What's Your Experience Learning Draw Bends?

Hey Bryan - yeah that’s ok. It’s probably similar to the what the tilt technique does to help bend a note. It’s a way to get the air stream to change directions, which is what actually needs to happen to get a bend.

Eventually, you will figure out what you need to do with your mouth without one of these “cheats.”

Hope that helps!

Aloha,
Luke

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@AstridHandbikebee63, @Slim, @Walter, @Luke @Butch, @PineComb Well I had a pleasant surprise yesterday. I dug out my Bushman Delta Frost (Key of G). Hadn’t played it for quite a while. After playing for a while, I decided to try my bends (which I had kind of been ignoring because of tender lips and frustration). Imagine my surprise when I was able to hit ALL 8 bends!.. I had NEVER hit the 3’’ in all my trying, and had hardly ever both 2 draws, let alone hold them on the “blue line” with the Bend-it tool. I actually hit the blue line on all 8 with a little work. Today, I decided to press my luck and try it again on the Delta Frost. I was able to hit all 8 again. Now, I haven’t come anywhere near being able to just play them, but I had come to believe that I might never get them “playable”, and I was able to pause on 6 draw, (which I had only ever been able to sideswipe as I drove by) and resume drawing with the bend held. I was also successful pausing and resuming on the 4 draw, and could pause and hit the 2 draw right on the line between C# and C (better than losing entirely). I guess there is still hope for me!!! Thanks all of you for the encouragement.

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Hello @Poppo , Congratulation, very good.:slightly_smiling_face:

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WOW . . . Congrats @Poppo , well done! I noticed sometimes I would try to hard and get frustrated so after getting discouraged, would give up and in a day or so, come back and, “WALLA” everything would just click. Not every time but more often than not. Even mentioned it to @Luke a time or two and he recommended to just walk away for abit. After awhile, I went from going from bad days to worse days to better days. Of course, some days just aren’t made to play but overall, pretty proud of the progress with the course. Thanks for the update @Poppo, it gives me encouragement.

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Great news, @Poppo !! :partying_face: :musical_note:

– Slim :sunglasses:

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WOO HOO! Congrats!! That’s how it goes:
Aww this is hard
Aww it seems like I’m getting worse.
Aww it’s still terrible. Should I give up?
Aww it’s STILL terrible. I think I should give up.
Aww this is hard.
And then, all of a sudden, as if by magic…
Wait a sec., I think I’m actually DOING it!!!
This kind of process still happens to me all the time when I’m learning new things.

Thanks for sharing your encouraging news, Poppo. Keep on rocking my friend!

Aloha,
Luke

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I’ve been having issues with my 2 draw not sounding like a bend when I isolate -2. Keep trying to keep my throat relaxed and tongue in the “ah” position but it still sounds a little flat. After a few tries I’m closer to the right pitch but -2 is giving me fits! -1, -3, -4 are all gravy either played straight or bent thankfully.

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I probably not the one to answer this question, but I was having the same problem and had to make sure my throat was fully open (I practiced yawning). The throat restriction seemed to partially bend several draw notes on the harp.

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Hey Christopher - it’s not unusual to have problems playing -2 in tune. Keeping your jaw relaxed like you’re trying to do is the right way to go.

You can bend -1 -3 and 04? Are you able to bend -2 all the way down?

Have you tried working with the Bend it Better tool? That could be helpful. You could work on bending it down, pay attention to how it feels, then release it, and as you see the pitch going higher, just keep doing what’s making it go higher…

Keep us posted.

Aloha,
Luke

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Hi Luke,

While following your lessons on bends, I could get -1’, but I was just dropping my jaw. Therefore, when I tried to bend -4, well nothing came.

I have needed one month and a half to get the first bend, and also dropped the harp for a while.

The best explanation which brought me to bending is from the online resources of “Harmonica for Dummies” by W. Yerxa. It’s similar to your airplane pilot tip.

My trouble is: when I bend too much, a metallic sound comes from the harp. Am I asking the reeds too much and it’s their way of telling me “leave us alone”?

Ciao!
Pietro

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Hi Pietro @p.alfarano

That metallic sound can come from several sources. Most frequently these are: 1) the reed is not parallel to its slot; 2) the reed is twisting during the bend.

To see if the first problem applies, you must take the harp apart and remove the reedplates from the comb. Hold the reedplate up towards the sky or a brightly lit wall and look at the offending reed. There should be an even space along each long side of the reed for the light to pass between the reed slot and the long sides of the reed. If that is not what you see then you need to attempt to slightly and very carefully pivot the reed at its rivet so that this space becomes correct (= even along each long side of the reed).

The solution just described (to pivot the reed at its rivet) is most easily and safely done using a harmonica repair kit reed wrench that can be purchased online from Hohner or Seydel or some individual sellers.

If the first problem is not what you find, then the it is most likely the second: the reed is twisting along its long axis when you are attempting a bend. This problem has occurred frequently (actually on all) of the Suzuki Pro master harps I own and on one Suzuki Blues Master. It is not easy to repair but if that is your problem, let me know and I will attempt to explain how it can be approached.

Regards,
– Slim :sunglasses:

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@Luke and @Poppo thank you both for your help. I sat with the Bend it Better tool and worked through getting my tongue relaxed enough to get the right pitch.

Funny enough…part of my problem was that I got too much spit in the reeds :sweat_smile:

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Hi Slim,

thank you for the excellent explanation. My harp is a Lee Oskar in C (just wanted to be as cool as @Luke on beginner to boss). Since there are more than one draw bends which give a metallic sound, I think it’s more something in my technique or lack thereof. I think I suck too much. Well, you need to suck to do draw bends…

Does in your opinion (as expert) a Lee Oskar bend with less force than other harps? (In case you ever tried one).

Thank you again!
Pietro

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Hi Pietro @p.alfarano

I have owned and played (and still own and play) various Lee Oskar blues harps ranging from Low F to Eb and all of them have been very easy to bend. :point_left:

I have noticed that they seem to not be very “air tight” and so I have done a number of mods to improve that. If you use proper technique, however, even an “out of the box” Lee Oskar harp should permit draw bends with no additional force than when playing a straight draw that is not bent. So, since numerous draw bends are producing that noise, I suspect that your technique is not correct and you are trying to force the draw bends by using too much force.

Another cause of multiple reeds being out of alignment in their slot is if the harp has been dropped onto a hard floor, landing on one of the ends or corners of the comb. Harmonicas are sturdy little instruments, but they still can suffer from hard shocks.

Regards,
– Slim

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Well I am discouraged with draws. A little over a week ago I (thought) I reached a breakthrough. I was able to NAIL all 8 draws on both of my G harps. I was able to do that multiple times on each with surprising ease. Over the next few days my 4 and 6 draws became easier, but all other holes became harder. I find that doing my draws with a ‘deep mouth’ are harder than moving the harp further out on my lips, and I have almost entirely lost my abilities on the 3 hole. Is this just a part of the “normal” learning process or am I missing something. I know is probably a dumb post, but I am desperate for help or even encouragement. Any suggestions would be wonderful…Thanks guys for putting up with this old guy.

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I’m wondering if your “Deep Relaxed Mouth Position” is actually a bit too deep? Another helpful word for the technique is the “Semi-Pucker” technique, because it’s mostly the top lip that should be deep on the harmonica, the bottom lip puckers so that the sides of it are blocking either hole adjacent to the one you are playing, if that makes sense?

As long as the harp is touching the moist inner-part of the lip, you’re good. No need push it further than that.

Don’t be discouraged. This is perfectly normal part of the learning process. Every new technique I’ve learned on the harmonica from isolating notes, to bending notes, they all went through periods of “Oh I got it!” followed by “Wait, why the heck can’t I do it now? I thought I had it?”

Totally normal part of the process. Keep the faith. You’re gonna be rocking and rolling before you know it!

Aloha,
Luke

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Does a “Bent-onica” Harp exist, where all the notes on the same holes have a distance of a major-third, so that one can bend three half-tones? For example, as one does at draw 3 on a Richter Harmonica? I wonder whether this instrument would be impossible to play, or simply so cool that I should phone my friend Lee Oskar and tell him to suggest Tombo to make one… :wink:

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