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Talkin' Blues: A Fresh Approach to Blues Soloing, Courtesy of Harmonica Player Little Walter

The following content is related to the July 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Guitar players seeking inspiration tend to look exclusively to fellow guitar players, but there’s a lot more to be found beyond the six-string comfort zone. For example, one of the most innovative and influential soloists in blues history made his mark not with the guitar but with the humble blues harp harmonica. His name was Walter Jacobs, also known as Little Walter.

Walter made his first recordings with Muddy Waters in Chicago in 1948 at just 18 years of age, having already perfected a technique for creating massive tone by cupping the harp and microphone between his hands and blowing through a cranked-up tube amplifier. Walter’s 1952 instrumental single “Juke” launched his career as one of the most exciting and original performers in blues and at the same time established the amplified harmonica as a solo voice to rival saxophone and guitar.