The H-spot
In some publications it is stated that an overblow is played in much the same way as a blow bend. "What kind of blow bend?" would be the first thing I would like to ask. Is that a tongue blocked blow bend or a puckered blow bend? If it is a puckered blow bend then is it a tongue tip bend or a H-spot bend?

A number of publications describe a technique which uses the tip of the tongue to force the overblow to sound. This, in my opinion, is a very bad way to learn to overblow. It requires a lot of tension in a number of muscles that are not used in playing other notes like normal draw and blow notes or bend notes (unless of course you use the tip of the tongue to play bend notes, which I would also advise against). This tension will make smooth transitions from one note to the next nearly impossible.
The tip of the tongue and the muscles in the lips and cheeks are not very stable muscles, especially at the force needed. The tip of the tongue will tire quickly and the control needed to play a longer note at the right pitch will be lost.

The method I advocate is one where the overblows (and the draw and blow bends) are played using the H spot. The H spot is the part of the tongue which stops the airflow in pronouncing a rapid series of "hey" sounds.
I know this is a very inaccurate description, but the point is that the action takes place far back on the tongue at the start of the throat and not at the tip of the tongue.
User Contributed Notes
23-01-2013 05:39
Ben Stevens
I believe what you call "using the H-spot" means a constriction of air by raising the tongue at the velum (soft palate) which is used to make the phoneme /x/ ('j' in many dialects of Spanish, 'ch' in some German). This could be verified by X-rays (as used for speaking and singing analysis). This info might not be useful to everybody, but it could help those who have studied some linguistics. By the way, great site!
12-01-2013 13:49

awesome.. I've spent the last couple of weeks, on and off, trying to figure out how to overblow on my harps with no success. And just now, after reading your description of the H spot, I tried it, and within a couple quick attempts, picked it up. Amazing how simple it is. Thanks!
02-12-2010 02:08
A and D harps are used a lot in blues I guess.
Why not get in contact with someone that sells custom harmonicas? They can probably tell you what key harps are common for blues playing.
see this page http://www.overblow.com/?menuid=139 for a few names.
02-12-2010 01:58
I'm going to buy some really nice harps for my husband. I want it to be a surprise, so I can't ask him. He is a very experienced, talented harp player, and he's wanting to perfect overblows. which keys would be the most beneficial? I'm going to get a basic C, but what keys are used a lot? which ones are harder?
he says he can do them easily on Aflat or Bflat but he never uses those keys. He's mostly a blues player. I'm looking for something he'll be able to use. Any suggestions?
29-11-2010 02:49
Guy Peled
P.S. forgot to add a link to the video... :-)

Here it is:
29-11-2010 02:49
Guy Peled
Hi Tinus,

I have shooted a video which really focuses on the H-spot which by the way got me overblowing... and I was wondering what you think about this method of teaching how to overblow... I did succeeded to teach a guy to overblow in 5 minutes, so I am suspecting it might help others...

20-08-2010 15:54
No the Golden melody is not better suited for overblows. Maybe it used to be, but nowadays there are much better harmonicas for that. see the FAQ section for the best current models: http://www.overblow.com/?menuid=190
19-08-2010 09:21
Greetings from Turkey.

Hi Tinus;

Firstly thanks. That was just what i needed. I was just starting to think that there was something wrong with my harp and considering a new harp.(btw is it true that golden melody has considerably easier to overblow?) but i got it now.
Secondly, i am a music illiterate. I've been playing for about 5 months and i still don't know a thing about musical terms,( like scales, octaves etc) i just play. so is there a source you know that i can start from the very beginning?

18-03-2010 16:41
Hey Tinus great site.. just wanted to say thanks mike for elaborating on the H spot.. helped me get my 6 OB on my Bb harp
19-01-2010 15:13
Guy Peled
When I blow with the isolated reed I do the same "noise". It's kind of like that when I do the 1 overblow I have a real tight air passage which I don't need to have in the other overblows. It's like the back of the tongue is almost touching the mouth roof... I recorded my self and I don't hear any noise so I guess you are right...
19-01-2010 12:26
@Guy: I can't say if that is good or bad. I'd have to hear it I guess. However if you are playing it smoothly and the noise doesn't interfere with the music then I don't see a problem. I don't produce a sound when playing the 1 overblow myself, but maybe our heads are constructed differently. Do you also have to make the sound when you isolate the drawreed?
19-01-2010 02:37
Guy Peled
I wanted to refine my shaaaa :-) regarding the 1 hole overblow... to almost saying hey or saying the end of hey for the duration of the not playing.
18-01-2010 23:02
Guy Peled
I wanted to thank you for you H-spot tip... I was able to play overblows with the tip of the tongue but I couldn't incorporate them into my playing. After relearning to overblow using the H-spot I have much more control over my overblows allowing me to utilize them.

I had a question regarding the 1 overblow which I manage to play rather smoothly but with the help of a kind of a shaaaa sound from the back of my tongue... Is that good?
08-01-2010 00:46
No reason really, I just started on the C harp and sticked with it.
07-01-2010 19:12
Thanks. WHy do you choose a c harp rather than another sole key
29-12-2009 21:01
A lot of the scales are modes of other scales. E.g. Dorian is the second mode of major, so if you know your major scales well then dorian is easy to play.
Knowing the intervals isn't enough. On some instruments that works but on the harmonica you have to learn the pattern for each scale.
The important scales are in this order:

Natural Minor (which is the 6th mode of major)
Myxolidian (5th mode of major)
Dorian Minor (2nd mode of major)

If you start with those you will figure the rest out by yourself.
29-12-2009 19:42
Dont even bother reaDING THAT last blog. What are all the scales you learn and now. Can you play a scale you did not learn by just knowing the steps. Basically my question is "What is the process your mind go through in playing. Scales? 5ths? Do you need to learn all the scales on the harmonica or if you know the steps can you transition quick enouugh if you have to. Those are a lot of scales.

Overall:Can you give me some tips to being a All key player on one diatonic harp
29-12-2009 19:39
Ya I tuned to so what. You loose all the chords, so what. I think thats where the name comes from. I had fun tuning and whitching reeds to make it but do not thinlk I want to learn it. I think the richter is most pop for a reason. I plan to look into equal temp, just in., and richter.(All most popular. And find one I like the best. Or just stick with richter. I like the idea of playing all the music on one harmoniica. I just need to get that one over blow. I can do it but its sloppy. This site has helped me a lot. I practice scales in different keys and gettin g correct inotation. I love the idea of playting all keys with one harp. I think I am going to stick with richter, I just do not know what key Harp I want to play.
29-12-2009 10:33
No I mean play with correct intonation. The trick is resonance.
29-12-2009 04:58
Pitch you mean tune them set them up right? What is the trick?
28-12-2009 23:26
Wow Billy that is a lot of questions.
Firts I only play richter harps, never play any special tunings. Second I only play C harp never any other keys. So the questions about different tunings are difficult to answer. I could tell you to only play a Richter tuned C harp but what works for me might not work for you. You'll have to ask someone who plays different tunings.
If you want your bent notes to sound better you have to spend a lot of time working on your resonance, that is the most important part of good tone.
Why not an all bending harp? Overblows are easy to play, much easier then the half step bends in hole 2 and 3 for example. Creating a all bending harp would make intonation very very difficult. If you are playing a half step bend in a hole that can bend a whole step or more you have 2 reeds that are producing sound and therefore 2 reeds that you need to pitch. On an overblow there is only 1 reed producing sound so only one reed you have pitch.
28-12-2009 18:33
And why do you play with over blows innstead of getting a ha;rp set up to do all bends?
28-12-2009 18:10
What is your favorite tuning. Can you explain it to me. I feel like my harmonicas are all over the place. Do you think it is best to have a set of one tuning and keep those that tuning or what. If i am playing and trying different tunings wont that give me less time to practice the richter scale and I will not get good at my standard pace? What are some things you can do to your harmonica to make the bends sound louder. Some are just so leaky (The One draw on SPanish tuning). Also I notice when I play with the harmonica straight in my mouth they seem .different to bend. Do you hold it at a little angle pointing up out or straight or down?
28-12-2009 11:17
I can't say why it is called Spanish tuning. I added the Spanish scale to the scalefinder. Maybe in a certain position it makes more sense then in others.
The extra bent note is probably useful in jazz and blues.
Pros: it is easier to play the minor third.
cons: the intonation is still difficult, the 2nd becomes more difficult to play.
28-12-2009 07:09
Dear Tinus and tinus site and anyone else who is listening.I tuned my one draw up a half step so I would not have to hit the one OB. Is this good for Blues? Jazz? Whats the difference? Then I noticed the name of that tuning was Spanish Bending... or something like that. Why spanish?

Pros? COns?
03-07-2009 22:49
Not a silly question at all. Although it is slightly more difficult to learn than lip blocked overblowing tongue blocked overblowing works especially for the higher notes. On low pitched overblows it is difficult to get the back of the tongue low enough when tongue blocking. I can play a chromatic scale with tongue block from hole 4 up, but my lack of practice in tongue blocking could be the reason why I can't do the lower notes properly.
03-07-2009 22:34
Hello Tinus.

Does the fact that overblows and overbands are played using the H spot mean that it is posible to play them using tongue blocking technique? What technique do you use?

Sorry for sily question, but I'm just a novice. And sorry for my poor English.

P.S. And thanks for this site, it has brought me a new standpoint to diatonic harmonica and inspired. :)
13-05-2009 23:26
Hello Tinus:

I have a description for the H-spot that might help some people. I imagine a soft piece of gum that you flatten to the roof of your mouth using the back 1/2 of your tongue while the front 1/2 of the tongue rests on the bottom of your mouth near the middle.
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