Minor third 3 hole bend

Hi everybody. Been playing 4 months and can get all the half step bends but cant easily get the 3 hole whole step bend and have never been able to get the third 3 hole half step bend. Please help


Hi Paul @Paulkane777

On hole 3 draw are perhaps the most notoriously difficult draw notes that exist – and no wonder: there are 4 different notes that can played there! I have found that the 3 hole reeds are also the most sensitive and only when they are really well adjusted do the notes respond well and can be controlled precisely. And even professionals will admit that the 3 draw bends are something that they practice regularly because they are so difficult.

See if this video by the harmonica professional Filip Jers helps you. You can also use this internet piano keyboard to help train your ear and muscle memory when working on the 3 draw bends (as well as all other bends and overblows that exist on the blues harp). And don’t forget to use cello drones (found in this list) to also assist your training.

Finally, make sure that you are not playing with too much force. When the harp is properly gapped you can play any and all bends using only moderate air pressure/flow and at low volume (loudness).

– Slim :sunglasses:


Try saying tee,teh. To get there first two bends on on hole three.

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For some reason i cant bend down to the third half step draw bend. Can someone please help

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On hole three

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Try doing tooo or kooo see if that helps. John Gindik has some good videos on YouTube on bending.

Hello @Paulkane777,
after the numerous good answers, you will get mine as well.
You write that you have been learning the harp for four months. That’s good! But as @Slim writes, the - 3’ and 3" (as well as later overblows) cannot be hit “just once”.

It takes patience, patience, patience and relaxation, relaxation, relaxation!

The day will come when you’ll rejoice because you’ve played one or both. The next day and maybe weeks it doesn’t work again. But at some point you play the notes in your sleep. I don’t want to take the fun out of you, but that’s the truth. With the always underestimated but wonderful harp.

Oh yes, I think it took me five months…today, stability still depends on how you are on the day. :wink:


Do i need to adjust the reeds on my harps? If so, how do i do that?


@Paulkane777, actually you don’t need to adjust anything on the reeds!
It is rather rare that a reed points too much up or down!

If it does, unscrew the harp CAREFULLY and gently bend the reed into the correct position with a toothpick. As a rule, it is in a line with the preceding and following reed.

Take your time and watch the videos on Youtube! I had already recommended that in advance! Above all, you should know how a harp is built inside!

That’s it from me on this topic.


Here’s the link to my post about this subject. Near the end of the video, my teacher talks about getting that minor/blue third.


@Paulkane777 - How’s it coming along. any progress?

I don’t think you need a reed adjustment. It’s just more mouth movement to get the -3’‘’. It sounds like you’re getting the -3" now correct. So if you pay attention to the direction your tongue and back of throat move to go from released to -3" KEEP GOING THAT DIRECTION to get to the -3’‘’.

Back of the throat as big and as opened as possible, back of the tongue pulled back like you’re swallowing it.


Thanks luke! It is great to hear from you because you taught me how to bend from watching your videos!

Luke i got in front of the mirror with a flashlight so i could see inside my mouth and i wanted to ask you. My tongue is rolled up at the back of my mouth and im trying to have as open a cavity as possible but the space between my rolled up tongue and my soft palate is narrow. Should it be that way or am i doing something wrong? Thanks again for all your help. You are definitely the man when it comes to harmonica!


Hey Paul - thanks for your kind words man. Hmmmm…

Bending is such a trip and I know can be so frustrating some times!

Before going further I just wanna take a movement to acknowledge that the -3’‘’ bend is probably the LEAST IMPORTANT of all the draw bends in terms of how often it comes into use. It’s really not necessary in 2nd position or 1st position playing. It is the “tritone” (#4/b5) interval in 3rd position, but the -1’, -2’ and -2", -3’ -3", -4’ and -6’ are all WAAAAY MORE USEFUL COMMONLY PLAYED than the -3’‘’.

Still it’s a worth pursuit to get it, I just want to put it in proper perspective. Kinda like some beginner and intermediate players get so obsessed with overblows when 99% of the harmonica songs and solos most of us love don’t have an overflow in them.

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now and back to the matter at hand. :rofl:

I just happen to have an a harmonica sitting here next to me and experimented with the -3’ -3’’ and -3’‘’ and tried to pay attention to what’s going on in my mouth…

It sounds like you have the right idea -making the back of your throat as big as possible. The one thing I noticed when I was just trying this was paying attention to the tip of my tongue:

-3 tip of tongue near top of bottom teeth

-3’ tip of tongue near bottom of bottom teeth

-3’’ tip of tongue at gum BELOW bottom of bottom teeth

-3’‘’ tip of tongue pointed DOWN into soft tissue at bottom of mouth

Another tip of I heard that could be useful: try whistling the the 4 tones (B Bb A Ab) and notice what’s going on inside your mouth. That could potentially give you a clue…

Above all BE PATIENT.


(It’s so tempting to start believing we’ll NEVER get it!!!)

You WILL GET IT. Just PLAY with it like it’s a game. And keep coming back to it and giving it a whirl.

That’s my advice. Hope it helps! :sunglasses: