Hello everyone, today I have a question about bending. I’m currently practicing bending on various harps such as Hohner Blues Harp C and G and Bb from Fender Blues Deluxe. Here I notice with G and Bb bending at Kanzelle 8 that I only get an unpleasant whistle. The C Harp only comes out air. I assume the fault is mine. In general, is bending to -8 particularly difficult compared to the other tones? Thank you for any tips! Greetings from Astrid
Hi Astrid @AstridHandbikebee63
I assume you are asking about blow bending in hole 8 (on your C harp +8 is an E and the blow bend +8’ is an Eb, on the other harps I will let that be an exercise for you to figure out ). Draw bending on that hole is not done. To blow bend on hole 8 all the way down to -8 is not advised (on the C harp that would be a blow hole-step bend from E (+8) to D (+8"). Although it might be possible to do that, it sounds much better to simply play -8 to get the D.
As far as blow bending on the upper holes (7, 8, 9 and 10) only hole 10 is regularly bent down two half-steps (on the C harp, +10 is a C and +10’ is a B while +10" is a Bb). The difficulty doing blow bends is just like with draw bends: each person seems to have certain holes that they can easily bend and other holes that are their nightmare! For me hole 8 is usually the easiest to blow bend.
If you really cannot ever get a blow bend to sound then you might need to open up the harp and check the reed gap of the blow reed in question. If you can get a normal blow note but no blow bend, then you should try decreasing the gap very slightly and test it. If the gap is too small then the normal blow either does not produce any sound or it responds, but the start of the tone is not crisp, if you can understand what I mean. When the gap is too large, the reed may respond crisply to a normal blow but be very difficult or impossible to blow bend.
What you write @Slim, I recently discovered by accident. Overblows works but not stable yet. I also read what you write about -8’ at the beginning of my harp journey. Your lines bring it back to me. I was tricked by my tuner app because it shows the field as playable. Typical beginner, good thing it’s not deep water I gullibly jumped in… As always, you helped me a lot, thank you!
Hey Astrid - I’m not following you 100% here. Slim covered everything very well but I’ll just re-iterate.
7 only bends down a 1/4 step
8 and 9 both bend down a half-step
10 bends down a half-step and a whole-step
Draw bends are not possible on holes 7-10.
You mentioned “Overblows”. I think you are clear already that overblows is a different technique from blow bends.
I’ve never had a harmonica set up to do overblows, but I’m able to get 4,5, and 6 overblows on some harps. I cannot get -1 or -7 or -9 overdraws. I’m pretty sure those require custom harp setup.