Advice on blow bending 10

Hi-

I am working on Whammer Jammer, and I am struggling with getting and keeping a stable 10 blow bend. I can hit the note, but it gets knocked out almost as soon as I play it. I do not have this issue with the 9 blow bend, and I can get stable 9 blow bends without issue.

Is this a common issue, and is there any way to correct this?

I am playing a Lee Oscar in key of A if it matters.

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Hey @Dk360 big congrats on working on this! :sunglasses:

The 10" is a real crowd-pleaser, and getting this under your belt is a VERY WISE use of time and energy.

Your experience is normal, and the answer is just practice. It takes more muscles to hold the 10" than the 9’ just like it takes more muscles to hold the -2" than the -4’.

BUT: The fact that you’re getting it is a huge win! If you can get it for a second, then by playing it over and over and over and over, trying every time to hold it as long as possible, you will overtime gain the muscles to be able to hold it as long as Magic Dick does at the beginning of Whammer Jammer.

A couple tips on the subject:

1.) Experiment with using less air pressure. See how quietly you’re able to play while bending it down.

2.) Start with 10, and see how GRADUALLY you can bend it down to 10’ and to 10" and in fact you’ll find, if you use a tool like bend it better, that you can bend it flat of 10", which Magic Dick probably does, as he’s adding vibrato to it as well - that all will come with the time.

Practicing all bends as slowly as possible from released to bent position is GREAT EXCERCISE and will improve your control and expressiveness with bending.

KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!

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@Luke

I feel like Whammer Jammer needs a warning label not to practice the 10 hole bend around others! Ha!

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Hi @Dk360, sorry I can’t help. I’ve only very recently tried the ‘bend it better’ tool, I’ve been trying to bend for a while but had no idea if I was or not. Turns out I can briefly hold a bend on draw 1. Can get a ‘knocked out’ bend as you describe on everything else except draw 5 and blow 10. Can’t bend those two at all yet, but @Luke Luke’s advice might help me.
I don’t know what age you are and if you’re old enough to remember the bugs bunny cartoons. It’s a coincidence for me that you created this post; while I was practicing yesterday, my attempts at blow 10 bends reminded me of bugs impersonating the conductor Leopold Stokowski and that poor opera singer trying to hold a note until his buttons popped off and the ceiling collapsed.

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Hi @PapaCurly

It’s no wonder you cannot get a bend on draw 5 (-5): there is no “official” bent note at that draw hole. The best you can do is a “microtonal bend” that produces a tone that is not in any scale in our traditional western twelve tone music. In other cultures (e.g. in India) there are in fact “official” notes between some of the notes of our western 12 tone system.

The reason for it being impossible to get a bent note on your harp at -5 is easily explained using a C blues harp as our example. On this harp -5 is the note F. The note you get with +5 (five blow) is the note E. Between these two notes there is no note in our western 12 tone music scales. Draw bends on holes from -6 down to -1 are always lower than the unbent note on that draw hole. So a -5’ (5 draw bend ) would only produce the note E, the same note that +5 gives you – only +5 sounds much better no matter how well you manage to perfect -5’.

The “microtonal” note you usually can achieve (with practice) on -5 can sometimes be used for some interesting effects. The best examples can be found in some of the YouTube videos by the blues harpist Ronnie Shellist.

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Thank You @Slim, for the explanation and for taking the time to provide it.
There’s a lot of information for me (and probably others) to chew on.
I’ll give up on draw 5 and see if I can get that darn blow 10 to bend without passing out.
I’ve been mostly using a C harmonica with bend it better, but my hope is to get a consistent draw 4 bend on my F harmonica as I am keen to play the ‘take the long way home’ intro.

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@PapaCurly

Bending, once you get the hang of it is really easy. Blow bends are different than the draw bends, and require a different embrochue, and I think the slight differences between draw/blow bends is what is getting me.

I can help with draw bends though - make sure if lip pursing that the harp is tilted with the back slightly up, and then place your tongue so it lays almost flat against the front of your lips. Slowly… Slowly pull back your tongue while drawing air, and you will pass through a bend note.

It is hard to describe, but on my harps (Lee Oscar, Special 20, Manji, Session Steel) the reeds make almost a click or strong vibration when bending.

Hope this helps!

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Thanks @Dk360, you ask for help and end up helping me instead.
Yes, once I was able to confirm that I’m consistently bending and holding -1 it was relatively easy to get at least something happening with most of the other notes. I’m obviously a long way behind you but I feel that I will be able to keep improving with practice.
I would not have been able to describe how I do it but now that you have given your description, I think that’s very similar to what I’m doing. My larynx, ‘Adam’s apple’ is making some crazy moves too as I bend.

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@PapaCurly

Glad to hear it!

It took me months to learn how to bend, and I kind of just ‘accidently’ figured it out with the bend it better tool. I really think we harmonica players need a really solid way of describing the mouthwork needed to pull off a bend…Unless its just newbie hazing😁!

Keep practicing - The first bend is the hardest, and the more you play bends, the faster you will be able to hit them.

BTW: You can only draw bend holes 1-4 and 6. Check the bend it better chart, some hole have multiple notes that can be played bent (ahem…hole 3).

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Hi @PapaCurly and @Dk360

In case you have not used the Search feature that the forum provides, and have not discovered this little discussion for how to bend, then read it carefully. In particulr, the tip near the end that was posted by @HarpinBobbyMcB is, IMHO an excellent description of what to do when bending a draw hole note!

This forum is a true treasure chest of tips & tricks just waiting to be discovered!

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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Thanks again @Slim and @Dk360. Yes, the site is indeed a treasure chest. I’m astounded by the amount of help and by the grace with which it’s offered.
I had a look at the thread you led us to. @HarpinBobbyMcB analogy sounds about right. My throat is too sore now to continue practicing but I’m heading out for a lime thick shake.

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@Slim
Thanks!

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@PapaCurly congrats on getting the -1’. THAT’S AWESOME.

So now, using the bend it better tool, work on seeing how long you can hold it for. Spend 5 minutes a day, just trying to hold it for longer and longer. That will develop the muscles you need that will help you improve all your bending.

Rock on! :sunglasses:

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