Introduction to Blues Slide (Guitar Lesson)

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Eric Madis

Introduction to Blues Slide

Eric Madis delves into the world of slide guitar and discusses how it can be used within the blues universe.

Taught by Eric Madis in Blues Slide Guitar seriesLength: 26:36Difficulty: 2.0 of 5

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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.

PeterEdPeterEd replied

Thanks Eric, great intro to slide. Looking forward to the rest.

markgc101markgc101 replied

Thanks Eric, great 5 video intro to slide guitar. Look forward to the rest of the series.

dmcharnessdmcharness replied

I'm using both a Delta 6 electric resonator and a bell brass single cone resonator for this course. Both are set up in Open D. I'm hoping capo-ing the 2nd fret will work when starting out in Open E tuning.

dmcharnessdmcharness replied

I'm using both a Delta 6 electric resonator and a bell brass single cone resonator for this course. Both are set up in Open D. I'm hoping capo-ing the 2nd fret will work when starting out in Open E tuning.

Bradley.ConwayBradley.Conway replied

Hello dmcharness! You are correct. Your Open D tuning of: D-A-D-F#-A-D with a capo on the 2nd fret will give you an open tuning of: E-B-E-G#-B-E, which is considered open E. I have seen players attempt tuning to an open E without the 2nd fret capo to disastrous effects due the high tension, so the open D with a capo is definitely the way to go! Happy Jamming! For me, Open D and capo it up.

dmcharnessdmcharness replied

"Introduce and resolve tension" - I haven't heard it put that way before, but I like it. "The guitar wasn't built for open tuning so you have to compromise on the sound" - I've never had that explained to me before when someone would tell me to 'tweak' the F# in Open D. Nice

masontemasonte replied

Can I ask what manufacturer\model guitar you're using in this lesson?

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

I built that guitar in 1977. It is like a bigger version of an all-mahogany Les Paul, with an Ibanez hum bucker in the neck position and a Gibson mini-humbucker in the middle position.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

I built that guitar in 1977. It is like a bigger version of an all-mahogany Les Paul, with an Ibanez hum bucker in the neck position and a Gibson mini-humbucker in the middle position.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

I built that guitar in 1977. It is like a bigger version of an all-mahogany Les Paul, with an Ibanez hum bucker in the neck position and a Gibson mini-humbucker in the middle position.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

I built that guitar in 1977. It is like a bigger version of an all-mahogany Les Paul, with an Ibanez hum bucker in the neck position and a Gibson mini-humbucker in the middle position.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

I built that guitar in 1977. It is like a bigger version of an all-mahogany Les Paul, with an Ibanez hum bucker in the neck position and a Gibson mini-humbucker in the middle position.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

I built that guitar in 1977. It is like a bigger version of an all-mahogany Les Paul, with an Ibanez hum bucker in the neck position and a Gibson mini-humbucker in the middle position.

triariustriarius replied

I would be extremely interested in standard tuning. I like slide playing, I don't have big problems with single-string melody playing by ear, I play quite a lot of instruments, and I would like to keep one tuning per instrument - otherwise it is risking to get messy.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

I understand. If possible, tune in to Live Chat on Mondays between 11am and 1pm (PST) and I would be glad to discuss and teach standard tuning slide. However, standard tuning slide is not compatible with solo performances. It does not have the chord resolution needed for that, and is better suited for ensemble work. Also, it is best used with overdrives.

bam711711bam711711 replied

Thanks Eric and Jamplay. Please more electric blues and songs

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you and I will look forward to that!

beatleguy66beatleguy66 replied

Great stuff Eric. You really cover so many details and you make us feel very comfortable with your mellow presentation.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks, I really appreciate that!

pianiistpianiist replied

Eric I discovered this by accident. I have acquired some physical impairments along life's path & was searching for an answer. And, I think this could be it. It may have to resolve into lap steel. I don't really care...just so I can play.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Sorry to hear about that, but I completely understand and relate. I agree, slide playing is great, but especially good if you have issues with hands, fingers, wrists, etc.

cooperdadcooperdad replied

Eric this lesson was great - thanks I would like to use my ring finger for the slide, in that case would you recommend substituting the second finger for the ring finger in the bass line progression?

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied


highway1manhighway1man replied

Great lesson Eric. Eric are these turnaround patterns transposable to other major open tunings, e.g D, G etc.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Yes! D tuning is identical and both G and A tuning would use the same turnarounds, but on the next string up.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you! Yes, the turnarounds are the same for D tuning, but are done on the next string up in G and A tuning.

rstillsrstills replied

I just watched the Introduction, and read some of the comments about setting up a guitear for slide. I was wondering; How is your guitar set up in the lesson series?

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

The action is just slightly higher than normal. If it is too high, then one can only play slide on the guitar and one cannot fret the guitar in tune.

marshall laneymarshall laney replied

Eric , this is a fantastic introduction & lesson, your patient & detailed explanations make it easy to follow & enjoyable to watch.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you very much!

juliancbyrdjuliancbyrd replied

this does not play. whats up with that?

marshall laneymarshall laney replied

I'm watching it now julian so its ok from my end, perhaps send an email to Jam Play & let them know you are having issue's might help.

diegofc27diegofc27 replied

this song is classified as acoustic guitar, not a electric guitar. what happened there?

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Obviously Jamplay made a typographical error. But that bottleneck slide style can be played easily on either kind of guitar, and transition betweent the acoustic and electric is easy with slide guitar, as compared with fretted styles of guitar playing.

demmykrodemmykro replied

Today is my first time trying the slide and thank you for always breaking your lessons down to where anyone with desire can learn. I've been taking your blues lessons for about 4 months now and I can truly say I am at another level of playing through them. Thank you and all the greatest teachers out there. Demmy

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you very much, Demmy, for the kind words and for tuning into my Monday live lessons. Keep picking!

jdherzogjdherzog replied

Very interested in slide in STANDARD Tuning Any lessons in that tunning comming up?

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

If you could tune into my Monday live lessons (11am-1pm PST), I would gladly do a lesson on standard tuning slide and answer all your questions to the best of my ability. -- Eric

sinjinsmythsinjinsmyth replied

I Would love to learn Roy Rodgers and Howlin Wolf's version of TERRAPLANE BLUES. Is this possible?

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

If you can tune into my Monday lesson (Q&A) sometime, let me know and I will cover Terraplane Blues for you. I have taught it before, but since it is not part of my regular repertoire, I will have to review it first. So, if you anticipate being able to tune in on a Monday, send me a message first and let me know, so I can review it.

sinjinsmythsinjinsmyth replied

I play acoustic electric in open D tuning. Your lessons are great in open E tuning. I also have written a host of acoustic tunes of my own. I use a glass slide as well as metal slide. I also play in Open C as well as Open G but prefer Open D. I have originals in both Open D and C. I have songs in Blues and some Christian songs as well. Whatever tuning E or D your lessons will work in any tuning. Some of the songs I play are "Wake Up Mama" and "Good Morning Little School Girl". I love Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, Tampa Red,etc.. Looking forward to learning and becoming a better slide guitarist.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks for writing and for sharing that with me, and for your kind words.

murphjoymurphjoy replied

Eric, Jeff here. The best thing I ever did was got to the music store and buy a slide that included this online service. You help is making the best of my deployment overseas. I can't wait to show off to the family what I am learning from you. Thanks for this opportunity. I look forward to continuing learning the bottleneck slide from you!

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Hey Murph, Sorry to take so much time in replying. I rarely have time to look in the comments section, but if you send me a personal message through Jamplay, I will get it. First of all, thank YOU for your service to our country. Second of all, I am honored to have been part of your musical growth. Good luck and, if I can answer any questions, please feel free to send me a message. Also, I teach live lessons on Mondays, if you are ever free and can tune in. I can answer any questions or teach songs by request.

murphjoymurphjoy replied

Enter your comment here.

lapointelapointe replied

Hi Eric, I just started the bottleneck lessons. I'm about 1/3 the way through your electric blues lessons as well. I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoy your teaching and playing. That complement comes from a 20 year veteran of the physics classroom. So I know what it's like to teach a subject that is difficult to learn. Anyway, thanks for your good work and I'm looking forward to working through the rest of your lessons. Best, Rob LaPointe

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you very much for those kind and thoughtful words, Rob. If I can answer anything for you, feel free to send me a personal message, and remember that I teach on Mondays (question and answer), so if you ever have a Monday off, let me know and I will cover a request of yours.

Rob SRob S replied

keep em coming Eric!, this is great, I have just started playing with the slide and am so happy to find a lesson set by you on this important style of blues playing.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Hey Rob, Thanks for the kind words. I have a friend who used to play bass with me in bands back in Illinois (Champaign and Chicago) named Harlan Smalling. Take care, Eric

gibstratgibstrat replied

great slide lessons, any chance of putting up more. and more and more lol

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you! There is more to come. We recorded a bunch of them, and I know that the folks at JamPlay are working hard to prepare them for your use. - Eric

lakehoglakehog replied

Fantastic addition to your Blues series!!!! Can't wait to see the new lessons as they come up. Great Job Eric!

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks! I am very happy to hear that you are enjoying this whole series. - Eric

carindamcarindam replied

great lessons...Eric!!! please add more to this series!!! You are the best teacher on jam play!!!

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you very much for that kind compliment and for saying hello. - Eric

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Wow, thanks very much! - Eric

stevejwstevejw replied

great lesson eric - I'd love to see some in standard tuning

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

thanks! Standard tuning lessons will be posted soon. Perhaps Orville will offer some in his series also. - Eric

sendbahtsendbaht replied

I like this guy....thanks!

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks! - Eric

meganmegan replied

What an exciting lesson series. I remember the first time I heard slide was in high school - Ry Cooder's Paris Texas soundtrack. It was the most mysterious, wonderful sounds. I've been mucking around a little with slide on some Ben Harper tunes. More difficult that I thought it would be, so, I'm looking forward to this. Already your lessons seem deep and comprehensive!

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks, Megan. Good luck! - Eric

johnboatjohnboat replied

I was very happy to see these new lessons by Eric. One of my favorite instructors, and I am stoked to see more bottleneck slide lessons on the site. I hope you do continue the series into standard tuning as you mention at the beginning of the lesson. Great job as always Eric and I look forward to these lessons.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you very much! I do discuss standard tuning slide in the series, but I personally don't use it much, since I use separate guitars for slide and I like that nice chord resolution sound of open tunings. However, I do love standard tuning slide and I hope what I offer here will help you. Perhaps Orville Johnson (a good friend of mine and great slide player) will offer some other ideas and pointers on standard tuning slide, since he also does that quite well. - Eric

aquariartyaquariarty replied

Eric, another really great lesson, love your teaching style. Looking forward to seeing you back in the Jamchat sessions in the near future.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks! Yes, I am looking forward to returning to that also. - Eric

skaterstuskaterstu replied

Great stuff! Big fan of Eric, and big fan of learning bottleneck... great discovery today!

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you! - Eric

alien_xalien_x replied

Great follow-on to the first part of your blues lessons. Slide is great and almost a must for a serious blues player, imho. Now, is there something to be said about open tunings and the kind of guitar you use? Tuning up causes more tension on the instrument (neck, joint bridge/body), and is by many people recommended to be avoided with acoustic guitars. Solid body electrics are obviously more tolerant in taking the extra strain. But what about semi-hollows, or hollow bodies. Is some caution be advised? What kind of guitar and pickups do you consider best for slide playing, and what should the setting be like (especially regarding action, nut, ...). Looking forward to hearing your opinion. Thanks for the great starter lesson. Waiting for more to come. Wolf

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Hey Wolf, Thanks for the kind comments. Yes, all that you said was correct about slide and the guitar. However, I played for years on one acoustic guitar with medium action and one electric guitar with medium action, and did fine on those. Tuning the guitar into E tuning will not hurt your guitar top (for the flat-top) or the neck, as long as you are not using heavy strings and then leaving the guitar in that tuning for long periods of time. However, if you are using acoustic mediums (.13 and above), then I would recommend D tuning, rather than E, and G tuning. For the electric, semi-hollows and hollows will hand tunings well, because semi-hollows are as stable as solid bodies and archtops (hollows) have a trapeze tailpiece. In any case, you would want to return the guitar to standard after playing slide, rather than leaving it tuned up overnight, or for days or weeks at a time. Otherwise, you would have to adjust the truss rod tension to handle the load and take your chances with the bridge (if it is a flat-top acoustic). The main reason I own separate guitars for slide is to cut down on tuning time when I perform and of course to jack the action up a bit on those guitars. My acoustic slide does not have high action, but it has a long scale length (25 5/8") and that adds enough tension to make up for raising action. - Eric

mike4370mike4370 replied

Hey Eric, great lesson. i've always loved slide guitar, it almost has a pedal steel guitar effect. I have a few questions. should the guitar be set up for slide or is it ok just to put it in the tuning you're going to use and go from there? again great lesson and that guitar you're playing sounds great!

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

First of all, thanks for the kind words. The setting up of a guitar for slide guitar can result in a much easier way of getting a good tone. One look at a pedal or lap steel guitar will tell us that, the further the strings are off the fretboard, the more we can press the slide firmly onto the string without contacting the fretboard. However, it is possible to get a great slide sound without raising the action up high, or using heavier gauge strings. A lot of the tone is in finding the right balance of pressure, good muting and good picking technique. Depending on your style, you may or may not prefer overdrive/distortion. However, the use of this makes it easier to obscure extraneous noises that occur with lower action. Good luck and thanks again. - Eric

Blues Slide Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Slide guitar and Blues go way back, and have a rich heritage of complimenting each other. The slide is a wonderful way to add that "vocal" quality to your guitar playing as well. This technique can be used with all genres of music, but Eric will cover it within the world of Blues.

Introduction to Blues SlideLesson 1

Introduction to Blues Slide

Eric Madis delves into the world of slide guitar and discusses how it can be used within the blues universe.

Length: 26:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Common Slide LicksLesson 2

Common Slide Licks

Eric Madis teaches two crucial slide guitar licks.

Length: 17:12 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Slide Lick IdeasLesson 3

Slide Lick Ideas

Eric shows how the basic closed lick can be played over a twelve bar blues. He also introduces a lick by Kokomo Arnold.

Length: 12:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Kokomo Arnold LickLesson 4

Kokomo Arnold Lick

Eric Madis talks more about the Kokomo Arnold lick and explains some variations developed by Elmore James and Tampa Red.

Length: 11:14 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Fred McDowell LicksLesson 5

Fred McDowell Licks

Eric teaches a few licks from Fred McDowell and demonstrates how they can be used in a blues progression.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Connecting LicksLesson 6

Connecting Licks

Eric Madis explains how Duane Allman put his own unique spin on a classic lick played by Fred McDowell.

Length: 9:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Duane Allman LicksLesson 7

Duane Allman Licks

Eric Madis demonstrates licks in the style of Duane Allman.

Length: 5:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Harmonica Imitation LickLesson 8

Harmonica Imitation Lick

Eric Madis demonstrates how the Duane Allman style "Harmonica Imitation Lick" can be used over different chords and changes.

Length: 7:52 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Duane Allman IdeasLesson 9

Duane Allman Ideas

Eric Madis talks more about the Duane Allman style of playing and introduces the idea of playing in a box.

Length: 8:01 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Traditional Blues Slide LicksLesson 10

Traditional Blues Slide Licks

Eric Madis teaches two classic licks in this lesson. First he covers a lick called "Son House's Train Lick." He also covers the "Electric Chair Lick."

Length: 7:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Elmore James Melodic LickLesson 11

Elmore James Melodic Lick

Eric Madis teaches a classic blues slide lick called the "Elmore James Melodic Lick."

Length: 8:51 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Four Blues Slide LicksLesson 12

Four Blues Slide Licks

Eric Madis introduces four new blues licks that can be played with a slide. He teaches a Charlie Patton lick, an ascending one-string turnaround, a descending turnaround lick, and also talks about sliding...

Length: 10:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Filling the SpacesLesson 13

Filling the Spaces

Eric Madis teaches how to fill empty spaces in an arrangement with common licks. This lesson is particularly useful for solo guitarists.

Length: 4:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Building a SoloLesson 14

Building a Solo

Eric demonstrates how the licks and techniques from previous lessons can be combined to play a smokin' blues solo.

Length: 5:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
A Tuning and Slide GuitarLesson 15

A Tuning and Slide Guitar

Eric introduces open A tuning and shows how some of the licks you have already learned can be transposed to the key of A.

Length: 11:26 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
General Slide Tips and TricksLesson 16

General Slide Tips and Tricks

Eric offers up some amazing slide guitar tips. He talks about guitar setup, how to hold the slide, which finger to use and more.

Length: 13:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Delta Blues SlideLesson 17

Delta Blues Slide

Learn how to play the timeless Delta Blues using a slide. This lesson uses A tuning.

Length: 15:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The Walking BluesLesson 18

The Walking Blues

Eric teaches how to play the classic "Walking Blues" progression using a slide.

Length: 14:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Rollin' and Tumblin'Lesson 19

Rollin' and Tumblin'

Eric teaches a rendition of "Rollin' and Tumblin'" that can be played with a slide.

Length: 15:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Improvisational TechniquesLesson 20

Improvisational Techniques

Eric explains how to take a blues song or progression and make it your own.

Length: 9:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Blues Shuffle ImprovisationLesson 21

Blues Shuffle Improvisation

Eric Madis demonstrates how blues licks, movable chords and other ideas can be combined to create an improvised blues shuffle.

Length: 16:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
A Tuning Lick ReviewLesson 22

A Tuning Lick Review

Eric Madis gives an in depth review of core blues licks in open A tuning.

Length: 18:21 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Dust My Broom ThemeLesson 23

Dust My Broom Theme

Eric explains how the classic "Dust My Broom" lick can be used to develop a theme that spans an entire twelve bar blues.

Length: 6:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Linear Playing IdeasLesson 24

Linear Playing Ideas

Eric Madis demonstrates some slide licks that use a more linear approach instead of a vertical, box-based approach.

Length: 8:44 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Harmonica Imitation Lick ThemeLesson 25

Harmonica Imitation Lick Theme

Eric Madis shows how the "Harmonica Imitation Lick" can be used to create a theme that spans an entire twelve bar blues.

Length: 6:11 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Two Lick ThemeLesson 26

Two Lick Theme

Eric Madis combines two classic licks to create a smokin' 12 bar blues theme.

Length: 7:10 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Eric Madis

About Eric Madis View Full Biography Eric Madis is a guitarist, singer and composer, a versatile artist whose playing and compositions reflect his diverse and thorough background in American music. Whether performing in an ensemble or as a soloist, he exudes a love and a mastery of the blues that have been refined by years of experience in jazz, country, rock, and even Hawaiian music. What results are performances that include authentic renderings of old rural blues, personal interpretations of modern urban blues and jazz standards, and original music that defies strict categorization, but that draws heavily from these traditions.

Eric lives in Seattle where he leads his own ensemble, performs as a solo act and performs in the Seattle Swing Trio. He has released four CDs on Luna Records, and is currently working on a fifth. He is on the faculty of the National Guitar Workshop and Dusty Strings Music and teaches guitar privately.

Eric lived his formative years in Colorado with a family that was musical (his mother was an accomplished opera singer), and began his music study on the piano at the age of nine. He began performing shortly after picking up a guitar at ten years of age. By the age of sixteen, he was performing in Chicago-area coffeehouses. He has accompanied artists as diverse as bluesmen Big Walter Horton, Sunnyland Slim, Deacon Jones, Hawaiian luminaries Irmgaard Aluli, Kekua Fernandez, Emma Sharpe and author/poet Nikki Grimes.

He has led bands in Illinois, Texas, Colorado and Washington. He has opened shows for Robben Ford, James Cotton, Little Charlie and the Nightcats, Mem Shannon, Hawkeye Herman and author Sherman Alexie. Eric's four albums have received critical acclaim, including regional airplay and nominations from NAMA and Washington Blues Society (WBS). He has received 16 Best Blues nominations from WBS, was a finalist in the New Folk Awards at the 1981 Kerrville National Folk Festival, a finalist in the 1991 Seattle Guitar Starz competition, and has music featured on five film soundtracks. Eric has taught guitar classes at Denver Free University, University of Washington's Experimental College, Northwest Folklife Festival, National Guitar Workshop, and Canada's Guitar Workshop Plus.

Whether performing in a group or as a soloist, at a concert or a small club, teaching privately or a large workshop, Eric is a dedicated professional, with commitment to the quality of his art and to his audience.

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Mike H.

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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 Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.

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