I have a strange situation in which i can't seem to play the draw (an 8 draw on a D harp) AT ALL on lip pursing, although i can do all the other notes, even the high ones. But it's not broken because it plays OK if i tongue block across either the 8-9 (9 blocked) or the 7-8 (7 blocked). Or even if i use my fingers to block both 7 and 9 and inhale! Can you suggest what i'm doing wrong?

  • What model is it? Is it a new instrument? – Mathieu Guindon Nov 5 at 15:16
  • 1) If it's a new harp, certain reeds my be stiff at first - you need to experiment with your embouchure until you find the correct approach to getting that note to sound properly, then continue doing so regularly when you practice. After a week or two, it should loosen up and you'll be able to play more normally.
  • 2) If it's an older harp, quite often dirt and gunk will accumulate around a reed or hole, making it difficult to play. Harmonicas require constant maintenance to keep them clean and playing correctly. If you look under close light, often you can see gunk obstructing the hole or reed.

    The fix in that case is to clean your harp. It's a delicate process, and if you do it incorrectly you can trash the instrument entirely. You can read up on it - there are some good sites that discuss it and some controversies as well, but it's probably better to have someone experienced do it for you. It often involves opening up the harp and touching or getting in between the reeds - delicate business.

    At any rate, never use solvents to clean, and avoid cotton swaps or any other material that leaves lint. Water, rubbing alcohol and a lint-less cloth or something like lens cleaners are good. If you use water, hold your harp face down, so the water runs out the front and doesn't accumulate around the reeds, which again could trash your instrument entirely.

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