Top positive review
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Excellent, logical system for learning the fingerboard while playing real music
on 29 April 2013
This e-book is an instructional guide to playing the guitar. Its main aims are: to teach the player a systematic understanding of the guitar fingerboard; and then to guide the player into using that knowledge to play relatively sophisticated single-note lines all over the neck over standard blues changes.
Joseph Alexander clearly knows his stuff. The layout of the material is logical and progressive. The CAGED system of basic chord shapes is used to provide a fixed scaffolding. Once the player can visualise the neck in terms of these simple chord shapes, Alexander demonstrates how this fixed framework can be used to integrate these chords with the minor pentatonic scale, so that the player can move easily between positions without getting lost.
Having taught the basic positions in one key, the book then teaches the player how to play in multiple keys in a single position. The blues scale, mixolydian mode and major pentatonic are gradually introduced. In each case the scale is integrated with a set of reference chords and related to the scales the player has already learned, so that more and more note choices are made available without losing sight of the underlying framework that keeps the player orientated.
This is a very usable manual for self-instruction. The insistence on visual mastery of the fingerboard – illustrated in clear fingerboard diagrams - pays off quickly, and Alexander's musical examples - downloadable from his site - place the emphasis on real music rather than sterile exercises. (The audio files are duplicated in the book in standard notation and tab.) I haven't seen this material laid out in such a clear and systematic manner anywhere else. Although Alexander assumes a basic familiarity with the instrument, he also covers such matters as how to select and hold a pick, and it's conceivable that with a little experienced guidance even a complete beginner could use this book to acquire the basis for a sound technique.
It should be noted that the written musical examples – rather than the fingerboard diagrams - are much more clearly visible on a tablet-sized or larger device than on the smaller e-reader screens. I used the free Kindle for PC software and had no problems. This is the only small reservation I have about the book, which offers a great deal of useful material and a learning system that will be of permanent value for later work. At the current low price it is tremendous value for money.
Highly recommended, particularly for the player who is encountering the limitations of a randomly-acquired technique.