I've noticed that when I bend on the 8th hole, weird things happen. If I blow normally, the sound is OK, but upon an attempt to bend (downwards, during the draw), the sounds stop to be melodic and all I can hear is a dull hissing sound, together with a hint of a very high-pitched whizz - as if the reed itself had actually stopped vibrating.

I have firstly observed it on a $10 North Star harmonica in D, so I just blamed this for the not-exactly-perfect quality of the instrument. But after some time I bought a Hohner Special 20 in C and I hear exactly the same thing! And again- it's only the 8th hole.

Is this a known problem? Am I doing the bend wrong? Or maybe is it possible that I have damaged the harmonica somehow during the cleaning or by blowing/drawing too hard?

  • I would assume you're just not creating enough energy to vibrate the reed. Bending down should be harder than up, especially on the high notes. – user28 May 29 '11 at 16:53
  • The stronger I blow, the louder the whizz- and that's it. (BTW, errata- I've just checked; 8th hole, not 7th!) – Kos May 29 '11 at 17:03
  • Hmm OK. I'll let someone with more harmonica knowledge comment then :) – user28 May 29 '11 at 17:19

This must be because you are attempting an overdraw instead of an ordinary bend and are not there yet. You bend the 8th hole down by blowing, not drawing. I think you will experience the same problem if you attempt an overblow on the 4th hole.

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  • Riiight... From the 8th hole the blow and draw reeds are the other way round, that's why it's different! So simple.. Thanks! :) – Kos May 31 '11 at 16:59
  • IOW you can only bend the highest note on the hole, highest note being the draw note on holes 1-6, and the blow note on holes 7-10. – Mathieu Guindon May 25 '17 at 20:26

Sometimes, the reeds can get slightly bent and catch against the sides of the slot, or little pieces of yuck (food items...) can get caught in there. Most harps are amenable to "soaking"... Simply washing them out. Most can be taken apart and you can see if the reed is physically hanging up on something. Sometimes a tiny tweak is sufficient to put everything right.

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