Top critical review
Well-intended chord book with major flaws
19 March 2014
This book was, when it was first produced, considered almost a bible for particularly rock and jazz guitarists. But it suffers from two major flaws which do not redeem it: Firstly it is poorly printed and the hundreds of chords are very poorly drawn.
The second problem is that while the author, with good intentions, writes quite a lot about the need to understand not just the chord charts but the relationship between them, in practice this book presents literally hundreds of chords while not practicing what the author preaches about these relationships.
Lacking is any coherent attempt to produce sequences of chords that are in fact the cornerstone of guitar chord playing technique. Instead there are pages and pages of chords, and so many that they would be quite impossible to ever remember. Instead, the author should have started with, for example, some basic chords then presented RELATED chords or related fingerings for other related chords, then presented each suite of chords in a co-ordinated and musically relevant way.
There is a companion book by the same author which does to some degree answer the above flaws, but still not convincingly. The guitar is unique in that it allows a huge variety of chords within one key with different inversions, voicings and fret variations. This can lead to much confusion. A decent book about guitar chords should always also contain chord sequences. For example, on simple Barre chord based on E major and A major open string fingering has endless subtle finger variations that can easily convert that chord into its minor, 7th, sub dominant and dominant, with various inversions, all by using very similar basic fingering and not having to move up and down frets.
This book does not demonstrate the above very fundamental relationship between similar fingerings, and while it appears at first to promise enlightenment regarding chord relationships, its worst flaw is that it tends to be only key based (for example there are hundreds of variations on the A major chord and there 7ths, 9th etc. This habit of explaining chords only by their key is in the end a waste of time.
Decent and musically intelligent Guitar chords, apart from the basic beginner chords, should always be presented not really as an A,B,C,D,E,F,G chord but as a moveable root key chord that relates to its sub dominant, dominant and other related harmony, since all these chords can be played anywhere on the fretboard. It is pointless to present 100 A chords, then add another 100 A# chords with identical fingerings but one fret up.
To be fair this is a common fault with nearly all chord books. They concentrate too much on the isolated chord rather than the body of related chords within one fret position or key.