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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > 2 draw vs 3 blow
2 draw vs 3 blow
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3422 posts
Aug 20, 2019
8:44 AM
same notes...…..not telling you knowledgeable people anything.…...when to use one or the other...……..outta here......just want answers

Last Edited by groyster1 on Aug 20, 2019 8:45 AM
Old Hickory
101 posts
Aug 20, 2019
10:26 AM
I occasionally use the 3 blow but usually only when I need to get rid of some air quickly. The 2 draw just sounds better because you can bend into it and the articulation on draw notes is much crisper and pronounced. Blow notes just sound mushy to me.
The Iceman
3903 posts
Aug 20, 2019
10:29 AM
Within a musical line (or riff), the option of inhaling or exhaling this note is a way to regulate air flow - if you are filling up with air, that 3 hole exhale is a great way to quickly deflate the lungs.

In traditional old tyme style (a la David Rice/Mark Graham), there is a nice repetitive rhythm phrase that makes good use of the 3 hole exhale with which to begin.
The Iceman

Last Edited by The Iceman on Aug 20, 2019 10:30 AM
Grey Owl
1004 posts
Aug 20, 2019
11:24 AM
Good question. I guess I do favour 2 draw mainly because if the song calls for a following 2 draw bend I can scoop down for effect when wanted. But if a song calls for a lot of consecutive draw action it's nice to land on a 3 blow to get rid of some air!

I have been recently practising a song which has the phrase

Using 3 blow +3-3** +3-3** +3-3**
Using 2 draw -2-3** -2-3** -2-3**

I found it a bit easier to use 3 blow because I could shape my mouth/tongue ready for the -3** and play the straight blow 3 with this shape. So breathe out, breathe in breathe out, breathe in on the same hole. Whereas starting with 2 draw I had to slide back and forth to -3**.

There is another choice at the end of the song whether to finish on the +3 where I used diaphragm tremolo or the 2 draw where I used a little vibrato

As an exercise for me I tried both ways and probably favour the +3 in this instance.

This is the -2 sample where I'm playing a Bb harp

And this is the +3 sample

Full Tab using -2 throughout

-2-3**-2-3**/-3/-3**-2-2 Vibrato

Full tab using +3 throughout

+3(-3**/-3)-4-4+5-4 (-3/-3**/-3/-3**)+3+2+3
+3-3** +3-3** +3-3**-3-2*-1+2-1
+3-3** +3-3**-3/-3**+3+3 tremolo

Of course this is just me and others may prefer the -2 on this phrase.

It's a good practical workout to see where your preference lies.

I've taken the two extremes in this example and in practice I might use the 2 draw occasionally in this song.

Grey Owl

Last Edited by Grey Owl on Aug 20, 2019 11:39 AM
126 posts
Aug 22, 2019
5:41 AM
Agree the 2 draw sounds better but the 3 blow is faster and more accurate when coming from a bent 3 draw.

If things are getting complicated moving between 3 draw and 2 draw - especially if bends are involved. I often just blow - simples.

Not always a solution but it seems to happen quite often.
The Iceman
3904 posts
Aug 22, 2019
7:29 AM
I know terminology used for decades is hard to undo, but is it possible to begin to eliminate some of the incorrect word usage that just perpetuates bad harmonica technique?

Blow is how you put out your Birthday Candles...
Draw is how you create a picture....
Suck is for that last piece of spaghetti...

You breathe the harmonica - Inhale and Exhale.

Thank you for your consideration....
The Iceman
289 posts
Aug 23, 2019
8:06 AM
No matter what language I find I use the +3 quite a bit.
I don't worry if it duplicates the -2 on many riffs.

I'm just now starting with a Paddy tuned harp so the +3 is not duplicated
102 posts
Aug 30, 2019
8:29 AM
A good reason for using the 2 draw a lot (but not all of the time) is that the notes next to it, the 1 draw and the 3 draw, form the chord for the 2 draw note. For example, on a C harp, the G chord is 1,2,3 draw (and 4 draw, too). In cross position, sliding to those notes or playing the whole or partial chord is possible.
2007 posts
Aug 30, 2019
9:42 AM
"2 draw vs 3 blow"????


2 draw AND 3 blow!!!

Both notes are there and available to use. Easier to add inflection when breathing in. Inflection should not always be the deciding factor.

Use whatever works best for what you are playing.

Good to think about this choice from time to time, so this is a good issue to raise. When playing I relay on choices made in the moment, trusting my unconscious musical mind. Periodic reflection to refine playing with intent is useful.

Doug S.
214 posts
Sep 01, 2019
2:52 PM
Occasionally I find a sequence of notes difficult to play for various reasons, and substituting a 3 blow for the 2 draw makes it easier. No hard-and-fast rule, just try it when having difficulty with something and if it works, use it!

I guess there is one rule ... I can't remember ever ending a phrase on the 3 blow. Always a 2 draw.

Jim McBride
Bottle 'O Blues microphones
215 posts
Sep 01, 2019
2:54 PM
And ... its good practice to try to get the 3 blow to sound as close as possible to 2 draw. The draw will always be more powerful, and easier to vibrato than the draw (for me). But its worth working on.

Jim McBride
Bottle 'O Blues microphones
6139 posts
Sep 01, 2019
5:55 PM
A lot of the time it depends on the chord and the position I’m using.
If I’m playing 2nd position, in the I chord I might use the draw note but if I’m on the IV chord I might use the blow note.
This can depend whether I am playing with a slap/pull ahead of the note, for instance.
Othertimes it might just depend on what happens before or after. Sometimes I’ll use the 2 on the way up and the 3 on the way down. If I’m practicing/learning a new piece, I’ll likely try both ways for a time and it is usually clear if one way is better
81 posts
Sep 01, 2019
9:52 PM
If you were practicing the lower register chromatic scale on a diatonic, how would you use the two holes in question, both ascending and descending? In particular, how about at a fast clip, what is most optimal for any of you then?
34 posts
Sep 08, 2019
2:51 PM
I was taught that you can use the blow 3 at the beginning of a riff, and perhaps in the middle. But, I was taught that if a riff ends on the root, always use draw 2.

The fact that you can use a blow 3 in certain places doesn't mean that you should. I would agree that draw 2 is always preferable, when you can hit it.

Having said that, I do sometimes struggle with hitting the draw 2 at the end of a riff. I'm not sure if it's my limited coordination keeping me from sliding down far enough, or something else. But I often find that, when sliding from draw 3 to draw 2, and especially if I am progressing from draw 4 to draw 3, and then draw 2, I am getting no sound, or a bad sound, from the draw 2. But there's nothing wrong with the reed, because when I just play a draw 2, it's fine.

More practice for me. More Practice, Practice, Practice.

2015 posts
Sep 08, 2019
4:09 PM
I neglected mentioning the 3-6 blow octave, something I frequently use in 2nd position blues.

It is tough to play an octave using 2 draw...

Doug S.
92 posts
Sep 09, 2019
8:52 PM
For me, blowing hole 3 is not always a question of lung air release. If you are imitating the masters, you should play the same way. It's harder to know how they've played. Good examples are "Bye Bye Bird" (Sonny Boy Williamson) and "Whammer Jammer" (Magic Dick) at the point where the song actually begins. I have come to the conclusion that both use the 3rd hole blow instead of 2nd hole draw, mara
3463 posts
Oct 27, 2019
2:32 PM
no need for grammar lessons on this forum
The Iceman
3946 posts
Oct 27, 2019
4:54 PM
Mark Graham's olde style uses 3 exhale to begin a pretty fun rhythm type pattern...
The Iceman
7 posts
Oct 31, 2019
2:08 PM
2 draw and 3 blow are the same note. However when I tune 2 hole draw I go 1 cent higher than the 3 blow to compensate for the dip on the draw note when inhaling.
6242 posts
Oct 31, 2019
6:36 PM
i go 1 Hz taller for the draw.
i probably use the 3 more often than i realised before this thread started. there are multiple reasons provided in posts above and they are all valid. i found i was using the 3 in 3rd position quite instinctively and i expect that is because its more consistent with the layout of the rest of the instrument. In 3rd the duplicated note is the 4th of the scale, and coming from a 2nd position background, hitting the 4th is a blow note thing so that may be part of it. bu in 3rd you get used to hitting the 4th up on the middle octave and i expect that tendency just is quite natural to extend to the lower end, and its probably not a note we tend to approach from below or have a tendency to dip.
I also play quite a few 1st position blues and in that scenario i probably use the 2 more as its part of getting the movement from the 5th through flattened 5th to 4th which is used a lot in low end 1st position (maybe because the minor 3rd is not so readily available unless you're adept at the 1 hole overblow). now i'm thinking about it and i am not getting any feels about using the 3 over the 2 in 1st position.
in second hough, yeah i use the 3 quite often but i probably don't end many phrases with it
12 posts
Nov 05, 2019
7:51 AM
Checkout Lee Sankey's video it might help or clear things up for you.


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