Special 20 problem?

I just got a Special 20 (I am new to harmonica). I can get clean tones from everything except 2-draw. Is this a normal difficulty, is it me, or is it a problem with this particular harmonica?


Hi tc4all,

Welcome to the world of harmonica playing!

Getting a clear 2-hole-draw is a common difficulty among beginners. Try to form an “O” while drawing, as this amplifies the space in your mouth.

Did you already sign up for the Free Online Lessons that come with the purchase of the Special 20? This and other techniques are very well explained there.


I doubt that the harp is faulty.

I suspect you’re using a C harp. It’s frequently a challenge to successfully get a good tone from drawing hole 2. Practicing is one solution, but you can also try a G or A harp — they are typically easier.

Hi the special 20 is a great harp, keep at it. With regard to your 2 draw try articulating the word ,who , on the draw note, this should help

Good luck.

You bought my favorite Hohner diatonic: it’s comfortable to play, responsive, and has great smooth tone. You’ll lick the two draw with the tips listed above. It’s a good place to learn that the mouth and nasal cavity are also part of the instrument. Some notes articulate better when changing the mouth. lips, and tongue. This will become second nature. Keep practicing and let your ear guide you…

Hi tc4all,

The special 20 is a good choice and is equally popular with both experienced players and beginners.

Getting a clean tone from 2-draw is a common difficulty experienced by beginning players. It will help if you open your throat more. If you can whistle that note at it’s true pitch (it’s the same note as 3-blow) and keep the same throat shape when playing 2-draw, you will find it can resonate more easily. Here’s a link to the first of a series of videos which should help you further: https://youtu.be/dlhhFrJ_Stw

Check these out, they are aimed at demonstrating the fundamentals of breathing and embouchure,

Good advise on fixing the troubles with the mute 2 hole inhale. What they all said. Joe Filisko

To be able to blow or draw hole 2 correctly you need to control the air pressure. One way to do this is: When blowing or drawing hole no. 2 (let’s say blow), allow the air to be blown equally from your mouth AND nose. This means that you should allow the air to pass partially from your mouth and your nose (1:1). This will ease the pressure on the reed, allowing it to sound correctly. All beginners invariably blow (draw) hard into the harmonica, making the reed sound chocked or distorted. This method works perfectly.

Welcome to the forum, usl52.

While it is true to say that using less air pressure will make it easier for these notes to sound, it’s not easy to actually play the harmonica with air also passing through your nose. The central point is this: in order for bendable notes to resonate on pitch (esp. 2-draw), it’s necessary to create a resonance chamber in your mouth and throat which permits the actual wavelength of the note in question to resonate there. It’s all about the air column in the vocal tract. If you create the appropriate throat shape, there’s no need to open the nasal passage.

Hi Steve…while I fully agree with your explanation, I would like to mention that: for a fresher, the basic blowing and drawing technique itself is fairly difficult and creating the appropriate throat shape is all the more difficult, thereby leading to frustration in getting holes two and three to sound correct. If the learner is made to use the nose partially, for blowing and drawing, specially hole numbers two and three, they will sound correct with little effort. Once underway, the student could be taught to create the appropriate throat shape. I have come across ‘senior’ players who are unable to blow and draw hole numbers two and three correctly and tend to choke them.

There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to play these notes clearly and with good intonation, and the method you describe may initially make this easier, giving the player a feeling of success. However it’s difficult to unlearn things, so personally I have always taught throat voicing from the start. But one of the beautiful things about the harmonica is that many roads lead to Rome :wink: