Dennis Gruenling

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Lookin' Sharp

Eighth and Ninth Chorus Breakdown

Hi Everyone -

This week we wrap up my “Lookin’ Sharp" tribute to George “Harmonica” Smith. Staying in 3rd Position for Chorus 8 we will tackle building more tension with his approach to phrasing repeated riffs, more tremolo, more high 5-hole octaves, and even a subtle tongue trill. In Chorus 9 we wrap it up by going back to the original melodic theme of the song, but this time we are in 3rd Position. Looking back on what we covered, it’s clear to see that through his use of these varying textures and sounds, why George Smith was such a unique and exciting musician on the harmonica.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed working on this tribute to him here on Sonic Junction!

- Dennis Gruenling



Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Key of A
G Harp
George Harmonica Smith
Lookin Sharp
Dennis Gruenling

Backing Track

Print Print Chords & Tab

G Harp in the Key of A

Loop 0:15 Run-Through of 8th and 9th Chrous

Loop 1:27 I Chord Breakdown of 8th Chorus

Loop 2:44 IV / I Chord Breakdown

Loop 3:15 Practice Loop of First 8 Bars

Loop 3:45 Breakdown of Last 4 Bars

Loop 4:54 Practice Loop of 8th Chorus

Loop 5:28 Breakdown of I Chord / 9th Chorus 

Loop 6:12 Breakdown of IV Chord 

Loop 6:38 Practice Loop of Bars 1-8 of 9th Chorus 

Loop 7:08 Breakdown of Last 4 Bars of 9th Chorus

Loop 8:50 Practice Loop of 8th and 9th Chorus




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Bill Blatner
Bill Blatner Oct 20, 2015

Thanks and thanks again! With just the little bit of work on TB bends so far I can see/feel the possibilities.  Looking forward to the next tune but hands and motuth full of things to work on from this one. 


Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Oct 22, 2015

Yup, a little focused work goes a long way with this technique stuff! :) 


Eric C Rodenberg
Eric C Rodenberg Oct 20, 2015

Hi Dennis:

When I first heard this instrumental, it was damned intimidating. But, after listening and learning, I'm getting it .... 4-8 octave, who would had thought?

You really articulate this stuff in an effective manner. Your work at Sonic Junction has been invaluable to me. My sincere thanks.


Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Oct 22, 2015

Thanks Eric - Thanks so much!

Yea, the 4-8 sounds BIG and George used it a lot, which is where guys like Rod Piazza, William Clarke and so many others who use it nowadays got it from. I'm working on more stuff for Sonic Junction, so stay tuned for more...! Thanks

Bill Blatner
Bill Blatner Oct 19, 2015

Hi Dennis,

Now that I'm getting a handle on all the notes and timing, I'm realizing that there may be an aspect of my technique that's just not up to the task (there are others no doubt, but you have to start somewhere.).  It seems that if I can't tongue block all those bends and scoops, there are many phrases that just aren't going to sound right.  In chorus 2 for example, landing back on the 1-4 octave at the end of the first lines is way easier from a tongue block than from lip pursing, even though I have way better control of bends when lip pursing.

It helps to know what to focus practice time on.  Is mastering bends tongue blocking a priority?  All the way to hole 1?

As always, thanks for the great feedback and instruction,



Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Oct 20, 2015

Hi Bill -  great question, and observation.

Regardless of what anyone else may ever say or tell you, the fact is that the harmonica was made to be tongue-blcoked, and especially when trying to play blues style harmonica (at least if you want utilize 90% of the techniques and sound spossible on the instrument and want to have sounds similar to the old masters of this style) you want do some, if not most, tongue-blocking.

Most players start out as pucker players, as I did myself. But don't make the mistake of listening to some of the non-TB players on the internet that will tell you it makes no difference, or that you should just do what is most comfortable for you. The simple fact isthat TB enables you to do so many things on the instrument that are just otherwise impossible. In addition, it will also enhance your playing tone when done correctly.

Bending is the most difficult thing to master on the diatonic harmonica, no doubt. For this reason, I always start my students from Day 1 to work on bending. It takes a long time to be a precise bender, so the sooner you start, the better off you will be. So I would suggest to you to immediately start working on TB bends on a daily basis. Don't wear yourself out and don't have unrealistic expectations. It  won’thappen overnight, and for a while you will still revert to pucker bends until it becomes more comfortable with TB. But do begin practicing them ASAP. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be comfortable enough to do it and your body will start incorporating them when you are. At least down to and incuding hole 2, if not 1....but definitely down to hole 2.

But practice them daily, in small increments. That's the best way. And...yes yoy=u are correct, once you do these notes/bends/passages TB, all of the TB techniques such as octaves can be thrown in the mix with much more fluidity.





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