I just started trying to bend and I have a very hard time at it ??? any pointers would be very welcomed

Start by drawing like normal, and then dropping your jaw and imagining the incoming air entering your mouth and shooting downward. This will help you find it. Also, say the word “you;” that will help with getting the jaw-drop, downward air thing going. It can take a while to find it, but when you do, you’re on your way – you’ll be able to hit the bends right away soon after you get the feel for it. But do start by drawing normally and then going after the bend. Note: This is from a beginner; but I can bend straight on – if I can do it …!

Wow! Cool Beans!

Howdy Coololdrocker! Howdy Hatter! And welcome to the forum!

You know, I was actually working on my dissertation (post) – “Now It Can Be Told: World’s Greatest Harp Bending Secret(s) Revealed!”

But since you now have started this topic, I’ll give you the floor.

Okay – so my title there might be a tad misleading; but in actuality, it’s not. Because the only big secret you have to know about bending is:

It’s technique! Or rather, it’s a series of techniques that come only in little increments, little stages, and little to big Aha-Eureka moments!!

So along with Hatter’s fine right-on suggestion, this is what I’ve discovered during my own Aha-Eureka moments!And I’m putting them altogether here and hope it really makes a big difference for you! Therefore:

From David Harp {Two CD Set on Bending!}

[i]1) Do not start bending with a brand new harmonica!

The reeds need to be able to respond to your playing, so begin by using one that you’ve already broken in. This is accomplished by chugging or playing tunes with. (Yes, even a Special 20, out of the box until you know what you’re doing, still needs time to warm up, as it were. And you and the reeds’ll be glad you did!)

[i]2) You don’t have to begin bending on a C harmonica!

That’s right! My biggest Aha-Eureka moment was hearing Dave say it! Dave readily admits that everyone’s harmonica courses start out with a C-harmonica; that’s just the way it is.

However, when he said try practicing your bending on an A or F harmonica - Why? Because they’re easier to learn on! Wow! What a real eye-and-ear-opener this was!

Well I have As and Fs, and yes, it’s true! Bend on them first, and then go back to the C, then D, E, G, and Bb. What a difference it makes!

And from there, I went back to my other Aha-Eureka moments.

From JP Allen {Home DVD Course}

[i]1) Use a tuner!

JP’s lessons in bending was the first place I heard about using a tuner for other than tuning!

Meaning, use it to hit the bending notes!

True story:

I bought a tuner because I want to learn maintenance and obviously tuning.

However, when I watched JP’s dvd on bending, know what I did? Well, I’ll tell you!

I took the tuner and placed it next to the speaker. I keyed up his Bending Hole 2 lesson and watched for the note. Sure enough, 99.9% of the time, he hit those bent notes! Same with bending Hole 3 as well. He was right on target throughout.

Here’s the thing, when I did it, I could only do half bends and such.

Oh man, it drove me just about other half crazy! Did I finally get it? Well hold on…we’re getting there!

[i]2) Don’t just use one tuner, use two tuners!

Yes, at or near the end of the bending lessons, JP suggests and shows you how to use two tuners. One to play the note and the other to hear yourself reach the note properly.


{However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t done that just yet. I’m going to get the second tuner for tuning…just haven’t decided on what kind yet. But if you don’t have one tuner, then by all means, do try to get yourself two to do the work on this because you’ll hopefully get there soon enough! Anyways!}

From the late, great Norton Buffalo {Harmonica Power: Volumes 1 &2}

I had purchased his dvds on Amazon. And his was the first place I ever heard this, and that is:

[i]“Once you can bend a note, hold it!”

Yes, the longer you can hold it and know you’re holding it, your muscle memory will kick in and start to work for you.

Another Aha-Eureka moment!

Yes, it’s true! And it works! It’ll blow your mind when you do it too!

Because here now are my own Aha-Eureka moments:

[i]You know you’re bending the 2 and 3 Holes properly when you hear ‘the frog!’

The what?

I call it ‘The Frog!’

The harmonica will actually vibrate in your hands and the sound you get out of it will be froggy! And where’s the easiest of all frogs to get to: Holes 1 & 4!

Try it now, you’ll see, feel, and hear it! I’m sure of it!

And so then, my final Aha-Eureka moment:

I’ve been playing harmonica since I was young. Only thing is, I never knew that those funky little sounds I was making on the lower register side of the harp was actually called ‘bending.’

I played for my own fun and enjoyment. Now come years later, I find that I was bending all along. However, when it came time to do it consciously and with effort, I couldn’t bend a note right to save my butt! But today, now:

[i]Yes, I knew I could do it! Even just a little! And I really believe you can and are doing it too!

Have faith, my friend! It really does and will come to you in little bits and pieces, and your own Aha-Eureka moments.

Hope all this helps. And by all means let us know how you’re making out with it.

Keep smiling!

Keep on harpin’!

Thanks for reading!

Use “AP tuner 3” Download it and Practise. The result will come quickly.

Here is another option to help you hit those bent notes, after you know the technique in how to place your tongue while bending use this software to see your results, also has alot of harptabs for playing tunes.

What key harmonica do you have?

Each key bends differently.

On a C harp I bend the 2 draw mostly with making a ‘koo’ sound in the back of my throat to get the note G down to F. Whereas on my G harp I have to use more force to bend the 2 draw note down.

The higher notes like 4 draw I bring my tongue forward more.

Keep practicing, for other people bending works differently for them, since harmonica is such a personal instrument and everyone plays differently.

Once you get a note to bend, try holding it, then you’ll be able to move the note up in down in one breath.

Sorry if it’s confusing I fail at explaining things in writing :stuck_out_tongue:

Hey Fire!

I’m a strong proponent for getting different ‘bending’ information from a variety of sources…

From David Harp to JP Allen and beyond…You just never know what you’re going to come across that’s going to create your own “Aha-Eureka” moments on any and all techniques in harping!

Inre: to the site

Joe - I’ve seen this link on several forums…I’m going to try downloading it again, and will get back to you!

Thanks so much, fellow harpsters!

Hope this helps everybody!!


I remember when I finally got the 2 draw bend down, I was extremely happy for the rest of the day that even a crappy day at work couldn’t phase me =] I love those EUREKA! moments.

Can’t say it enough, Joe!

Everything comes to you in little bits and pieces - And when you experience your own Aha-Eureka Moments, you’re on top of the world then!

Thanks! :wink:

Try whistling. When you draw in to whistle and want to make it lower, take note of how you do your mouth and tongue when you lower the whistle. Try that same feel on the harp.

[font=Verdana][/font]Hey coolodroker and everyone!!!

What a great post!

Wanna check out a nice little free video blog I did about bending?

Go To:

I’ve got a lot to say about learning to bend but I think this video I posted on my forum for newsletter members will get you off to a great start.

Let me know how it goes and please be patient.

Bending is not easy but you will get it in time!

jp allen

After much practice I can now bend, My difficulty now is and You said

Bending is not easy but you will get it in time!

I understood what you meant it takes a while to learn,

a little play on your words. I can bend but now the challenge is to bend in time or tempo with the tune…

practice practice practice…

Harp on!!

To that I can add what Tom Ball says in his Little Walter/Big Walter licks book:

Pratice bending until your lips bleed!

{Incidentally, he says it in his Sonny Terry licks book too; but I haven’t found that anywhere in my house yet, dammit! I’m still looking! Anywhat…}

Eww! Ouch! :stuck_out_tongue:

Don’t know if I can take it to that extreme or not! But I do know that once I get to some level of doing it better and easier - I’ll wonder why I ever found it so friggin hard to do in the first place! But that’s just me! Mwuahahahaha!

now the challenge is to bend in time or tempo with the tune...

I’m glad I’m in the company of Howard Levy, Jason Ricci, Charlie Musselwhite, and hosts of others then!

No, not that I’m at their levels now by any stretch of the imagination. But I am at their levels now where they were when they more than likely said to themselves: “Everybody has to start somewhere, I’m glad I’m starting here today!”

Keep on harpin’ bro! Keep on harpin’!

I absolutely love “Brother” Night Train James & “Papa” Bajan Piedpiper!! :slight_smile: