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Making the diatonic versatile #2

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  • Rogan Says:

    Hi Bill, it’s great to hear your history, I love the new site! It was a great visit and Kyle and I really enjoyed the previews of your next songs!

  • Katie Says:

    Hey Great stuff! The method you came up with completely broadens the potential of the harmonica. It gave it a unique sound and much more versatility. I really enjoyed the songs and I look forward to hearing more!

  • Laura Says:

    It’s nice to see this progressing. Beautiful website and even better music. Best of luck!

  • Katie Says:

    Great stuff! The method you came up with completely broadens the potential of the harmonica as a lead instrument. It gave it a unique sound and almost unlimited versatility. I really enjoyed the songs and look forward to hearing more.

  • Kyle Says:

    This is a really awesome version of the song, Bill.

  • Billy Says:

    Very cool stuff.

  • Dymphna Says:

    “Summertime’! Wow. Just, WOW! What earthy, sweet sounds. Some of the most refreshing, not to mention hypnotic, harmonica I have ever heard. Man, ….and those vocals!?! TIGHT production.

    Overall, Fun, fresh and fabulous takes on some American classics. Pushing the boundaries in all the right ways! Loads of appeal. Good luck with your work.

  • My Name Says:

    Good job!!! Keep going on!!!

  • Ave Maria player :) Says:

    I heard that ‘Sounds of Silence’ is in Dm, and ‘Silent Night’ is in F, both of them don’t have accidentals.
    Would you please tell me your combination in either of them and what chords you got?

  • bill Says:

    You may be right about the Dm, but I use a Bb, C major combination. Everything you need in order to nail that song for a solo performance is on major formula combinations listed on my technique page. Personally I like the low middle combinations for most solo work. Thanks for your comment and for starting to learn the Coupling method. Soon you’ll be playing beyond those considered the world’s best.


  • Ave Maria player :) Says:

    Can you attach them with a hinge? I think it can give some versatility (pucker ơr wide embouchure, and for convenient storage).
    I’m learning your method, and give some modification to it:

  • bill Says:

    I saw what you did. I Love it! We should have a conversation. My number is 1-517-287-5332. Sorry I can’t speak Vietnamese, so if you rather do this via e-mail, write to Thanks for your comment and your work.


  • Ave Maria player :) Says:

    Sorry, the first “them” was what I said about the keys of the songs, and the latter “them” was about the keys of the harmonicas. My English is not very good 😀
    Now I only have a C and a C#, but I will try the C and Bb (or D) (I haven’t got enough money now 🙂 ). Do they really need to be one whole-tone apart?
    Does your Coupling method need better dip bends, because if I used your method, I would dip bend better and faster when swapping the harmonicas than the C-C# method to get accidentals?
    Does your method have both advantages: chromatic scale (needing more better dip bends than C-C# method) and chords?
    Is it true that major combinations are primarily for major-key songs, and minor ones are primarily for minor-key songs?
    Do major combinations have less chords when playing minor-key songs (and vice versa)?
    Sorry about my foolish questions, I’m not very good in musical theory 🙂
    I’ve read another method, called “Forkord Turnaround”. Does it have the same principle (2 keys 1 step apart)?
    Sorry and thank you again 😀

  • Ave Maria player :) Says:

    Thank you for your explanation 😀

  • Ave Maria player :) Says:

    I should have said thank you to you, not you would 😀
    Were there any differences if you would add the minor-key coupling formula?

  • Jesse Says:

    I love your idea Bill, but don’t fully understand what exactly are the pairings that fit together. Was the illustration at the bottom suggesting to pair a C to a D diatonic? Ave Marie’s idea is an excellent one. Would you not need something like felt or leather to seal in between to keep down air loss? Jesse.

  • bill Says:

    Yes, the formula at the bottom of the page for the major diatonic harmonica will give you a new instrument! G with an A and so on… I like Ava Marie’s idea too. As a matter of fact, Ave Marie has inspired me to post an audio of my method for his name sake. Soon I’ll be posting a video demonstration of two permanent ways to secure harmonica pairs. The crude ways e.g. tape will do in a pinch, but for long term use you’ll want a more secure arrangement. Thanks Jesse.

  • Mithril Says:

    This website looks (and sounds =) great! Hope to see some big things happen here.

  • A harmonica player :D Says:

    I’ve just seen your ‘Ave Maria’ performance with the coupling method 🙂 Very fresh, new and beautiful to me 😀

  • bill Says:

    Thanks!! You were part of my inspiration (sound Cloud) for putting the coupling method to the song. Ave Maria!

  • A harmonicist Says:

    You’re welcome 😀

  • Terry Says:

    Why not just play a chromatic harp. You method seems to involve more difficulties for an equal or lesser result. It is impressive visually though.

  • bill Says:

    Thanks for the comment. In answer to your statement: The coupling method allows for completely unique chord options, as demonstrated in the song “Gimmie Some Lovin”. There is no chromatic harmonica musician that could equal such a hard hitting delivery as enabled by the coupling on “Gimmie Some Lovin” or on a multitude of other songs. The chromatic has virtually no usable chord options. Additionally, one diatonic harmonica is insufficient in its overall capability to get the job done. For the most part, the only way you’ll play what you hear me play is to use coupled diatonic harmonicas.

    When coupling diatonic harmonicas you automatically retain its vocal quality on songs that will require more than a truncated diatonic scale. As far as difficulties go – its three years this summer that I began to couple harmonicas, so as you can see it’s not as difficult as you may imagine. What one man can do another can also do! Finally, try and find another rendition of “California Dreaming” that can compete with the coupled version of that song: Thanks again and I hope this answers some of your questions about the coupling method.

  • Harley Crain Says:

    My name is Harley Crain and I am the editor of HCI
    Harmonic collectors International newsletter. I would like to use your article in one of our future newsletters.I would give you full credit and send you a copy of the issue.

  • bill Says:

    Harley, thanks for contacting me. Yes you have my permission to reprint my article. I would also like to become a member of HCI. Please e-mail me at harmonica with details for joining your group. Thank you.

  • Steven De bruyn Says:

    Hi Bill,
    were all wrestling with those limits, but there are ways to get out, like f.i. different open tunings. Here’s an introduction :
    Greetz from Gent (BEL),

  • Steven De bruyn Says:

    Fascinating story Bill, a lot of players -including me- do switch harmonica’s within a song or solo, but I’ve never come across this method and the good thing is you can keep your cup, necessary to get a good tone. Really interesting. Thanks for your story!

  • bill Says:

    Steven Thanks much! I saw your “Hohner Masters of the Harmonica video:

    I’m posting it here because you’re very talented and quite the innovator. I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit by watching it.

  • Neil Ashby Says:

    The Coupled 10-Hole Diatonic Harmonica is a real interesting musical concept.

    /Neil Ashby (” “)

  • Steve Harrison Says:

    The easiest way to attach a pair of harps is probably to place a couple of lumps of Blu-tac or similar (the stuff that you use attach posters to walls without damaging them). I think that this idea was originated by Pat Missin. I have long used this method to couple harps a fourth/ fifth apart, eg D and G.

  • bill Says:

    I agree, if you’re a part time coupler blu-tac is for you. But, I play the twenty hole diatonic exclusively. Blu-tac won’t be adequate for those that want to play coupled harmonicas full time like me. As I stated there is more than one than mechanical way to fasten diatonic harmonicas and if you’re like me you will want something more permanent.

  • Old Geezert Says:

    I never met him, but it sounds like an interesting idea. Besides, he’s an ex-marine, and they’re O.K. (I’m an ex-Navy Corpsman).

  • panamharp Says:

    Bill – Nice website. Great playing. A couple of questions:

    1. How is coupling functionally different from switching harps or stacking harmonicas (other than being a permanent arrangement) ?

    2. What do you mean by:” Until now, harmony was attained on the diatonic by playing in the cross position.” – Not sure I understand that.


  • bill Says:

    Thanks much for the compliment,

    When you couple two diatonic harmonicas together a full step apart on the chromatic scale you’re actually creating a new diatonic instrument; one that introduces many new options for the musician. To use this method you must play the two as though they are one. Learning this method will put you among the world’s mot versatile diatonic musicians. Let me give an example: Sentimental Journey, Up A Lazy River and Peg of My Heart, and a thousand others, are traditionally songs played on Chromatic harmonicas primarily because of the degree of difficulty they pose for the truncated scales of the diatonic. With this method you can play those songs and embellish with the original acoustic diatonic style, a very unique sound.So, Functionally you do not separate these coupled pairs. It would be like taking most of the black keys off the piano. This is not a chromatic substitute. Although you will now be able to play many songs that were once exclusive to the chromatic; think of it more as a diatonic harmonica on steroids This is an instrument that has its own very distinct musical abilities, a sort of cross over instrument.

    When you play in the cross position you’re using a lot of harmony notes because you are tuned steps away from the key the song is actually being played in. If you need or want the 440 bolts I use to couple with. e-mail me at Thanks again.

  • panamaharp Says:

    Bill – Thanks for the quick reply. If I understand you correctly, playing multiple diatonic harmonica at the same time is not really something new (there are numerous examples all over the place), but what you are advocating is the use of two harmonicas one step apart in order to supply the “missing” melody notes over the three octaves of the diatonic harmonica. Obviously, as you stated, not a replacement for the chromatic harmonica since you would still need a number of coupled harmonicas to accommodate different keys. But the payoff is greater melodic freedom within that key, plus ability to get all the expressive diatonic bends. Am I on the right track here? Also, are you primarily thinking of 2nd position for the coupled harmonicas?

    I’m still confused regarding the …harmony was attained on the diatonic by playing in the cross position… statement. Maybe I need a better understanding of music theory, but seem to me that the missing harmony notes are supplied by bending and overblowing regardless of the position.

  • bill Says:

    I’ve listened to the experts on bends and overblows. The conclusion: it works well in theory. The problem with relying on bends and over blows on stage is they’re not stable enough to constitute a true remedy for the stubby scales of the diatonic. Even the people hailed as the best at it can’t compete with the coupling method’s performance in that regard. Now, I primarily bend for effect. I use a lot of different positions with this method because I have many more options.

    Harmony: Sorry for the confusion. What I meant to say is: in the cross position you’re a fifth away and already in a good position for harmony. With the coupling method new notes and harmonious chords are introduced. A huge boost for for the musician. Think about this, adding even just one more usable chord in the low octave is huge. Here it is! Thanks for commenting and feel free to drop me a line.

  • harley crain Says:

    Hi Bill
    sorry for the long delay in contacting you again. I lost a bunch of data when my PC crashed and then I just forgot. We will use your article in our 2nd issue. Probably out in
    Apr/May/June issue. You can look at some information on the
    Dues are 30 per year. Send me your snail mail address and I will send you a back copy to review.
    Regards Harley

  • Tom McCara Says:

    I am VERY interested in your invention! The harmonica (aka Blues Harp) has been my instrument of choice for many years now, and I’m excited to experience an innovation that could revolutionize the harp!

    I’m excited for the chance to work with you.

  • Michael Says:

    I want one. Enough said.

  • My Nick Name Says:

    Mr. Price, well said 😀

  • Dr. Dan Says:

    Can you explain a bit about playing the dominant key of a song in cross harp as it relates to the coupling. For instance, which harp on top and bottom and how you would choose which coupling. I’m also interested in straight harp or first position playing as well.

  • bill Says:

    Dan, This is what do. I made the B flat my primary harp (on top) I liked the lower tone of the reeds. Everything I play is the lower tone on Top. Therefore the B flat is over the C harmonica. Yes it can work the other way and whose to say which is better. The whole tone formula is the catalyst. I listed the coupling arrangements for the major keys on my tech page. It would be like learning to play the guitar with the high or thinnest string on top and the thickest E string on the bottom. My son plays his guitar that way (up side down) “California Dreaming” video. He’s very good and who’s to say which is the best way. I’s all about the tone for me (lower tone on top).

  • My Nick Name Says:

    Yeah! Good ‘Honest I Do’ 😀 Thank you 😀

  • David Says:


    I really appreciate the quick reply to my inquiry on the methods that you are using.

    I think that coupling the B flat and C harmonicas is absolutely amazing. I though that it would be very difficult to play but found it quite easy after soon practice.

    Keep up the good work and amazing sounds.

    Hope to stop by and see you soon.

  • SugarHarp Says:

    How do you transpose to the key of the accompaning instrumemts or band. For instance: the band is playing in the key of Bb ( my favorite jazz key) what two harmonicas would I couple together?

  • bill Says:

    Hey Sugar Harp, I haven’t put the time in to fully answer your question, primarily because I play the lead and let the other musicians find the chords that support it. I can tell you this I was playing around with some of “Dire Straights” greatest hits a while ago and found that the B flat “C” combination works very well on a few of there songs. For example, On “California Dreaming” I just experimented till I found the combination that allowed me to play the entire melody; then the other musicians I used had no trouble adapting/supporting me. You should think of the diatonic harmonica in a whole way. It’s no longer a tool for embellishment, accent or break in harmonic leads. With this method you’re holding the whole melody, supporting it with harmony (if you choose) and then using new chord options. It’s an instrument with new dynamic capabilities! You’ll find that the coupled diatonic even exceeds the chromatic in many respects. Thanks for your interest and comment. Bill

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  • bill Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Kate Spade. “Here is the translation to the above comment: Bill Price was known to play “pairing” (coupling) his trumpet Blues is putting together the “full supply” (full-tone).
    Posted on 02/08/2015 by HarmonicaFreshman

    So maybe this is a play called “global supply / supply recital legal principles”?”

    Thanks, Bill Price

  • Neil Ashby II Says:

    Hi Bill:

    I mentioned your site on Facebook in one of the harmonica groups whereat magnets were being suggested for coupling.

    Are you on Facebook yet? That seems to be the place for promoting your idea. Harp-L has really been surpassed by the various harmonica groups on Facebook.


  • Jay Says:

    Lord have mercy, where has this been all my life. I am your era, and just getting serious about returning to harmonica. Much thanks for what you have done!

    This would be great for me, except I would only use the bottom harmonic upon the occasions need it. Other times, would I still be able to lip purse and bend without obstruction on the top ? I hope you have Patented this idea because it could create an entirely new instrument. Good on you man, J

  • bill Says:

    Jay, Thanks for the comment. I’m so used to playing two at once it’s just one instrument to me. The more you do it the better you get. My advise, stop playing one at a time. At first it felt some what clumsy, but now having just one feels strange. Like the song “It’s just a Matter of Time”. Yes, you’ll be able do lip purse, I still do. Feel free to e-mail me with questions. Thanks again. Bill

  • Leslie (Les) Drake Says:

    Hi Bill! I enjoyed listening to your tracks and a very informative website. Look forward to future tunes!
    Leslie Drake

  • bill Says:

    Thanks Leslie!! By the way everyone Leslie Drake guitar and bass player is a fantastic musician. He worked with me on my last six songs, CRAZY, You’ve LOST THAT LOVIN FEELING, BABY IT’s YOU, STAND By ME, The WAY YOU DO The THINGS YOU DO, and WHEN the SAINTS GO MARCHING IN. He’s the best!! Richie Copeland the drummer on those tunes is also a gifted musician. Many thanks to those two for their super job



  • bill Says:

    Contact me at [Write harmonica help] in the subject line and I’ll advise you. I would like to know what your expectations are short term or long term. Your answer/s will will dictate the advise I can give you. Thanks for the comment.


  • Baby it's You Says:

    Whole step Coupling is the most advance advanced method in existence for playing the diatonic harmonica. You actually create a new member in the harmonica family by using this unique way to play. Be one of the world’s most versatile diatonic musicians. Learn to play the future way!

    Bill Price, the Harmonica doctor

  • Larry Says:

    I have my hands full and my brain as well trying to learn the 10 hole diatonic. With my little knowledge of music and scales I can see exactly what you are talking about in the limitations the diatonic has. Some day if and when I master what I want with the 10 hole I will have to investigate coupling. Thanks for the great music I heard and may you have great success on your website and thanks for openly sharing your video’s and music regarding coupling.

  • bill Says:

    Thanks Larry. Learning the simple 10 hole diatonic lays the foundation for the 20 hole that I play. But, you don’t have to become an expert with the 10 hole diatonic harmonica to begin. Think… with a ten hole diatonic you have one complete diatonic scale in the center octave. With the 20 hole diatonic you have four complete diatonic scales AND some chromatic notes. You don’t have to have musical knowledge to understand, just an ear. If you need more help, I can help you. Most are chomping at the bit to get in front of a microphone and show what little they have. I took a few years to bring the world’s most vocal sounding instrument into a world that has yet to appreciate the diatonic for its unique sound. Don’t be in a hurry, use my method. You’ll eventually surpass all those ten-holers. As I point out in my latest video, the ten hole diatonic has a LOW reputation within a context of versatility. People used to laugh at me when I told them my instrument was a diatonic harmonica. They’re not laughing anymore… E-mail me at harmonicdoctor @

  • Awesome Possum Says:

    I coupled a C and G diatonic together before I discovered you, and your coupled harmonicas, regapped the reeds, on holes 1-4 on both, embossed both, and I am stunned by how I put mine together, I used cork and bamboo strips carefully measured and cut to fit between the two without rattling the reeds. I removed a cover on both Harps, to apply the cork and bamboo. I got like a power chord sound like on my guitar. I am pleased with my work, and I now want to do another how you do yours. C harp I can bend notes but not as easily as the G – bottom Diatonic harmonica. I left a hand mute open gap in the left side. Later I got Bamboo Spun Vase and made a special insert for my Harp to fit in. It adds I guess you would say, clarity to the sound and bass for the low notes. That hand spun bamboo vase is still a project, I need to make a harmonica fastener and block off the gaps and etc.
    I eventually want to try to get a chromatic and another Diatonic and figure out the configuration for coupling them, that one may require using the same Keys to couple. Idk yet, I gotta toy with it and see what I get. I enjoy the sounds of mine, and it has help with my depression.

  • Ron Jones Says:

    Bill. I won’t sleep tonight thanks to you…
    Are the harps in production? Availabiliy? Cost in Canadian dollars? Definately interested.
    Thanks. R
    P S …magnets as couplings will probably distort the reeds.

  • bill Says:

    R, use the formula on my tech page and couple two single diatonic harmonicas together accordingly. Use harmonicas that you already own assuming you own a few tuned in different keys. Otherwise buy a G and an A OR a B flat and a C (preferably special 20’s) put them together. Use velcro or tape its the easiest to start with. Watch my video on “How to Couple” if you want a more permanent arrangement. Practice the diatonic scales (Do Ray Me etc.) in the low octave. Either of My CD’s can help if you want something to try and imitate after you spend a little time with playing two. Do Not Be Discouraged! I’ve been playing two or what I refer to as the 20 hole diatonic for six years now and the first six months were very, very clumsy, but my perseverance paid off BIG TIME. If you want to set up a call visit me at and state “Set up a call” in the subject line. Thanks for your interest in joining the “Versatile Diatonic Harmonica Players Club”, no dues of fees. Bill Price, aka the harmonica doctor

  • Ron Jones Says:

    What a great way to diversify a somewhat limited and sometimes frustrating musical Instrument. Thank you for sharing the way to enhance and expand the diatonic versatility.
    I hope you’ll grant me your approval to make such a modification. Congratulations !
    Ron Jones,
    Niagara Falls, Ontario

  • Ron Says:

    Not sure if I’m at legal liberty to ask a question about your reinvented harp. I’ll ask anyway.
    Do you suggest a “spacer” of sort to separate the units since stacking them leaves too little lip space. Perhaps a small wood block at each end With the new bolts passing through lower harp, through the spacer and through the upper unit.
    I hope your patent efforts pass in your favor. I’m not privy to your endeavours. Ron J

  • bill Says:

    Thanks Ron, I don’t use spacers, but honestly I never tried it. I’m so used to just simply fastened them without anything in between that I never investigated any other way. If you look at my how to couple video you’ll see that there is a slight angle tilt of the openings toward each other. It actually helps when going from the upper to the lower and vise/versa. I would give this method a try for a while before introducing spacers. I also place the lower tone harp on top (G on top, A bottom etc.), but it would also work in reverse. lower on top is arrangement I taught myself to play with.

  • Bill price Says:

    Sooner or later the diatonic crowd will come to terms with the inevitable limits built into this tiny instrument. I admire Buddy Green, but he couldn’t duplicate the expansion this method offers.