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4.4 out of 5 stars33
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 24 February 2006
This is a highly unusual book. I know of no other that has this approach. Even excellent books such as 'The Complete Guitarist' by Richard Chapman don't cover the ground that can be found in the 'bible'.
One previous reviewer refers to it as a 'tutor'. Another reviewer said that after reading it they felt 'informed'. I feel that the second comment is the more accurate. There are a wide range of truly excellent 'tutors' out there for anyone who wants to learn how to master the acoustic guitar. (There are also some very poor ones - but that's another matter).
Whilst the 'bible', does contain elements of 'tutorship' by including exercises, riffs and performance pieces, it covers a lot more ground. If your search is for a full-blown guitar tutor, then this is probably not the book for you. (In that event, begin by looking at 'The acoustic guitar method' by David Hamburger, or 'Beginning Fingerstyle Blues' by Arnie Berle and Mark Galbo. More demanding, but no less good is 'Acoustic Blues Guitar' by Kenny Sultan. If you're also interested in electric blues, tutors don't come much better or more rewarding than 'Blues you can use' by John Ganapes. All come with CD's and all are available via Amazon UK).
But back to the 'bible' ...
There is so much in this huge 243 page, large format book that it would take a small novella to review it. Even the 'Contents' listing covers 4 full sides!
Maybe I can best explain what I mean by it being less of a tutor and more of a broad overview by listing a few of the other topics that are covered. In some cases I have paraphrased themes to cut down the list:
Development of the acoustic guitar
Tuning (covered from a wide range of perspectives - not just a single method)
Tendonitis (and other guitar-related hand problems)
Right and left hand warm-up exercises
Practice (for hands, mind and ears)
Melody, harmony, bass line movement, rhythm
Tone, texture, dynamics
A detailed look at all manner of musical conventions (eg: scales, thirds, fifths, key signatures, intervals, triads, inversions ..... )
Exploring the fingerboard
The 3-chord trick
Seventh chords and harmonising with 7th chords
More complex chords (added and suspended)
Modes of the major scale (eg: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian ....)
Pentatonic and blues scales
Tunings (including open tunings, drop tunings, modal tunings, Nashville tunings, radical tunings)
Tapping and slapping
Pickups for acoustic guitar (eg: piezo, magnetic)
Feedback problems
The art of stage performance
Use of separate microphones in a performance
Changing strings
String and guitar care (inc. '10 golden rules')
Taking your guitar out and about
Looking after your hands and nails
The capo
Effects and processors
Guitar synths
6 performance pieces (broad range of types)
The Ten Acoustic Guitar Commandments
See what I mean?
The CD's are not supportive of a tutorial approach in the sense that they don't take you through graduated exercises. Whilst some tracks are examples of riffs and rhythms, others are of full blown performances .... and very good they are too. For instance, by track 19 on CD1 you're listening to a rhythmic piece that wouldn't sound amiss on a Gordon Giltrap CD!)
As I said at the outset, if your search is for a tutor to take you slowly and gently through the basics of acoustic guitar playing and styles - look elsewhere. But if your need is for a book that covers just about everything you will ever need to know about developing your playing skills and both general and specific knowledge, then this book really is a treasure trove of information. As such, it certainly merits 5 stars.
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on 7 March 2006
I will start by saying that I agree with everything already written in the preceding reviews. Perhaps doubly agreeing with alanstrgss, in that the 'Bible' may be more of an information source than a tutoring tool.
At 45, having just bought my first guitar 7 weeks ago I am a complete newbie and not particularly knowledgable of other guitarists. So this review may be of interest to other newbies.
The performance pieces at the end of CD2 left me in no doubt that Eric Roche must be one of the most skilled guitarists in the world. His jaw dropping prowess on the CD examples had me intimidated and disheartened at first. Some of the chord shapes in some of the excercises seem almost unachievable at speed (then again I still struggle with the Fm barre chord) and the speed with which he finger-picks must be a blurr to watch - if only a DVD were included.
Having said that, the excercises sound so colourful and interesting that I have stuck with this book in preference to the other two that I bought at the same time (Guitar Method - Hal Leonard and Play Acoustic - Dave Hunter). None of your strum-along-to-a-song stuff here. In fact hardly anything that I recognise and not what I was originally looking for at all. But I found it very fresh, enticing, alluring.
The first time the subject of strumming is broached is on p38 track 16. In neuvo flamenco style a chord is strummed 33 times in just 4 seconds! To a newbie like me it sounds near impossible to mimic but Mr Roche gives an excellent explanation of how it's done. Maybe one's wrist doesn't need to fully rotate at 10 revs/s.
Just 7 weeks after buying a guitar and working with this book my guitar-playing friends are genuinely astonished at how well I can play. I am, of course, an exceptional individual with near super-human powers (barre chords are kryptonite) but it probably helps that the 'Bible's' first few excercises plunge you straight into finger-picking melodies that may be easier to play than they sound.
There is need for an addendum - there are some typos on some of the tabs and a couple of the excercises I've attempted have incomplete tabs i.e. the last few bars of the piece played on the CD are missing from the written tab.
To summarise then: Not what I was looking for as a newbie and not what I wanted. Complex, intimidating, unachievable...
Inspiring - I feel that if I can absorb just a fraction of Eric Roche's magic it will be like fairy-dust to my guitar playing.
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on 30 April 2010
I have played guitar for many years but, to my shame, never mastered the musical theory that underpins what I do. I purchased this book in order to rectify that omission.

The reputation of the author was known to me and I felt that I was on safe ground. I had not, however, reckoned with the miserly practices of the publishers who have clearly not seen fit to employ proof-readers.

I struggled with some of the theory and became deeply confused as to what theoretical subtlety I had missed which accounted for the absence of the key of A in a table on page 85. After some re-reading, and reference to another text, it dawned on me that I wasn't a fool - it was a misprint!

This made me suspicious and on further reading in the musical theory section I began to find more errors. Inaccurate chord diagrams, mis-named chord diagrams, missing words, major described as minor and so on. There were sections of the text which contained at least one error per page! And these were not insignificant errors - on page 97 there are two absolutely identical chord diagrams one marked Dm and one marked Am!

Enough! I realised that instead of learning the theory I had hoped to master I was becoming the unofficial proof-reader that the publishers, SMT, had been too miserly to employ before taking my money!

The "internationally respected" author has sadly passed away but his memory is ill-served by this slip-shod production. Spend your money elsewhere!
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on 18 March 2009
The bible is not a book for beginners unless they are very talented as Eric assumes you are capable of some difficult stretches and chord work from very early.
However if you have some knowledge of the guitar and wish to move on to a new level this is the bible for you. Having said that everything is explained clearly and demonstrated along with a load of associated information.
All of the pieces are for finger style guitar and will be demanding on your abilities, fingers and technique. A book that will take time to master...
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on 22 October 2005
This is one of the finest tutor books I've seen, very detailed and covers so many areas of acoustic playing, from excellent stuff about the instrument itself (in far greater detail than any other book I've seen) through alternate tunings (which Eric Roche was renowned for)and a number of full performance pieces. This is one book I'll be recommending to friends as the one to get.
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on 17 February 2006
I was recomended this book by an amateur guitarist who himself plays sublimely. The scope and depth of knowledge covered by the author is seriously impressive. I'm an experienced guitarist of many years standing, but from page one I was informed and enthralled. A must for any guitarist, regardless of ability.
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on 30 April 2009
I am loving this book; it has reinvigorated my practice of guitar.

As previous reviews have suggested, this is not quite a tutorial but nevertheless it does have a tutorial style to it; eg, the practical exercises, of which there are many, can be worked through in a progressive manner. The book also includes a selection of party-pieces and studies to work on. I particularly like the not-treating-the-reader-like-an-idiot/child approach. The chapter on music theory and its application to guitar is fascinating and very well produced; the author makes it all sound so obvious and straighforward, makes you keep reading.

Note that the book is almost exclusively for fingerstyle players; you won't find much reference to flatpicking, bottlenecks or similar. It's a fairly pure acoustic reference publication.

This is without doubt the best guitar book I have bought ever. It absolutely oozes practical advice that is so clearly the product of the hard-earned personal experience of the author. I have made more progress in the last week than I have for years; I cant remember when my fingers felt as sore! At the price of 3 monthly magazines; bargain.

The 2 x audio CDs are also of a good quality and provide useful reproductions of the all the parts (which are written in TAB and notation, with fingering in the book).
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on 9 December 2006
I have been playing guitar for just under a year, am a quick learner and thaught this book covered more than the crash course books that I have gone through in the past and in much more detail.

I have found that the exercises are fantastic all be it a little chalanging, though in my mind you progress better when you push the boundries of your ability a little and this book certainly does that!

If you can acomplish all of the exercises in this book, then you can consider yourself, amazing! I will be a very happy man if I can play everything in here!
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on 3 September 2012
This is a excellent book!
It is a must for ANY Guitarist not just Guitarists who only play Acoustic Guitar.
My music theory has always been a bit blotchy and recently I decided that this needed addressing. The book was recommended to me by a friend who is a M.I graduate. Eric Roche taught him while he was at M.I.
The book is in depth and best of all easy to understand. It comes with two CD's which contain audio examples of the books contents. The book contains several musical pieces that accompany the chapters of musical theory which is always presented in a practical manner. Some of these musical pieces are simple, others are extremely complex.
If I have any issues with this book, it would be that some parts of the book seem incomplete, only small things like some of the musical pieces don't have the chords above the stave and I have found an error in the chapter regarding key signatures. There is however a good reason for this and that is that Eric Roche unfortunately passed away before the final completion of the book.
The Publishers obviously went ahead and published the book without looking to closely at how complete the contents was, or published it unfinished in respect for Eric Roche's work.
All that this means is that you need to pay attention to the contents of the book and maybe use a little bit extra brain power to resolve these issues when they arise. Sounds like a good exercise to me.
The Book is very much worth the investment!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 January 2010
I think most people have already said it. This is a 'must have' book for the acoustic player as it contains so much you'd need to know to become a good player and performer. Not so much a book with a beginning and end, or even a tutor or method. More a sort of blog of good ideas, things to fix, thoughts on playing well, arranging, how to practice and some pieces to try it all out on. As you work through this you'll feel like you're Eric's flatmate and learning something new every day from a master performer. Or like you are on a long guitar workshop which constantly says,"Right now let's all look at the next thing that we need to work on considering what we've just done." As you go through this book it feels like the nearest thing to being at Music University, but in a book and CD form.

Not for the beginner, but firmly aimed at the intermediate and advanced player. As a beginner, try David Hamburger's Acoustic Guitar tutor from the Acoustic Guitar Magazine portfolio for a beginner The Acoustic Guitar Method - Complete Edition: Learn to Play Using the Techniques and Songs of American Roots Music [With 3 CD Pack] (Acoustic Guitar (String Letter))or the Alfred Music Publishing three book series on learning the acoustic guitar beginning with - Complete Acoustic Guitar Method: Beginning Acoustic Guitar or the Fingerstyle version with Complete Fingerstyle Guitar Method: Beginning Fingerstyle Guitar (The Complete Fingerstyle Guitar Method: Beginning - Intermediate - Mastering)

I can also recommend and Buster B Jones' DVDs. Sadly Niether Eric or Buster are with us any more. So sad to see players so young pass away so early - but their work will stay with us forever and players will never forget them. Fingerstyle Guitar From The Ground Up Vol. 1 [DVD]
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