Advice Gassing (In-Gassing and Out-Gassing Through Nose to Equalize Lungs)

Hi guys. I’m terrible with IT and site navigation so I hope I’m not asking in the wrong place and annoying anybody.
I’ve been playing for a long time, and unless I’m playing something that’ requires me to plan for gassing I’m not aware I’m doing it. I inherited this weird genetic thing where my lungs are 50% than most people, that might come into it.
While reading comments, Luke said to someone that it’s important to be aware of gassing. Question is, can somebody tell me a technique or something that can help me be aware. I know it sounds silly ,but perhaps it’s not. Cheers

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Do you mean gapping? If so, here’s a Brendan Power video all about gapping. If not, then sorry I don’t know what gassing is.


Thanks for your response. I mustn’t been clear enough, sorry. I meant getting extra air in or out of your lungs to equalise the pressure. Clad to hear from a human. I really appreciate it. Thanks again. Cheers,Stone


@stonestone63 Try the occasional substitution of a +3 for a -2. Same note, but it gives the opportunity to get some air out. Blues is typically around 90% draw notes, so grab any opportunity to slip some air out. Best done mid phrase rather than at the end, where the draw note usually sounds better


Thanks Maka. I have Hugh lungs and have no problem gassing. Luke replied to a post were the person had asked if it’s possible to gas without realising as he believes it’s the case with him, and in Luke’s reply of yes, said it was important to be aware of it. So I assume it will be of importance down the track. I imagine that I have many bad habits that I will have to sort out. Until arriving at this great forum, I’d never even read an article about harp. When I was a tiny lil thing I apparently just picked one up and hit the ground running. That’s what I mean by it’s a silly question I just can’t notice when I’m doing it. I need advice on becoming aware of it, if it is important. Maybe I’m just over thinking but Im here because I want to learn the instrument correctly. Thanks heaps for you response dude. All you guys here are great. Cheers


Hi @stonestone63

Following up on the reply/suggestion from @Maka, I would also suggest throwing in blow chords where appropriate in your playing (if you are not already doing that) because they permit even more air release.

– Slim :sunglasses:


Hey Slim. Thanks for the advice. I want as solid foundation as I can get. Like I say, I’m probably over thinking things. I want to be aware of when I do it automatically. Luke said it was important. Cheers


No you’re not overthinking things - this is a critical issue and I happen to have been paying extra attention to it of late because I’m working on some pretty challenging old Fox Chase (pre-war rural blues) stuff from one of Joe Filisko’s study songs called “Deford’s Dream” based on the playing style of Deford Bailey, and I really have to pay attention to equalizing the lungs or IT KILLS ME!!!

First couple decades I played harmonica I was totally unaware of this subject. Some people just figure how to play without being conscious of it, others have to be conscious of it. As I mentioned, I’m in a season right now where the repertoire I’m learning REQUIRES me to be conscious of it or else suffer asphyxiation!

As @Maka mentioned, the number one issue you’re gonna have in cross-harp is taking in too much air and feeling like your lungs are gonna pop. I’ll actually get pain in my back and shoulders from taking in too much air.

So the OUT-GASSING is probably the most important technique to focus on developing.

Of course that goes hand in hand with: NOT accidentally IN-GASSING (allowing air to enter nose while drawing a note) without being aware of it. (And I catch myself doing this all the time!) The way to become aware of the in-gassing is to pinch your nose while you play.

There are 2 ways to out-gas while you’re playing a blow note:

1.) Push air out your nose, which Joe Filisko calls a “Nose Push” abbreviated NP

2.) Loosen the lip seal on the harmonica so that air can escape around it.

The Nose Push is the method I focus on in Beginner to Boss and it’s the most common way to equalize lung pressure.

One more important note on this subject: THE BEST TONE COMES WHEN ALL OF OUR AIR IS DIRECTED THROUGH THE HARMONICA. So it’s a vital skill to learn how NOT to allow air to escape or come in through the nose EXCEPT when needed to equalize lung pressure.

Hopefully this helps get the dialogue going in the right direction. Who’s got thoughts on this subject?


Excellent. If you are paying extra attention to it at the moment with what you’re working on, then that tells me being aware of it is huge. It doesn’t effect my tone. It happens naturally, not accidentally. I’ll just have to work out how to pay attention to it, boogers. So nice just playing, yes? Ps. Will go back to lesson comments and try to delete my response to you’re reply. Don’t beat me up if I can’t figure out though. Just accept my apology. Thanks truck loads bro.


NAH @stonestone63 don’t sweat it bro… JUST PLAY!!! :sunglasses: Like I said, I was unaware of it for a couple decades. Don’t let it kill your harp buzz. :wink::notes:


If you are serious about learning “everything” you should listen to Luke and either he will explain what to do or send you to another source. For me, there is so much to focus on in music with the notes rushing here and there, I myself never worried about “anything” unless it was “really” getting in the way. All my bad habits (and I have many) have just become my style. If you were me (tee hee) you would be focusing on the beauty of the sound while you are playing and let that take you away or on the way it feels physically and understand the “dance.” But that’s if you were me. LOL! I say let’s go with Luke on this. Corky


Thanks man. And yes. I will always go with Luke. I know you get it. :rofl:


Always humbled that you’re blessing us with your wisdom here @Corky_Music. I agree with you every time :100:!

By the way, I haven’t checked out your new Chamber Music album yet, but I’m LOVING the new solo record!! MIND-BLOWING! I encourage everyone to check it out.


Very good @Luke! It sounds like a low harp?

Good Time!


Thank you Luke. You are one humble fellow bringing music to our world in a most beautiful way. What more is there for anyone to know. LOL! The new Chamber Blues album is wild. “Songs for Truth and Harmony” was a deep study of social psychology and best ways to respond within a world that cries for kindness. I think you "might’ dig some of the sentiments. Probably my best songwriting. But it has some crazy blues harmonica and piano too. LOL! Thanks for listening to the music. That is a great honor for me. Corky


Tis a low harp. G/D. i.e. G harmonica in the key of D.