Re: [Harp-L] Why am I killing the 4-blow reed so quickly?

 sounds reasonable. Many don't realize how hard they are bending the reed in 4 inhale bend - this is not loudness/force issue, but can be subtle bending of the reed past it's limits. Knowing where the "floor" is on the bend (I've talked about floor/ceiling relationship to the "note room" in previous postings and at group classes/workshops) is key - you can bend down to the "floor" and begin to feel it as a stopping point (subtle perception). Then, you can begin to target and area about a foot above the "floor" as your destination. Leaving a bit of room under your sustained note created through bending technique also allows you to play it truer in tune and gives the space you need to sustain it and add a nice full bodied vibrato.



-----Original Message-----
From: chicago bluesman <chicagobluesman@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: opus314@xxxxxxxxx; harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Sat, Aug 29, 2009 11:36 pm
Subject: RE: [Harp-L] Why am I killing the 4-blow reed so quickly?

I have the same pattern of reed fatigue with my harps and I attribute it to the 
fact that the #4 draw bend is such a popular and often-used note in the blues 
scale.  It's my understanding that Howard Levy's ground-breaking use of fiber 
optics to observe the innards of a harmonica while being played demonstrated 
that draw bend notes are actually produced by the blow reed being forced up 
into, so as to move in the direction opposite to its usual direction of travel, 
producing the bent note(s).  Th
e poor blow reed just can't hold up with repeated 
pressure to be pulled up into a position it wasn't designed to take, gets 
fatigued and loses its tuned responsiveness, going flat.  This is my simple, 
nontechnical understanding--I'm sure there are expert technicians on the list 
who can better explain what's going on...but this is my rough explanation.  
Other than trying not to bend so deeply, so loudly or so frequently, I don't 
think there's anything to be done about it.  I'd be interested to hear whether 
or not my grasp of harp mechanics while bending is accurate or not.


> Date: Sat, 29 Aug 2009 16:34:16 -0700
> From: opus314@xxxxxxxxx
> To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [Harp-L] Why am I killing the 4-blow reed so quickly?
> I have normally had Lee Oskars as mentioned in my prior post...
> But since I've decided to renew my effort to master the instrument...
> and I was having trouble with the high notes (holes 7-10)
>  I decided to try another brand.
> I bought a Key-of-C in the other brand and really liked it. High notes
> seemed to play much easier.
> But after a couple of weeks the 4-blow reed seemed to go dead and no
> longer sounded right. I opened the harp up and the 4-blow looks
> funny... more down in the slot than the other reeds around it... and
> it doesn't "plunk" right...
> I bought another of the same brand in the same key. Got it and it
> played great. Very nice instrument.
> But, after a couple of we
eks the 4-blow reed in that one also started
> sounding bad.
> What could I be doing?
> Could bending the 4-draw somehow effect the 4-blow?
> I don't think I'm playing that hard... actually I'm just practicing
> simple melodies to improve my accuracy, improve my ear training,
> muscle memory, and learn my way around the instrument.
> (Hey, I'm a former drummer, we always had big targets, and no need to
> listen to melody :)
> Over the years I've occasionally fooled around with my half-dozen Lee
> Oskars and can't seem to hurt them...
>  but I've heard they be difficult to learn to over-blow... so now what
> do I do?
> One side benefit... I did learn to play the high notes (somewhat) and
> can now do so on the Lee Oskars... so at least blowing up the other
> two harps did gain me something.
> But... I would like to play this other brand... (and even others)
> without fear that I'm going to break the harp in a week or two.
> Thanks for any help.
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