beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Trouble with draws on holes 8 and 9. Is it me?
Trouble with draws on holes 8 and 9. Is it me?
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5 posts
Oct 12, 2017
2:22 AM

I'm new at this, and I have been having real trouble with the draws on holes 8 and 9. Reading around the forums, I assumed first of all that it was me. That is the most obvious explanation, but I'm beginning to wonder if one of my reeds is a bit out of whack.

The harp is a Marine Band. I bought it not long ago, but it is entirely possible I overblew (overdrew?) early on. Could I have knocked it out of whack that easily or get gummed up quickly? Occasionally I can get a sound, but often I get only air and it feels very restricted.

I have no trouble on the 10 hole and the blows all work fine on the others. Are these particularly tricky? I'm being quite gentle in the amount of air I am using.

I've taken the cover off but I don't see anything obvious, but then again, I am new at this.

I am very willing to concede it is my poor technique, but before I beat myself up too much, I'd appreciate some thoughts
38 posts
Oct 12, 2017
3:47 AM
Here are a few things to try:

Try drawing on holes 7, 8 and 9 together. If a chord rings out, it's highly likely that it's a technique issue.
Drop your jaw fully and inhale from the diaphragm. Vary the strength of your attack, start soft and build up in intensity. If that doesn't work, keep increasing the strength of your attack.
274 posts
Oct 12, 2017
7:27 AM
Your tongue is probably too high in your mouth and/or you are drawing too hard. Dropping your jaw can help, but sometimes people still keep the tongue too high when they lower the jaw, so focus on where your tongue is relative to the roof of your mouth. Lower it, with your jaw if necessary, and breath in more slowly, and from lower down.

On some harps the 10 draw can be more forgiving of poor technique than the 8 and 9.
168 posts
Oct 12, 2017
8:23 AM
I'm a fellow who thought he would never be taking his harps apart, but finally did after the 8 draw on my A harp stopped working. It's not particularly old..maybe a few months.
I took the covers off everything looked took the reed plate off..maybe the 2nd time in my life..and took a small flat head screw driver and out lined the hole with it...sure enough I got a small amount of crud off the edges.
Now it works fine...glad it did as i was all thumbs putting it back together..dropped it on the floor etc, etc working fine now so I'm a happy puppy with it.
There are folks here that know way more about it...mine happend to be a hohner rocket so it was held together with screws...think I lost a couple but harp sounds good once again

Last Edited by Spderyak on Oct 12, 2017 8:26 AM
17 posts
Oct 12, 2017
8:52 AM
When it comes to those holes less is more, but if you get good single notes on the rest of the harp, it could be technique or it could be the harp, now I don't know how many harps you have, and being new I realize you may only have one, but if you do have more try a different key, see if the same thing is happening, go higher first as a higher key will be harder, also a side note, if you find it's you, practice on a lower key will be easier.
Something else to try, get a small flashlight, shine it through the holes in the front and look through the back, the amount of light coming through the gap between the reed and reed slot should be similar up and down the harp, if not then it may need to be gaped before it will play right, also if you see light between the reed plate and comb that could be a source of air lose and make those holes hard to play.
If it's the harp go to YTUBE you'll find lots of video on how to fix. If it's you, well then practice, practice, practice.

I can tell you this lots of people have trouble with the 2 or 3 hole, for me those were easy it was the high end of the harp that gave me a problem, sometimes it still does, I'd bet a lot of people would agree.
6 posts
Oct 12, 2017
12:20 PM
LSB, you wrote: "Your tongue is probably too high in your mouth"

That did it! I tried contorting my mouth in every direction possible and had no success. I did not think about this as I had it in a habitual position for the trumpet.

Thank you.

Last Edited by Kayaker on Oct 12, 2017 12:21 PM
275 posts
Oct 12, 2017
6:53 PM
You're welcome, glad I was able help.

The things that were mentioned by others, stuck reeds, poorly gapped reeds, tongue down but jaw too high, were also valid possibilities. I just have an order in which I troubleshoot problems. With people new to a particular instrument, making sure the technical (physical) things are happening is the first step.

And embouchure is tricky, for a whole bunch of reasons. Trumpet and Harmonica couldn't be much more different in that regard! Lol.

Anyway, glad you got the whole harp playing for you, that's all that matters. Have Fun!

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