Bend It Better™: The Free Tool That Helps You Bend Harmonica In Tune!

By JP Allen

Written by JP Allen on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Lessons

Are You Ready To Get Started Mastering Your Bends?

Try out Harmonica.com’s free Bend It Better™ web app for yourself below. Be sure to check out the video and read all the tips found further down the page to learn how to use it. See if you can climb the ladder from Level 1 to Level 7!

The Bend It Better™ Web App

The thing I love about this new bending tool above is that it’s super simple. Some of the other harmonica bending tools are cool, but they can get a bit complicated for beginners. Also, most of the other bending tools are phone apps that are not free, but this tool above is free to use anytime on this web page. (Bend It Better™ is currently not available as a tablet or phone app yet).

I designed this web app based on my years of teaching beginning and intermediate harmonica players. Students are commonly not sure if they are bending.  Some students think they are bending but they’re not, and some students are actually bending but they don’t know they’re bending. After seeing this repeatedly, I finally attempted to solve the problem.

What makes Harmonica.com’s Free Bending Tool Different?

This is the only harmonica bending tool I know of that actually plays the sound of the bent note you’re trying to hit before you start playing. Then once you start playing, it lets you know if you’re playing in tune. This is important because if you want to play a bent note in tune, it helps a ton if you know what that note sounds like (before trying to hit the bend).

Bend It Better™ Walk-through Video

FYI: I also made a list for you of Level 1 – Level 7 in the “Organized Path To Mastery” section below.

Tech Tips And Recommendations

 -> Be sure to turn the Bend It Better “ON” by pressing the round “OFF”  button.

 -> Allow access to your microphone if requested by your browser.

-> Using headphones may improve the apps performance on some computers and devices.

 -> Make sure your speakers are “on” and “not muted” to hear the tone generator. Turn up your speakers if needed, although it’s best to set your output volume to the same or lower than your harmonica input volume.

-> Your internet browser or phone / tablet may need to have the latest operating system and browser updates (the app may not work on some older devices… sorry but hey it’s free right!)

Simplicity In Design And Purpose

While there are several other bending apps on the market, many are only available for a cost and are bogged down with scales, music theory or details. This can scare many developing harmonica players away. While these skills are crucial to becoming a complete musician, many harmonica students first need a simple and accessible tool that allows them to learn to bend so they can start playing the music they hear and grow as players.

Bend It Better has a minimum number of features designed to work exceedingly well. It is specifically designed to help you learn to bend.

One of the ways it does this is via a tone generator. When you click a note on the app, you hear the pitch. While this may seem simple, it’s often forgotten, and players or teachers need a separate keyboard to play the note. This simplifies the process: you hear the pitch, then play it.

Unfortunately, if you don’t know what a note sounds like, you’ll be guessing (and it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to bend in tune consistently).

Getting Started: Before we get into how Bend It Better works, a few suggestions to assist your journey:

Get a quality harmonica: I encourage you to have at least one high-level professional harmonica. My personal favorite is the Hohner Special 20,  but you can review all my favorite harmonicas here.

Have a command of single notes: Before you begin working to master bends, you need to have control of solid, confident, clear single notes. You’ll find advice on playing single notes here.

Organized Path To Mastery

If you’re getting serious about learning the harmonica, you’ve probably discovered that the ability to bend in pitch and get the notes you want accurately is integral to your progression. Whether you are playing blues, gospel, rock, country or even pop, you must achieve mastery of your bends. What would Whammer Jammer be without the iconic 10 double-blow bend at the beginning?

No one learns how to bend overnight. Even the best professional players work relentlessly on bending in pitch. However, when you are getting started, it can be overwhelming to work towards mastery.

What we’ve done as part of the app is provide a system where you can learn bending from the ground up, from just achieving bends to hitting every available bend on the instrument in pitch, including the tricky half steps.

FYI: When you see the gray line that means you are in the perfect tuning zone, and the blue line means you are laser accurate!

Level 1: Bend either 1 or 4 draw. (whichever one is easiest for you). For levels 1, 2 and 3, you don’t need to bend in tune.

Level 2: Bend all the draw notes from 1 to 6. Again, you don’t need to bend in tune yet.

Level 3: Bend 8, 9 or 10 blow. (Just bend them. Don’t worry about playing them in tune until later.)

Level 4: Bend either 1, 4 or 6 draw bent a half step IN TUNE. (of those three choices, pick the one note that’s easiest for you and focus on it)

Level 5: Bend all three notes from Level 4 IN TUNE.

Level 6: Play either -2″ (2 draw double bend) or -3′ (3 draw single bend) IN TUNE. (I also refer to these notes as 2 draw bent a whole step and 3 draw bent a half step)

Level 7: Play all your blow bends, and all your draw bends IN TUNE.

Enjoy the Journey

It’s going to take time and patience to nail your bends in tune. The 3 draw alone has three separate bends available. Acquiring the skills to bend all of them consistently takes dedicated practice. With Bend It Better, there is now a way to chart your progression over time.

If you are struggling with making “Clear Solid Single Notes” then I recommend checking out my Happy Harpin’ lessons.

Why am I trying to make this so easy for you? The main reason is my personal experiences and the frustrations I had learning to bend. I picked up guitar and harmonica around the same time. I had a guitar tuner and noticed that the tuner would pick up my harmonica notes. When I tried to bend in tune, I couldn’t do it.

I started getting frustrated. But I kept playing harmonica for about a year and was able to start hitting the notes more accurately. I don’t want you to get stuck in the position I was in where you start feeling frustrated and perhaps even quit the instrument before you get going on your harmonica journey.

If you want to SKYROCKET your blues harmonica playing then I recommend checking out Breakthrough Blues harmonica lessons.

Share Your Experiences

I’m excited to hear about your experiences with Bend It Better, so please share them with me via the comment box below. As you start working with the app, I’d also like to know how it’s performing and if there is anything we can do better.

Good luck on your journey and your quest to master this crucial skill in harmonica playing!

P.S. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you at one of my Harmonica Retreats in Hawaii someday soon!

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JP Allen

JP Allen believes that anyone can learn to play harmonica. Are you a beginner or intermediate who is looking for an especially easy approach to getting good fast? Do you think it would be fun to play blues or some of your favorite songs with minimal practice? Then CLICK HERE for JP's Beginners Harmonica Lessons, the world’s only 100% play-along harmonica video lessons.

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