There are many accounts of people using knives, bottles, socket wrenches and anything else that comes to hand as a guitar slideRead More
1) LCM Grade 8 Classical Guitar Playing – In my opinion the best exam board for choice of pieces at each grade, the layout of book is clear and simple. I think exams offer a satisfying challenge to any player, with 4 diplomas on top of 8 grades. Something here for everyone.
2) The Classical Guitar Compendium Bridget Mermikides – The only book on this list to show tablature as well as notation. There are lots of really beautiful arrangements here to test any player. Well known studies start the book that leads nicely into some classical works not always associated with guitar. The Satie pieces and swan lake are particular phrases of mine. Bridget’s name will be familiar to anyone who subscribes to Guitar Techniques Magazine and is a stunning player and arranger. The CD’s are also incredibly good quality.
3) The Classic Guitar Collection volumes 1-3 by Amsco Music Publishing Company – When learning to sight read volume is as important as quality and all 3 of these volumes helped me improve my reading. The idea was simple, wake up in the morning, open the book to a random piece and start sight reading. The same hold true for building a repertoire of pieces. The pieces here are well structured and well chosen and I have spent many hours either reading or learning the pieces here.
4) Vincent Lindsey Clark Spanish – This collection of beginner and intermediate pieces are part of a series by one of the most respected contemporary guitarists and are very pretty. The Spanish collection is a personal favorite and this book is popular among my students.
5) Villa Lobos – Choosing only one of the many dedicated studies from the likes of Tarrega and Sor was difficult but these challenging pieces by Heitor Villa-lobos are some of my favorite studies for classical guitar. The other 4 books on this list provide many pieces for the beginner and intermediate player but once you have progressed beyond this the Villa Lobos pieces are so much fun to study and a lot can be learned about dynamics, feel and performance. This book shows how beautiful classical guitar playing can be.
This week I have deliberately avoided including books dedicated to one particular artist as this is just too subjective. Instead I have concentrated on books that focus on core skills or that I feel have value to a wide audience.
1)RGT Electric Guitar Exam Grades – Even if you do not wish to take exams I find these books a good way of tidying up any gaps in your knowledge, forcing you to spend time improvising, chart reading, improving scale and chord knowledge and your aural awareness. As a frame work for teachers they are brilliant, that’s not to say that I don’t add a lot of pieces and other exercisesto lessons.
2)Mickey Baker’s Complete course in Jazz guitar books 1 and 2 – Any book that gets recommended by Robben Ford deserves to be on a list like this. Full of new chord voicings and rhythm and lead ideas for any player I have spent many hours with this book on my music stand slowly building on core jazz skills. Very well structured, it’s been in print for ever. I know many players wish it came with tab rather than just notation as this limits it’s audience but well worth the money.
3) Jazzin’ the blues by John Ganapes and David Roos – There came a time in my playing where I felt I was getting stuck in a rutt in blues playing which broke when I bought this book. Crucially this book has a number of lead licks and phrases that lots of players will be able to drop into their own playing and has a great balance between some easier phrasing and some that provide a challenge. Very clear layout and comes with the all important backing tracks CD.
4) Play Guitar With the greatest guitar solos of all time by Wise Publications – I have long since given up on the idea of playing every song in a book but this book has loads of pieces that are really good fun to play and are likely to come up on gig set lists. Backing tracks on CD and clear layout, there are loads of books of this kind but it’s amazing how many miss the mark with unclear notation or even lapses in accuracy, I have found this to be one of the best.
5) Rhythm Guitar Playing books 1-3 by Chaz Hart – Chart reading is a mainstay of my practice routine, whether it be increasingly difficult charts with dynamic markings, performance directions and chord extensions or looking at relatively simple chord sequences to find new voicings or strumming patterns, it’s such an important skill and the key is quality chord charts in very large volume. I will read a few charts having never seen them before and then pick one or two to practice over and over again to find new rhythms. Transposing a few of these charts into different keys is a great practice and all the charts here are graded.
Last week I compiled a list of my top 5 books for bass guitar. As promised here are my top 5 for acoustic guitar. I have tried to avoid niche players or styles but any list of this nature is going to be highly subjective but if you are trying to decide between two books or just looking for a new challenge and not knowing what to buy this may help.
1. Registry of Guitar Tutors grades 1-8 – As previously mentioned I am a registered teacher with RGT. I find these books an excellent starting point that provides structure to lessons. The pieces are well written, this being a repertoire based syllabus and there is enough choice in the pieces at each grade to let any player play to their own strengths and play in a style they will find interesting.
2. The Acoustic Bible by Eric Roche – Eric Roche’s reputation in the acoustic guitar community as a player and as a teacher is impressive. Somewhat of a pioneer in percussive playing, this is not the primary focus of the acoustic bible. (Instead see Thomas Leeb’s transcriptions of Eric’s arrangements). Instead, the acoustic bible is a balanced start at looking at the most important elements to all acoustic guitar players. This book is full of exercises that are worth studying by any player. I revisit this time and time again as a warm up and when I get a whole morning to focus on technical aspects of playing.
3. Fingerpicking Guitar Bible by Hal Leonard – If you are just starting out this isn’t for you, but then there are so many books on the market that are really good for beginners (email me). I found myself wanting a challenge a few years ago and found this book interesting as it promised pieces by Andy McKee and Chet Atkins. The transcriptions are accurate and well laid out but the great thing here is the range of players and styles. The pieces are really well chosen, especially if you are looking for a challenge and a few have made it into my regular repertoire. When I buy books, I buy them for one or two pieces I commit to learning, knowing full well I’m unlikely to learn all of the pieces cover to cover but it’s surprising how often you hear a piece much later and find you already have a transcription of it.
4. The Tradition/The Heritage by Stuart Ryan – I attended one of Stuart’s acoustic guitar workshops this year and found it full of little tricks and things that I hadn’t thought of before to include in my arrangements of traditional tunes. I really enjoy arranging and playing traditional Celtic and folk songs and before you can start arranging you really need a supply of good quality arrangements to study. I’ve had The Tradition for a few years now and have really enjoyed steadily working through. The Heritage builds on this nicely and both books make good use of altered tunings including DADGAD and a few more unusual tunings.
5. Justin Guitar Beginner’s Songbook by Justin Sandercoe – Many will be familiar with Justinguitar.com via youtube. I think any acoustic guitar player needs atleast one good chord song book to practice chord changes, strumming patterns and most importantly because getting to play songs is the reason we picked up the guitar in the first place. We will all have opportunities to be an accompanist or sing to ourselves at the end of practice and not only are the song choices good here but there are specific bar lengths and suggested strum patterns included. Other books in the series are definitely worth checking out too