Improving the experience of Guitarists in MuseScore

• Th12 1, 2021 - 12:03

Hi everyone,

This announcement is to make you aware of a new initiative we're planning that will aim to improve the experience of guitarists in MuseScore (see the GitHub project here). As a guitarist myself, I suspect that we can attract a far greater number of amateur and professional guitarists by focusing on some straight-forward improvements.

To name a few:

  1. Engraving improvements to match best practice in guitar notation and tablature

  2. Improvements to features that allow guitarists to specify bends, tremolos, slides, etc. with improved default playback

  3. An improved 'onboarding' experience for guitarists that helps them discover and set up a score (or tab) more easily. This would include optional workspaces that are designed specifically for guitarists to find what they need.

  4. Support for more extended techniques (of the Luciano Berio variety!)

  5. Improved music XML and Guitar Pro import. At the moment, MuseScore does a pretty good job of interpreting these files but there are still quite a few import and engraving issues

  6. An option for a 'basic' note entry mode that provides a simpler (albeit slower) experience for beginners. This would function in way that could be compared to NoteFlight, or Guitar Pro, which allows the user to enter notes on the score without the need of a 'note entry' mode. Although this experience would be too limited for our existing users, it could be a useful option for those with simpler requirements and could provide a stepping stone that helps them gradually learn learn how the rest of the app works.

For any community members who are interested in getting involved, check out our GitHub project, which will soon be filled with tasks ranging from trivial to significant. It is not our intention to try and target all of these for MuseScore 4. Instead, our plan is to gradually work through the project over the course of a few releases. Obviously, we welcome anyone who wants to contribute in any way: design, planning, review, development, etc.

Thanks very much!


Regarding tablature fonts, MuseScore provides only a small set of built-in tablature fonts ... to which users are essentially restricted.

I'd like to see MuseScore eliminate those restrictions and:

• allow users to choose any system font for a Tablature staff, with the option of designating a fallback "built-in" font for situations where the preferred font is not available in the user's system. Logically the current tab font menu could be the reliable fallback font menu, because those fonts are built into MuseScore and available regardless of available system/user fonts.

I've reached some significant dead recently ends due to MuseScore imposed tab font limitations. And currently my only resort is to compile my own version of MuseScore after adding my fonts to it's list of built-in fonts. I think that's a tall order for most users looking to use alternate fonts.)

• allow font face and font style override, per "note" (i.e. on the current selection)

Regarding portability/sharing concerns, I'd consider a licensing agreement for embedding one or more of my fonts in MuseScore, so they would be available for all users. And, while that would satisfy my needs for creating and sharing various tablature scores, I'd still like to see MuseScore provide an option for choosing any system font for a tablature staff's base font.


Two more issues I could imagine for this project:

One feature that I miss is ghost note playback when using cross note heads, currently what I do is lower the volume of the note using the inspector but it would be nice if it sounded like a palm mute sound or something like that.

MuseScore's notation/tablature system would be significantly improved with more sync options:

• I'd like to see MuseScore offer an option to link velocities and dynamics between an Instrument's standard staff and its tablature staff; for instance; an common example would be a guitar Instrument's linked standard 8vb staff and its tablature staff. (For that matter, it seems this would be a valuable option between any linked staves.)

Here's a synopsis of the discussion in the thread 8vb guitar staff and its linked tablature staff lack velocity synchronization

• There's a related issue with unsynchronized velocities between generated Parts and the main score. For those who work unwittingly, editing velocities in a Part, none of those edits affect the part in the main score.

Request to synchronize note playback properties


Presently MuseScore allows us to easily show/hide any instrument in the score.

There are longstanding requests that MuseScore also allow us to independently show/hide staves in a multi-staff instrument.

Use Case 1: Press I; hide a guitar instrument's linked tablature to print 8vb treble clef only score
Use Case 2: Press I; hide a guitar instrument's linked 8vb treble clef to print tablature only score
Use Case 3: Edit the score (or read/practice with the score) with either linked staff hidden
Use Case 4: Generate three unique parts:
   • one with 8vb treble clef
   • one with tablature only
   • one with the 8vb treble clef and tablature staves, as in the main score

There's an official request here. that dates back to 2016.


In reply to by Tantacrul

Somewhat related ...

In v3.6.2 , once a Part is created it's impossible to add tablature to it. Presently one has to delete the Part, add the tablature to the main score, and generate a new Part. On multiple occasions this required me to discard a well "groomed" Part just because I couldn't add tablature to it directly, and adding tablature to the main score didn't commute it to the Part.

Perhaps the video demonstrates that this matter has already been addressed? If so, I didn't quite catch it.

NOTE: I use capitalized Part to refer to a generated Players Part, and uncapitalized part to refer to the corresponding part in the main score.


I literally JUST started learning guitar like two weeks ago. This is fantastic.

Also, MuseScore 4 is looking AMAZING.

re: Improvements to features that allow guitarists to specify bends

a) increased granularity in Bend Type>Custom step increment—currently we have only quarter tone increments

b) an option to drawn a bend's pitch/time profile with Bezier curves, so the bend time doesn't have to change at a constant rate.


When tablature Staff/Part Properties>Advanced Properties>Fret Marks>Marks are Drawn = Above Lines is would be great if users could directly click the space to initiate entry, rather than clicking the line below the space.

Yesterday I provided "proof of concept" to an acquaintance who believed he could not write tablature on the spaces in MuseScore. It was my first go with "on the space" tablature and one jankular thing immediately stood out: clicking the space was not an option when entering an "Above Lines" tablature number via the mouse in Note Entry Mode.


In reply to by NinFire

+ 10

GuitarPro's interface for designating a partial capo configuration is quite nice, so that's something to emulate.

      Guitar Pro 7 - Tuning-Partial capo settings 355533.png

      GP7.5 Partial Capo Dialog 355533.png

However GuitarPro7.5 expresses the partial capo fret notation in absolute terms on the tablature staff.
I usually want fret numbers expressed relative to the partial capo. For instance, when I have my guitar in standard tuning:

• if I capo 022200 (which emulates DADGAD tuning, but raised one whole step) I want the fret numbers relative to the 2nd fret.
• If I capo 355533 for the key of G, I want the fret number relative to the 5th fret.

Benefits of the relative fret numbering:

• When I apply either of the capo configurations to a particular score the resulting frets will be the same.
• The guitarist is able to more clearly thing in terms of DADGAD, because the fret numbers match DADGAD tuning (no matter where it's capoed.) For example in the "transposing" world of capos, if this makes sense, the 022200 open 4th string can always be imagined as D.

NOTE: The GP7.5 User Guide states:

"The fret numbers for the capo and partial capo are absolute. The partial capo fret is not relative to the capo fret."

I think that comment pertains to the partial capo configuration dialog. And it just happens that GP7.5 also expresses the fret numbers in absolute fashion, but the user guide doesn't appear to discuss that.

For my purposes absolute fret numbering on the tablature staff is usually problematic in multiple ways.

This a GP7.5 score the issue of Absolute vs. Relative in** Partial DADGAD**: Capo 022200

    Partial DADGAD - Capo 022200 Relative vs. Absolute


In reply to by scorster

Here's a seasonal example of one of the simplest partial capo techniques, which I call Partial Drop D. And, in the comments for that page, I've provided a brief synopsis on understanding partial capo and a link to a short discussion of partial capo notation.

I managed the "partial" notation via MuseScore through a little chicanery and use of an unlinked tablature staff.

It will be great when MuseScore can really do linked partial capo notation. But partial capo notation is a big topic, even in the realm of tab-only staves!


In reply to by yonah_ag

Actually, you're right yonah.

I've offered a use case for relative fret numbers, but obviously others may prefer absolute frets. So then, it would be make sense for MuseScore to offer both options.

More importantly, there are times when I need to mix in some absolute fret, for instance, when fretting behind the partial capo. It's a tricky topic. And I began a discussion of that about 18 years ago here.

In reply to by NinFire

Here's a tune I wrote that works in an open tuning CGDGBE (or open CGDGBD.)

It also works in two partial capo configurations, as mentioned on the score. Interestingly, regardless of the tuning/capoing, the exact same relative fret notation applies. The only difference is the sounding key. For a tune and presentation like this absolute fret marks would be pointless and obfuscating.

Between the River and the Road

The reason this score works in all three tunings is that no frets are played on the partial uncapoed strings. And that concept is essential to understanding where a partial capped instrument works like standard tuning vs. where it works like the open tuning that it emulates.


Playback of hammer on and pull off would be good. At present this can really only be achieved by a soundfont or emulated with a slight volume reduction - although the latter does not have any reduced note attack.

Yonah's plugout demonstrates that simple guitar notation can produce believable playback if one extends note play durations. Of course important exceptions are required, such as when there's a note change on a string, or possibly a chord change, or an intentional release by the performer. So even with an effective tool, like yonah's plugout, it's likely some finishing adjustments would be required to perfect a piece.

So I'd love to see an play duration overlay/editor—like in Garageband and Logic—where durations are visible and editable on a standard staff. (Yes, I get lost in the PRE.)

Something like this.

This line shows play durations that match the face value of their notes. Said differently, the green bars display how MuseScore would sound the measure:


Here the play durations of the first half of the measure are extended to emulate guitar playing:


Here the second half of the measure has play durations extended:


And finally here's the whole measure with extended play durations:


Additionally its would be great if such an overlay could be visible on tablature staves too!

And of course, if MuseScore natively developed the various methods yonah's Let Ring Plugout, those guitar scorists would be rewarded with realistic playback. That couple the promised VST avenue and good instruments, like this recoding of, I believe, all synthesized instruments from It'll be great if some of MuseScore 4's instruments sound this realistic. Can you imagine? Dial in your own Union Station.



In reply to by scorster

This is an excellent concept.

It could default to the maximum ring logically possible, (which is not the case in all of the above as they never ring beyond the first beat of a subsequent measure), and then be shortened by the user as required. It would be perfect in TAB because the string used is so obvious.

This would exceed the "let ring" playback in both Guitar Pro and TablEdit.

In reply to by yonah_ag

yonah_ag wrote > This would exceed the "let ring" playback in both Guitar Pro and TablEdit.

Thanks to you, yonah, MuseScore's playback can already exceed the "let ring" playback in both Guitar Pro and TablEdit. Anyone can pre-process their scores with your plug-out. (However, if I understand correctly, for now they would also need MS Excel. Correct?).

It'll be brand new day when MuseScorists can audition Stringed Instrument Let Ring on the fly—with the option of saving a particular play duration style to the score. From there it's light work to find the remaining duration clinkers and shorten or lengthen them manually.

I'm excited about combining some of my well-honed guitar finger-picking scores:
     a) with realistic guitar sounds (built-in or via VST)
     b) with Stringed Instrument Let Ring enabled
     c) with a bit of duration hand editing via a Duration overlay editor.

Thanks for the proof of concept yonah!! I'd say you've tackled an ambitious project, which in various ways may have mushroomed beyond your initial exceptions. Thanks for your determination, tenacity and the resulting proof.


In reply to by scorster

Yes, Excel is required because it's written in Excel VBA.

I use it on all scores now and it has options for limiting the amount of ring, e.g. on chord symbols, on string specific ghost-notes, beyond N-measures, etc. which can all added to standard scoring and thereby prevent the need for reverting to PRE.

The future for guitarists using MS looks very promising and so I hope to retire my plugout in the not too distant future.

In reply to by ArielAr

ArielAr wrote I wonder if such need could be fulfilled by using standard musical notation symbols/markings. such as "open ties", "tenuto marking"

If you're referring to the need for a stringed instrument specific Let Ring function, I don't think using notational symbols provides a viable or expeditious solution. Even adjusting the tails in the Piano Roll Editor is too time consuming, except after running a function like yonah's Let Ring plugout . After running the plugout the remaining PRE work amounts to a reasonable amount of tidying up. But perhaps I misunderstood your comment.


Request: Update linked tablature numbers immediately when dragging notes on the 8va staff.

When scorists work with a Guitar + Tab configuration—an 8bv staff paired with a linked tablature staff—dragging a note (or group of notes) on the 8bv staff doesn't update the tablature fret number until mouseUp.

I recommend updating the tab number(s) on drag ... rather than on mouseUp. That would provide immediate feedback. And the user wouldn't need to release the mouse to see the result of a pending change.


Dear Tantacrul !
When I read your point 6 "An option for a 'basic' note entry mode that provides a simpler (albeit slower) experience" I thought about a previous discussion in the forum about a note entry mode called "unmetered" , which was discussed because entering notes/correcting errors in GuitarPro takes often less time than doing it in MuseScore, specially when you make mistakes. My question is: could such mode be an alternative (for a faster) note entry mode ? (that thread is here: )

Staff Text Properties>Capo settings should have an option that transposes the Staff's chord symbols.

Currently, AFAIK, there's no means for transposing chord symbols relative to a capo setting.


Screenshot from 2021-12-28 16-17-17.png
I think Guitar Pro does bends quite nicely nowadays. Pay attention especially to the standard notation. The arrow and text "Full" "1/2" etc. don't have a place in standard notation, while they work really well in tabulature.

In the mean time if you are a guitarist but you can not afford GuitarPro, you can use in addition to Musescore 3 and eventually 4, TuxGuitar 1.5.4 at, the download is here at and also at It looks pretty decent but then I'm not a guitarist so you will have to look for yourself, but I think with TuxGuitar you can use trumming symbols and playback strumming sounds and like musescore you can use your own soundfont or you can use the built in TuxGuitar synth and render your score out as audio, it will also open GuitarPro scores up to version 7, it will also open Power Tab scores as well as TuxGuitar Tablature and it saves in TuxGuitar tablature format as well as GuitarPro up to version 5 and you can import midi and tef and export MuiscXML, Midi, PDF, SVG, Lilypond, Audio recording and others.

I have include a screenshot with a song load, I did not score this song I found in on the internet as I am not a guitarist, I also attached the TuxGuitar Tablature file, it is called thething it is from this website:

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Tux Guitar 1.5.4.jpg 211.33 KB
Tux Guitar 1.5.4 with song loaded.jpg 562.99 KB 12.25 KB

Many guitarists rely on just tablature notation and lyrics, so I'd imagine there's a significant demand for such a feature in MuseScore. As shown illustrated in this example:

      Tablature with Lyrics (Blackbird).png

Presently in MuseScore—other than awkwardly resorting to staff Text objects—we can only include lyrics by also including the notation staff on which they were entered. Though a scorist may want to enter lyrics normally and display them in the score, he or she may prefer to hide the lyric staff notation itself.

Please see: #314338: Request for an option to Hide Staff except Lyrics, Chord symbols, Fretboard diagrams

This kind of "Show Lyrics Only" feature would be useful even in non-tablature scores. I've certainly been wanting it!


In reply to by yonah_ag

Hi Yonah,

Good point. I should have addressed your point in my post.

Indeed I've added lyrics to a tablature staff and it's all quite simple and workable in simple scores, thanks in part to MuseScores' intuitive lyric entry system. But one needs accompaniment "grid" fine enough to accommodate the rhythm of the melody. For instance, say you have a couple of half note chords in the accompaniment, then there's no hooks for the lyrics except those falling on the half notes. And even in the example snippet of Blackbird some of the lyrics occur between tablature notes.

Additionally, sometimes I already have the lyrics entered with the notation, and I'd like to paste that into a tablature score, and then hide the notation while showing the lyrics only.


In reply to by scorster

If I understand correctly, this isn't unique to tablature or even guitar, it's just a request for a feature of being able to show lyrics that are unrelated to the notes on the staff. It does come up, but thus far no one has proposed any actual ideas for how such a facility might work. I encourage you to start a discussion in one of the other forums with your thoughts on how that might work in general,

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,

Thanks for your reply. And you're correct, the requested feature is not exclusively related to guitar or tablature, but those situations are usually my use cases.

I've posted a formal request some months ago: #314338: Request for an option to Hide Staff except Lyrics, Chord symbols, Fretboard diagrams

It links to discussions in forums.

Are you looking for proposal input/discussion beyond what has been posted already?

Hi! very good news!
This is a suggestion for the new project: I wonder if there is any chance in making Musescore interrups the line of the stave, in such a way the line doesn´t pass over the fingering. Like in the figure anexed, taken from a score written with Dorico. The readibility will be very improved... Thank you.

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line interrupted over fingering.png 95.58 KB

In reply to by mchiapparini

mchiapparini wrote > >I wonder if there is any chance in making Musescore interrups the line of the stave, in such a way the line doesn´t pass over the fingering.


Thanks mchiapparini. Excellent suggestion!

I really like the effect in the image you posted. The gaps are not jarring. Legibility greatly improved.

I guess two things would be required:

1) Fingerings would need a bounding rectangle with an alpha transparency property (i.e. the option to make the background transparent, opaque, or any degree in-between.)

2) the stacking order for fingerings would need to be above the staff layer. Notes are at 2000, and rests are at 2500, so somewhere in that ballpark.

Any other ideas before I post this as an official request in the Issue Tracker?


In reply to by scorster

I am very happy contributing to make Musescore better in witting scores for guitar, the instrument I love and play.

Another suggestion: I would like to have the possibility of change the style (to dashed or dotted) in "Tie", "Slur", and "Glissando" lines. This could be used in order to define special movements of the left-hand on guitar. For example, to put in evidence the moviment of the "guide finger" by using the "Glissando" line with a dotted style.

In reply to by mchiapparini

Hi mchiapparini,

Select one of those objects, like a slur or tie.

In the Inspector got to>Line Type. Change the value from Continuous to Dashed or Dotted. Unfortunately, for slurs and ties the result is not tapered.

The following image shows a normal Musescore slur, its dashed slur, and a tapered slur which I rendered for the illustration.
Ideally we'd have more control over the gap size—presently there's only dashed and wide dashed.

MuseScore-Dashed slurs-Sm.png


In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I was excited to try out your suggestion Marc .... and I'm under the impression that were talking about a guitar fingering style, by setting opaque white backgrounds on one or more LH Guitar Fingerings.

NOTE: Thanks to Marc's input I've updated this post to include Method 1.

Method 1: How to set an opaque background for Left Hand Guitar Fingerings (via the Inspector)

The following is explained in this example score: Setting_an_Opaque_Background_on_Guitar_LH_Fingerings.mscz

• select a Guitar LH fingering in the score
• In Inspector>Text:
    • Change the Frame property from None to Rectangle
    • Set Thickness to 0.00sp. (That's the thickness of the boarder.)
      (Alternately you can set the opacity of the Border to 0%)
    • Click the Highlight "color." Then, in the color picker, set Opacity to 100% (hard right.)
    • To apply score-wide, simply click the S to the right of: Frame, Thickness and Highlight.

Method 2: How to set an opaque background for Left Hand Guitar Fingerings (via Format>Styles> Text Styles)

This is quite similar to setting properties via the Inspector (and executing the last step in Method 1 will affect settings in the Text Styles, just as described below.)

Go to:  Format→Style...→Text Styles→ LH Guitar Fingerings

In the unlabeled section at the bottom of the LH Guitar Fingerings style dialog:

• Change the Frame property from None to Rectangle

This automatically shows a black border on the background rect and a transparent background. To break the staff line beneath the LH fingering you need the opposite.

• To "hide" the black border click the Border color; then in the color picker set opacity to 0% (otherwise your fingering will have an outlined background rectangle.)

• To set an opaque white background click the Highlight "color." Then, in the Color Picker set Opacity to 100% (hard right.) The color is 100% White by default. (NOTE: It looks like nothing's there because it's the Highlight is currently transparent. Bad UI. Also seems like the term "Fill" or "Background" would serve better than Highlight. )

I also reduced the margin by 50% to 0.10.
0 .05 or 0.00 works well too.

And that sets the rectangle to "white out" the staff line.

Additionally I reduced the size of the fingering to 8 points, as now that's a viable option. The resulting dialog settings look like this:

Opaque background on LH Guitar fingerings.png

In reply to by scorster

I’m not really following everything you are saying, but it sounds like you are making it much more complicated that it is.

If you want a fingering, or any text element, to have an opaque background, do the following in the Inspector:

1) add frame
2) set frame to zero width
3) set “highlight” color to opaque

No messing with color itself required - the defaults are fine. Also no messing with stacking order required unless you are specifically trying to appear text to appear over some elements but under others. Not the case here that I can see.

If you want these setting to apply to all elements of that type, hit the set as style buttons next to those controls. Or use the Style dialog instead of the Inspector, but the Inspector is usually less work.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,

Yes, I had an extra step or two regarding unneeded color changes, and now I see how to configure the needed settings in the Inspector.

Marc wrote > >If you want a fingering, or any text element, to have an opaque background, do the following in the Inspector:

1) add frame
2) set frame to zero width
3) set “highlight” color to opaque

re 1: By your description I was confusedly looking for an "Add frame" option.
         More clearly stated: Change the Frame property from None to Rectangle.

re 2: I don't see a width property, so I'm not sure what you mean.

I'll rewrite my post to reflect this and add an example score.



In reply to by scorster

Yes, the frame bit was where we were talking past each other I think, also the stacking order. So yes, change the frame from none rectangle. As for "width", it's actually called "thickness", my mistake. A zero thickness means no visible outline for the frame.

So then if this is something you want generally, add it to your template or style file and it's ready to reuse as desired.

Please make guitar notational styles easier to accomplish.

Specific issues and suggestions in the attached score.

2022-01-10: Since first posting I made an addition to the end, regarding a common classical guitar notational form.
2022-01-11: I've made a second update, also at the end, which is a summary and recommendation ,as shown in the attached image,

Durations, Voices and Beaming in Guitar Notation 03.mscz


Durations_Voices_Beaming 03 Summary.png

In reply to by scorster

Am I wrong in understanding you're requesting a bunch of notational changes just to get the intended string vibration/let ring effect?

Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to simply keep the notation A but request that MuseScore uses the snare/fret information for rendering a more correct let ring automatically, without the need of notational 2nd voice tricks?

In reply to by jeetee

Hi jeetee,

I appreciate you inquiry for clarification.

jeetee wrotre> > [Are you] requesting a bunch of notational changes just to get the intended string vibration/let ring effect?

None of my notational requests were aimed at producing full guitar-like Let Ring / Laissez Vibrer playback.

I'm just looking for simpler path for creating scores that conform to established guitar-centric notation norms.

Two voices are commonly employed in guitar notation, so I wouldn't refer to the use of a second voice as a trick. A second voice often clarifies a lot, provides lots of options, and sometimes is the only way. That said, even three-voice guitar notation usually falls short of a full guitar-like Let Ring playback.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that any of my notational examples were in pursuit of producing accurate guitar-like playback. However example C does communicate slightly longer durations to the reader; and there are pros and cons to that. Pro: It may alert the reader to extend notes they were not bothering to hold. Con: The duration now notated is probably not the full duration of the note anyway, and the user may think the note is supposed to end at the conclusion of its face value.

Any mention of Let Ring in my eight page "treatise" (attached above) was to mention that after perfecting a score notationallyI'd want to improve it's playback—just as a finishing touch— for anyone listening to the score.

When yonah created his Let Ring plugout he provided the proof of concept: given even the simplest guitar notation format (as in example A) MuseScore can produce playback with genuine "ringing" guitar durations. And his plugout does this better than any scorewriter I know of.

So I hope MuseScore takes up the torch and converts yonah's work into an official plug-in or, better yet, we get the option as a native feature in MuseScore. Now that yonah has paved the way other scorewriter companies will likely to take note and use the blueprint to make the guitar notation so duration-ally authentic. MuseScore could be the first.


Thanks Martin & all the others working on the system. I look forward to all the improvements.

As a bass player, the one feature I would love to have above all else is the ability to enter dead (ghost) notes easily, and to have them sound roughly right on playback.

Currently I have to use the properties editor to change the note head to "X". With the same properties dialog I can control whether the note is played or not on playback, but neither choice is great. There are some work-arounds that are too much effort, eg, build a shadow part and populate it with just the dead notes, then apply a percussion voice with short duration to stand in for the dead note.

In my ideal world, I could set up a key mapping which changed a given note to a dead note with a single key combination, which would also affect playback to make it sound like a percussive thump.

In reply to by frustum

Hi frustum,

Thanks for you post! Ghost note /Dead note playback is quite frequently requested so I hope such a feature is forthcoming in MS4.0.

I understand that it is soundFont related. If that's correct, then ideally MS4.0 "ships" with a guitar soundFont that supports Ghost note /Dead note playback.

Without Ghost/Dead notes it's impossible to render acceptable playback for simple pieces like this without resorting to tedious workarounds which lead to marginally improved results:


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