Bending A major notes

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Bending A major notes

Postby rookie » Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:55 pm

Well, I did warn you I'd be back asking stupid questions...

OK, is it just me or is it MUCH harder to bend notes on an A major? I've worked my way thru Mel Bay's Basic Harmonica Method, managing OK on pretty much all lessons, including bending A natural and D maj. So today I decided to tackle the last lesson in the book which uses A maj, and pulled out a dirt cheap harp to practice the licks on. Barely managed a half-step bend on 3 draw, and full step was impossible. Thought it could be the harp's fault, so switched to my virtually unused Marine Band - which was exactly the same. 2 draw's no picnic either...
Any advice?
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Re: Bending A major notes

Postby gheumann » Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:11 pm

Generally we don't talk about bending "A Major" - we talk about bending "Hole X on a Y Harp". By A Major do you mean bending on an A harp in general? Bending on a D harp while playing in the key of A? Bending an A Major chord?

SO - not sure I'm answering your question, but if you mean bending on an A harp compared to a D harp - yes, when you're learning to bend, the lower harps are harder. As you develop your bending technique and muscles - which takes MUCH longer than you think - you won't have any trouble bending the 3 draw on a G harp down 3 half steps.

/Greg
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Re: Bending A major notes

Postby rookie » Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:48 pm

Yep, sorry, when I saw topic title just before I read your reply, I realised it could be confusing... Yeah, meant the notes on an A harp. Oh well, thought I had bending nailed down, but looks like there's still a way to go... Cheers anyway...
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Re: Bending A major notes

Postby jbone1 » Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:52 pm

it's cool you are asking questions like this. when i was learning it was pretty much with next to no help, and every gain i made was accidental. i spent a long time with harps in my face doing the monkey hear monkey do thing. in recent years i've begun to get some real understanding of how a harp works, why reeds bend, and how to do it.
i think your best asset besides willingness is the determination to keep a harp in your face. playing with other musicians will give you a real perspective on what works and what doesn't, what's good and what needs attention.

i can't play at the jam tonight, just had a tooth out and i don't want to risk a dry socket- like last time- so i'm just going to listen and lend support.

there are lots of better technical players who can guide you more specifically but if you keep working you will make progress regardless!!
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Re: Bending A major notes

Postby HenrySlim » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:25 pm

I find the 3-draw-bend to be the hardest to get right generally. Mainly in terms of hitting the right intonation but it can also be a struggle physically, as you imply.

As Greg & jbone suggest, a lot of this is technique.
Could also be that the 3-draw reed needs a slight adjustment. I'd recommend taking a look under the hood & checking on the gapping. There're some very helpful youtube vids if you're unfamiliar with the process. Here's one Gussow made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkqmXP9IVyg (it starts getting relevant after about 3 minutes in)
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Re: Bending A major notes

Postby jeffl » Sat Dec 25, 2010 5:57 pm

The harp marked "A" is available in low register and high register varieties. Nearly all of the A harps available in stores are the low register variety. In fact, you'd have to specifiy "high A" to get the harp that is at the one octave higher.

The low register A harp is one of the lowest harps commonly sold. The G harp is the only one lower that's commonly sold. The F harp is usually the higher register, unless you specify the low register F, which is extremely uncommon. If you want to hear some great playing on the low register F harp, find some of Walter Tore's stuff on his Spontobeat website.

The main point here is that the lower register harps are harder to bend on the lower notes; they require better air control and longer jaw drops to manipulate the reeds. Just keep practicing it; it's nothing wrong with the harp.
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Re: Bending A major notes

Postby rookie » Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:57 pm

Believe it or not, I got in the car to set off on a long journey a week or two ago - going 'home' for the holidays - and had the A harp with me to practice bending (I should stress - long, straight, quiet roads - no danger doing it with one hand) :wink:
Anyway, I picked it up and from the very first draw, I was able to bend the 3, no problem. Was absolutely amazed... The 2 draw and 1 draw took a bit extra work though tbf, but after two or three hours, had it pretty much nailed down. That said, there is a big difference between repeating bends ad nauseum and then hitting them as part of a riff, but I'll keep on tackling this complex last tune...
Cheers for the input people, and a belated HNY...
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Re: Bending A major notes

Postby jeffl » Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:02 am

rookie wrote:Believe it or not, I got in the car to set off on a long journey a week or two ago - going 'home' for the holidays - and had the A harp with me to practice bending (I should stress - long, straight, quiet roads - no danger doing it with one hand) :wink:
Anyway, I picked it up and from the very first draw, I was able to bend the 3, no problem. Was absolutely amazed... The 2 draw and 1 draw took a bit extra work though tbf, but after two or three hours, had it pretty much nailed down. That said, there is a big difference between repeating bends ad nauseum and then hitting them as part of a riff, but I'll keep on tackling this complex last tune...
Cheers for the input people, and a belated HNY...
Rookie, those bends will come accurately in time through muscle memory. Jus' keep doin' it. You'll eventually be able to control 'em like turnin' a knob on an amp. With practice you'll be able to hit any degree of bend even on fast passing notes.
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