Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > I'm a choker.
I'm a choker.
Login  |  Register
Page: 1

Jimmy Famous
5 posts
Apr 18, 2017
12:15 PM
Usually I play blues & boogie in 2nd or 3rd position.
I've been trying to add overblows into my playing for years.
What I have noticed is that if I adjust my harps to do overblows, I usually make them choke when I play with my band.
So I thought that I would get a second set of harps just for learning the overblow technique.
I have a set of Manji's and Crossovers and have adjusted either of them to get overblows but still choke them out just the same.
Is there any one out there that can give me some advice about which would be better for overblows and why?
1297 posts
Apr 18, 2017
2:09 PM
Both Crossovers and Manjis are good OB candidates.

Managing overbends is a combination of how well you adjust them and how well you adapt your playing technique - you have to give up blasting and hard slamming, though there are ways of getting the same results with less effort and more finesse.

Part of that is managing the difference between what you do in the practice studio and what you do in a loud environment with adrenaline flowing. It can be hard to ramp down the effects of that situation, but that may be an important element in getting the response you want.

Check out my blog and other goodies at winslowyerxa.com
Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition with tons of new stuff
Join us in 2017 for SPAH in Tulsa!

Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on Apr 18, 2017 2:12 PM
1409 posts
Apr 18, 2017
2:12 PM
Once you adjust for overbends you increase the likelihood of choking reeds while playing, because that is why you tighten up a harp. Choking is what you are doing when you trigger the overbend: choking one reed to make the other one sound at a different pitch.

I don't try to create fully chromatically playable overbend harps when adjusting gaps, but I do tighten them up quite a bit and set up for 4, 5, and 6 OBs. I did tend to choke reeds a lot at first. This motivated me to finally learn breath control to avoid choking reeds unintentionally. After playing harps set up this way my reed life and my tone has been improved. I now tend to use resonance for a louder sound instead of lots of air. I learned this to avoid choking out notes.

Although it is frustrating at first, it is worth persevering and learning breath control. I still occasionally get excited and use too much air, and I receive an immediate reminder to use breath control when the note doesn't sound.

Doug S.
14 posts
Apr 18, 2017
3:13 PM
When I was learning to overblow I had all my harps gapped too tightly so they would choke whenever I wanted to play fast with a bit more volume. I effectively had to un-gap them to somewhere closer to what they were when I bought them. This meant that I had to re-learn how to overblow on a non-optimized harp. The 4 overblow became much more difficult on my lower harps. They require much more effort but over a few months I got used to it and now I can overblow without having to worry about choking. You may have to do something similar.
something something harmonicas...
Jimmy Famous
6 posts
Apr 18, 2017
5:54 PM
I am glad I asked about this here.
It seems that I may be adjusting the gap too close and making it easier to get the overblows but at the same time easier to choke.
I will try gapping a little more open and try improving my technique.
Use more finesse as WinslowYerxa puts it.
Thank you all.
1121 posts
Apr 18, 2017
7:29 PM
Excellent advise by our All Star Panel of Experts. Finding the happy medium in setting up a harp is a challenge. It can be done, but as dougharps and zx679 have alluded to, it is a moving target. The gapping that is optimal for you today might not be next week. This is especially true as you go through the learning curve to find your comfort zone. I don't find setting up for overblows that big of a challenge. Overdraws are.
Tom Halchak
 photo BMH Banner resized for email signature_zpseilpcgeo.jpg
The Iceman
3097 posts
Apr 22, 2017
4:00 AM
If you are serious about your craft as a player, it makes sense to revisit your approach/technique every few years to see what can be improved. There is air flow and efficiency of air flow to consider. There is a definite optimum air flow/efficient vibrating reed response "formula" - a fine line upon which to dance in which you use the minimum amount of force to achieve the maximum amount of result.

Unfortunately, self taught and those who learned from older style philosophies will have a lot of unlearning to do in order to "achieve nirvana". The terms "blow", "draw", "suck" are all indicators of using more force to achieve less results - so be careful of the terminology used by your teacher or go to book/cd/video.

A better orientation is "inhale" and "exhale", or "breathe the harmonica - "sucking" is for that last piece of spaghetti and "blow" is for putting out birthday candles.

Even those not interested in OB/OD at all can benefit from rethinking just how much force they use and what the results are.

Once you are on the path of "getting the maximum from the minimum", you are also set up for successful OB/OD technique as well as gapping tighter for ease of such without the down side of choking reeds while playing.

Unfortunately, those who have developed strong bad habits will have to spend the extra time to unlearn and relearn better technique. Easier for a rank beginner who has never played to be taught the most efficient way to breathe the harmonica than for someone who's been at it for a while to readjust their habits.

However, if you are truly serious, please consider a re thinking and relearning of basic techniques in efficiency. The results will astound you.
The Iceman
Jimmy Famous
7 posts
Apr 23, 2017
1:44 PM
Iceman, I agree. I self taught myself and have alot of bad habits. But I am determined to be able to play all the notes.

Post a Message
Guest Name


(8192 Characters Left)

Please enter the code shown above and click the 'Post Message' button. This additional step is required to help protect against message spam.




blues harmonica riffs - harmonica tabs - learn harmonica - play harmonica

play harmonica easily - harp tabs for beginners - blues harmonica lessons


ADAM GUSSOW is an official endorser for HOHNER HARMONICAS