Dennis Gruenling

Lesson >

Moan A Chrome

Performance and Introduction

Hi Harpsters of Sonic Junction!

Today I will start a new study piece and we are going down a new avenue for this one, on a Chromatic harmonica!

If this is new for you and you are not sure about playing the chromatic harp, or if you have experimented on your own and may be somewhat confused by the instrument (it is tuned and constructed differently than a standard harmonica)…have no fear! We will be utilizing no new techniques, only techniques we have already used on my other study pieces here on Sonic Junction, but we are just now using them on a different type harmonica. If you do play a little chromatic already, this will likely give you a better framework to start learning more and improvising more freely on the instrument for blues.

Any standard chromatic harmonica in the key of C will work (I am using a 12-hole Hohner model 270 “Super Chromonica”) and you can even seek out a “solo tuned” diatonic harmonica in the key of C if the chromatic harmonica is a little intimidating for you. A solo-tuned diatonic harmonica has the same note layout as a chromatic, but is the size of a diatonic harmonica, has no slide on it, and has some notes that you can bend.  Either way, get your harp and ready to moan the blues with me on “Moan-a-Chrome”!

- Dennis Gruenling



Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Chromatic Harmonica

Backing Track

Print Print Chords & Tab

C Chromatic Harmonica in the Key of D

Loop 0:40 Introduction to Moan A Chrome and Chromatic Harmonica

Loop 2:14 Whole Song

Loop 2:14 First Verse

Loop 2:53 Second Verse

Loop 3:29 Third Verse

Loop 4:05 Fourth Verse

Loop 4:42 Fifth Verse

Loop 5:18 Sixth Verse

Loop 5:55 Seventh Verse

Loop 6:30 Eighth Verse




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andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Aug 24, 2020

Hi Dennis !! yes it s tighter Now !! really appreciated your comments , and your tongue vamp ... Man it s fast !! 


Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Aug 24, 2020

Thank you! Just takes steady practice, you will get it for sure.

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Jul 03, 2020

Hi Dennis !! It s not tight like I d like ,  but ... it s  a start and I really have to be able to count the beat ... i m sure it will help ... any comments anyone ??

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Jul 03, 2020

Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Aug 24, 2020

Sounds good!! Sorry for the delay, this comment slipped through the cracks here on me. And good job moving with the groove, and keeping time with the tune. REALLY nice distorted notes, hit just right! I'm curious if it's gotten tighter for you since posting this....nice job though, sounds like you have the scale down really well.

Paul Appleton
Paul Appleton May 24, 2020

This is great !!! A potential future  good one would be I’m ready by Willie Dixon it’s a good steady chromatic piece 😎

Bill Blatner
Bill Blatner Sep 11, 2019

Hey Dennis,

You've been preaching the gospel of George "Harmonica" Smith for a long time but I finally, on a 5-hour solo car trip, got in deep.  I must have listened to Blues in the Dark 200 times, and am still listening.  There's so much to learn in this piece!  What is most impressive to me is how he defines and drives that groove - he's pulling the rhythm section along with him!  Swinging behind and ahead of the beat, which you've mentioned elsewhere, to remarkable effect.  So thanks for turning me on to GHS.  This piece is really moving my chromatic playing.


Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Sep 11, 2019

Glad to hear that, thank you!

Yes, George was a phenomenal player, and a great musician. He knew how to build and release tension, and how to establish and play with a groove...on chromatic AND diatonic!

Stéphane Nov 03, 2018

Hi Dennis, great to finally have some chromatic lessons for blues harmonica. You teach very well. 

I was wondering if you had a preference for a 12 hole vs a 16 hole when playing with a C? 

I do enjoy the smaller size of the 12 hole but love that lower octave on the 16 hole but sometimes find it easy to get lost on it if I'm not carefully. And when I play the 12 hole I kinda miss those lower notes.

And is having a few different keys chromatic worth it? Or do you stick with a C and are happy with that?

Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Nov 03, 2018

Hi - thanks!!

I like the low octacve as well, but for amplified playing, it is easier to use a 12 hole to manipulate the tone as much as possible...and I have several different keys I use, because the chords are limited on the chromatic in different positions.

Douglas Avery
Douglas Avery Aug 28, 2018


Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Aug 28, 2018

I did not use the button on this song, it was meant as an intrroductory Blues Chromatic piece...but still is more musically "advanced" than many other chromatic piecves you hear some other players perform.

The 64X is put together differently, and they just are introducing a new 64X model, totally redesigned. It is awwesome, but much more expensive, and more responsive. Both instruments are tuned the same and have the same notes however...

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Jul 12, 2018

Hi Mike !! thank you ... for the backing track !! a lot 

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Jun 28, 2018

Hi Dennis !! 

There s no Backing track ??

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Jun 29, 2018

Hi Andre - thanks for the reminder.  The track is up.  

Bill Blatner
Bill Blatner May 27, 2018

Hi Dennis,

In the first chorus, at the end of part over the 4-chord, you land on the 2-draw but then it kinda swells into a big, low, distorted growl. Are you playing 1- and 2-draw there? That's a super mean sound.

Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling Jun 04, 2018

Thanks Bill!! That is a 2 draw, that just swells into a distorted 2 draw - meaning I open up to include part f the next higher note with it (3 draw)...thanks!!

Stefan Harpsalot
Stefan Harpsalot May 11, 2018

Might be time to buy a Chromatic! this is cool!! Thanks Dennis

Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling May 11, 2018

Thanks! Glad you dig this! If you can do these techniques we've been using on the diatonic, you can totally tackle this one.

mauricio taufic
mauricio taufic May 05, 2018

Absolutely fantastic! There is a lot of learning in this study!

Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling May 05, 2018

Glad you like it! Not as difficult as it sounds, just a new instrument!

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle May 04, 2018

Absolutly Amazing  !! .... I really want to master it ... looking forward to start Dennis !!

Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling May 04, 2018

Thanks Andre!! You can tackle this, it really doesn't take more skills than the diatonic for this song, just a different instrument and a little more breath control perhaps. Have fun with it!

Boyd R
Boyd R May 04, 2018

Sounds great. But you can't beat the diatonic.

Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling May 04, 2018

Thanks Boyd! Just something different, not trying to replace the diatonic. There will be plenty more diatonic coming from me here on Sonic Junction!

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