Advanced Harmonica Technique: An In-Depth Look at Overblowing

By Joe Feeney

Written by Joe Feeney on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Lessons, How to Play the Harmonica

Overblowing is tough, but if you want to stay up to speed with what modern harmonica players are doing it’s a must. This technique will enable you to play the entire chromatic scale on a diatonic harmonica (which means you’ll have all the notes that are found on a piano). YAY!!!

Overblowing is similar to bending because it is a technique used on wind instruments to producing an altered pitch. The standard note is disturbed and one of the overtones of the note dominates.


Overblowing requires two simultaneous actions:

1. The direct reed should be silenced.
2. The opposite reed should make the sound.

Correct shaping of the lips and the use of facial muscles are important when blowing directly into the mouthpiece of the harmonica.

How do you do it? 

Well… first you’ll probably want to have a custom set-up on your harmonica in which reed gapping is applied. If you don’t do that first… good luck!!!!

How do you customized your harmonica with reed gapping?  Find someone who will customize your harmonica for you or buy the Lee Oskar Tool Kit and Instruction Manual. 

Once your harmonica has been customized, get more help on how to do the overblow technique.

Remember, unless you can perform all your basic blow and draw bends smoothly, you’re probably not ready for this technique.

Have fun and be patient while you learn this,

Joe Feeney

Comments (2)

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    Al Gilmore



    btwTell the audience what note the overblown is to the standard note from that hole.


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    While I appreciate and understand the complexity of rhe overblow technique, and enjoy harp players that utilize it. I do think that it is required to keep up with modern harp players. There are many harp players that will blow your socks off with out using that technique. There are many skill sets to learn and master before I would even consider attempting over blows


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