Author Topic: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?  (Read 537 times)

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Offline Skeever

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I personally have 3 books I'm using currently to hone my skills. The first two are Guthrie Govan's Advanced Guitar Techniques 1 and 2. The first book has a lot of interesting information in it - I especially like the section on Theory Without Tears and Scales. A little bit of commitment to reading or trying to wrap my head around the concepts goes a long way. That's book 1. Book 2 has a lot of stuff on specific techniques. I've been working on the alternate picking section.

Another book I have is Chris Letchford's Modern Guitar Technique book. It's mostly warm-up and technique stuff with little explanation. I would say everything in there feels like a good exercise though.

Offline Elite

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2021, 12:13:47 PM »
Depends on what you want to get out of a book. Are you looking for tips, tricks and insights into playing, a book containing songs, or are you looking for a compendium of random exercises?

Guthrie Govan's first book I find really good, especially the entire first half about semi-random background banter. All of the exercises are alright I suppose, but they don't really offer anything new. It's very well written though. Same with the second book, really, but that one doesn't have the entire written section. In general, I find all the words in between the exercises, including his own ideas, offer a lot more than the exercises themselves.
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
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Offline Vmadera00

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2021, 04:44:43 PM »
I've gone through a fair amount of books that I never finish. I either get bored or find them too difficult and give up.

First book I got was JP's Wild Stringdom. Some others I used were Guitar Aerobics and Guitar Workout from Hal-Leonard. Then I have a bunch of song compilation books, artists books and piano anthologies.

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2021, 05:07:56 AM »
Also kind of depends what you want to learn, and on what you already know. Can you read sheet music, or do you want to learn that? Any specific styles?

I can recommend the following books definitely, but their usefulness is largely dependent on what you want to take away from them:

William Leavitt's 'Modern Method for Guitar' (all three volumes) are excellent in teaching you how to read sheet music in different positions.
Building on that, I also really recommend both 'Harmonic Rhythms for Guitar' and 'Reading Studies for Guitar', both by Leavitt as well. Those books contain nothing but random sheet music to practice your sight reading.

If you have no use for learning how to read music and sight-read stuff, then I don't really have a lot to suggest. JP's Wild Stringdom is pretty good and contains some cool concepts, but I find that for me books that contains nothing but technical exercises (like 'Guitar Aerobics') are boring and.. pretty pointless? I can think of exercises myself as well if I want to and they tend to be nothing more than that.. just exercises. You want to apply stuff in a musical context in order to actually make music, if you get what I'm saying.

I have a bunch of classical guitar books that I enjoy, and I can recommend 'Joe Pass Guitar Style' if you're into jazz guitar playing. 'The Brazilian Guitar Book' by Nelson Faria is great if you're into that sort of stuff. Probably the 'best' (or at least the most thought-provoking) book I own is called 'The Advancing Guitarist' by Mick Goodrick, though I'd understand if you think that book is vague or unhelpful, because of the way it's structured. 'Chord Chemistry' by Ted Greene has some great ideas on how to improve your chord playing (expect no easy open chords here, it's all about connecting chord voicings). Music Theory wise (again no 'basic' stuff), I think 'The Chord Scale Theory and Jazz Harmony' (Nettles/Graf) and 'The Berklee Book of Jazz Harmony' (Mulholland/Hojnacki) are great, as is 'The Jazz Theory Book' by Mark Levine. Note that all of the books in this paragraph contain no guitar tabs whatsoever and thus require you to be able to read music. Some of them require an understanding of music theory as well in order to get the most out of them.

If you're into jazz at all, I wholeheartedly recommend you get yourself a Fake Book or a Real Book that contains tunes. I personally have 4 different ones, and one of those in particular is probably the music book I reach for the most.

I hope that sort of helps :lol
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
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Offline Skeever

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2021, 11:17:03 AM »
@Elite,

I'm actually nearly done the first volume of Leavitt! I like it a lot, with two caveats. 1) There are a lot of duets. Too many, considering I don't have anyone to play them with me. 2) I feel like the book kinda gives chords the "flyover" treatment, in the sense that it will introduce a ton of new chords at once and then just assume you remembered them later.

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2021, 12:18:10 PM »
Hmm, I never thought the duets were a big deal, though it's been a long time since I've played anything from Volume 1; I just flipped through it and I can see what you mean. That said, you could always play both parts of the duet, or if you're on your own, record one part and then play the other part over it. Something like that?

With regards to the chords; the guitar is a wacky instrument when it comes to chords. Remembering certain shapes is great, but will only get you so far once the various shapes add up and you can't remember which one is which. It's really useful to figure out how the chords are constructed and which chord tone is where in the shape and how different chords are related to one another. As a basic example; a major and minor triad differ only in one note; if you know one, you also know the other. This gets a lot more intense with extended chords, but the general idea remains the same. Volume 1, if I recall correctly, really gives you most of the 'basic' movable shapes, whereas Volume 2 & 3 go a lot more in depth with extensions and inversions. But yeah, the chord pages in particular require a lot of memorisation, but also to be a little systematic in how the chords are constructed, I suppose. You really can't expect yourself to instantly remember everything, but the best way to do so is to put them into practice in actual songs.
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
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Offline Skeever

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2021, 04:58:17 AM »
That's a great point. Better to learn how to think of the chords that way then to just memorize a bunch of shapes. Is the cord chemistry book you mentioned like that?

I'm always looking for ways to spice up my chord progressions. After learning my major and minor chord scales I learned to do it with 7s and 9s. But it still feels like something is missing, like this stuff I write feeling a lot less colorful than I would like it to be.

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2021, 06:23:19 AM »
That's a great point. Better to learn how to think of the chords that way then to just memorize a bunch of shapes. Is the cord chemistry book you mentioned like that?

A little bit, but a big portion of that book contains nothing but chord shape examples without explanation and that can be a little overwhelming I guess. It greatly depends on the type of music you want to play; if you're playing mostly pop music or rock riffs, there's no real use in learning how to voice extended chords in dozens of ways. A big part of what I do on guitar, aside from the metal stuff, is Jazz Guitar, so for me there's a real need to know how to play and utilise a lot of stuff. The written part of Chord Chemistry, which contains applications and ideas, is really good, but like with every good book, it plants an idea and leaves you, the user, to figure out how to apply it to your particular situation.
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Offline Skeever

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2021, 06:40:34 AM »
@Elite

I like jazz and play some of it but I'm also more into math, neosoul, fusion, etc. So I think I make sense for me to learn all those different extended voicings.

Offline Elite

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2021, 07:37:00 AM »
Oh definitely. I'm just not exactly sure whether 'Chord Chemistry' (or any book for that matter) is the best way to learn different chords and their applications.h Tere's chord symbol examples all over the internet (though some of them might very well be bad or without any description) and any song will use chords, so you can learn stuff by practicing different pieces as well. It's a good book, but I'm not betting on it that this book will be what you need at this moment. But I don't know really what it is you're looking for either :lol so maybe (and this is not meant in a snarky way at all! I'm trying to be helpful :) ) you should figure out what it is exactly that you want to learn on the guitar and then think of what you might need to get to that goal. This could be a book, or lessons, or a different angle to look at where you're at now or something else entirely.

Everything I know about playing guitar is a combination and culmination of lots of different things and sources, including a lot of different teachers throughout the years. I have learned a lot by playing different things and being curious to look things up and to apply things I know in new ways. I think personally that the best way to learn is by playing and by trying to put things you know into practice, rather than by practicing stuff without any musical application. This kind of explains my dislike of 'technique books' maybe; of course you need to work on technique, but quite often I've had students, or musician friends that could play technically well, but besides the stuff they've practiced had no real musical application for the techniques they've learned. It's like the silly 1234-spider exercises that do serve a bit of finger independence training, but that exercise in particular has absolutely zero musical value and is therefore worthless in an actual music-making context. Sometimes I'm a little bit guilty of this myself even, and it's something I'm still working on everyday.
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
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Offline Skeever

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2021, 07:53:11 AM »
Oh definitely. I'm just not exactly sure whether 'Chord Chemistry' (or any book for that matter) is the best way to learn different chords and their applications.h Tere's chord symbol examples all over the internet (though some of them might very well be bad or without any description) and any song will use chords, so you can learn stuff by practicing different pieces as well. It's a good book, but I'm not betting on it that this book will be what you need at this moment. But I don't know really what it is you're looking for either :lol so maybe (and this is not meant in a snarky way at all! I'm trying to be helpful :) ) you should figure out what it is exactly that you want to learn on the guitar and then think of what you might need to get to that goal. This could be a book, or lessons, or a different angle to look at where you're at now or something else entirely.

I'll show you a song I've been working on (Chon - Book) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX3WTWpltbw

I hear this stuff, and of course I can learn it with guitarpro (as I am doing), but it leaves a bit to be desired because it's like "wow, how are they coming up with those harmonies? what are those chords? what extensions are those? what's the progression?" and so on. Not only that, but they do a lot of hybrid picking and sweeping in a way that is not how people usually think (or teach) those techniques.

Overall, though, I do agree with you. Technique books, I've decided, are just warmups for me now. I think I'm covered in that area by the books I mentioned in the OP. What I'm really looking for his books that help more put the techniques and theory ideas together.


Offline Elite

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2021, 08:37:07 AM »
Okay, this is not going to be knock on you if that's how this post is going to look like to you when it's done, but..

I just had a listen and I have a couple of questions; Why are you learning this song (in particular)? Depending on your answer; how important is it for you to know the theoretical side of all the stuff that's going on? Especially if you're learning it by GuitarPro, rather than (for example) by ear? How useful is learning this song going to be when you want to learn other songs later?

Learning stuff with GuitarPro is a great way to quickly be able to play something, as reading tabs is (for most people) remarkably easier than reading sheet music. I can read tabs with relative ease and play through a lot of stuff I've never even played before, simply because reading tabs is so easy. But doing that, I'm not really learning anything, other than a 'trick' (place finger here, then there) as long as you're not in some way conscious about what you're playing. Reading sheet music inherently makes you more conscious of what it is you're doing (E gets followed by G, that's a minor third. Against an A minor chord, that means I'm playing the fifth, then the flat seventh). I'm not saying one is better than the other (well, kind of?), but I am saying that all the stuff is in the music itself, in order to learn what's going on, you're going to have to be conscious of what's happening. You can learn a lot from practicing songs wit GuitarPro as well and in some cases it's definitely far easier and more convenient to do it that way.

I know someone who learns everything by GuitarPro, to the point he has no idea what it is he's playing (as in, what notes he's hitting) and he barely knows where the notes are on the guitar. He can read tabs well enough to study something and also play along to the original, but then he'll stick by what he's learned (wrongly) from the tab that had mistakes; he's doesn't hear that he's actually playing some wrong notes here and there. He also might not realise that the song contains a repeating chord progression, because the guitar part changes in the second verse (for example), meaning that to him it's something completely different while musically it isn't. This is what you (ideally) want to avoid; be conscious of what you're doing and make music, not perform a trick.

Regarding the picking, using hybrid picking and sweeps is something that I've seen pop up a lot more often lately, among bands and groups that make similar music to this. There's a lot of Instagram guitarists copying this same thing as well, so I guess we'll only see more of this sort of thing in the future. Thing with that particular technique is that its uses are relatively limited unless you apply it to your playing in some way. I use my middle and ring finger a lot, usually when playing chords (pick between thumb and pointer, middle, ring and even pinky for three other strings), but it took a lot of conscious practice in order to get that in my routine for example.

Learning songs (and I mean full songs, not just main riffs!!) is a great idea, but this track you're practicing is not really a standard song, so learning this might in fact not be all that different from doing technique exercises.. limited application in other musical situations. And it's not as if someone would ask you to play this song (nor would it really be possible) when sitting around a campfire and you get handed a guitar. This doesn't mean I'm discouraging you! By all means, if you want to learn to play this one, go ahead and do so. I can imagine it's a fun challenge.

So in this track I'm not hearing any really uncommon stuff harmonically or melodically. The harmonies are quite simple and nowhere in the song did I get the idea that there's anything strange going on, though it might seem flashy with the flurries of notes and rhythms going on. I'm hearing like a main 'theme' sort of thing that consist of two chords a major third apart, then there's a four bar repeating chord progression and these two sections repeat and it ends with a new four-bar chord progression. I'm not going to figure out all the chords, but you should be able to if you have the tab (or do it by ear!), but also rather than going note for note, figuring out the bigger picture, the structure of the song) is a really good way to learn how the music is constructed. Good luck :)
Hey dude slow the fuck down so we can finish together at the same time.  :biggrin:
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Offline WilliamMunny

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2021, 12:42:07 PM »
Okay, this is not going to be knock on you if that's how this post is going to look like to you when it's done, but..

I just had a listen and I have a couple of questions; Why are you learning this song (in particular)? Depending on your answer; how important is it for you to know the theoretical side of all the stuff that's going on? Especially if you're learning it by GuitarPro, rather than (for example) by ear? How useful is learning this song going to be when you want to learn other songs later?

Learning stuff with GuitarPro is a great way to quickly be able to play something, as reading tabs is (for most people) remarkably easier than reading sheet music. I can read tabs with relative ease and play through a lot of stuff I've never even played before, simply because reading tabs is so easy. But doing that, I'm not really learning anything, other than a 'trick' (place finger here, then there) as long as you're not in some way conscious about what you're playing. Reading sheet music inherently makes you more conscious of what it is you're doing (E gets followed by G, that's a minor third. Against an A minor chord, that means I'm playing the fifth, then the flat seventh). I'm not saying one is better than the other (well, kind of?), but I am saying that all the stuff is in the music itself, in order to learn what's going on, you're going to have to be conscious of what's happening. You can learn a lot from practicing songs wit GuitarPro as well and in some cases it's definitely far easier and more convenient to do it that way.

I know someone who learns everything by GuitarPro, to the point he has no idea what it is he's playing (as in, what notes he's hitting) and he barely knows where the notes are on the guitar. He can read tabs well enough to study something and also play along to the original, but then he'll stick by what he's learned (wrongly) from the tab that had mistakes; he's doesn't hear that he's actually playing some wrong notes here and there. He also might not realise that the song contains a repeating chord progression, because the guitar part changes in the second verse (for example), meaning that to him it's something completely different while musically it isn't. This is what you (ideally) want to avoid; be conscious of what you're doing and make music, not perform a trick.

Regarding the picking, using hybrid picking and sweeps is something that I've seen pop up a lot more often lately, among bands and groups that make similar music to this. There's a lot of Instagram guitarists copying this same thing as well, so I guess we'll only see more of this sort of thing in the future. Thing with that particular technique is that its uses are relatively limited unless you apply it to your playing in some way. I use my middle and ring finger a lot, usually when playing chords (pick between thumb and pointer, middle, ring and even pinky for three other strings), but it took a lot of conscious practice in order to get that in my routine for example.

Learning songs (and I mean full songs, not just main riffs!!) is a great idea, but this track you're practicing is not really a standard song, so learning this might in fact not be all that different from doing technique exercises.. limited application in other musical situations. And it's not as if someone would ask you to play this song (nor would it really be possible) when sitting around a campfire and you get handed a guitar. This doesn't mean I'm discouraging you! By all means, if you want to learn to play this one, go ahead and do so. I can imagine it's a fun challenge.

So in this track I'm not hearing any really uncommon stuff harmonically or melodically. The harmonies are quite simple and nowhere in the song did I get the idea that there's anything strange going on, though it might seem flashy with the flurries of notes and rhythms going on. I'm hearing like a main 'theme' sort of thing that consist of two chords a major third apart, then there's a four bar repeating chord progression and these two sections repeat and it ends with a new four-bar chord progression. I'm not going to figure out all the chords, but you should be able to if you have the tab (or do it by ear!), but also rather than going note for note, figuring out the bigger picture, the structure of the song) is a really good way to learn how the music is constructed. Good luck :)

Man, this is a GREAT post. As a guitar teacher with 2 decades of experience, I can honestly say that in lieu of recommending books or DVD's or even private lessons, the first thing you need to do is decide how much you want to know.

It's a super important question with no right answer. Hell, most people don't even know at first, but the theory aspect of music comes more into play when you are looking to compose music yourself. I know plenty of amazing players that can't even begin to tell you 'why' they're playing what they're playing, but they play it flawlessly.

But, with that being said, I have no interest in being in a band with someone who doesn't know what key a song is in, or what modulating means, or how to play around with chord substitutions and what not. When it comes to writing original music, it's that 'language' of theory that really allows people to work and compose together. Even if it's as simple as knowing what chords you're playing, that will make all the difference in a band situation. ('what fret is that on' is no bueno in my book...just play an Amin man!)

Again, diffferent strokes and all that, but based on this thread, I think you will get far more for your money if you take a couple of super simple songs (like, say, any classic rock song), learn the chords, learn the leads, and then, play around with improving your own leads over the same progression.

Also, FWIW, guitar-pro is great, but I always tell my students to think of it as a 'cheat-book,' try with your ear first, and then use it to fill in the gaps. You'll never learn to use your ears if you're always staring at a page or a screen.

Just my two cents :tup

Offline Skeever

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2021, 08:38:15 AM »
Okay, this is not going to be knock on you if that's how this post is going to look like to you when it's done, but..

I just had a listen and I have a couple of questions; Why are you learning this song (in particular)? Depending on your answer; how important is it for you to know the theoretical side of all the stuff that's going on? Especially if you're learning it by GuitarPro, rather than (for example) by ear? How useful is learning this song going to be when you want to learn other songs later?

Learning stuff with GuitarPro is a great way to quickly be able to play something, as reading tabs is (for most people) remarkably easier than reading sheet music. I can read tabs with relative ease and play through a lot of stuff I've never even played before, simply because reading tabs is so easy. But doing that, I'm not really learning anything, other than a 'trick' (place finger here, then there) as long as you're not in some way conscious about what you're playing. Reading sheet music inherently makes you more conscious of what it is you're doing (E gets followed by G, that's a minor third. Against an A minor chord, that means I'm playing the fifth, then the flat seventh). I'm not saying one is better than the other (well, kind of?), but I am saying that all the stuff is in the music itself, in order to learn what's going on, you're going to have to be conscious of what's happening. You can learn a lot from practicing songs wit GuitarPro as well and in some cases it's definitely far easier and more convenient to do it that way.

I know someone who learns everything by GuitarPro, to the point he has no idea what it is he's playing (as in, what notes he's hitting) and he barely knows where the notes are on the guitar. He can read tabs well enough to study something and also play along to the original, but then he'll stick by what he's learned (wrongly) from the tab that had mistakes; he's doesn't hear that he's actually playing some wrong notes here and there. He also might not realise that the song contains a repeating chord progression, because the guitar part changes in the second verse (for example), meaning that to him it's something completely different while musically it isn't. This is what you (ideally) want to avoid; be conscious of what you're doing and make music, not perform a trick.

Regarding the picking, using hybrid picking and sweeps is something that I've seen pop up a lot more often lately, among bands and groups that make similar music to this. There's a lot of Instagram guitarists copying this same thing as well, so I guess we'll only see more of this sort of thing in the future. Thing with that particular technique is that its uses are relatively limited unless you apply it to your playing in some way. I use my middle and ring finger a lot, usually when playing chords (pick between thumb and pointer, middle, ring and even pinky for three other strings), but it took a lot of conscious practice in order to get that in my routine for example.

Learning songs (and I mean full songs, not just main riffs!!) is a great idea, but this track you're practicing is not really a standard song, so learning this might in fact not be all that different from doing technique exercises.. limited application in other musical situations. And it's not as if someone would ask you to play this song (nor would it really be possible) when sitting around a campfire and you get handed a guitar. This doesn't mean I'm discouraging you! By all means, if you want to learn to play this one, go ahead and do so. I can imagine it's a fun challenge.

So in this track I'm not hearing any really uncommon stuff harmonically or melodically. The harmonies are quite simple and nowhere in the song did I get the idea that there's anything strange going on, though it might seem flashy with the flurries of notes and rhythms going on. I'm hearing like a main 'theme' sort of thing that consist of two chords a major third apart, then there's a four bar repeating chord progression and these two sections repeat and it ends with a new four-bar chord progression. I'm not going to figure out all the chords, but you should be able to if you have the tab (or do it by ear!), but also rather than going note for note, figuring out the bigger picture, the structure of the song) is a really good way to learn how the music is constructed. Good luck :)

Thanks. And, in short, "Yes!", you were absolutely correct. About 2 weeks into practicing this song for 20-30 minutes every day, I can play it, mostly at speed (there are a few areas here and there where I'm a bit sloppy) thanks to guitar pro. But do I understand it? Hell no. I did, however, transcribe the chords myself, which was a fun exercise. More fun, I think, than learning how to play it on GuitarPro. As you said, it's a simple song, with some flashy flourishes.

As I have in the past, I burnt on learning via GuitarPro after using it as my primary tool of learning for a week or so. The thing is, I think it's a GREAT tool for showing you some common things people do - like after trying to learn a few Petrucci solos while running the weekly challenge, I felt like I became aware of several techniques that JP has in his "grab bag". I probably would have taken hours to be able to transcribe this myself at this point, but when I saw them I recognize them immediately as things that I could work into a solo or something of my own if I just wanted to shred. But ultimately, this is pretty boring for me, I don't care so much about maximizing how fast I can play a pattern.

I've met with a teacher recently, and we've only had one lesson, but I've got homework to listen to "Little Sunflower" by Freddie Hubbard and others, and transcribe some licks from it. He also taught me the Dorian and Lydian modes (never knew these before) so I'm practicing using these scales over the min7 and maj7 chords (in addition to the normal major and pentatonic scales I'm used to). I like this style a lot - I want to learn more about this kind of music and style of playing, I just need someone to help guide me through it moreso than I need a book or something like that.

Offline kirksnosehair

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Re: Anyone have any guitar books they like? If so, how do you use them?
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2021, 02:56:15 PM »
This may sound a little weird in a thread about playing guitar but I totally get where Elite is coming from.  In fact, it was my desire to gain back my music reading chops that I had in high school that brought me to the piano.  Learning how to play piano FORCED me to learn music theory.  It's not an absolute requirement, there are plenty of great musicians who don't know the first thing about reading music, but in my experience plugging back in to music theory and re-learning things like the circle of 5ths and how intervals work and how chords are constructed and what the modes of the major scale are and how and when they are applicable to what you're doing...made me a MUCH better guitar player in the long run.  Technique will only take you so far.  It's one thing to play a G#m7b5, it's another thing entirely to know and understand the formula for constructing such a chord.  The number of required notes, the intervals between those notes, etc.  Learning about all of that while taking formal piano lessons was a massive eye opener for my guitar playing and especially for my songwriting.