Full bend on Hehner Special 20 G harp

Hello fellow musicians! I became pretty fluent with bends so I triend to play A Dorian Minor scale starting at 1 hole on Hohner Special 20 G harp. After sitting 15-20 minutes with chromatic tuner I realized that I can not do a full bend on hole 2 (from D to C) no matter how hard I try. I encounter the same problem on hole 3: I can not bend 3 steps below F (to Eb; F and E bends are coming out fine).

Is it a problem with my technique or could it be because of my harp? Maybe I should try those bends on higher harmonica?

If you have only been playing a little while, I’d probably
chalk it up to technique. You can’t be certain though
until you have tried on other harmonicas. This one could
need some tweaking. Have you practiced with your bends
while watching a chromatic tuner? Bend and hold the note
as true as possible for several seconds. On the three hole
for instance, bend 1/2 step and hold. Do this several repetitions.
Now bend a whole step the same way. Do this with all
available bends on all holes. Don’t think that just because
the harp won’t bend, you have a mechanical problem (you
could need to tweak your reeds though). Can you do blow bends,
overblows, etc.? Bends come with practice. When you get
well able with bends, there will hardly be a harp that won’t bend
for you. Some may not bend well and will take some effort,
but then you will know for sure it is not you. Find the harp that’s
easiest for you to bend and stick with that one for a time.
You will be surprised how your embouchure will learn “automatic”
responses, and you will hit the correct bends without thinking
or working at it. It will be fluid.


One more note…if you work at it too hard and try to force the bend,
you will probably get negative results and discouragement.
Relax and have fun.

Thank you for the reply. Yes, as I wrote earlier, I am doing bends with a chromatic tuner. I have no problems with 3 half step and full step bends, 4, 6 and 2 half step bends. However, I can not do a full step bend on second hole.

What I was meaning is do you practice bending regularly
using a chromatic tuner? I was uncertain if you are using
the tuner for practice or just watching for that tone while
playing tunes.
It will come, but a word to the wise:
The more you worry over it and stress over it, the less likely
you will be to break through as quickly as you will if you can
relax your embouchure and breathing. The more relaxed your
neck and throat (and your entire oral cavity and nasal passages),
the more apt you are to find the best formation for your bending.
Remember, anything worth doing takes time. Considering what bends
you already have in your arsenal, you’re doing very well.
Your 2 draw reed may need some attention too, but try this advice first,
if you are not already doing it. Try another harp of the same key (a good
one, now). This MAY help pinpoint a troublesome harp reed.


Thanks to you all for the help. I have practiced bending with chromatic tuner for another couple of days and realised that jaw position has huge impact on double and triple bends. Now I am able to do them.

Yes, it is the shape of the oral cavity (and more)
that gives us many variations in pitch and timber.
I usually don’t drop my jaw much (unless I surprise myself LOL),
and you may find that, as you improve with your technique, you
will be making more subtle jaw movements, utilizing the tongue
formation more.