Minor Barre Chords (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

Minor Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords that utilize the shape of the "open" Em chord.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln seriesLength: 13:10Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (02:28) Welcome and Review Before getting started with today's lesson, be sure to review and practice the following:
- Warm-up the hands.

- Stretch the wrists.

- Play the major and minor open chords.

- Warm up your strumming muscles by relaxing the wrists and letting the pick flow over the strings.

- Play the E major chord in the "new" way and play the type 1 barre chords.

- Play the A major chord in the "new" way and play the type 2 barre chords.

- Practice the "sloping A" technique.
Warmed up and ready to go? Good!

Chapter 2: (01:32) Fingering the E Minor As you might recall, we've been working on the construction of barre chords, as well as the theory that accompanies them. Review last week's lesson if you need to reacquaint yourself with any of the particulars.

Remember that the half steps occur only between B and C and E and F. The rest of the chords (and notes) are a whole step apart. Keep these facts in mind as we continue with the next couple lessons.

As you'll recall, the E major chord is the central configuration for the type 1 barre chords but as you will see, the E minor is the basis for the type 1 minor barre chords. For the remainder of this lesson, play the open Em in this fashion: place the third or ring finger on the A-string second fret and the pinky on the D-string second fret. This will leave your first finger available to barre strings.

Chapter 3: (04:48) Playing the E Minor Shape Barre Chords Since you know that there is only a half step between E and F, you know that the the Fm chord is played one fret above Em like this:


Try to play the Fm chord using your first finger barring all six strings. If you are having problems with this at first, then just barre the G, the B, and the high E string.

You might recall from an earlier lesson that I showed the how to play F minor in this fashion, which is technically an F5 power chord. It is also a piece of the full F minor barre chord:

Fm (Technically F5)

Keep in mind that I taught you this chord before discussing barre chords and was intending for you to be able to have an F minor chord to use until we covered barre chord construction. I’m hoping that this doesn’t confuse some of you but over time you will come to realize that there are a number of ways to construct each chord and some of them are easier than others. As we continue on with chord construction keep this in mind.

Now, since you know that there is a whole step between F and G, these chords are located two frets apart:


Again notice that the Em configuration that you played on the first fret, using the "new" finger placement, is still present at the fifth fret of this chord. Keep in mind the concept that we discussed earlier in the series regarding what I like to call "finger glue." Learning to keep your fingers in a particular position (i.e. in the Em position in this case) can facilitate quicker and easier chord changes.
Chapter 4: (04:19) Strumming Exercise Exercise 1
Play all of the type 1 minor chords all the way up to Dm at the 10th fret using this strum pattern: down down up down or the familiar "down down-up down" pattern. Don't forget to concentrate on relaxing your wrist and allowing the pick to flow over the strings lightly. If your sound is muted or not sounding as you think it should, use the individual string pluck method to find where you are not holding down the string hard enough or are perhaps touching the fret marker.

Exercise 2
Play the Am chord at the fifth fret and then the open Am chord (on the first and second frets) that we learned earlier in the series. If you need to review the fingering for this chord, do so now. Strum with this pattern: or "up up down." Pay attention to how the sounds of the two chords are similar yet different. How do you think they differ?

Exercise 3
Play the Dm chord atn the 10th fret and then the open Dm chord. Strum with this pattern: "down-up down-up." Don't forget to use the snap strum and remember that the "down-up" strum should consist of one fluid motion as opposed to a down then separate up-stroke. I'll show you this in the video as well. Remember to think abvout your strum as if your arm was attached to a rubber band.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

chrisbuhchrisbuh replied

Mark, Really enjoying learning from you. Just a general question regarding strings. I have playing with medium weight strings. Would light weight be better for learning. I tend to enjoy hard strumming for myself and broke light strings (many) years ago but I'm older now and can probaly tone it down a bit if it the lighter strings would help me progress faster.

feelfeel replied

Hi Mark, What is the reason for tuning the guitar down half a step? I am " retraining" myself, and find your lessons valuable. Oh, sorry just read your post on that. Never thought of doing that, to suit my vocals...I mean up is no problem with capo, but down... yea Thanks

eellingtoneellington replied

Mark, I saw in the number 9 lesson that the sloping A can be done with either the 3rd or ring finger. My hand shape makes the 3rd finger naturally easier. If I use the third finger instead of pushing for the 4th will I be setting myself up for problems in the future? Or is the middle (3rd) finger really an acceptable alternative?

eellingtoneellington replied

Ok, I guess I forgot lesson one about numbers for the fingers. I'm asking if the 2nd finger (middle finger) is an acceptable substitute for the 3rd finger (ring finger)? My second finger naturally hyperextends at that joint, will using this set me up for problems in the future? (obviously since I got the finger numbering wrong, I'm not the brightest student in your current class...how embarrassing)

zylootinozylootino replied

Hi, I am kind of loosing my thumb sensitivity by pressing the neck when practicing barre chords. It then takes a while (several days) to come back. Is this a usual problem or should I consult a doc?

edenfosteredenfoster replied

hi there mark just wondering if there is a tuner on jamplay that is a half step down

tmasaguirrejrtmasaguirrejr replied

I got lucky....my finger slants naturally! I got the slanting A!

jpgeekjpgeek replied

tuned down a half step?!?!? I have been tuning and retuning my guitar every lesson cause it sounded off. Thanks for the heads-up!

rawoofeenrawoofeen replied

Hey Mark.. i got the slanting A wait,... false alarm

bcsilvermanbcsilverman replied

Mark, thank you VERY much for the incredible lessons! I'm having trouble with these bars in that my barred first finger isn't seating tight enough against the G and I'm muting it, I've tried moving the whole finger to get more of the fingers pad to try to cover GBE, but I just can't get good pressure on G. Could I please ask you for some advice on how to help remedy this? Thank you!

sdearsdear replied

Sorry, I guess I was counting the frets wrong.

sdearsdear replied

Hey Mark, Thank you so much for your classes. I am confused about something you said, "play the the A minor on the 5th fret in the new Em config". but isnt that a G? We went from E minor half step to F, full step to 5th fret G. I just dont understand that.

kierkier replied

The A minor starts on the 5th fret. Your first finger on the fifth fret/sixth string = A note (the root note of the chord) + The e minor shape on the 7th frets makes your A minor chord.

kittykatkaitikittykatkaiti replied

Hey Mark, you're lessons have been really good so far and I've definitely learned a lot! I thought I would tell you that I found the down down up down strumming technique really helpful. I was surprised when I went to try and learn an actual song and they just so happened to use that exact same strumming patter just at a different speed!

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

That's really cool Kaiti and it's amazing how much more you'll see how strum patterns seem to repeat themselves a lot from song to song. Good to hear from you:) Mark

caleb97caleb97 replied

tuning down half a step (which i did) sounds better and more alternative... thx for that tip too.

caleb97caleb97 replied

i got the slanting A on the first try.. thx

jonlandon90jonlandon90 replied

Hi mark, really enjoying the lessons.. in regards to the slanting A chord I find it easier to make the barre chord versions with my pinky.. Is it advisable that I continue to use my little finger or should I try to perfect the 3rd finger?

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Jon, you can use the pinky but I would continue to develop the slanting A or ring finger as this is the best way to go in the long run! Mark

wesleyfrakeswesleyfrakes replied

As a new guitar player, what would you say is a reasonable time frame to expect to see improvement in using the barre chords without as much discomfort? So far, the lessons have been very straight forward, and I understand all of the theory...Now it's just getting these middle-aged fingers to obey. I've been practicing the barre chords for about a week.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Wesley! Different people progress at different rates so there's really no saying for sure. Regardless, if you're practicing every day and following along with the lesson series you're bound to improve over time. Great to hear from you! Mark

hairydawghairydawg replied

Mark, I have a grasp on half and whole steps and the notes or chords that this creates, but I'm a little confused on tuning down a half step. I'm using a Wittner GT2 quartz tuner which allows me to tune each string individually to it's respective note by centering the needle on zero. How do I tune down a half step using my tuner or is it better accomplished by ear?

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Dawg what's up? Is your tuner a chromatic tuner? If it is then you should be able to tune each string to: (starting with low E) Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb and Eb or D#, G#, C#, F#, A# and D#. Try that! Mark

steepcreeksteepcreek replied

Hey Mark, About the slanting A. I can play it with my middle finger and make the stretch barring with my fore finger. Is that OK or should I continue to try and get with my ring finger? thanks, Dave

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Steep thanks for writing in. I think it's okay to do what you're doing but at the same time continue working on using the ring finger to bar with. Playing in the manner that you're playing right now will create problems down the road so it's definitely better to use the ring finger and work on strengthening it over time. Good luck and keep at it my friend! Mark

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hi Emig thanks for writing. I actually only have it tuned down for a couple of lessons which was a mistake more than anything in terms of why I had it tuned down for the lesson. In reality though I do play a half step down all the time because it gives me that extra little bit of range to work with from a vocal perspective. Mark

emigs73emigs73 replied

Mark, just was wondering why you always have your gutiar tuned down a half step. Do you like the s ound better? Is it easier to sing to?

spiderluccispiderlucci replied

hi Everbody! I figure who ever Jumps onto thie Comment & Discuss.... i will break down a little music theroy so you can understand a little better. The Music theroy willl apply to Marks Lesson. The 4/4 Time Signature works like this... top number = how many beats in each Measure Bottom Number = what kind of note gets the beat. which is the quarter note. http://www.davemyers.com/amcc/when2.htm The quarter note gets counts as 1 beat. The half note counts as 2 beats. I will explain how this works. in exercise 1 you will start playing the Em chord 4 time of course. down, down, up, down. this will be for 4 beats.when you start the next measure you will do the same for the Fm chord In exercise 2 Mark is doing something a little different! down, down, up Now look, i know it looks like three beats but it's not. there is Am with an half note chord. The beat will go like this... down, down, with the Am chords will be two beats so far. now you will go up... This Am chord = 2 beats because it is a half note chord.... This will be up then you will count to yourself 4 without strumming. Remember half notes = 2 beats that doesn't mean to strum the half note 2 times. sorry guys, I'm not a teacher but any question, just ask. spider remember.. 4 beats in each measure. when you start to strum the down beat on the 3rd chord in the Am in the 1st measure you will count that as 3 beat so far and count 4 to yourself before you start the next measure.

Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Learning the basics of the guitar, the building blocks if you will, is an extremely important step in learning and mastering the guitar. This series is all about the basics.

Guitar BasicsLesson 1

Guitar Basics

This lesson is all about the basics. Mark explains guitar parts, holding the guitar, and more.

Length: 13:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Tuning, Gear, and ChordsLesson 2

Tuning, Gear, and Chords

Mark begins by discussing equipment every guitarist should own. Then, he introduces chords and proper tuning methods.

Length: 17:28 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Chords and StrummingLesson 3

Chords and Strumming

Mark finishes his discussion of the "open" chords. He applies these chords to basic rhythm and strumming concepts.

Length: 17:33 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Minor Chords and MoreLesson 4

Minor Chords and More

Mark reviews the major chords and introduces the minor chords. He also covers strumming techniques in greater depth.

Length: 25:48 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Expanding ChordsLesson 5

Expanding Chords

Mark introduces a few more minor chords. He also provides a monster chord exercise.

Length: 16:36 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Strumming ExercisesLesson 6

Strumming Exercises

Mark Lincoln continues his discussion of chords and strumming. He introduces several new exercises in this lesson.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Music Theory and Barre ChordsLesson 7

Music Theory and Barre Chords

Mark covers several topics in this lesson. He explains scales and barre chords. He also demonstrates how to find notes on the fretboard.

Length: 21:45 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
E Shape Barre ChordsLesson 8

E Shape Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln covers E shaped barre chords in greater depth. Mark refers to these chords as "Type 1" barre chords.

Length: 15:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Shape Barre ChordsLesson 9

A Shape Barre Chords

Mark covers the A Shape / Type 2 barre chords in greater depth.

Length: 17:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Minor Barre ChordsLesson 10

Minor Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords that utilize the shape of the "open" Em chord.

Length: 13:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Minor Shape Barre ChordsLesson 11

A Minor Shape Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords based on the shape of the "open" Am chord. He refers to these chords as "Type 2 Minor" barre chords.

Length: 12:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mini Barre ChordLesson 12

Mini Barre Chord

Mark demonstrates abbreviated versions of the "Type 1" and "Type 2" barre chords. He calls these "mini barre" chords.

Length: 17:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Shape Mini BarreLesson 13

A Shape Mini Barre

Mark teaches the "mini barre" version of the A major shaped barre chord. He also explains dissonance.

Length: 20:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Minor Mini Barre ChordsLesson 14

Minor Mini Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln applies mini-barre chord concepts to minor chords.

Length: 12:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Guitar TechniqueLesson 15

Guitar Technique

Mark Lincoln explains essential components of guitar technique.

Length: 15:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Guitar DynamicsLesson 16

Guitar Dynamics

Mark Lincoln explains how dynamics can enhance your playing. He covers topics such as volume, tempo, rests, and more.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Transistion StrumsLesson 17

Transistion Strums

Mark Lincoln explains more about guitar technique. This time around he introduces "transition strums" and continues his discussion of liquid chords.

Length: 26:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Harmonic TechniqueLesson 18

Harmonic Technique

Mark Lincoln explains what harmonics are and how they are played.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Expanding Liquid ChordsLesson 19

Expanding Liquid Chords

Mark Lincoln expands on the concept of liquid chords. He explains new chord variations and how they can be changed in mid-strum.

Length: 16:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Spicing up ChordsLesson 20

Spicing up Chords

Mark demonstrates how chord progressions can be spiced up by adding hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chord FingeringLesson 21

Chord Fingering

Mark explains how chord fingerings must be altered when applying "liquid chord" concepts. He also provides a few new "liquid chord" exercises.

Length: 11:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Precision StrummingLesson 22

Precision Strumming

Mark returns to the land of chords. This time around, he provides an exercise that contains four variations on the A chord.

Length: 14:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
D to D in Six StepsLesson 23

D to D in Six Steps

Mark provides a chord progression that shifts from one D chord to another in six steps.

Length: 15:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord Voicings and ConstructionLesson 24

Chord Voicings and Construction

Mark delves deeper into chord construction and alternate chord voicings.

Length: 13:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Quantitative and Qualitative ChangesLesson 25

Quantitative and Qualitative Changes

Mark tests your guitar knowledge with a pop quiz. Then, he discusses quantitative and qualitative changes.

Length: 22:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Quantitative and Qualitative ReviewLesson 26

Quantitative and Qualitative Review

In the 26th installment of his basic guitar series, Mark reviews the quantitative and qualitative changes he presented in lesson 25.

Length: 17:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rhythm and GuitarLesson 27

Rhythm and Guitar

Mark provides exercises designed to make you a better rhythm player.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Expanded Rhythm ExerciseLesson 28

Expanded Rhythm Exercise

Mark Lincoln expands on the rhythm exercise from lesson 27. This time around he incorporates several C based chords.

Length: 14:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Hand StructureLesson 29

Hand Structure

Mark discusses proper playing technique. He provides a few exercises that facilitate right hand mechanics.

Length: 17:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Cadd9 and Dsus2Lesson 30

Cadd9 and Dsus2

Mark provides an exercise that features two new chords - Cadd9 and Dsus2.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Finger Glue and Flexibility Lesson 31

Finger Glue and Flexibility

In the 31st lesson, Mark discusses his "finger glue" technique. This technique improves speed and accuracy.

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Reviewing Chord ChangesLesson 32

Reviewing Chord Changes

Mark takes a step back in lesson 32 to explain how to make quick and accurate chord changes.

Length: 22:14 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
SlidingLesson 33


Mark explains how to use the slide technique between chords.

Length: 19:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Keeping Time While PlayingLesson 34

Keeping Time While Playing

Mark reviews qualitative and quantitative changes. He explains how to keep time while performing these changes.

Length: 21:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Minor ProgressionLesson 35

A Minor Progression

Mark discusses qualitative and quantitative changes within an A minor progression.

Length: 19:56 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Chord TransistionsLesson 36

Chord Transistions

Mark Lincoln discusses several techniques that can be used when transitioning between chords.

Length: 21:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord Transistions RevisitedLesson 37

Chord Transistions Revisited

In this lesson, Mark once again covers the subject of chord transitions. This time around, he focuses on barre chords and includes several helpful exercises.

Length: 23:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Playing Individual NotesLesson 38

Playing Individual Notes

In lesson 38, Mark discusses how playing single notes rather than chords can spice up your playing.

Length: 22:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rocking OutLesson 39

Rocking Out

Lesson 39 is all about rocking out. Mark discusses some tips to take your playing to the next level.

Length: 18:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Slash ChordsLesson 40

Slash Chords

Lesson 40 takes a deeper look at slash chords. Mark discusses why they're called slash chords, and how they are formed.

Length: 14:42 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Strumming from the WristLesson 41

Strumming from the Wrist

In lesson 41, Mark reviews the warm-up section and provides new tips on playing adequately from the wrist.

Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Raising the BarreLesson 42

Raising the Barre

Mark builds further on barre chord techniques and liquid chords.

Length: 17:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Building on Your Chord KnowledgeLesson 43

Building on Your Chord Knowledge

In lesson 43, Mark discusses additional skills related to learning and playing chords, specifically "liquification" of chords.

Length: 20:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Experiment With PlayingLesson 44

Experiment With Playing

Lesson 44 is all about trying new things. Mark discusses experimenting with your playing in order to take it to the next level.

Length: 17:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
DiversifyingLesson 45


In this lesson, Mark once again talks about changing up chord derivatives to create a more unique sound.

Length: 20:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Shaping the HandsLesson 46

Shaping the Hands

In lesson 46, Mark explains how to maximize your options by maintaining chord shapes while playing.

Length: 21:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Precision StrummingLesson 47

Precision Strumming

Today, Mark takes in depth look at strumming.

Length: 23:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Shine Like the SunLesson 48

Shine Like the Sun

Mark Lincoln teaches an original song entitled "Shine Like the Sun."

Length: 18:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Changing Chords : Accuracy and SpeedLesson 49

Changing Chords : Accuracy and Speed

Mark teaches some useful information on how to mix postures, "finger glue," and techniques to make your chord changes speedy and more effective.

Length: 30:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Play Along with Mulitple Chord Voicings Lesson 50

Play Along with Mulitple Chord Voicings

In this lesson, Mark guides you through the world of alternate chord voicings. He teaches several shapes and shows how they can be used to enhance your playing.

Length: 23:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Understanding Liquified ChordsLesson 51

Understanding Liquified Chords

Mark brings us a very appealing aspect to better understand the guitar. With his explanation of "liquified" chords, mark will explain how to move up and down the guitar to create different chord voicing.

Length: 25:32 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Lincoln

About Mark Lincoln View Full Biography Mark Lincoln was born in S. California but was raised near Portland Oregon in a town called Beaverton. When he was twelve years old, he began his journey into the realm of the creative by composing poetry and was later published in a journal called "In Dappled Sunlight." He wrote for four years until his older sister blessed him with his first guitar, an old beat-up nylon stringed classical guitar. Mark played that guitar for five years, continuing to compose his own lyrics and starting the process of matching his own words with chords that he was learning on the guitar. He learned to play chords from his friends and from music books that he both bought and borrowed. Mark cited his four biggest influences, at that point at least, as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones.

Mark cites his most current influences as Radiohead, U2, older music by REM, and Peter Gabriel amongst others. He performs with two acoustic guitars, one being a six-string M-36 Martin with a three-pieced back for increased bass response, and a Guild Twelve-string which is his most recent acquisition. Mark is fond of saying that the twelve-string guitar is better because you get two guitars for the price of one, but he still plays his Martin equally as much and with the same passion.

Mark ended up in Fort Collins Colorado where he currently lives, works as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and continues to write, teach and perform music. He currently performs with a group called "Black Nelson" as well as with a number of other seasoned professional musicians including his cousin David, a virtuoso lead-guitar player. Mark has performed in many of the smaller venues in Denver and Boulder, as well as some of the larger ones including the Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theatre, Herman's Hideaway, and also at The Soiled Dove where he opened for Jefferson Starship as a soloist. Some of Mark's originals are also available for your listening pleasure on MySpace.

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Mike H.

"I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar!"

I am 66 years young and I still got it! I would have never known this if it had not been for Jamplay! I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar! Ha! I cannot express enough how great you're website is! It is for beginners and advanced pickers! I am an advanced picker and thought I had lost it but thanks to you all, I found it again! Even though I only play by ear, I have been a member a whopping whole two weeks now and have already got Brent's country shuffle and country blues down and of course with embellishments. Thank you all for your wonderful program!

Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on JamPlay.com. Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.

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