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You say the book is "compact." Just exactly how many pages is that? Do you show many chord diagrams? Do you list all keys or are we supposed to transpose from a do- mi- sol- ti# (1- 3- 5- #7) type list? I have an adequate mandolin chord book that I transpose from to tenor, but it offers for instance sus 2 & sus 4 chords without explaining which one is meant when a fake book list sus as the proper chord without the number of degree of scale. Does your book go into this sort of thing? The *** *** ****** Encyclopedia of Mandolin Chords offers most chords M, m, 7, m7, M7, 6, m6, 6/9, 7-5, 7+5, m7-5, m7+5, M7-5, m7+5, 9, m9, M9, 11, m11, 13, m13, aug, dim7, sus2, sus4 I am aware of in Dm = 1-b3-5 = D-F-A, for $9.95 How is your book worth $30 (with shipping)? Does your book explain, for example which are the notes that are most necessary for every chord voicing to work (obviously I can't play all the notes in an 11th chord on a 4-string instrument.) Ken H

Thanks for the question. The books are all in the neighborhood of 74 pages. 50+ of it is instruction, the rest is bonus material. Maybe concisely crammed would be a better term than compact. The bonus material is as meaty as the instruction section. Don't confuse this with a chord diagram book, it is designed to move you away from chord diagram books. The focus is on understanding.

Music is not about doing it the way everyone else is doing it, its about doing it the way YOU want to. If you do it the way they want you to, you're a copier, not a musician. The counterfeit is never more valuable than the original. As to your question about 11th chords and how to play all the notes, yes, I do go into which notes are absolutely essential and which ones are optional. For example a 5th is generally disposable in all chords due to its powerful relationship to the root note (unless it's a #5 or b5 note). This book explains it all. It also explains things like which suspended chord sus2 or sus4 to use when all the chord book says is sus.

How is my book different than other books? Simple. Mine solves the problem of understanding. It doesn't use rote memory so that you can memorize a few different shapes (except in the beginners section where our goal is simply to get the fingers moving). What this book teaches you is how to build your own chords, not just show you two shapes for each chord. It makes it so you can build innumberable shapes with the same chord name so the music works for you. With a little bit of study you can design the chord that sounds right to you in a given situation. Chances are if you buy a songbook with a bunch of songs in it, and it shows chord diagrams, that these are not the chords that the songwriter used anyway but have been placed there for simplicity (and sales). Music is about what sounds right to YOU and my books are about getting your expertise to the level that will allow you total freedom in deciding which chord voicing to use, and even allows you to figure out if you'd like to use something else.

Once you have been through one of my books you will be able to translate the information to ANY instrument of your choosing. With Chord Diagram books, you'll eventually be buying, well, a bigger better diagram book. With mine you will never buy another chord book as long as you live.


"Helping musicians, locally and at a distance."

I'm just starting to look at tenor guitars and would like to have a book that will teach me the cords that I need to learn. My family plays old time fiddle music: waltzes, hoedowns, breakdowns, etc., with my husband playing the fiddle and I'm either on the guitar or piano. I use to play classical piano but do not anymore. :-) In the description part it says CGDA, GDAE or DGBE. What does this mean?

Thanks, Donna

A. Hi Donna
The letters CGDA GDAE and DGBE are the three most common tunings for the instrument with CGDA and GDAE being most common and DGBE following which is the same as the top four strings in pitch of a standard guitar tuning. See guide to tunings also.

My suggestion is to work with CGDA for a couple of reasons. (All beginners would be wise to use this tuning to begin with). The CGDA tuning is the most common. This is because the instrument was originally designed to replace the tenor banjo when guitars became more popular, without requiring the banjo player to learn a new tuning system. Since this is the same as the tenor banjo which means that once you've learned tenor guitar with CGDA you'd be able to play tenor banjo with CGDA.

These tunings also give the 'open' sound we are looking for with the tenor guitar. In four strings the instrument covers almost two complete octaves, something it take the guitar almost all 6 strings to do. (5 strings and two fret).

(Skip this paragraph if you donít understand theory). Since you used to play classical piano, I'll assume you understand a little about theory so here we go. The CGDA tuning is interval distances from string to string of perfect 5ths. Now here's the kicker. If you learn to play in the CGDA tuning, the GDAE tuning will also be very easy to learn to play. Why? Because this also is tuned in perfect 5ths. All you'd need to learn to do is rename your roots, the chord shapes would remain identical.

The DGBE tuning is kind of ironic in my thinking because, tenor guitar was designed to allow tenor banjo players to get the guitar sound. The DGBE tuning is used so that 6 string guitar players can play a tenor guitar. Around and round we go...

Now, you could easily change to using a tenor with the DGBE tuning, the top four string notes of the regular guitar, but my question would be this. If you want the 6 string guitar sound and tuning, why switch to an instrument which is tuned the same just without the bass.

If you decided to got this way, here's teh situationYou would have to learn a few new fingers because you can't just take the tenor tune it DGBE and chop of the bottom two string notes. Here's why. In the open guitar tuning, the top four strings for the Am7 chord and the C chord are identical.

Using the DGBE tuning kind of defeats the purpose but lots of people love it an music is always about doing what you love. It doesn't matter what anyone else says. This is all about your creativity.

The book will teach a few open chords but it is not a chord diagram book. The book is designed to teach you how to form your own chords. Once you're through it, you'll be able to design all kinds chords, almost at whim.

Hope this helps

Good luck with your choice.


"Helping musicians, locally and at a distance."

(In regards to DGBE tuning in the Tenor Guitar book for that tuning) Hi...I can almost hear your answer already. My music reading skills are measured at -273^c ,or, -459^f..(absolute zero). Will i be able to make excellent use of your book as applied to the bari uke ??

Thanks for your reply....Don in San Diego.

Hi Don
Yes the info in the DGBE tuning books applies to all DGBE tuned instruments. The book is over 70 pages of information and diagrams. It's very progressive in its approach. While just over 50 pages is 'instructional' info, the remaining bonus material will allow you to expand your knowlege even further. Those extra 20 pages focus much more on the technical approach to music which frees you even more to do what you want to do.

There are not a whole pile of open chords in the book, mostly because it was never meant to be a book for looking up chords. It is designed be as complete an education on chord structure as can be put together. Most people are blown away by the methodical approach which moves you from very basic chords to chords that are only bounded by your imagination.

The thing about these books is that, while they do deal with music theory, the theory is introduced only as it is relevant to the discussion in the book and as it is applied to chords. This makes the learning curve pretty simple. Chord abbreviations are discussed and worked through note by note giving you a complete understanding of the simplicity of chord abbreviations so common to Pop, Rock and Jazz. This is not a book you can work through in 2 or 3 days. It's more likely to take you some time to nail down the information and gain complete understanding.

Of course the payoff is that you'll never have to buy a chord book again. Freedom to create sound is the ultimate goal.

(This one was received in response to my request for the tuning preference for the tenor guitar I got the following query.)

I think the dgbe one, although I like to tune the high e to d, so that cgbd sounds good,too. Any recomendations?


Hi Kelly

Both of the tunings you're thinking about are rather eclectic. DGBE is equivalent to the high 4 strings on the guitar, giving you essentially a high pitched guitar sound. CGBD is the Plectrum tuning and basically stands alone. If you regularly tune DGBE, your instrument is essentially set up to accomodate the standard tuning of CGDA. I'd really suggest you try this tuning and here's why.

The CGDA tuning is equivalent to the GDAE tuning except that the instrument is tuned a half octave higher, and both are tuned in 5th distances (If you don't know what I'm talking about just read on for the payoff). That means that once you have learned the CGDA tuning chords, you can easily play instruments in the GDAE tuning, all you need to do is learn the new root locations which will be easy to figure out once you've studied your way through the book.

There's an easy way to see what the tuning would sound like. Go to and give the tuning and the chords there a try. I think you'll like it. Anyway, once you have learned the CGDA tuning and translated to GDAE which will be easy for you then, you will have at your disposal, Tenor guitar, Tenor Banjo, Mandolin and Mandola. You end up with huge versatility. The DGBE and CGBD tunings will not allow this.

It's your call, let me know.


"Helping musicians, locally and at a distance."

Wow! What great advice. It sounds like that's the way to go, especially because I recently have entered the world of oldtime music--I've been playing the double bass for a year in that idiom and recently have been playing my incredibly beautiful national triolian tenor tuned to the last high strings of guitar-- DGBE in jams, too. Like i said i also first wrote songs when i first got it DGBD, but i really like the thought of being a more versatile player. A banjo friend of mine picked it up and made it sing like a banjo and I'd like to play it like that. Your explanation sold me without even trying it! Double sold!


Dear northernmusician,

I asked a question earlier, but I wanted to ask another. Is this product really something that can help the musically challenged person and make playing the guitar less confusing? There is so much material for sale out there, and after spending a ton of money of different programs, I no longer know what to try. Any opinions or advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

No name submitted, only an email address.


I know how hard it can be to pull it together, particularly if you're self taught. We often keep looking for something that can tie it all together, and for making chords, I'd have to say that my book is the best I've ever seen (blah, blah, of course he does). I find that so many programs out there are kind of 'seat of the pants' learning where there is no logical process to making something work.

Somehow, for guitarists unless taught in the classical or jazz disciplines (and sometimes not in classical) we never quite grasp that scales, chord and melody lines are all directly related. That's what Keys are all about. With the Chord Genius books I have simplified chords to the notes in a major scale. The process is, learn the run the scale, then immediately apply that scale, and learn how to alter it, to construct chords.

If you can count, you can learn to build chords. That's my promise and that's the best I can do as I can't guess at your abilities as far as 'making music' is concerned. My guess is you've run into a wall because you've been pulling together unrelated bits and pieces. This book was specifically designed to pull it all together.

If worst comes to worse, you always have the 30 days in which you can return the book. I think you'd find, like everyone else has, that the book is a stockpile of wealth when it comes to chords and general understanding of musical form.

I wish you all the best with your studies and hope all the materials you find are as good as this book. Give me a chance, I think you'll find it was some of the best money you ever spent.


"Helping musicians, locally and at a distance."

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