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How To Use Tenth Intervals To Enhance Your Solo Guitar Playing, Part 2



In ‘Part Two’ of the lesson, guitarist Ed Acquesta continues to explain how to use tenth intervals to create fluid guitar solos, regardless of style. 

Part II – 10th’s Derived from Drop 2 Middle String Set 

Drop 2 voicings are particularly useful for guitarists since three separate string groups are available to finger the chords: top (1-4), middle (2-5) and bottom (3-6). Part I explored tenth intervals using the bottom string set so now let’s turn our attention to what’s available on the middle string set. 

Exhibit #4

Exhibit #4 shows the first four chords (I, ii, iii, IV) of the C Major harmonized scale with the root in the bass. When isolated, the notes on the 5th and 2nd strings yield a sequence of 10th, – 10th, -10th and 10th projecting C major, D-, E- and F major sounds. 

Once again, play the entire Drop 2 chord in staff one and then the corresponding 10th interval to cement the major and minor sounds in your ears. As previously mentioned, you must discover all possible fingerings for the 10th’s. 

Now let’s examine the three remaining chords (V, vi & vii) in the C Major harmonized scale in Exhibit #5. 

Exhibit #5

The V (G7), vi (A-7) and the vii (B-7b5) Drop 2 voicings yield a sequence of 10th, -10th and -10th projecting major, minor and minor sounds. Remember the 10ths above include the root and 3rd of each chord. Repeat the exercise of playing the full Drop 2 voicing followed by the corresponding 10th. 

Now, as we did with the bottom Drop 2 set, let’s examine some inversions for the middle set in Exhibit #6

Exhibit #6

Exhibit #6 notates the I chord (CMaj7) in root position, the 1st inversion (3rd in bass) and the second inversion (5th in bass). In root position, the 10th derived from the full Drop 2 voicing could be used to project C Major sounds (CMaj7, C6 CMaj9) or C Dominate 7th (C7) sounds (C7, C9th, C13th etc.). The notes chosen for the line surrounding the 10th will define the use of the chord. 

The second measure notates a CMaj7 with the 3rd in the base. The corresponding 10th interval includes the 3rd and 5th of the chord. In measure two, an E-7 is notated. The corresponding 10th interval represents the root and minor third of E-7. Remember E-7 may be substituted for CMaj7 since it is a rootless voicing for CMaj9 (iii substituted for I or vice versa). 

In measure three of Exhibit #6, a CMaj7 with the fifth in the bass and a G7 are notated. The 10th interval yields the G and B, the 5th and 7th of CMaj7 or the root and 3rd of G7. Once again, the notes used in the line surrounding the 10th will define how the 10th is represented in the composition or improvisation. 


Hopefully, you have learned the following from this lesson: 

  • What 10th intervals are and how they are formed; 
  • How 10ths can be derived from the Drop 2 bottom string set chord voicings; 
  • How 10ths can be derived from Drop 2 middle string set chord voicings; 
  • The 10th interval has multiuse harmonic functions. 

There is a lot more to learn about 10ths! For example, how are triads, melodies and improvisational lines constructed with10th intervals? We will cover those aspects in future lessons but now it is time to start building “chops” around 10th intervals. 

Here is a simple blues exercise utilizing 10ths to practice. Be sure to try all possible fingerings for fretting the notes. 

Thanks for reading this lesson and until next time, good luck in all your musical endeavors! 

And you can always visit Ed at for more information.

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