Chords are the backbone of most guitar music. As a beginner, mastering the most common chords allows you to play along to popular songs and even start writing your own. Technically speaking, a chord is a group of three or more notes played in one smooth strumming motion. Chords are classified according to the overall effect they produce. Major and minor chords, which create happy and sad sounds, respectively, are the most basic chords you'll need to play beginner-friendly songs.

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The bass guitar (also called an "electric bass", or simply a "bass") is similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, but with a longer neck and scale length, and four to six strings. The four-string bass, by far the most common, is usually tuned the same as the double bass, which corresponds to pitches one octave lower than the four lowest pitched strings of a guitar (E, A, D, and G). (The bass guitar is a transposing instrument, as it is notated in bass clef an octave higher than it sounds (as is the double bass) to avoid excessive ledger lines.[jargon]) Like the electric guitar, the bass guitar has pickups and it is plugged into an amplifier and speaker for live performances.

SFCM produces some of the most successful and influential classical guitarists in the world. Spearheaded by renowned faculty and complemented by visiting artists such as Marcin Dylla, the department honors the tradition of the classical guitar while cultivating innovation. The Harris Guitar Collection, housed at SFCM, gives students a chance to see—and play—some of the most extraordinary guitars of the last two centuries.