Q: What is overblowing and why may I want to do it?

A: With bends you can lower the pitch of the draw notes in holes 1-6 and the blow notes in holes 7-10. With overblows you can raise the pitch of the blow notes in holes 1-6 and of the draw notes in holes 7-10. These latter are actually called 'overdraws'. Overblows and overdraws are much harder to achieve then bends, but can give you the accidentals and chromatic notes not usually available on a diatonic. A good way to practice is to take of the covers of your harmonica, blow through hole and stop the *blow* reed from moving with your finger. Now try to make the draw reed sound. This gives you an idea of how an overblow should feel. Now try to achieve the same without your finger. The other approach to chromatic scales on a diatonic is to valve the draw reeds in holes 1-6 and the blow reeds in holes 7-10. This way you can bend the otherwise un-bendable notes, while you can also still make the ordinary bends. Note that playing on a valved diatonic might seem easier than learning overblows, but it is said to be almost as hard to get good tone and control in that way -- BB/HAA

(FMI: "More Overblow Basics" 23 Oct 93 WY)
(FMI: "Overblows and how to do it!!" 16Jun 94 CM)
(FMI: "Re; Overblows and how to do them" 17 Jun 94 SJ)
(FMI: "Embouchure Survey" 24 May 95 WY)


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I cleaned up my tab for Sonny Boy's Help Me and made it into a short book. There's a Kindle version for 99 cents, and if you buy the paperback you get the Kindle free.

Playing "Help-Me" In the Style of Sonny Boy Williamson II: A step by step, note for note analysis of some of Sonny Boy's Signature Riffs

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The JT30 Page Popular links

I began collecting data about the microphones used by blue harp players before there was an internet. I began organizing it into JT30.com in the late 1990s. I accumulated more stuff than I remember. This is some of it.

Street Theory

A Harp Player’s Guide to Music Theory

Learning Harp

Picking Up Blues Harp

A guide to learning to play Blues Harp

Microphone Information

Usenet Articles

Harp Amps

I've been collecting Harp Amps for a while. This is the old Harpamps.com website. There is lots of information here. Here a coupld of links.

Harp Tab

A collection of songs and riffs that I’ve worked out over the years, plus some libraries of stuff I’ve converted to tablature. I’ve included most of the notes and instructions that helped me when I was learning to play blues harmonica.

Basic Riffs Simple harp tabs for songs Blues riffs and phrases.

Harp-L Archives 1992 to 2002


Harp Frequently Asked Questions