The Best Guitar Book Ever! (SUPER-CHOPS)

This week on the Guitar Blog Insider I discuss what I believe is probably the best guitar book for learning guitar skills with scales and arpeggios (all over the neck) that has ever been created...

It seems that in recent months, I've been seeing a lot of YouTube videos going up with titles like; "Don't Learn Scales," and "Don't Learn Chords," and there's even a few that say "Don't Learn Theory." 

I'm going to give all of these YouTube video posts the benefit of the doubt in that they're just "click-bait" titles and the authors are not actually serious in truly saying and promoting the idea of don't learn any of this vital stuff.

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But, what I wanted to get into on this week's episode of the "Guitar Blog Insider" is just how beneficial it is to put in a ton of hours and an enormous amount of very serious guitar practice. And also, how it really changes your guitar playing to go and put in the time to really study chords, and to seriously study scales, and music theory.


Most guitar players begin learning the guitar for fun. Maybe a friend plays, and that inspires them. Or maybe they'll watch a movie and see the guitar featured, or maybe it's a song, and that one song inspires them.

However the interest in guitar "grabs hold" of a person, something in them makes them feel like they've just got to learn how to play guitar. And, after getting their first guitar, and trying to learn for awhile, usually people are pretty blown away with how challenging it is to develop the skills to be able to play well. It is generally around that point when a teacher is called upon to shed more light on details like technique and general skills development.

Once a practicing guitarist begins getting more technique down and they learn several songs, and more about all kinds of other ideas surrounding guitar - like; using a capo, and maybe a slide. And, learning barre chords, moveable scale patterns, arpeggios, and down the road - how key signature theory operates all across the neck, and intervals all of that stuff... they're going to be ready - at some point in there - to organize their study of playing lead, doing improvisation, and learning how to solo.

The whole process of learning "some" information, just bleeds over to learning even more and more until eventually the guitarist pursues advanced material for a much deeper / really in-depth guitar study.

When this happened to me, I asked a teacher of mine what the most complicated, most in-depth book was that he'd ever studied from. I just figured that if I could study from the same book as him I'd get as good as him, (because he was a great player). So, he told me the most challenging book that he ever studied from was by an author named "Howard Roberts," and it was called, "SuperChops."

Now, the benefits of doing the SuperChops program are incredible because the entire process is based around following chord changes in all of the different areas of the guitar neck using scales and arpeggios. So, the SuperChops method takes a very involved chord progression, (that you first need to learn well enough to go and record a backing track of). And then, (once the backing track is organized), you're next goal is to play over the chord changes repeatedly - over and over again - until you can consistently perform the associated scales or arpeggios in time all across the chord progression.

The work involved is nothing less than incredibly, time consuming, but the pay off that you get from studying the SuperChops method is amazing!

Example of somebody doing a Super-Chops exercise:

So, let's do a quick demonstration for how this works using a very basic example. Even if you don't own the SuperChops book, you can still do the concept of the work-out and get some benefit from the concept of it all. Let's begin with a chord progression to use as our backing track. We'll go with a chord progression based from the key of "D Minor."

Example Jam: Key of "D Minor"

STEP #1).
Now, once the chord changes are learned and developed up to a decent tempo, you'll have to record them. Once they're recorded, you'll start phase two of the SuperChops process which is playing over the changes in a very robotic way. You can use scales, modes or arpeggios to cover the chords. The main thing is to play in a simple fashion. Stick with straight 8th-notes or 16th's and avoid phrasing devices like hammer-ons or pull-offs, slides or bends.

STEP #2).
Once you have a handle on this side of playing, start branching out and playing over the changes using a more free improvisational nature. I'm sure at this point you're starting to become aware of how valuable this learning method can be for developing your playing skills.

Doing the actual SuperChops program from the book is a lot more intense than what I've shown you here. The book's progressions are really, REALLY long and they contain very complex chord changes.

The book's examples also include melody lines that you'd need to learn, (and they are written in traditional music notation, [there's no TAB], so good music reading skills are going to be an absolute must).

Now, I know this sounds like a lot of work, but what I wanted to get across in this post, is that there's no substitute for serious guitar study. Great players, don't pass over work on; scales, chords, theory and technical skills. They actually dedicate many many long hours to developing their ability. And, that's why the greatest guitarists are well known as such fantastic players, they've worked very hard and they're very serious about how they Study the Guitar.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section below... if you enjoyed the video above, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more on YouTube. Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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Top 7 Guitar Mistakes (TENSION & PAIN)

Is your body going through pain just to be able to play guitar? Does it hurt to sit or stand? Are you experiencing muscle fatigue and stress pain due to overdoing it? Do you have issues with tension and /or poor performance? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you NEED to read and watch this discussion...

Do you ever experience strange back, shoulder or neck pain after sitting or standing with your guitar for extended periods of time? Or do you ever find that there's tension in the wrists, hand or arm after playing chords, or scales for awhile? These are all signs of tension build-up. And, tension is the leading cause of poor musical performance. If left alone, it can also start making your life in general a living hell.


Tension build-up is quite common among beginner and intermediate guitarists, however many advanced guitarists also suffer from tension problems as well. Awareness is the first step to tackle the issues, and once you're aware of tension and how it's developing in your body, the more capable you'll be at controlling it.

Daily Deal:

One word of warning, you'll unfortunately be battling tension for the rest of your guitar playing days, so you'll have to start learning the tools that are out there to control tension as soon as possible.This will very likely be one of the most important guitar articles that you'll ever read. Just, take in these ideas and use them to soak up the benefits!

Let’s look at some common causes of body tension build-up.

Tension mainly comes from a combination of improper technique, bad posture, and the inability to completely relax while playing an instrument. In this blog post and in the video, we’ll look at the most common causes of body tension and poor posture, which also happen to be the easiest ones for players to correct.

1. Guitar Posture - Sitting:
More often than not, how you currently sit with the guitar is likely your biggest factor in tension issues. Many of us already have bad posture while sitting down, and this is further amplified when playing guitar.

So let’s talk about how we should sit in a manner that won’t hurt our bodies. The main thing is to sit with your chest slightly sticking outwards. You don’t want to overdo it though, because pushing your chest too far out will cause you to arch your lower back too far.

Think about what a position of “dignity” looks like. Try it out; think about the position of your body when you’re sitting in a position of dignity. Most of you would have already assumed the proper posture when the word “dignity” flashes through your mind. If that doesn’t help, imagine there is a ball right in your solar plexus.

Now try to raise this imaginary ball up towards your skull. You should find that your spine begins to lengthen, which in turn releases tension that may be in your back. The main thing you want to avoid doing is to arch your lower back outwards, which is what most of us do when we want to straighten our backs. Instead of straightening our backs, we need to, "lengthen" it.

2. Bring the Guitar Closer Toward You:
One of the main reasons why we hunch our backs, (compressing our stomach and rib-cage), while playing guitar is the instrument may feel like it’s too far away from us. The key to correcting this is to bring the instrument towards you, and not your body towards the instrument.

Use a Guitar Players Foot-Stool:
By using a Guitarists "Foot Stool" (to step on so your leg is slightly raised up), it will in turn raise your instrument more toward yourself. This will also help straighten your back. A guitar players foot-stool can easily accomplish this, and they offer height adjust-ability. You can use almost anything to step on, (a stack of books, or even a piece of wood, etc.), but a guitarists foot stool is very inexpensive and was custom made for this very task.

3. Understand How to Hold a Guitar:
When you hold your guitar, your fretting hand should not be involved in holding your guitar. If you sit down and assume your regular playing position without touching the guitar with your fretting hand, the guitar should stay in place on your lap. Your strumming arm should be what's supporting the guitar against your body.

4. Relax The Shoulders for Better Playing:
A lot of stress and tension is held within our neck, lower back, and across our shoulders, and this can be an issue for us both when playing guitar, and also after we put it down. The shoulders often increase in tension as we perform more difficult ideas. Playing with tension across your neck and your shoulders creates stress, so check in on your shoulders and your neck to make sure they're nice and relaxed.

The more awareness you have about this topic the less likely you will be to have aches and pains from stress in this area. This, along with the lower back, are the most common sites of pain and tension while playing guitar. So, pay regard to how your body is dealing with tension and if you need to, take more breaks and always remind yourself to stay relaxed.

5. Finger Pain - Hand, Wrist and Arm:
Another playing mistake that often happens to guitarists, especially for those starting out, is finger pain.

Your fingertips will unfortunately hurt for the first while because they're doing a lot of rubbing against either steel or nylon guitar strings. The friction from sliding around on the strings causes the skin on our fingertips to heat-up and develop calloused tips, as well as, peel away, which results in soreness and pain.

The good part is, (yes there's a bright side), that this will go away, especially as you play more and more and develop calloused finger tips. Your fingertips skin will become harder so that you’ll be able to play for hours without feeling any pain at all.

Sometimes, even after playing for months, our fingertips or finger joints still hurt from applying a lot of pressure on the strings. So, always be aware of how hard you're pressing down, and be careful to not be pressing too much. If you do have pain in your finger joints, re-evaluate your playing technique.

The best tone comes from the least amount of force needed to get a nice /clean sound. And, as long as you're placing your fretting fingers nearest to the fret-wires closest towards the sound-hole, you'll get the best tone. This is true for both chords and single-notes. So, always place your fingers nearest to the upcoming fret-wire. You'll get the best sound, with the least amount of effort.

6. Guitar Issues (cheap instruments):
Never pass over the idea that the problem with your sound may be your guitar and not you! For example string action and guitar string gauge are two serious issues that a lot of beginners overlook.

The action is the distance between the fret-board and the strings. And, all too often, the strings are too high off the fret-board, which forces a player to use a lot of strength to press down on them. Even the difference in a millimeter or two can be felt in your fingers. To fix this, you’ll probably have to bring your guitar to a shop to get a professional setup.

It is possible to do it yourself if you're handy with tools, but I would still recommend bringing it to a professional guitar repair-person for your setup. Some stores will let you stay to watch your guitar being worked on, so if you can stay and watch - do it. You’ll learn a thing or two.

7. Guitar Posture - Standing:
Standing postures should be very close to sitting posture. The same principles apply here regarding lengthen your back by straightening your shoulders. Stand in a straight position when playing guitar and avoid slouching as much as possible. Along with having your back and shoulders in their correct positions, you should also look at how to keep your instrument at a comfortable distance while standing.

The idea is simple; we want to set our guitar strap so that the guitar is roughly the same distance away from us as when we’re sitting. Try adjusting the strap while in the sitting posture. Adjust your strap so that your guitar sits nice and snug with you. After you’ve done this, your guitar should be more or less at the correct height when you stand up. Some slight adjustments will need to be made because most people prefer to have the guitar slightly lower so it doesn’t feel like the guitar is choking you.

The main thing is that your wrist isn’t bending too much when you’re playing (which happens when the guitar is held too low). Spend some time raising and lowering the guitar to find out what feels the most comfortable for you.

You can use these ideas as a guide to help you understand the causes of your own personal mistakes, (like tension buildup and body pain). By pinpointing the causes, you can maintain good body posture and improve your finger placement. Remember that slight discomfort is inevitable for guitarists at all levels, especially for beginners, (whose fingers are still getting used to playing on the strings until their calluses have developed).

Keep in mind, that the best way to minimize any pain or tension throughout your body is to take constant breaks and stretch and move your entire body as much as possible. Let pain be a warning, but also don’t obsess over it. As long as you take breaks when you feel pain and tension, then you'll be fine. Most of these problems tend go away with rest, movement, stretching, and exercise.

However, if your pain persists, it’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor, or even better maybe speak to a physiotherapist. And, along with taking breaks, there are other methods to release tension. These include, but are not limited to; supplements, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and just plain old physical exercise.

Spend some time researching and trying out each of these methods. Find out which ones work best for you. The main thing is to relax and just play some music on your guitar in the best state of mind as you can.



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QwikRiffs #011 - Smooth Jazz Dorian Riffs "G Dorian"

NEW: QwikRiffs Series - Video (011)

The latest QwikRiffs video, Smooth Jazz Dorian Riffs "G Minor/Dorian" is available in the members area. Includes PDF handout!

QwikRiffs are available to members at Creative Guitar Lessons in the QwikRiffs Series run through collections of rhythm guitar riffs covering all types of playing styles. I cover different 'famous artist' playing approaches and I will demonstrate ideas based on rhythm guitar techniques... 

Daily Deal:

Episode #011 covers three "G Minor /Dorian" Riffs.

Riff one introduces the"I-Chord" minor (Gm) to the "IV-Chord" major (C major) concept used so often in Dorian harmony. This two-chord jam helps with confirming the basic harmonic ideas of Dorian modes major 6th degree.

Riff two gets funky with a Smooth jazz riff based upon both the 7th and 9th chord types. A 16th-note scratch pattern organizes a busy rhythm around promoting the Major 6th interval of, "G Dorian."

Riff three runs through a common sound of the smooth jazz style that places emphasis upon the application of connecting lick phrases. The use of these parts work with the chord harmony to help promote the use of the "G Dorian" modes "E" natural tone across the example statement.

Sign into the website (or create your free members account) to join the members site. Sign up for the Basic Monthly or Premium (annual) membership to download the PDF handout for this lesson and study all of the other classes available on the website. 

Become a FREE member of the website, sign up today!



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Guitars Most Important Skill (Strumming)

90% of what we play as guitarists comes down to rhythm guitar. This makes the art and technique of performing rhythm strumming one of our most important skills. In this video, I break down what makes rhythm guitar really come alive. The technical details of rhythm playing that allow a guitarist to truly find their own unique style and sound...

Most rhythm guitar players focus so much on playing the correct strings that they hardly pay any mind to how their strumming effects the overall sound. Strum technique involves both hands, combined with an enormous amount of awareness for feel.

Daily Deal:

As players, we need to learn to line everything up, the fingers, the pick, and the rhythmic feel, and the dynamics, it's a lot to work on, but the pay-off is fantastic...


In the early days of guitar study, it’s important to get comfortable holding /strumming the guitar with a lot of attention being placed upon every chord, and most importantly, the chord tones across each individual chord voicing.

When a guitarist begins becoming more aware of strumming technique, there's a strong tendency to over-analyse things. So, be sure to understand that (at this stage of rhythm strumming), we want progress, not perfection.

You should strive to duplicate parts as best as you can hear them on your favorite recordings. But, you also need to realize that perfection is going to take awhile.

So, with all that said, read through my collection of playing tips that will help you establish more feel, better dynamics and a more natural flow for your rhythm strumming abilities.

1). Shape the chord:
Don't just start strumming guitar with all your concern upon the fretting hands chord layout. Strum with an idea in your mind, that different string areas (string groups) of that chord can have different feels, different sounds, and change as you produce different attacks. How you attack and hit into a chord patterns geometrical design, will shape the sound of what your listener hears.

2). Strum into certain strings:
Aim into strumming, instead of just strumming. Instead of hitting all of the notes of a chord the same way all of the time, hit into strings in different ways. Try hitting from a slightly lower starting position, to attack lower strings. Or, try and drop your forearm by an inch and strum into higher register chord tones. Think of strings in 3-string groups and strum those groups as clusters when you're performing. Isolation is the key when it comes to advanced strumming and the results are fantastic when you eventually master this skill.

3). Adjust the grip of your pick:
Try changing how you are holding the pick, test your grip with lighter or heavier grips onto the guitar pick. This will give you more control and accuracy over applying dynamics. Begin by paying more attention to the amount of pick that you have available for strumming. Then, pay more attention to how light or how heavily you're holding onto the pick.

A firmer grip means greater force and attack. A lighter grip means less force and less dynamics. This is the main contributor to the overall sound of your parts. And, realize that you can adjust this grip at anytime as you're playing any part of a song. This is your key to your personal feel. Once you master the grip, your sound really begins to shape up and take root as your own personal style of playing.

If you begin applying these principles, I think that you’ll be surprised at how quickly you'll improve your strumming technique. By paying attention to the shape of the chord, how you attack that shape, and by learning to strum into specific strings groups changes will occur.

It is important to work intentionally at missing strings (while strumming). It might seem odd in the beginning, but your ability for rhythm guitar will improve drastically through doing this. Also, pay a lot of attention to the way you grip your guitar pick. That's one of the main key factors to strumming dynamics. Once you really nail that, you'll notice some big changes.

And, one more thing, doing this rhythm training is not as hard as it may seem at first. It all starts with a lot of conscious effort. Once you've got that effort applied (with your conscious focus), your rhythm playing is going to change - and it's going to change for the better!



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When Your Guitar Tuning Sucks (STUDIO TRICK)

No matter how much you paid for your prized high-end guitar, and no matter how well your guitar was constructed, (by whoever the brilliant craftsman was who built it)... no matter the wood used, or the care taken to assemble it... Your guitar will never tune up into absolutely perfect tuning...

The fact is all fretted instruments, are slightly imperfect. And, this means that it's pretty much impossible for a fretted instrument to be perfectly in tune everywhere on the neck (at the same time).

Deal of the day...


If you did want something close to perfection, (as close as possible anyway), do a Google search for a, "micro-tonal guitar". You'll get to see how the frets need to be installed in order to be in pretty much "perfect tune" everywhere, It's a very crazy looking guitar neck.

the frets of a micro-tonal guitar

Now, obviously a micro-Tonal guitar isn't something that everyone's going to run out and buy. But, there is an interesting approach that you can use for tuning your guitar that will allow it to be the most in tune for the region of the neck that you're playing in.

This idea that I have for you is based upon the concept that your guitar is at the best available tuning upon the fret that you'll tune it at. So, if you tune the open strings, the guitar will be at its most in tune from open position, but the farther up the neck you go the more that it's tuning will become degraded.

What you can do (to get the best tuning as possible), is you can take a tuner, and tune your guitar, "2-frets" down from where you'll be performing. Now, granted this is more of a recording studio idea, (it's pretty hard to do this for a guitar that will be used live on-stage).

If you are doing some recording, if the gig you're doing is in the studio - this idea is fantastic. Here's how it works...

Let's say that you're recording an idea around the 7th fret, (maybe it's a solo, or a chord progression in a song), whatever it is, let's say you're going to be up at the 7th fret. What you'll do, is tune your strings at the 5th fret, so that your ideas up around 7th will be at a much more accurate tuning.

If you're going to be up at the 10th fret, tune at the 8th fret. That way, the majority of what your playing up at the 10th fret will be far more in tune for the recording.

Using this "Studio Track Tuning" method might seem like a little bit of overkill, and I could understand if you didn't use it all the time. But, it can work wonders for some vintage guitars that might have great tone but, are a real Frankenstein when it comes to getting them to balance out and be totally in tune for a recording.

You can use this tuning idea to tune a guitar for chord parts, for high-register secondary rhythm tracks or for lead harmonies in high registers. And, it'll do wonders for 12-string guitars that you may want to include for backing tracks in your recordings.

Basically, if you're an experienced player you'll really appreciate the noticeable difference that this method makes for your guitar tunings when you're recording. Any musician with a good ear will be also happy to hear the better tuning that will come from applying this method in the recording studio.



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GUITAR SOLOING LESSON 010 - Tracking the Arrival of Chords

October 13, 2017:
Lesson 010 - Tracking the Arrival of Chords

A guitar players phrasing really begins to shine once they can track into chords in a more sophisticated manner. Zero in on chord tones and learn to take full advantage of the exact notes which directly relate to the chord being performed at the moment... 

Lesson 010 explores this idea in detail... 

The examples in this lesson will help to begin developing chord tracking technique. We'll explore tracking single chord arrivals and how to play into multiple chord situations. We'll also study more advanced techniques such as, tracking into extended and altered chords, as well as, tracking chords using matched rhythms.

Watch the Part One Video FREE on YouTube:

PART ONE:  In example one, we'll study how to track across the movement of two chords. We'll explore ways for how they can be tracked using chord tones across simple 8th-note rhythms. Our approach will be based upon the use of the strongest chord tones found within each chord.

Example two expands upon the concepts described in example one by studying how multiple chord changes can be tracked into using the most relevant chord tones. We'll also explain the importance of "length of time," on each chord and how duration plays a role with tracking into chord tones.

In example three, we'll step-up to more advanced chord types by focusing upon how melody lines can track into both extended and altered chords. A progression from the key of "B Minor" uses both 11th and 13th extensions to highlight diatonic chord ideas. Plus, an altered sound of the augmented 5th is also introduced over the keys VII-chord (A7).

Example four taps into one of the more interesting situations that can occur when practicing the tracking of arriving chord sounds. This example explores the added benefit of not only matching the way that each new chord appears within the progression, it also simultaneously matches the rhythmic meter. Each pulse of the phrase is directly matched both rhythmically and melodically to the arrival of the upcoming chord. The effect of this in action results in an infectious groove.

Paid members can download the handout along with the MP3 jamtrack in the members area at:



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Why is the Guitar Tuned the Way it is? (EADGBE)

Have you ever stopped and thought about why the guitar is tuned the way that it is? 

This particular set up of intervals from the 6th to the 1st string (EADGBE) is fairly odd. Why was this tuning selected as the standard tuning for the guitar?

Daily Deal:

The standard guitar tuning (EADGBE) contains both a minor chord of "Em" as well as, a major chord of "G." Strummed open, all of the strings form an "Em11" chord. And, all of the notes together can form both "E Minor and G Major" Pentatonic scales.

While these are interesting points, they are not the most useful. An "Em11" is not exactly a pleasant chord, nor do the tones form any sort of universally useful note groupings. So why has this been the standard tuning of the guitar for over 500 years beginning from the earliest 5-string guitars back in the 1500's?


Ever wonder why the “standard” tuning of a guitar is EADGBE? That series of intervals is interesting. Almost every other stringed instrument (like the; violin, cello and mandolin) are tuned in fifths. In other words, on those instruments, the interval between each open string is a perfect fifth.

Guitars, are different, they're tuned in three intervals of a perfect fourth, followed by a major third (G to B). With one more perfect fourth (going from the high B "2nd string" to the high E). See the diagram given below...

NOTE: The diagram above shows the relationship of the string to string tuning method for a standard six-string guitar. Notice how the tuning of the 3rd to 2nd strings are out a 1/2 step from the relationship of the other string sets.

Now, the reason for this tuning is based upon two closely related areas.

#1). Musical Accommodation to Harmony:
This means ease of playability for popular harmony. With this tuning, the scales, arpeggios and chords for all levels of harmony on the guitar are easy to lay out in tight manageable patterns anywhere upon the neck. The big factor with a guitars scale length is how large it is. This tuning keeps all of the scales and chords tightly group within a 4 to 5 fret span. A tuning of 5th's would greatly widen that span, making many basic scales nearly unplayable.

#2). Keeping Things Physically Comfortable:
This is obviously closely tied to point number one above, but it focuses more upon how we hold the guitar. The guitar is held upon our lap and sits very horizontal to our body. This posture is quite different as to how a violin or viola is held. Or, to how a cello is held. The reach of the fingerboard on guitar is unique and the tuning we have for guitar helps to keep the physical end (posture) of playing it far more manageable.

Around five-hundred years ago, (back in the 1500's), tuning for the top five strings had already been established on the earliest of guitars (the Guitarra battente) — before a lower sixth string (tuned to E) was even added.

 Guitarra battente

Later on, when guitar builders added that lower E it was easy to continue the arrangement of perfect fourths used for all string pairs (except for the major-third interval adopted from the 2nd to the 3rd strings). Which resulted in the standard guitar tuning that still remains today.

So, essentially, guitar builders (hundreds of years ago), wanted to create a method of tuning that would both cater to how the guitar was held, and at the same time, allow for easy transitions between the fingering of common chords. These included; triad, seventh, extended and altered chords along with ease of performing all of our common scales and arpeggios - while at the same time - minimizing the amount of overall fretting hand movement.

The guitars unique major third interval found between the 3rd and 2nd strings (G and B), simply makes fingering the two main levels of harmony (triad and seventh's) a lot easier than continuing with a series of all perfect fourths.

Another factor that should also be mentioned here is that while other popular stringed instruments like the violin and the cello do lend themselves nicely to tuning in fifths (because of their small scale length, and how they're held), the same thing doesn’t necessarily hold true on a larger-scale instrument such as the modern electric and acoustic guitars.



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