Blues Guitar for the Young Beginner Paperback – 27 Aug 2004
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Top customer reviews
Sorry - the best word that came into my mind to describe this is STULTIFYING. In case you're not sure what that means, a dictionary definition is 'cause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of a tedious or restrictive routine.'
In 'About this book, the author suggests that you "Listen to to the entire CD at first and get inspired". I'm not a beginner but tried to imagine how I might have felt had I been so. The initial tracks DO suggest a sort of bluesy feel using the key of C with all demonstrations being played as if a metronome is guiding the player. There is no sense of rhythmic 'feel'. Not until track 15 do you escape the stultifyingly metronomic pace of early exercises and actually hear something with a touch of rhythm. Then you plunge straight back into steady metronomic exercises. By track 20 you are starting to enter the area of blues riffs and cliches - and although the metronomic playing lets you hear how they work, they are robbed of every scrap of life and feel. Title tracks which include words like 'groove' or 'simmering boogie' just do not help. Tracks 34-35 switch to an electric demo and then suddenly end with an upbeat improvised style style which is neither explained nor transcribed. Track 37 introduces voice which, like so much of the playing, has about as much blues feel as a robot. Not until track 38 do you start to get more 'bluesy' in a major-key-folksy sort of way with lead played against another metronomic accompaniment. However - JUST as you start to enter that bluesy/folksy area, all transcriptions and notation cease and you're on your own without ever having really been shown how to play with any sense of feeling. After an exhortation to 'Write your lyrics', there then follow a series of backing tracks which might be hard to use unless you've broken clear of robotic playing -- but they ARE quite reasonable and would be useful to return to when more experience is gained.
On added note of concern and caution ... in 'About this book', right at the start, the author says that "All of the songs and fingerings can, and should, be transferred to other keys". As any beginner or even reasonably competent player of ANY instrument knows, transposition between keys is most definitely NOT as simple or straightforward as that statement suggests. The fact that absolutely no guidance is given about how (or when) to do that says a lot about the deficiencies in this book.
Appendix A presents you with a diagram of all the major key notes on the neck without any reference to something as fundamental as 'boxes'.
Appendix B simple shows 'Chord forms'. On the plus, side, these diagrams do clearly identify the root notes for each chord and 'power chords' are also clearly delineated. However, how a beginner would make use of, say, Dmin7 or even the classic B7 is left unclear and unexplained --- let alone how to easily finger them, For instance, the chord of Amin7 is shown which requires the player to barre AND simultaneously mute or avoid the 5th and 1st strings whilst also playing the 6th string!!!
Appendic C lists 'Blues progressions in 7 keys' with suggestions that you "embellish the rhythm and make up your own favorite beats". Good advice which may not be all that natural after having spent so long playing like a robot.
Appendix D outlines 'Notation, tablature and the notation/tablature conversion chart' which is something that needed to be placed at the start of the book as all examples use the notation/tablature system.
Appendix E outlines some basic 'Scales and mini scales' which is the first time you get to really study and explore a 'blues scale'. These are demonstrated on the CD but felt a bit closer to jazz to me than actual blues. The associated improvisations are not notated and thus there is no real guidance about HOW to improvise. Interestingly, the final instruction on page 45 for track 48 and its associated exercise is to "start slowly and evenly. Gradually speed up to a frenzy. Use the note guide to spin all over the neck". I would suggest that the last instruction is way too advanced for a beginner without significant explanations and demonstrations about how to move between boxes and key parts of the fretboard using root note positions.
Appendix F is interesting in that it provides blank staves and tab lines for you to 'Write your own lead'. However, each bar shows just one note so that you ARE given a basic 'skeleton' upon which to build a melodic lead. I liked that idea.
Appendix G is a blank page of staves and tab lines.
Appendix H provides a set of 'Blank chord grids'
So - there ARE one or two saving graces for this book, but overall I would say that it is mostly a waste of money. It doesn't deserve to be labelled 'exploitative' but I'd certainly not credit it with having much true value for a beginner who wants to develop both a feel for, and a proficiency for playing blues guitar. There are much better resources online. (Justin Sandercoe's website is a treasure trove for every level of guitarist from beginner to advanced).
My advice is to look elsewhere or search the internet .... and above all, LISTEN TO BLUES GUITARISTS.
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