How to Get Your First Overdraws on the Harmonica

By Winslow Yerxa

Like high blow bends, overdraws are in the highest register of the harp, where tiny movements of your K-spot make the difference between getting the note and not getting it. Most harmonicas can benefit from reed adjustment so that overdraws can start easily and sound clearly. A few models, such as the Suzuki Fire Breath and Pure Breath, come pre-adjusted for overdraws.

You may benefit from trying your first overdraws on a harp in a lower key, such as A or G, whose lower pitch may make the highest bends a little easier to locate and activate.

Every harp is slightly different, but often the easiest overdraw to get is in Hole 8. It’s too bad that this overdraw duplicates Draw 9, but it’s nice to at least get an overdraw so you can feel what it’s like.

For overdraws, the springboard approach is probably a little easier to start with than the push-through. When you switch from the blow bend to the overdraw, you’ll notice a large amount of suction.

Try to concentrate the suction in your mouth in the area in front of your tongue. If you feel the suction in your chest but not in front of your tongue, you’re letting it escape. If you keep your K-spot firm and you create suction in the front of your mouth, you’ll have better success with overdraws.

Check out the springboard approach to overdraws on the harmonica in Holes 7, 8, 9, and 10. Try them all, but start with Hole 8.

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When you succeed in getting an overdraw in any of the holes with the springboard approach, see if you can go directly from the draw note to the overdraw on the harmonica. Instead of a push-through, this is a pull-through.

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