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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > To half-valve or not to half-valve?
To half-valve or not to half-valve?
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5 posts
Jan 11, 2021
6:55 PM
I am still learning bending.
I put Brendan Power valve-gaskets on my Hohner Rocket.
I can see how blow bends become easy(ier) but I am struggle with draw bends a bit more than before valving. Is there a consensus wrt half-valving and playing blues? I can see PT Gazell doing fantastic jazzy stuff on half valved diatonic.
6876 posts
Jan 12, 2021
1:25 AM
No, I don't think there's any consensus.
P T is a very skilled player, almost in his own league. Maybe it's more accurate to say he has created his own niche.

Some time ago I was taking lessons with Jimi Lee, and he was just getting into half valved playing.

JL already was a very skilled player with overblows and of course all the conventional techniques.

I don't know if you know his work, but as he described it to me, he was trying to find the point where blues meets jazz.

The thing I remember he was talking about was how the melodies sometimes flowed a little better for him with the half valved harp, because he could bend down to his note, rather than with the overblow bending up. Not for everything, just particular songs he wanted to play.

He used to practice during our lessons which was a bit cheeky perhaps but I suppose he was educational IE still talking and demonstrating.

My personal experiences with halfvalving have been mixed.
I've probably become generally more capable since playing more chromatic harp and my breath control is much better now. I think that's very important generally, but it becomes imperative when you get into technique like single reed bends.
374 posts
Jan 12, 2021
4:45 AM
I am currently signed up on Pt Gazells on line instructions. I have 4 of his half valved harps and set up one other myself. One thing I realized that you can always valve just one note if you need or want for a particular song. Much like Charlie Mc Coys lessons PT lessons are not interactive Two different styles of playing as well. With PT Gazell and half valve playing I would say it is way beyond beginner level.
He states right off that the first thing you need is the ability to bend regular notes accurately.
So I am thinking you would be putting the cart ahead of the horse diving into that style of playing.
I love the style of both of them. Both at the top of their styles of playing. Charlie Mc Coy might use 2 harps to do a song for example. He uses harps straight out of the box as they say where as the half valving harps require much more work and technique to be played.
Good luck with all...

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