The Acoustic Blues Guitar Method Complete by Lou Manzi is a compilation of the previously released Beginning Acoustic Blues Guitar Method, Intermediate Acoustic Blues Guitar Method, and Mastering Acoustic Blues Guitar Method. This compilation includes a MP3 CD of over two hours worth of music. The tracks on the MP3 are designed to give players of feel for the sound of what they are learning.
The Complete Edition is separated into the three distinctive sections of the previous editions. The beginning section covers the very basics of guitar playing so that an absolute beginner could potentially pick up a guitar and learn to play a few basic things in a short amount of time. Note names, string names, how to hold a guitar, how to read notes, and how to read guitar tablature are all covered in the first few pages to get new players started. Once the basics are established, the book moves right into a couple of twelve bar blues progressions. The beginning section gives a solid basis in blues playing, covering major and minor chords, pentatonic and blues scales, some basic finger picking styles, and strumming patterns.
The intermediate section adds some more complexity to the blues sound. Techniques such as pull-offs, bends, and vibratos are added to enhance soloing. Some basic music theory is also covered including how to substitute blue notes in a major scale to get the signature blues sound and how to transpose songs into other keys. The exercises in strumming and finger-picking increase in difficulty as the book goes on. I found the finger-picking exercises to be a good challenge for building dexterity. The MP3 tracks provide a good example of how a player should sound.
The final and most advanced section adds the most complexity to blues playing. It covers topics in alternate tunings, jazz blues, and modal scales. Even experienced players could find something to work with in this section of the book. The sections on transposing chords and strumming techniques are quite helpful in diversifying a guitar solo. There is also a section on slide guitar, moving bass lines, popping the bass note, and muted left hand technique. Overall the “mastering” section of this book has some good lessons in creating a well-rounded blues sound with some tried and true techniques used by past and present blues masters.
Overall this book is great for beginning guitarists who have an interest in playing in the blues style. Beginning players could expect to use this book for a long time and gradually increase their skill. Intermediate players could use this book for review and to increase their skill in the later sections, and advanced guitar players might not find the beginning sections to be of much value and might want to just stick with the single Mastering Acoustic Blues Guitar Method.