Starting to bend

Someone asked yesterday about how to start bending notes.  Since I'm still
mostly a harp newbie (coming up on my second anniversary next month), and
since I replied to someone else asking about this a few weeks ago, I thought
I'd jump in here again.

Basically, I had the same problem you had to start with.  New harps just need
to be "broken in" before they'll let you bend those notes.  I don't remember
draw 4 being the first to bend, but then I don't remember spending much
time trying.  Since I've spent most of my time playing straight harp, draw 3
was the first note I got well bent, so I could use it to lead into the next
verse of a song.  It seems like the bends I've mainly worked at are draw 2 and
3; I don't spend much time on individual higher notes, so I tend to just play
them straight.

Someone mentioned that they had broken harps in, in such a way that it seemed
harder to hit some bent notes than others on a particular hole.  Again, my
main interest in bending a note is to "blue" that note, rather than to hit
a particular note, so I haven't noticed this problem.  I'm pretty sure that
on a couple of my oldest harps, I have consciously tried to hit draw 3 as bent
as I could, and managed to do it, though.

The main thing to do with new harps is to just keep at them.  I've never spent
time concentrating on bending a particular draw reed; I just take 'em as they
come along, while I'm playing along with some favorite albums (I reccommend
Wells' _Hoodoo Man Blues_ and _The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson_, and for
a change of pace how about the extended 'Keys to the Kingdom' on Derek and the
Dominoes' _Layla and other assorted Love Songs_, or for real fun, try playing
along with the horns on a James Brown album?  Watch what JB does to your riffs
for the next couple of days...).  If you're in a hurry, try rotating the harp
a litle up or down, so that your lips partially block the hole.  That sped up
my learning how to bend notes, and may have helped break in the reeds, as well.
I don't use the technique anymore, so it doesn't seem to be that hard to

Anyway, just be patient, and eventually those reeds'll come around.


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