing. Both are simple techniques to learn, so let's dive right in and learn how to use them!

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What are Hand Wah and Tremolo?

Hand wah and tremolo are two techniques that can be used to add emotional textures to your harmonica playing. They are relatively simple techniques to learn, but can make a big difference in the sound of your playing. Both add a fluctuation of volume, but in a slightly different way. We'll look at each in turn.


The Difference Between Tremolo and Vibrato

Before diving into the technique, it's crucial to understand the distinction between tremolo and vibrato. Tremolo refers to a fluctuation of volume, while vibrato involves a fluctuation in pitch. Vibrato is a more advanced technique that requires sophisticated breath control. It is generally learned after learning hand wah and tremolo. (If you'd like to learn vibrato, check out The Vibrato Lesson.)


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How to Use Tremolo on Harmonica

To use tremolo, cup your free hand around the harmonica. Play a long held note, like a 4 draw. While playing the note, quickly open and close your hand repeatedly. You are searching for a fluctuation in volume.


You can experiment with different speeds and amplitudes of tremolo to create different effects. For example, you can use a fast tremolo to create a dramatic effect, or a slow tremolo to create a more subtle effect.


How to Play Hand Wah on Harmonica

To use hand wah, you will need to cup your hand tight around the harmonica. Make sure that your hand is completely sealed around the harmonica, so that no air can escape. Play a long held note, like you did with tremolo, but this time quickly open and close your hand once. You are aiming for a "wah" sound. If you don't hear the sound, you don't have a tight enough seal around the harp. Look in a mirror to see if you can close up any spaces, then try again. It is more difficult than the tremolo technique, so this may take you some time.


Practice Tips for Harmonica Hand Wah / Tremolo

Here are a few tips for using hand wah / tremolo:

  • Practice in front of a mirror so that you can see what your hand is doing.

  • Use a metronome to practice different speeds of fluctuation.

  • Experiment with different hand positions to find what works best for you.

I hope you enjoyed this harmonica lesson on using hand wah and tremolo. See you again soon!

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