Playing Effortlessly
Sometimes people get into the habbit of playing overblows and overdraws with a lot of force. They feel that the overblows have to be kicked into action. They choke the blowreed and then push the drawreed into sounding.

There is no need for this, overblows and overdraws can be played with no more effort than is needed for a bend note or non bent note. The only thing that is needed is accuracy in resonating the right pitch.

Using a lot of force in overblowing is bad for the reeds it will damage the harmonica. Many beginning overblowers go through several harmonicas before they learn to play gently enough for the harmonica to survive.

User Contributed Notes
18-06-2014 15:24
Yes you can tongue block and overblow. I have a student who plays everything tongue blocked and he can overblow everything from hole 1 to hole 10 while doing that. I myself find the low holes difficult when tongue blocking but then I am not used to playing with tongue block.
18-06-2014 10:31

I am a toung blocker player. I have been playing for over 40 years. I do not use the lip purse method. I want to learn to overblow. Can it be done while toung blocking?
05-12-2013 16:02
@Rusty: no extra sound is necessary although many people often produce a slight coughing sound when they play overblows. Usually this is because that is how they learned to overblow, not because it is needed.
05-12-2013 12:40
Honestly though, I only just succeeded yesterday. It's gonna take some experimenting before I fully have control over it. And I haven't had any luck with any of the other holes. What I was trying to ask before was “Is it necessary to always produce a harsh sound with your throat whenever you perform an overbend? Or can the resonance be produced without excessive noise?”
05-12-2013 12:33
Hey Tinus! I just succeeded in my first overblow on hole 6! I got it pretty consistent too! I kinda feel like Neil Armstrong taking his first step on the moon. Hahaha. Can't thank you enough, man! I noticed the “khkhkhkh” sound in the back of my throat seems to pop the overblow out, but after it starts you just need to keep your airstream tight and focussed to keep it going. Do you always need to kick start the overblow with that nasty “khkhkhkh” sound?
Thanks in advance
27-07-2012 08:35
Hello Tinus

I like Jazz rock from the 70;s and spatially Mahavishnu Orchestra. I already learned to play overdraws and over blows, but when I am on stage with a band there are some parts that we all get loud(still musical), but when I come back to the normal volume of the songs or song I find out that my harmonica got out of tune or not sound at all or it sounds in some parts.

I like to be loud I am a high energy musician on the stage, and I have to say that I can be loud but I am melodic. I play in different positions, but my problem is the volume. Have you ever thought about a diatonic harmonica design for loud musicians? sounds probably not professional, but at the same time if I want to play Mahavishnu's tunes I don't want to sound like kenny G.

Thank you very much.
04-03-2010 15:01
Thats the info i was looking for without knowing it.
great help! thanks!
04-03-2010 01:48
Yeah, that seems to be helping. Thank you.
04-03-2010 00:26
@Walt: have you tried closing the blowreed slot? Does it get louder when you do that? The overblow should just get louder if you increase air pressure.
04-03-2010 00:18
So I'm finally able to get an overblow, but the volume is really low. I'm trying to play gently, not force it, but I can't seem to get a similar volume as bent and an bent notes. Any ideas on what might be causing this?
30-08-2008 22:13
thank you
30-08-2008 00:09
No you can only overblow in holes where the blow reed is tuned lower than the drawreed, that would be hole 1 to 6 on a normal diatonic. In holes 7 to 10 you can't overblow, but you can overdraw
29-08-2008 21:16
can you overblow in any hole
06-07-2008 23:05
Very little needs to be done to the drawreed, although it does help the uniformity of tone if the reeds are set up similarly. Also gapping the drawreeds tightly makes it easier to get them to respond. But since this makes bending them more difficult you have to find the optimum gap yourself.
06-07-2008 16:41
PIX E. Pix Ensign
OK, Say you've done all the harp modifications to the blow reeds for overblows.
What modifications to the draw reeds need to be done, since that is the reed that
is really producing the overblown note. Help! Thanks
17-03-2007 22:32
Steve B
Thanks, T. The whole sustaining thing started to open up yesterday after listening again to your recordings of overblows on this site. Implementing the idea of seperate parts to the overblow is also valuable and very workable. Re-reading your info about relaxing the lips and cheeks was also helpful. I am getting the overblows to sustain with a whole lot less effort. Thanks very much.
17-03-2007 13:18
If you loose control of the overblow then I suspect that you need to spend more time learning to control the seperate parts of the overblow. Open up a harmonica and isolate the reeds. first isolate the blowreed and learn to choke it really well. Try to choke the blowreed while playing really gently and then keeping it choked while increasing the pressure. Also work on just playing the drawreed. Isolate the drawreed and play the overblow note. Try to do this with as little force as possible. Especcially pay attention to starting the note softly, whithout extra force to get it to start, but starting it by resonance alone. If this works well start to bend the isolated overblown note up. If you can bend it up a fith or so you can start to play the overblows without isolating the reeds.
16-03-2007 23:04
Steve B
I am getting overblows on holed 4, 5, & 6. I have difficulty in sustaining the overblown note. Any advice on technique to do this? I have the reed gaps set very close. Thanks.
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