About bending!

Hey guys! After watching few videos about bending notes and reading some info on the net i didnt understand something. On a standard diatonic 10 hole harmonica (Hohner Blues Harp) is it possible to bend all notes ( blown and drawn) or just some of them? Is it possible to create both, flats and sharps? I tryied a little bending myself on the low C and watching the electronic tuner it goes up some 20-30 cents…For the life of me i cant figure out how could i flatten the note. For sharps is the jet stream right? The opposite for flat would be? The snail stream?:smiley:

I’ll not go into a lengthy explanation, it would only confuse you at this state. On a standard diatonic 10 hole harmonica the bendable DRAW notes are as follows: Hole 1 there is one half step bend available. Hole 2 there are two half step bends available. Hole 3 there are 3 half step bends available (this is the hole the blues live in). Hole 4 there is one half step bend available. In Hole 5 there is no discernable bend. Hole 6 there is one half step bend available. Hole 7 there is no discenable bend available. Holes 8-10 the bends are BLOW bends. In Hole 8 there is one half step bend available. Hole 9 one half step bend available. Hole 10 there two half step bends available. ALL bends go down (flatten) in pitch, and add disonance, to achieve sharpness (raising the pitch) one must OVERBLOW, An advanced technique entirely out of your realm of possibilities at this time. If this went over your head think what a lenghty explanation would have done. Not knowing what key harmonica you are playing I didn’t put the note signatures to the bends. But it is the same on all stock* diatonics
(*stock as opposed to a harmonica that has been “Hot Rodded” to facilitate overblows) In using this guide bear in mind that I gave you the bend possibilities of each hole *, there is always the unbent note which combined with bends available at the given hole adds another note. In other words in hole 3 where there are three bend possibilities, there are 4 tone possibilities, (actually a bit more but there lies the blue note). Practice your bending as you recognize the bends at each hole, good luck!
El Supero Presidente

Thank you for the quick reply. I found a chart on some site presenting al the possible bent notes. For me its sad the there are so little possibilities in the middle where there is the only whole scale. My harmonica is in C. I started to draw harder on C4 and something seems to bend in there:D

Ok…so i blown and drawn my heart out today and YEY! i managed to get bends. With the electronic tuner in front of me i got C# on 1 hole, on third hole i got A# and A, forth hole i got C#. And i also managed to get F# on 9’th hole. Something happened on 10 th but not very conclusive.
Blown bends are somewhat counterintuitive but it worked. But man this is some tiring stuff… Again i say YEY! And from a few days old harmonica player to everybody for the first time…
Happy Harpin’!

Yes it is tiring!(In the beginning) Just like with anything new, your using muscles in ways they have never been used before. They are going to get tired, sore, and some times fight back or refuse to do what you want them to do. Eventually they will come around and you won’t even notice.

You’re definetly right. Today i practiced again for quite sometime and found it easier to bend and for the throat also. I even started to get bends at lower volume while yesterday i drew as my life depended on it:) A little background… I played guitar for 2 years and for the past two years and still going i’m playing piano. I’ve never really given any thought on harmonica but when meeting recently a friend he showed me a youtube video with some classical piece on harmonica and i instantly knew i wanted one. Until that moment the only harmonica i knew was the tremolo 2 rows type which i had when i was a child. And man what a wonderfull little instrument it is. And part that i love the post is its ultraportability. I even take it to work…but hash!!!

I began yesterday practicing the C scale on my C harp from 1-4 holes using bends on 2 and 3 and with a bit more practice im getting there to have clean bended F’s and A’s. Im telling you this to know that i start to control bends. But for the life of me (gee i like this expression), i cant get that G on the third hole. A# and A…no problem…but the G# just doesnt pop out. Could it be the harmonica not being a very good OOTB? Hohner Blues Harp.

I am a novice and beginner so bending is certainly a challenge and concern. I recently found a neat little tool on the internet called "bendometer’. Is is a free download and I have found it very helpful to visualize my success as opposed to just reading a tuner. http://bendometer-playing-system.en.softonic.com/

I agree with you 100% I use it all the time to make sure my 3D" is in tune.

Love that tool.

I seen JP using a toner to check tone on bends. Will any toner work on a harmonica?

Bones, if by ‘toner’ you mean a ‘tuner’ which allows you to know what note is being played, then yes, any good tuner should work. I have a few on my iPhone that were either free or inexpensive to download. It is important to make sure you have a good tuner and that it is ‘hearing’ the right note. Best way to do this is by checking it with a keyboard (also many available on iPhone, iPad or computer). Once you know it is reading correctly, you can play away and check your tone.

However, you will need to know every note on every harmonica (or at least throne you are playing), or at least know the major note in the hole you are playing and then understand each bend is a half-step bend. Eventually all players should know where every note is, but most beginners do not.

For that reason I suggest using the Bendometer. It tells you how many bends are in each hole and if you are hitting the right note. It is also very helpful to make sure you are hitting the proper major note.

To truly get good at bending and knowing the notes, play it first on a keyboard and then your harp and see that they are the same note. This will better train you ear.

Harp on,

I think that you will get it right if you don’t tighten up much and feel the bends and how they should be played “from the inside”

It seems that the Bendometer is unfortunately only for Windows.

I use an App in my mobile phone called gString. It works great.

A friend of mine gave me a GoGO TIKI tuner. It says it tunes Ukulele and Chromatic tuner, will this work for a diatonic harp?