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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Overbends - speed and in tune
Overbends - speed and in tune
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141 posts
Sep 05, 2022
6:19 AM
Does anyone have insights into playing overbends quickly? Also, playing them in tune, i.e., controlling the pitch?

I've practiced them for years, use them sparingly, partly because of these issues.
1572 posts
Sep 06, 2022
6:22 AM
It really helps to have harps that are set up to facilitate overblows and overdraws. I can overblow just about any out of the box harp, and overdraw a fair percentage of them. But it isn't exactly easy. I kind of have to force them which does not make for ease and playing in tune. It really helps to do some reed work on the harp to tighten up the tolerances and improve the responsiveness. If you don't then you might be resigned to just using overblows as passing notes. If you really want to take full advantage of what they have to offer, then setting up your harps would be a very veyr good idea.

Controlling the pitch is a matter of practice. Play the overbends with a tuner in front of you and use it to figure out where the sweet spots are. You have to train your ear and your embouchure. Get them in synch so to speak.

Lastly, I will give you a tip that I have to credit to The Iceman. He mentioned something several years ago that hit me between the eyes. The tip is to not make a big deal out of overbends - mentally, that is. If you think they are difficult you will tense up and when you need to hit the overblow or overdraw, that tension will work against you. Instead, just relax and look at them as you would any other bend which requires almost no thought on our part. Just rely on instinct. As soon as I stopped worrying about them, my overblows got much better. Credit to The Iceman.
Tom Halchak
Blue Moon Harmonicas
Blue Moon Harmonicas
142 posts
Sep 08, 2022
7:03 AM
Thank you, Tom. Wise words as usual.


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