Overblow and OverBends pros/cons

Hi guys

I developed some technique to achieve and control bends much more sustainably. While I’m practicing my bends I’m wondering if it’s worthwhile to learn overblows and overdraws. So I have a couple of questions:

  1. Do overbends and overdraws offer unique sound quality that is not achieved on a chromatic harmonica?

  2. Do overbends and overdraws require tongue blocking? can it be achieved with puckering? Do their timbre and effects differ from tongue blocking and puckering.

I don’t have a specific genre of music I want to play, I’m just seeing if it’s worthwhile setting up my harmonica to enable me to perform that technique. I don’t plan to focus on overblows and overdraws right now.


Hello @HarpieLady,
I’m not tied to any particular genre either. Do you have to be able to play overblows etc.? No, you don’t have to! Especially since I also use chromatic harps and can or could adjust my diatonic harps.

But honestly, it’s just fun :smiley:!
It’s such an awesome feeling when you’ve got the hang of it in the truest sense of the word! :joy:


My bad. I should’ve said that I’m also doing this for fun and like some skill to achieve for the fun of it. I’m aware it’s not compulsory much like bending. I’m just doing a little soul searching here.

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Are overdraws and overblows nice sounding notes? I was never able to find a video which plays the same song but without the overblows and over draws and ones with? I read a couple of people saying on forums that they’re barely noticeable, sustainable, stuff like that.

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@HarpieLady, I didn’t take your question as a criticism or a mistake on your part. My answer should be read as :wink:.

Regarding your second question: I do think that these tones can also be heard if they are played cleanly!
When I have time I play them and to check I use a tuner device or app to check.

No, you don’t have to be able to! This has been discussed many times here in the forum. The result: There are many very good harp players who have never used it.

I see it as an extra like buying a car. You don’t need the whole palette.


No I didn’t take it as criticism. I was pointing out I should mention I’m having fun (albeit in the wrong way). The whole palette is there and I am torn, teasing me with “to be or not to be”. I might as well get into and hopefully not wreck the harmonica. I would like to send the harmonica away to be adjusted, but this part is also fun. It plays on my independence…also I’m cheap too.


Hi @HarpieLady - you can check out my original post that I made, but this is the most current one:

I use the EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE. My recommendation is don’t worry about them. They don’t sound as good as regular notes and bent notes. If you need to access notes that’s don’t exist on diatonic, I think better to use an alternate tuned harmonica if possible.

Chromatic’s don’t have the same expressive bluesy bending capabilities of diatonics.

Hope that helps!

Rock on! :sunglasses:

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Here’s a little sample of some overblows and overdraws in action. The guy in the video playing harmonica is somebody who I’ve known for almost 2 years and is my harmonica teacher. His name is Todd Parrott and he’s a very well-known overbending harmonica player out of Charlotte, North Carolina. In this clip, he’s using every achievable overbend on the diatonic harmonica.

Now to answer those questions: Overbends can use either of the two main embouchres, lip pursing and tongue blocking. I can’t say about overbending with U-blocking because I don’t play with it. Neither do I tongue block overblows. In terms of tone quality, it ultimately depends on the gapping on the harp. Often, an OOTB harp can barely overblow while a custom one can overblow immediately. That being said, you can get overblows easily with a little practice. It just ultimately depends on what you want to achieve on the harp. If you want to play more chromatically or have more expression in the upper register, then learn to overblow


@KeroroRinChou yeah Roger that. I picked up a Joe Spiers custom Marine Band at SPAH and Todd Parrott pointed me in the right direction and I just used overblows and overdraws on a gig for the first time las week. So the journey continues…thanks to Todd Parrott and Joe Spiers. Now I’m ordering 4 more harps from Joe Spiers. :flushed: (thanks Todd. :rofl:)

But I’d still say until you’ve mastered all your draw and blow bends, don’t worry about overblows, overdraws. For one thing, you’ve gotta spend some serious money in order to be able to play them and have them sound good.

And there’s SO MUCH you can do without them.