Hybrid lip-tongue blocking

I am just learning to tongue block, thanks to Luke’s awesome lesson on the topic.

I’ve pretty much got single note tongue blocking down, but it’s still going pretty slow.

Anyway, looking more into the topic, I think a hybrid method of continuing to lip block holes 1-3 to continue hitting more controlled bends, and tongue blocking holes 4+ to get a fatter sound with slaps and octaves is the technique I will work to develop.

But a question for any other hybrid players out there with a similar approach of tongue blocking holes 4+, if you’re playing a riff like mannish boy (-2 4 3 -3 -2), would you lip block holes 2 and 3 and use a tongue block for the 4 hole ?

I’m just asking bc doing so really forces me to play at a super slow tempo to transition from the lip to tongue block and back.

I know as I continue to practice I will surely pick up the speed making the transition as I play, but I’m asking where to draw the line since I am working on building the muscle memory now, and it will be easier to make adjustments sooner rather than later.


@naphelge welcome to the forum, my friend, and GOOD FOR YOU for delving into the wonderfully rich world of tongue-blocking!!! And thanks for the kind words.

I’m assuming you’re talking about this video?

If so, I would guesstimate it takes about 2 years to get that material together and have it feel relaxed, natural, and up to a nice tempo. I’ve been working at tongue blocking for 5 years now, and really starting to enjoy the fruits of my labor with it!

As Joe Filisko says, we use our lips for talking and whistling, but nothing really prepares us for the way that we need to move our tongue whilst tongue blocking on the harmonica. It’s awkward. Period. And it just takes time for it to not feel awkward.

I’m a hybrid player, so I’ll answer your question: I lip block -12, tongue slap to the 4, which I often play with as 14, using the split-4 technique blocking holes 23 with tongue, then tongue-block blow 3 then tongue block draw -3’ nice and dirty, before returning back to lipping -12.

Remember that dirty notes, splits, chords, and bends all INCREASE your BLUES HORSEPOWER.

@naphelge Don’t grow weary in your well-doing. Keep practicing SLOWLY! The faster you wanna grow, the more you have to go SLOW! :sunglasses: Keep up the good work. You’ll be glad you did.


@naphelge don’t stress too much about it I’d say. The only thing you have to do to master tongue blocking is to keep trying to integrate it and use it.

I went from only doing it on octaves (obviously) to doing it on octaves and some holes (4) to now where I can choose with intent. But I’d say I still use a hybrid as I prefer to do some bends lip pursed and sometimes want to really use the effects tongue slapping can add.

For mannish boy: lip purse -2 tongue, tongue slap 4 (maybe add in a bit of 1), stay tongue blocked but move to 3, lip purse -3, and at the end I like to tongue slap on 3 blow to add a bit more force to the riff.

The slow tempo is very normal at the beginning, just keep at it and realize you don’t have to make any fixed decision (always purse or block) and can discover what works for you, both in the process and in the sound you want as a result.

Keep at it and you’ll look back on this post soon not understanding what you found so difficult about it. :blush: