Air leak on bends?

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Air leak on bends?

Postby jagarner70 » Sat Jan 19, 2008 8:55 pm

Ok, I have covered the 1 and 3 holes with tape and I am getting a really nice deep bend on the 2 draw. I grab another harp without the tape and give it a try. I can hear some air leak as I push my tongue forward and drop my jaw. I think the air leak may be a part of my trouble on the bends. The leak sounds like it is coming from the right side of my mouth/harp. My bends are getting stronger and the air leak may just be part of my trying too hard to draw down on the bend. I thought the tape idea was strange but it does let you know that you can hit those bent notes. Practicing it over and over and over again helps you get more familiar with the way your mouth needs to move in order to hit the notes. Its like learning to ride a bike with training wheels. Work with the tape until you can really bend the notes as needed and then take the tape off. It works.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby jeffl » Sat Jan 19, 2008 9:15 pm

It sounds like yer gettin' there,70... Keep up the hard work. I wish I could remember what it was like to go through all that stuff, so I could be more helpful to newer players, but I can't remember all the early pain. I know that I wasn't an overnight success either- I jus' can't remember it.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby MakaInOz » Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:48 am

See if putting the harp a little deeper in your mouth helps. You never know!
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby 68Champ » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:48 am

Granted, since the 2-hole draw is everything in crossharp--it's the tonic--it's imperative that you "stick the landing" as Adam Gussow says on youtube. A good, strong 2 draw leads to a controlled bend, so the urge to grab it and bear down for all you're worth is overpowering. Resist. Barbeque Bob once posted a great piece of advice on the old forum about bending the 2-draw that worked for me. In a nutshell, relax. Relax your face, neck, mouth--maintain just enough tension to sound the note, then draw--from your toes. It requires some self-visualization, but it works. :mrgreen: As you pull, change the shape of your "resonating chamber"--your mouth and throat, and that will bend the note.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby JohnnyB » Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:58 pm

I've just started trying to learn bends. Three bend notes on hole 3 draw! LIES! :)

I'm having trouble, I can bend hole 1 draw and make it sound like it sounds on the CD. and I can do hole 2 for the G flat but the F I cannot do. Hole three is giving troubles in general.

My book, Blues Harmonica for beginners by Rob Fletcher, says to tilt the harmonica up more then usual and to let your jaw relax and imagine your drawing the air downwards into your mouth then curving it up and swallowing it, and that your tongue will be drawn to the back of your mouth to achieve the bend.

Certainly is not easy to achieve these multi bends. Is it just all about where your tongue is? Say.. move it back just a tiny bit for the G flat and pull it back even more for the F on hole 2 draw? When bending down on the hole 2 draw or hole 3 draw should I be inhaling with more force each time I drop to a lower bend or should the force of your inhale stay the same throughout?

I know it takes practice and practice I will. I just can't seem to get more then 1 different sound out of these holes that have 2 or 3 different bend notes. Thanks a lot.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby jeffl » Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:46 pm

Now you know where the practice comes in,lol! I'd advise you to stick to the 2-hole draw bend at first, 'cuz imo it's the easiest one to get some positive results out of. Once you work at that long enough, doors will start to open for you and you'll find the other bends easier. It's like learning to drive a manual transmission car: it can seem impossible at first, but after a few days of concentrated efforts, it'll be easy to "drive around", and then you'll jus' get better 'n' better at it. Using extra force to accomplish it will only slow you down; work at the control aspect of it.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby barbequebob » Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:53 pm

Trust me, there are 3 bends on hole 3, so on hole 3 draw, the note starts unbent at B, then Bb, then A, and then finally Ab. If you can't find them or control them, it's painfully obvious you're committing the cardinal sin of harp playing and that's using far too much breath force (AKA playing way the hell too damned hard) to do it. The physically harder you play, the more you lose control of everything!!!
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby too2tall » Wed Sep 10, 2008 5:07 am

I am sorry to disagree with you BBQbob but I take some issue with what you say. Many of the old Chicago Players like James Cotton would hammer their harps on 1 thru 4 whole draws during certain measures of a song. I agree that control is the key to getting the sounds you want, especially on the high tones and tone is the most important thing to get, as the late, great Gary Primich said "I would rather hear one note with great tone than a blazing fast riff with no tone". But to say you should always play lightly is to diminish the effect of dynamics. There are places and times to hammer down on the reed to get the dynamic effect that helps create a story in your solo's.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby barbequebob » Wed Sep 10, 2008 5:48 pm

I didn't say don't play any notes hard, as some notes are going to be hit a bit harder than others, but what I'm saying is each and every single note all the time, not occassionally here and there. I've seen all the greats do this, but again, you've partially misinterpreted what I said here, and what I'm aiming at is playing pedal to the metal on each and every single note, most especially in the note bending process all the time and this where most players are gonna blow out harps at very quick rate and complain about leakage and all that..
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby jbone1 » Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:30 am

i agree with bob here. it's about control. ever have a moment on stage where everything just falls into place, it seems you can do no wrong? the band is right and tight, you relax, address the harp from your center, and it seems just effortless to get what you're going for? true, there are times when the temptation to totally wail out will come up. anticipating those times and being a bit prepared, but RELAXED and focused, brings better results with less damage to reeds.

i was notorious for blowing up harps in the 90's. sometimes over one gig. sometimes several in one night. one issue for me was excess excitement. loud band and underpowered amp also. enter barbeque bob on a forum i hung out at. and his always stressing the right way to do things. i took what i could from those early posts and also got some horsepower behind me. i relaxed and did what i knew i should. it works!

i recently got the replica bassman and i take it out to jams occasionally, and my playing is much more relaxed and i think attractive when i'm not straining. in that relaxed state, when you can hear yourself as well, you can lay back into what you've practiced over and over, and make it really happen.

one of my downfalls early on was, the band would be so loud i couldn't hear my own self, so i'd draw and blow harder to hear better. goodbye reeds. and it never worked. to me the trick is to work with a band that can lay back on volume some, knows dynamics, and to have an amp that will stand up and be heard when necessary. that's AFTER working on getting the chops together. plating from the depth of the torso. opening the throat and putting the harp where it needs to be in the lips. but mostly it's an attitude or state of mind. if you adopt a student mentality and keep it handy you can learn much better and more deeply than the way i did for years, which was stubbornly stumble along and pick up a new trick just here and there. since finding some humility i have been able to actually listen to guys like bob and apply the lessons they promote, and my playing is much improved the past few years.

of course there are times to lay down something serious, but i'd rather it be fewer notes with great tone. i am laying back more like muddy taught back in the day. a lot of what walter did with muddy was strictly background, no big solos, and walter didn't mind. he sounded great and added a new dimension to a song. there is definitely a lesson there.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby too2tall » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:10 am

I totally agree with everything both of you say. I was afraid that what BBQbob was saying implied to never blow hard and I wanted to emphasize the fact that dynamics play a huge part in music, particularly the blues due to the repetitive nature of the structure. Again I totally agree with what both of you are saying. Control is essential and yes I have experienced the same issues with too much stage volume killing me. Explaining to lead guitarist why I have to fight feedback from too loud monitors is no fun. Usually when playing with a new band I try to position myself away from the lead guitarist. Not sure why so many bands don't get it when it comes to setting up stage volume.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby MakaInOz » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:17 am

Lately I've been getting more pedantic (anal? obsessive?) about getting the bends exactly right. To help, I'm using a guitar tuner (I've got a house full of guitar tuners, with three kids all playing bass and/or guitar) to make sure I'm getting the note spot on.

Of those about the house, I like the Korg CA30 best. It gives me a readout of the note, a light indicating sharp or flat and a needle (on the LCD) showing how far off centre I am (or how poorly I'm holding the note steady). Most chromatic tuners seem pretty similar though, and they don't cost much - less than a harp. I've also 'shifted' a couple of tunes so that they require lots of bends and use them as practice tunes. 'Bent Mary' (a warped version of Mary Had a Little Lamb) is a favourite practice piece.

You'll know you're getting the bends right when they take about the same amount of effort as a normal draw note. If you still have to attack hard to get the bend, you need more practice! Playing as softly as you can while getting all the bends spot on is also good practice.

Keep at it and have fun!
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby ozharpman » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:52 am

AAHH! Yes.
How well I remember the pain and frustration of learning to bend.

One day someone (wish I could recall who) suggested that I try to imagine drinking a thick shake through a straw, and how I would drop my jaw and toungue slightly if I hit a thicker part of the shake that I really wanted to get through that straw!
It worked for me - The first bends I played (and the only ones for quite a while) were achieved this way. These days I mostly bend by moving my tongue back toward my throat, while keeping it still fairly flat, but I still lower the tongue and jaw occasionally if I have difficulty with a hole or the reed is getting lumpy, or I am getting too tired etc.
I know some very fine harp players who tell me they only play bends this way.
Maybe the thick shake analogy thing will help you, maybe not, but never give up.
Once you get your first bend, and can keep getting it on demand, the others will come easier (with a couple of exceptions)

We all go through the learning and yearning stage - persistence is the answer.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby barbequebob » Wed Sep 17, 2008 4:12 pm

too2tall wrote:I totally agree with everything both of you say. I was afraid that what BBQbob was saying implied to never blow hard and I wanted to emphasize the fact that dynamics play a huge part in music, particularly the blues due to the repetitive nature of the structure. Again I totally agree with what both of you are saying. Control is essential and yes I have experienced the same issues with too much stage volume killing me. Explaining to lead guitarist why I have to fight feedback from too loud monitors is no fun. Usually when playing with a new band I try to position myself away from the lead guitarist. Not sure why so many bands don't get it when it comes to setting up stage volume.


I can understand that about guitar players, but actually being next to a loud electric bass player is often much worse, and from years of having them to my left, often playing really loud (unless they're standing at least 20 feet away from their rig, they can't hear themselves when standing directly in front, so then they really crank it up big time), I do have a certain amount of hearing loss in my left ear, and so when these kids with their car stereos have the bass cranked, it physically hurts like hell. If anything, unless you play in large rooms, you really shouldn't need anything other than the vocals on the monitors or it sounds more like they just pay attention only to themselves and screw everything else.
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Re: Air leak on bends?

Postby too2tall » Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:14 am

I don't think anywhere in my post I said I set up next to a bass player. Yes I agree a loud bass is killer for hearing yourself. I like to set up a little behind everyone else and use my amp as a monitor and take myself out of line with their amps. This is not ideal and with smart bands unnecessary but I love to jam and when a band ask me to sit in I usually do and find the best way to avoid feedback issues.
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